chapter  8
23 Pages

Prefi guring DVD Bonus Tracks: Making-ofs and Behind-the- Scenes as Historic Television Programming Strategies Prototypes


Much has been made of the big changes underway as new forms of digital media-online user-generated content, mobile media, and the DVD in particular-are popularized. Some political economists, like Daniel Schiller (1999) and Toby Miller, et al. (2005), caution us about the ways new media technologies reinforce existing imbalances in socio-economic power as part of resilient corporate conglomeration strategies. Other cultural theorists, like Lev Manovich (2001) and Henry Jenkins (2006), see recent changes in more benign, and sometimes celebratory terms, as driven by either techno-aesthetic convergence or new forms of collective “transmedia” audience participation and agency. Rob Cover provides a particularly prescient analysis of the DVD as part of the latter trend (2005: 137). Cover connects the explosive popularity of the DVD to a corresponding rise in “peer-to-peer” networking and media de-centralization, going so far as to say that DVDs unsettle the dominant “center-periphery motif” that scholars have simplistically imported from broadcasting studies to understand new media. While Cover rightly underscores the importance of consumer media activities that continue long after the retail sale of DVDs, this view risks understating the continuing importance of audience activity and collective participation as essential parts of industrial business plans and media strategies. I would like to complement Cover’s account by suggesting two things: fi rst, that decentralized consumer unruliness is also a key to the success of contemporary viral marketing; and second, that the DVD has actually shored up and re-anchored important and long-standing media centers like Hollywood.