Looking At Cyberculture and Hollywood

DIGC335 is a class I’m not afraid to admit I feel a little out of my depth in. I am interested in digital media and the tech world in general, but for the most part my involvement is limited to reading the occasional Wired article and discussing how cringe-y the Twitter accounts of most politicians are. I do not know how to code. I only recently figured out what the ‘dark web’ is. Please forgive me for this. I have much to learn.

I sit in our DIGC335 seminars and marvel at the information being thrown around about Artificial Intelligence and cyborgs and for quite a while I was paralysed trying to think of a topic I could devote myself to for my research project. I was relieved to eventually settle on something that I actually do have a vested interest in. For my final research project, I’m going to examine the way cyberculture is infiltrating Hollywood. More specifically, I intend on looking at the major online Video on Demand (VoD) streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and even YouTube. Some of the areas I’ll be looking at include how VoD services are affecting:

  1. The creative process and production of content.
  2. The type of content being made.
  3. Distribution of content.
  4. Consumption of content.
  5. Government regulation relating to Internet access and quality of infrastructure.

From the top of my head, so many of my favourite writers, producers and actors from both television and film are not only accepting of the rise of streaming services, but are straight up benefitting from it. There’s a huge cast of diverse women on Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black, Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project moving to Hulu after being dropped from major network Fox, Broad City being picked up to series by Comedy Central only because it was initially a successful web series launched on YouTube. The examples of cyberculture enabling artists and resulting in good quality content in the film and television industry are endless.

From the onset, I do not believe the rise of Netflix will see the death of Hollywood. I do, however, believe that it has, and will continue to significantly disrupt the traditional entertainment industry. I am interested in examining how streaming services came to find such major success in recent years, what that currently means for film and television, and what it might mean in the future. For now, here’s Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s take on it (8min 15sec – 8min 40sec):

9 thoughts on “Looking At Cyberculture and Hollywood

  1. This seems like a really interesting topic. I can’t even remember the last time I watched a DVD or even a show on TV because watching Netflix on my computer is so much easier. I know since Australia gained access to Netflix and other streaming services the rates of online piracy has decreased. This is a really interesting article on it http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-13/streaming-services-putting-downward-pressure-on-piracy-report/6849670 and could be something you look into further. An issue at the moment is the geo-blocking Netflix has in place to stop users watching content outside their own regions. Some people use VPN’s to get around this but now some of these are being blocked too. Many users are saying if they cannot access other regions content they will cancel their Netflix account, which may cause piracy to increase again. This could be another interesting area of research.

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  2. It was good to know that I’m not alone in being slightly overwhelmed in class at the content! I too spent a while trying to find something I could continually research about. And your topic seems amazing! I love watching things online simply because its all there available and ready at my finger tips. But I do have to admit I love watching T.V and ripping the clear plastic off a new DVD case. It’ll be interesting to see where Netflix goes in relation to TV and control on a country’s accessibility to shows.

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  3. There is decision between which we would rather spend more on: time and money. Torrenting and pirating became huge when people didn’t want to pay for materials and such, but it took time to download and time to search and find them. Now it’s become common for people to spend to get what they want right now. With services such as Netflix and Stan, there is this immediate access to everything in one place with a low cost (approx) of $10 per month. Chris was saying in class on Wednesday that in terms of storage, it is easier to buy more storage than to spend more time on erasing what you don’t need to make more space. We are about efficiency, and technology is a leeway to efficiency.

    There is always this battle between time and money, and it seems time is winning.

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  4. I can’t remember the last time I watched a tv show on a tv, most of my viewing is via my computer, I mean The tonight Show, The Late Late Show, Jimmy Kimmel, all those well known TV shows all have hugely sucessfull Youtube accounts where most people consume their content on rather than TV. While I don’t think that TV will completely become irrelevant in the near future, sites like Netflix and Youtube have shown the success of such formats and the publics need to control their viewing. The reason most people watch on these platforms is their price (free or minimal compared to pay TV), convenience (can access from any device and watch when they want, rather than set time), as well as timeliness (access to shows same day as US). I looked into the idea of net neutrality and how that can stop the access of content on TV, leading to many accessing content online, and piracy. It has some good sources.

    https://michellewrites2.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/iregulate-net-neutrality-and-internet-regulation/

    Additionally I also examined the idea of net neutrality and regulation and explored some of the politics around the issue. Feel free to explore some of those sources.

    https://michellewrites2.wordpress.com/2015/09/05/net-neutrality-and-a-free-internet/

    The truth is that in this day and age, with the advancement of technology and globalisation, there is no reason for Australians to wait 2 weeks to get the latest Game of Thrones episode. I personally have turned to other online sources if I have to wait that long, and have found that when the content is made available to me shortly after the US airing, I am 99% more likely just to view directly from the providers. For example I use to watch shows like Walking Dead, The Flash and Arrow online, but now that they all have “Express from the US” and are aired within 12 hours of the US, I always watch them HBO or FOX. In summary, if you provide timely and cheap access they will pay, to legally watch your content.

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  5. I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched a ‘talk show’ style show on TV. If I want to watch an interview with someone, the first place I go is YouTube. I totally agree when you say that you don’t think streaming services will see the death of Hollywood. I think streaming services and Hollywood are at two different ends of the spectrum. That might just be me though. Youtube seems to have a lot of original content but a lot of that is skits and short films. You don’t go to YouTube expecting a high production feature length film. You go for the 7-15 minutes you have to spare. Netflix has stepped up their game though with series like OITNB and Sense8. I believe there’s always going to be demand for over the top Hollywood productions though. I think it would be really interesting to look and see how many customers companies like Foxtel lost when all the subscription based sites were introduced to Australia.

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  6. Dont worry! I totally feel out of my depth too, its taken me a while to kind of grasp the topic, I was a bit all over the place at the beginning!
    I’m so glad I’m not the only one that gets confused by drones, cyborgs bots etc! I think you’re topic is great, definitely would recommend analysing how we no longer rely on television for our main source of TV shows and maybe even talk about how streaming sites such as Netflix and Stan have helped fix the piracy problem in Australia.
    Here’s some links to look at!

    https://www.tremr.com/ally-velick/netflixs-take-over-of-television
    http://www.kotaku.com.au/2015/10/thanks-to-netflix-piracy-in-australia-is-on-the-decline/

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  7. Hey, interesting and relevant research topic! I noticed someone already commented on geoblocking, which is definitely an important part to look into. What are the limitations on access? I am not a Netflix user myself as internet connection where I live is too slow and I’ve found the content I want to watch isn’t available on Netflix.

    The case studies you mentioned are all very diverse shows (YAS BROAD CITY!), which could be a reflection on online streaming services acknowledging a wider audience than Hollywood. Perhaps it might be good to look at why Hollywood still caters it’s blockbusters to the ’13 year old boy’ demographic, when it’s more diverse films are clearly successful: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/diverse-movies-are-a-huge-business-why-doesnt-hollywood-make-more/2015/12/15/ec002564-9774-11e5-b499-76cbec161973_story.html. Netflix funded shows (like the ones you mentioned) and ‘Sense 8’/’Jessica Jones’ are proof that successful shows can be diverse! So it might be good to look at audience demographics for your 4th point on consumption of content.

    I also found this article which discusses the threat Netflix holds to Hollywood, could be an interesting insight: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-ct-netflix-hollywood-20160118-story.html

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  8. Haha don’t worry I definitely know the feels. We cover a crazy wide range of stuff in class and for each topic there’s so much depth and technicality to it.

    I totally agree, there’s been a huge surge in the last year for media on the net and it’s interesting to see how hollywood has and is adapting to these rapid changes. You’re definitely right in that there’s a crazy amount of case studies you can do into it. I think two more aspects you could potentially look at could be the advertising involved in streaming and/ or how often media is illegally torrented or streamed.
    This article is a year and a half old but it has some really good and crazy stats on the rates of illegal downloads so it could be worth checking out…
    http://mumbrella.com.au/australia-leads-way-illegal-downloads-game-thrones-219249

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  9. I think where you will find the most constructive and worthwhile path forward in your study of the disruptive power of streaming services in Hollywood is to identify the typical elements of cyberculture that translate into this space. It seems as if you have a preconceived notion of what cyberculture is that is based on how it has impacted you personally, however it would be worthwhile to consider the original pillars of cyberculture (from what I understand so far) i.e. the hacker ethic (here is the first chapter of a book on the information age and hacker ethic https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/h/himanen-hacker.html AND a quick informal look at the origins of the hacker ethic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_ethic), subversion and active discredit of authority, keeping information free, and the inherent potential in technology when amplified by humans and networks. Whether streaming services and their founders actually believe in this culture is where you might find some problems, as ultimately those streaming services are still not participating in potentially the most mainstream and useful version of cyberculture; the sharing economy (research anything by Rachel Botsman and talks by the founders of AirBnB and Uber).

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