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07 June 2013 @ 04:58 pm
whose intentionality is it anyway? [or the one in which Barthes rolls in his grave]  
Even though I'm still working on fics for the prompt table, I couldn't even help myself because Marta is the worst and started this beautiful FREE-FOR-ALL META COMMENT-A-THON! and then woobloo prompted this:


Discuss the essay "Death of the Author" and how it relates to fandom.


and apparently I have 3000 words worth of thoughts on this, even though I kind of digressed heavily from the original prompt? As this couldn't fit into a number of comments, I'm just posting it. :s general barthesian disclaimer: all the views and opinions are my own and are only views and opinions and you are free to interpret my words howsoever you wish to etc. etc.



Meta: Death of the Author, and  the Problematics of
Classification of Interpretative Tyranny on Television



One of the most prevalent methods of using the Death of the Author argument around fandom that I’ve personally seen is “my interpretation is valid because THE AUTHOR IS DEAD SO I CAN INTERPRET HOWEVER I WANT”. Which, of course, every interpretation can personally be assumed to be valid, but the Death of the Author as a theory does not legitimize “every interpretation ever, but only interpretations that are based on text rather than the author. The Death of the Author is the birth of the reader, and simultaneously the text. The Death of the Author does not, for example, mean that you can read into the text things that don't actually exist within the text itself. I'm not saying that every reading ever isn't valid, because that's nobody's case, but I'd definitely argue that every reading ever isn't a DOTA reading, per se.

The Death of the Author very specifically talks about the concept of authorship and the presence of an author. It’s based on the general idea that using a writer’s political views, their biographical origins, their own interpretation of their writing, is limiting that text, because the ultimate consumer of the text is as much responsible for the "creation" of a text through the interpretation that they impose on it, because of their individual propensities and understanding.

According to Barthes, the debate on authorial intentionality is futile because it is impossible to infer intent. There can be a wide mismatch in what the author wants to say, and what she actually ends up saying. The acknowledgment of the author as supreme places a singular interpretation on a text; what you imagine the author was saying. Except, then, what it seeks to negate is that it is only what you personally attribute to the author that becomes the singular interpretation, not what the author "actually" intended, because intention is not something that exists as either tangible, or absolute. People are not driven only by what they want to say, but also subconscious, or psychological impulses that they may not have "intended" at all, which might nevertheless be obvious within the text. For instance, I think we can presume no fic author "intends" for a character to be a Mary Sue, but it's impossible to tell what the author intends, so we classify the character according to what the text tells us, instead. Intention is variable, it isn't fixed and it's very, very rarely, if ever, determinable.



I personally believe there's this prevalent confusion about the intentionality of the author and the intentionality of the text. Barthes is concerned with judging the text through the personal attributes of the author. So, for instance, if I were to judge TVD through Julie's views on, say, politics or the gothic tradition, then that would be in contravention to the DOTA theory, because it absolutely isn't necessary that those views are the views of the text. In Veronica Mars, for instance, it's impossible to judge what Rob Thomas' views on feminism are; because Veronica Mars herself, imo, is one of those rare strong characters [female], rather than [strong female] character, and yet the literal representation of feminism in the text, through Nish's character for example, is definitely problematically stereotypical.

So, trying to understand whether Veronica Mars is a feminist text through the lens of Rob Thomas's personal views would necessarily lead to an interpretation that would not be entirely supported by the text as The Only Correct Interpretation, because the text can quite clearly support both interpretations, which is where the reader's response and interpretation is paramount. However, if Rob Thomas's or Julie Plec's personal views, as gleaned through interviews etc., are supported by the text, and that is the interpretation you choose to accept, then that is a valid DOTA reading. DOTA doesn't mean that everything the author says about the text is immaterial, because if that, in your opinion, is what the text also says, without the authorial commentary, then that is again a valid DOTA reading. For instance, I personally felt that the sire-bond was a very real thing and existed and worked exactly as it was supposed to. This was because I never felt that there was anything to the contrary in the canonical text. No indication at all that it wasn't working or was just a psychological construct or a metaphorical representation of anything. So, even if Julie herself had shouted herself hoarse saying it didn't actually exist, I wouldn't have interpreted it any differently than as actually existing.



These problems multiply when you try to judge a TV show through the lens of authorial intentionality. Because it can well be argued that there is no definitive "author" of a TV show at all. Whose intentionality would you put paramount in the case, where we were talking about TVD: The source-text's? The script-writer's? The director's? The actor's personal interpretation of their character on screen? The camera person's perspective as framing a scene? The market's? TV offers almost endless modes of interpretation, and limiting that to a Single Grand, Overarching Viewpoint That Is Objectively Correct is even more limiting than perhaps it would be in a book, where there is at least one particular intentionality at work, even if it's impossible to tell what that intentionality is. The manner in which an actor chooses to say a sentence or delivery of a line, can entirely change its meaning, and how it is received by the audience. In this case, the confusion is even more prominent, because, forget the author, it's almost difficult to identify what the text is. Is it the line in the script? or is it the expression of the character while delivering it? or is it the way the director chooses to frame a particular scene? Or is it the sequence of events? or is it the zooming of the camera to highlight the trembling of the lips of a character otherwise saying awful things?


Another problem that arises with the direct application of this theory is, that often, a TV show that isn't over, isn't even a complete text. Authorial intentionality, in the Barthesian worldview, pertains, necessarily, to a finished text. I personally don't believe that Barthes is arguing that authorial intentionality doesn't affect the text, his argument is that it is immaterial whether authorial intentionality affects the text, because the text, once complete, stands separate from the author; and any such intentionality, to be considered relevant, must exist within the text itself, without the need for historicizing or contextualizing a text according to a biographical analysis of the author; i.e. The Text Is All There Is.

The problem within an ongoing television show is obvious, it is nearly indisputable that authorial intentionality affects the text, so when interpretations are made from an unfinished text, then the author, who is creating the text, has the privilege of altering the course of the text to definitively foreclose an interpretation that they feel they had not "intended", but the audience was apparently gaining from their text. That fandom has a name for this trope; Being Jossed, also clearly pertains to context. For instance, there may be a theory amongst fans that gains popularity, and the author, noting that, has the privilege of changing the text if she so wishes, or to clarify a point that they feel the audience "misunderstood". Take Harry Potter for example, Harmony shippers can give endless examples within the text of how the text was moving towards a deeper understanding, and perhaps even romance, between Harry and Hermione. But JKR, knowing this, and disagreeing with it, definitively foreclosed that option through the Epilogue. It would've been entirely possible to not write the Epilogue at all, but the author, especially through the Epilogue, exercised the option of fixing the universe, so that canon is set in stone some regards. Julie Plec in interviews has mentioned how Damon was originally supposed to be the character to become human, but it was such a popular theory, that they changed it to Katherine instead.

While the work is still a in-progress, and the author is made aware of what the audience thinks, which may be in opposition to what they had "intended", then it's possible for them to make that intention, which would otherwise have been immaterial in DOTA, a material part of the text itself, which of course is material for a DOTA reading. So when a showrunner says something in an interview, it is not that their elaboration of their "intention" is Word of God on a text (as TV Tropes would suggest), or that it is the absolutely and only interpretation, or that extra facts they throw about should be considered canon, but rather, that, as the show is ongoing, that intention may eventually become a part of the text, even if it initially isn't, in which case, it will transform from intention of the author to the intention of the text; something to be taken into account if you invoke the DOTA.



Taking another example, James Marsters has related many times how Joss told him that he would not make him a heroic or sympathetic character, no matter how much the public wanted it, which, of course is pretty much not what happened at all. Spike is almost definitely (in my opinion) a sympathetic character. And yet, Joss's stated intentionality is also at work within the text; taking into account the audience reaction, and basically Jossing it. Because Spike's character had problematized Buffy-verse with regards to vampires, and how vampires were otherwise depicted in the text. As soulless creatures, incapable of feeling anything, devoid of almost all elevating human emotions. Spike, of course, feels almost ridiculously much, he seems capable of an extraordinary range of human emotions (more even than some humans in the text, perhaps), which would obviously tend to change the audience-perception of vampires as a race itself. If Spike could be the kind of character he was, then who was to say that other vampires couldn't? And if these creatures were not inherently evil per se, but rather were oppressed by a mindset that viewed them as inherently evil, when they were potentially not, then would the heroes be so heroic anymore in slaying them, without first trying to find out if they were "good" or "bad"? This apparently was not what Joss wanted. Vampires in Buffy-verse were supposed to be unequivocally "bad", symbols of what humanity in general is fighting against, and making them sympathetic would mostly be counterintuitive.

Since Joss was aware of this, it can be argued that that's one of the major reasons (apart from a whole host of others), that Seeing Red happened. Because yes, it fits perfectly within the frame of what the show otherwise espouses, and Spike's character had problematized. That vampires, no matter how human seeming will inevitably betray you, somehow, because they are not human, and it is a fallacy to imagine otherwise. Spike, to fit within the framework of how he was being perceived by the public, had to go and get a soul, in order for the intention of the text be in tandem with the audience's pre-existing audience response to him. (I don't want to go into debates about Buffy and Spike's relationship in S6 and how this was a natural culmination, or even that rape is hardly something inhuman, it's very, very human, because I may agree or disagree with all that, but I also think that one of the major reasons for Seeing Red was to establish the human-vampire status quo, and act a catalyst for Spike getting a soul, which was important for the BtVS premise of the human/vampire divide.) The same, to a lesser extent, is what happened with Harmony, who had one of the most sympathetic lines about vampirism in all of canon, and yet betrayed those who trusted her twice, because, apparently as a soulless vampire she just couldn't help it.



The problem of authorship in television is wide-ranging. I would in fact argue that one of the foremost authors of current texts, especially in the medium of television, is the market. The market, especially in recent times, has shown the potential to determine entire storylines, overriding everything from the "author" to the "text". In fact, in this context, an interesting dichotomy emerges where Barthesian theory about the Death of the Author is almost literalized, because the market is obviously the audience. Take an example; the TVD storyline about the "sire bond" was one of the most useless storylines I've seen yet on the show. It furthered no arc or narrative, and instead served to regress a lot of development and problematized a whole bunch of stuff that would otherwise have been largely unproblematic, by putting the agency of the lead character in question for almost an entire season. And yet, it furthered the cause of the market, because Stefan/Elena shippers, a significant "fan base" could spend an entire season arguing that Elena did not "actually" love Damon but was simply affected by the sire-bond. The same of course could be said of screentime given to Damon/Elena through the seasons, or the emergence of Klaus/Caroline as an actual, effective part of the show, because the larger audience showed interest. In fact, the precedence allotted to Logan in the original VM narrative was because of how the audience responded to him. As I suppose was Caroline's in TVD. The point being that these narratives aren't fixed, thus, any interpretation can be furthered or closed off, and the validity of any interpretation is based on these factors.

Shipping especially is becoming something that the market is taking definitive notes of. Whether it be teasers like the Supernatural episode talking about Dean/Sam shipping or Derek and Stiles on a ship or even most questions just asking Nina or Julianna Margulies from The Good Wife about who they would "choose". And it's even more obvious in something like the Veronica Mars kickstarter, which, for a large part, was literally sold on Logan/Veronica, with Rob and Kristen signing off their messages with "LoVe", or including questions about Logan and Veronica in the FAQ, even though Kristen famously doesn't so much as like the ship, while Rob also initially lobbied for Duncan/Veronica or Weevil/Veronica. Who in this case would be the definitive author, or what would be the definitive text? Is it possible to argue that because Kristen and Rob possibly preferred Duncan/Veronica, then Duncan's exist from the show means that Logan and Veronica only ended up together because Duncan left? Or is it the canonical continuing arc of Season Two, or Season Three, which the Network interfered in to a large extent to make the show more market-friendly and Logan/Veronica centric, which show no evidence to that effect? And it is almost a certainty that the movie will have a lot of LoVe interaction, because everyone involved with the show is quite aware that that is what sells, regardless of what they may personally want.

In an ideal world perhaps, the market would be subservient to the creative vision of the, well, creative. But it's not. (Then again, I might not have had Logan/Veronica at all, so can't be too cut up about the market interfering there, tbqh). What happens when you try to run a show, no matter how brilliant, that goes against the demands of the market, is what happened to VM in Season Three, or the FBI pitch which doesn't so much as resemble the show at all, or Dan Harmon's removal from Community. Shows are inevitably bound by the market, so when TVD constantly makes use of the Stefan/Elena vs. Damon/Elena trope, and caters to the shippers, then that too is not something that is solely within the powers of the showrunners to overturn. The audience feedback is literally informing texts, so the audience almost become part-authors of the text themselves, because their choices are reflected in canon, which of course, is entirely what a DOTA reading is based on.



Finally, I'd just note that the Death of the Author reading is only a form of reading a text. Different forms of criticism would argue differently, and some would even insist that the author is all there is. DOTA, therefore, is not absolute in any way, and has, in fact, been heavily criticized within literary circles itself. The funniest, of course, is that fandom often appropriates this reading to close off other interpretations, but positing theirs as absolute. But this theory is basically a wormhole, because my reading of Barthes, is clearly my interpretation of Barthes, so anyone interpreting differently would read all these points I've mentioned differently as well, and the result is a never-ending debate as to what DOTA actually is, which I quite think Barthes would have liked.

The essay can't in any way be taken as the be all and end all of literary criticism in any form, or the conclusive end to the debate on interpretation. To each his own, basically. (Besides you know, reading the Death of the Author and it's application is just an exercise in interpretation of what Barthes could have intended through writing it, which, all things considered, is just plain ironic.)
 
 
 
gemma: blackadder; tongue facecranmers on June 7th, 2013 11:41 am (UTC)
The Death of the Author does not, for example, mean that you can read into the text things that don't actually exist within the text itself.

And there, but for the grace of God, goes the entire foundation of English Literature as a dicipline. :P


I will be back to actually read this, obvs. Just wanted to say 'hi'! :)
youcallitwinter: someday this will be a story.youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 11:45 am (UTC)
LOL, it's a good thing then that my interpretation is open to interpretations then, eh?

HI OMG. HOPE EVERYTHING IS FINE. AND EXAMS ALSO.
(no subject) - cranmers on June 7th, 2013 11:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 06:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cranmers on June 7th, 2013 07:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 07:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cranmers on June 7th, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 07:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cranmers on June 7th, 2013 08:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 10:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
12cubed: Playing the Game12_12_12 on June 7th, 2013 12:06 pm (UTC)
I love it when you write meta. Hopefully I can come back and comment more later because your thoughts are fascinating, but for now, I just want to comment on this:

One of the most prevalent methods of using the Death of the Author argument around fandom that I’ve personally seen is “my interpretation is valid because THE AUTHOR IS DEAD SO I CAN INTERPRET HOWEVER I WANT”. Which, of course, every interpretation can personally be assumed to be valid, but the Death of the Author as a theory does not legitimize “every interpretation ever”, but only interpretations that are based on text rather than the author...

I personally believe there's this prevalent confusion about the intentionality of the author and the intentionality of the text.


YES. THIS. If we're talking about Barthes' original meaning that we should not use the personal attributes of the creator of the text (as we know from biographical information, letters, statements made by the creator, etc.) to analyze the text, then I can get behind DOTA pretty much completely.

BUT I think DOTA often gets interpreted in fandom as, "ANY reading of the text that is supported by the text in SOME way is JUST AS VALID as any other reading of the text, because the Author is Dead and so no reading is more valid than another," and I disagree with that. Within a range of multiple possible readings, I think it's often a fair statement to make that some readings are more supported by the text than others (and I think the answer to the question of which readings are more valid and which are more of a stretch is often reflective of the nature of the creators behind the text, but that might be a separate issue.)
youcallitwinter: then you come crashing in.youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 07:30 pm (UTC)
LOL, I haven't felt very meta-mode recently (although it seems I am physically incapable of not writing fic D:) but this is one of my favorite topics and one of my favorite critics, so I couldn't even help it :D

YES. THIS. If we're talking about Barthes' original meaning that we should not use the personal attributes of the creator of the text (as we know from biographical information, letters, statements made by the creator, etc.) to analyze the text, then I can get behind DOTA pretty much completely.

Fandom pretty much does not at all seem to view anything as definitively canon while making interpretations mostly! It's mostly an exercise in furthering an opinion by using theories (like the discussion on feminism). I'm not saying that if you want to use your headcanon to supplement characters' actions then that's a No Good, Very Bad, Terrible interpretation, because, of course not, but to argue on basis of that that it's DOTA-validated is fallacious imho.

Within a range of multiple possible readings, I think it's often a fair statement to make that some readings are more supported by the text than others (and I think the answer to the question of which readings are more valid and which are more of a stretch is often reflective of the nature of the creators behind the text, but that might be a separate issue.)

I believe in the DOTA a lot to the extent that I think it IS very difficult to infer intention, because I know that I can barely infer my own intention while writing something, so to do it for someone else is a daunting task. The thing is, if you view the author's views as supplementing the text, then it may not be a DOTA reading, but that doesn't mean it's invalid obviously, because a ridiculous number of schools of criticism would cater to those as well. It just means you've chosen a different theory to interpret your text through, so the argument, coming down to clash between two theories rather than the text itself, wouldn't be very productive.
(no subject) - 12_12_12 on June 7th, 2013 07:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 07:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - 12_12_12 on June 7th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 11:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
woobloo: spike/buffywoobloo on June 7th, 2013 02:51 pm (UTC)
aksldjf;afkld you perfection you.

But seriously, I agree with every word of this.

The thing is, when people argue against Death of the Author, they argue against something that actually isn't there (i.e. those who use it as a way to prop up every opinion as absolute.)

But that it NOT what saying the author is dead actually means.

Also, I think this is especially important: that the actual author and authors to actually be analyzed are different- authors to be analyzed are, in fact- FICTIONAL. As in, you can't judge something in an intellectual manner based on reality, stupid as that sounds. If you got into a discussion about whether, idk, Queen Elizabeth I was a 'good' or 'bad' person, you'd be basing your arguments off of something that would not necessarily reflect the ~actual Queen Elizabeth, or would perhaps be ignoring things, that, if she were listening in, she'd consider to be important about herself, or whatever. You can't judge these thing based off of people's minds (or you can try, but that's a separate discussion for a separate theory) because such a thing is impossible and IRRELEVANT. If you talk about an Author, they must needs be fictional.

that intention may eventually become a part of the text, even if it initially isn't, in which case, it will transform from intention of the author to the intention of the text.

UM YES GAWD YES THIS. Did I mention your perfection? This is everything and more in less than a sentence. *applauds you*
12cubed: Tywin Fucking Lannister12_12_12 on June 7th, 2013 05:17 pm (UTC)
But that it NOT what saying the author is dead actually means.

Yeah, I think the problem is there are a lot of people who misuse "the author is dead" to support their readings. In fact, I'd say the misuse is far more common than the correct usage, to the extent that when I criticize DOTA, I'm referring to the misappropriated version simply because it's so much more widespread in fandom that I think it's what most people think of when the term comes up.

Edited at 2013-06-07 05:20 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 07:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - 12_12_12 on June 7th, 2013 08:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 11:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
youcallitwinter: stranger than your sympathy.youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
LOL, you probably didn't want to read 3000 words when you prompted that :D

But I completely agree with that; the point of DOTA is that you are not privy to the subjectivity of another individual (often it's so hard to even know your own thoughts fully) so to construct a subjectivity of the author through random points of knowledge about them and then use that to not only interpret a text, but posit that interpretation as definitive is problematic. The text exists in its entirety, so when a reading is purely text-based then you literally know everything there is to know about a particular universe; that is nothing exists outside that universe which affects it. Harry Potter is a complete character in the Harry Potter books and every reader knows the same things about him, because he does not exist beyond them. But the moment you bring in JKR's childhood and try to find out who Harry is based on etc., to form an absolute interpretation based on what the author may have intended, then you're already treating the text- which is material- as secondary, and the author -whose intention is nearly impossible to infer, and who are necessarily constructed by the reader- as the primary. I'm not saying that that interpretation isn't equally valid, because it may well be, but it's not a DOTA reading.

BASICALLY, I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU ETC. And hee, I think you said it in the other thread, but ofc you can rec it on tumblr if you wish!
(no subject) - woobloo on June 7th, 2013 10:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 11:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - woobloo on June 7th, 2013 11:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 11:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
goldenusagigoldenusagi on June 7th, 2013 05:12 pm (UTC)
When talking about ongoing shows and how fandom interacts, I support The Death of the Audience. Like, the showrunners should just tell their damn story, and not pay attention to what fandom thinks. And certainly not cater to fandom.
youcallitwinter: the way we get by.youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 07:33 pm (UTC)
LOL, we should totally collectively write a paper titled Death of the Audience or The Audience Must Die or something. But I think this constant reader-creator feedback loop, so much furthered by the internet in general and twitter in particular is REALLY affecting actual canon.
(no subject) - cranmers on June 7th, 2013 09:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 10:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cranmers on June 7th, 2013 10:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 11:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cranmers on June 7th, 2013 11:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on June 7th, 2013 11:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Florencia: Journey (Everything Is Possible)florencia7 on June 8th, 2013 11:51 am (UTC)
The author may be dead, but necromancy is still a thing lol In college I used to get in those ridiculous fights about how it is just so wrong to bring up author's personal issues into a discussion about every book. I mean, how do you even know what the person's personal issues were?? It's presumptuous. Even our own interpretation of ourselves is bound to fail in terms of accuracy, so someone else's interpretation doesn't stand a chance. And accuracy is not a proper goal anyway.

I love the point you make about all the authors of TV shows, the role of an audience and the market being one of the authors. It's so true. This entire essay was AMAZING to read. I loved it.
youcallitwinter: our winding roadsyoucallitwinter on June 10th, 2013 10:04 am (UTC)
The author may be dead, but necromancy is still a thing.

Hahaha, BEST SENTENCE OF ALL TIMES, Y/Y?

I remember a lot of debates and discussions in college; especially since the texts we were discussing were centuries dated, so the "facts" about the authors on which you'd seek to judge the texts had not a shred of credibility to them. Here, when you hear an interview, at least you're fairly certain that the person themselves is speaking and expressing their own views and opinions (although you can never be sure; the views and opinions could always be of the higher bosses; the Network etc.), but to apply that to texts from the fifteeth century or something is just plain ridiculous.

Even our own interpretation of ourselves is bound to fail in terms of accuracy, so someone else's interpretation doesn't stand a chance.

I actually completely agree with this; it's difficult to discern reasons for half your own actions, so to try and judge someone else's subjectivity, which is necessarily unavailable to you, is nearly impossible.

Thank you so much for reading! <33

Lexi: LBD - Lizzie and Lydiaeilowyn on June 10th, 2013 02:09 am (UTC)
I BOW DOWN TO THEE.

This is the best thing I've read on DOTA since reading DOTA. The idea of the market authoring what the writers write, the fact that the author gets feedback from the audience, and the belief that a television show as a text is unfinished are all BRILLIANT points. On that last one, I have to ask what you consider to be canonical text and what you don't. I'm thinking of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries because it uses extratextual sources of information so well. Do Gigi's tweets count as canonical text? Are Jane's Tumblr posts part of the text? These are the questions I do research papers on. What are your thoughts?
youcallitwinter: we still are made of greed.youcallitwinter on June 10th, 2013 10:35 am (UTC)
YOU ARE MUCH TOO KIND, SIR.

I love Roland Barthes a lot, even if I don't agree with him all the time. So using him to talk about anything is always very fun. But I really do believe that almost nothing has as much influence on a text today, as the market does. It's the difference between getting prime-slots, or being cancelled. Storylines, characters, etc. are adjusted according to the choice of the Network, reflecting 'social sensibilities' or 'public morality' (the difficulty Joss had in being allowed the Willow/Tara kiss in BtVS or Blue Valentine getting an NC-17 rating because of the performance of oral sex on the woman, as opposed to the man.) Even the "moonlighting effect" in that context is basically the premption of audience reaction guiding the course of the text.

I have never actually seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries! But from what I know, I think the answer would depend on if you're a purist about what you consider the "text". As a video blog, the formatting for LBD is entirely different, and expands the definition of 'text' yet again, I think? These characters are literally on the internet (which always feels like a very "real-world" medium, as opposed to books or movies or tv shows, which always create this illusion of distance- even if the audience is influencing the text, you can't tell how much or what the creators know about or what they picked up etc.; while in LBD, you can be fairly certain that the creators know about the comments of the audience and their incorporation, if any, would probably be visible.) So since video-blogs are usually used by "real people", as are tumblrs and twitters, I think those can actually be counted as canonical text, if you so wish, because it's in keeping with the use of a medium as a whole? Like, the difference is that instead of a real person, it's a character, but a character constructed in real-world terms, so the text is expanded across the medium instead of being confined?

I'm not sure I'm making much sense of all, but the question is fascinating since it's actually a debate on what constitutes canon and who has the power to decide what is "canon". For instance, the Buffy comics are technically "canon" by Word-of-Joss, but a majority don't consider them as such? So do they count as canon because the creator says so, or not, because the public largely ignores them in that capacity?

Wow, that was so long, I don't even know what's wrong with me, sorry!
catteocatteo on June 10th, 2013 07:27 am (UTC)
Well shit you're smart. I understood about half of this (which I count as a total triumph given my science background and complete lack of knowledge of English Literature beyond the age of 15) but found the entire thing fascinating. And now I understand what the hell everyone is going on about when they throw DotA into a sentence. I rarely enter into these conversations because I feel that I have little of relevance to add but this was super interesting and I loved reading your interpretation but I have no idea who Barthes is and now I feel totally inadequate. I am going to sneak back into my 'fantsasy-reader' corner and just enjoy the magic and mystery. And maybe watch some TV.

I did find your observations on the way that fandom informs show writing to be particularly interesting. I have always been fascinated by the way that showrunners are forced to alter their plans to cater to the desires of the network. I think that the problem often lies in the fact that in TV land the showrunners seem to relate more to characters that are like them whereas fandom prefers the moral grey. Nobody watches TV for the Duncans of this world (whom I suspect is actually modelled on Rob) but rather for the Logans, because we never get them in real life or if we do it's super messy. I have no idea how that relates to death of anyone but I thought I would share it as an observation! I suspect JPlec would be perfect Elena who is the most sacrificial of all the lambs. But perhaps that is just the cynic in me....
youcallitwinter: we pass just close enough to touchyoucallitwinter on June 11th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
First things first: PLEASE LOOK AT MY ICON, OMG, I AM SO PLEASED WITH IT OKAY.

Now:

LOL, smart like sometimes I try to pretend I know shit about Literary Theory? Also, you and waltzmatildah being brilliant writers with your fancy science backgrounds really give me a complex! But I have a tendency to get overly ~academic sometimes while talking academia, so I'm really glad this wasn't a complete wtf-ery of DOTA. I very rarely get into meta or meta-esque conversations these days, because trying to engage with most of fandom is like banging your head repeatedly against a wall, till all the joy in your life is dead. But the meta comment-a-thon made me remember that fandom can be such a beautiful place to be in seriously.

I think that the problem often lies in the fact that in TV land the showrunners seem to relate more to characters that are like them whereas fandom prefers the moral grey.

That's really interesting! I think sometimes when the creator identifies too closely with a character, either it can lead to the most fantastically complex character ever, or basically a glorified self-insert. I mean, Logan is so well written, so utterly fascinating as a character (I even like Duncan now, since I know he's not the one for Veronica!) that it seems so difficult to believe that he's just there because the audience wanted it. But "super messy" is my favorite kind of character; I cannot with straight-laced characters who present no moral dilemmas whatsoever. I like my characters being awful a lot of times, but I also like to understand why. I'm not very friendly with the characters who're just plain awful because "that's who I am", that doesn't work for me. Which is why Logan works for me so much, guh.
(no subject) - catteo on June 12th, 2013 05:02 am (UTC) (Expand)