New Media Immaturity

Curator's Note

I agree with the characters in this TV clip that I made: Tumblr, a platform “not not for porn,” is “so ancient.” The clip compiles references to tumblr in two sitcom episodes from mid-February. In the first segment, a stand-alone excerpt from a scene in the Blackish episode “Andre From Marseille” (ABC), Yara Shahidi, playing the hyperbolically popular teenager Zoe, introduces through dialogue Mischa Nixon, someone who “still uses tumblr,” implicitly a dated site yet a point of fascination. Tumblr is dated again in the sequence that follows, a cobbled together thread about media technology in the Looking episode “Looking for Gordon Freeman” (HBO). Andrew Law’s Owen inspires an entrepreneur with a chicken shack straight out of Mildred Pierce and a cache of, as Doris puts it, naked selfies showing your butthole, to use tumblr for advertising.

What about using tumblr for accessible scholarship? For an archive of stylistic historiography? These are questions for a 2015 SCMS workshop titled Making the Past Visible: Best Practices and New Adventures in Digital and Material Archives.

This post, created to promote that event, merges cable TV and tumblr pages representing my research. The first tumblr, timmietoday, repurposes a gif-set-as-article-illustration gone awry. It juxtaposes sitcom writing and editing remnants with animations related to a 1968 series I rescripted in Feminist Media Histories 1. The second, queerpursuits, also explores genderqueer dynamics across print and programming repositories. Zoom in or out, click and drag, flick around and arrange the documents. Together, the tumblrs and clip refigure stigma. The work spotlights disparagement, excessive recovery, crossover, and everyday retrieval.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” “Do you not know what a tumblr is?” “Did you not hear me say that Mischa Nixon still uses tumblr?” My clip, the cut-up slash fiction of a sampling anti-fan, combines with the tumblr pages to index queer multiplicity through new media immaturity. “What do you think of” “Not not for porn.” “So ancient.”


Thanks for sharing this. I've been using Tumblr for archiving for years, for research as well as teaching. I find it a fairly simple way to manage multiple sites with multiple interests in multiple ways. I've used it for teaching for several years too, to share materials with the students and to archive a range of materials for the class; I prefer it to "locking material away" in university-provided sites. Partly for the reasons you mention above though, I have experienced resistance to some students for using it, especially men: I've been told it's only for "fourteen-year old girls." Alternatively, I've received squeals of delight from a few students when we've used it, mostly women involved in fandom. Last application, I'm using it this year in teaching an entry-level gender studies class, and recently had by far my highest circulated post ever, an article on asexuality. I was really surprised at how quickly and consistently that spread. To sum up from what I see you noting here, to me Tumblr is interesting as a "queer" archive in its multiplicities, its openness, its gendered aspects, and its connections to sexual communities. I'm really fascinated by what you've noted, and hope I get to engage more. Here's the URL for my current teaching Tumblr, if that's of use to you.

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