Make a fan vid for MTV and win cool prizes: Participatory pleasures and profits converge

Curator's Note

Yahoo and MTV are offering prizes for fan-produced movie trailer spoofs. The winners will get a Golden Bucket of Popcorn Award on the live MTV Awards show on June 4th. While clearly an example of converging producer branding efforts with consumer desires for textual interaction, it is worth noting that MTV and Yahoo have rigidly defined what films can be spoofed (all recent big budget fare) and where these spoofs can be uploaded (read: not Youtube). I guess Bleak House won't be represented. Moreover, they have generously provided fans with access to film clips and "cleared" music tracks for some of the films under consideration (shockingly, all New Line Entertainment properties) while explicitly stating that spoofers must obtain permissions for all other copyrighted materials used in their entries. While Viacom's efforts to stack the deck in its own favor may not seem all that surprising, perhaps even less shocking is the narrow discursive construction of previously "illegal" fan authoring activities as the work of "aspiring filmmakers". Accompanying such professionalization rhetoric comes the carrot that the judges will determine winning entries based on naturalized criteria such as "humor, creativity and audience appeal". The employment of celebrities in the advertisements for these "spoofs" further cements this new relationship between Hollywood and its fans, with the latter now designated as filmmakers-in-training rather than potential radical alterers of meaning. Am I the only one recalling Gramsci’s notion that hegemony can only be maintained through co-optation?


I think that a Gramscian reading makes sense here. In my paper for MIT5, I wrote about fake trailers and noted that Fox Atomic is doing something similar: inviting participants to make "fake" trailers for upcoming films (28 Weeks Later, etc). Of course, they're all Fox Atomic properties, so fans are actively engaged in promoting Fox's upcoming films. Just to make a bit of a leap here, your discussion of this Golden Bucket contest reminds me of the new reality-competition series, On the Lot, in which aspiring filmmakers compete for a $1 million developmental deal from DreamWorks (Spielberg is one of the sponsors). Thus far, I've been intrigued by the ways in which the judges and the show itself have positioned the aspiring filmmakers, pushing them into relatively conventional storytelling modes. Again, it seems to be placing some very specific limits on what it means to make meaning through movies.

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