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Gender, Paratexts and Everyday Heroes? From #WheresRey to 'Chewbacca Mom'



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Gender, Paratexts and Everyday Heroes? From #WheresRey to 'Chewbacca Mom'

  1. 1. Gender, Paratexts and Everyday Superheroes? FROM #WHERESREY TO “THE CHEWBACCA MOM” Luke Webster (@lukeweb) and Dr Tama Leaver (@tamaleaver) Department of Internet Studies
  2. 2. Overview 1. Fan activity as paratext 2. Heightened networked connectivity, transmedia and The Collective Journey 3. Questioning gender roles in superhero franchises
  3. 3. The role of fans • Collective intelligence • Attracting new audiences • Creating pathways and acting as guides • Keeping a franchise within the zeitgeist
  4. 4. Transmedia Storytelling “Transmedia storytelling is the art of world making.” - Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture, p. 21.
  5. 5. Shift to the Mothership Model “Hollywood has shifted toward a “mothership” approach; that is, the focus is on one core property that may be extended into other platforms depending on the market response.” - Henry Jenkins, Wired TV, pp. 246-7
  6. 6. Participation Good transmedia implementation requires an “architecture for dialogue” -Jeff Gomez, C.E.O. Starlight Runner
  7. 7. Paratexts “…the “peripherals” are often anything but peripheral. Instead, they often play a constitutive role in the production, development and expansion of a text.” - Jonathan Gray, Show Sold Separately, p.175
  8. 8. The Collective Journey - Jeff Gomez, 2016
  9. 9. For producers and storytellers… • Narrative integrity • Trend towards diversity • Inevitable fan participation
  10. 10. The Collective Journey?
  11. 11. The Hero’s Journey
  12. 12. For the original Star Wars films… “[it was] the toys that kept the trilogy alive” - Jonathan Gray, Show Sold Separately, p.181
  13. 13. The Collective Journey
  14. 14. The Mothership text
  15. 15. #WheresBlackWidow Vs #WheresRey Both protests about lack of female character toys #WheresBlackWidow reinforced the lack of strong female character activity in Avengers: Age of Ultron #WheresRey reinforced the prominence of strong female characters
  16. 16. 20 May 2016 Candace Payne: Chewbacca Mom
  17. 17.
  18. 18. Chewbacca Mom Takes James Corden to Work
  19. 19. The Star Wars Show
  20. 20. “Chewbacca Mom Holiday Special” Hasbro Ad (23 Nov 2016)
  21. 21. Where do we go from here? 1. Gender is one example 2. Fan paratexts are important 3. Expect to see more everyday superheroes
  22. 22. References Gomez, J. (2012, October 20). The 10 commandments of 21st century franchise production. Business Insider Australia. Retrieved from Gomez, J. (2015, December 1). The Collective Journey. Paper presented at ASCILITE Conference: Shaping the future of tertiary education, Curtin University, Perth, Australia. Gomez, J. (2016, February 23). The Collective Journey: Transmedia and the rise of a new form of story. Paper presented at The National Arts Club, New York, USA. Gray, J. (2010). Show sold separately: Promos, spoilers, and other media paratexts. New York, USA: NYU Press. Jenkins, H. (2006a). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York, USA: New York University Press. Jenkins, H. (2006b). Fans, bloggers, and gamers: Exploring participatory culture. New York: New York University Press. Jenkins, H. (2010, March 8). On anti-fans and paratexts: An interview with Jonathan Gray (part two). [Web log post]. Retrieved from Jenkins, H. (2014). The reign of the “mothership”: Transmedia’s past, present, and possible futures. In D. Mann (ed), Wired TV: Laboring over an Interactive future. Retrieved from
  23. 23. Thank you! Questions or comments? @lukeweb Slideshare / LinkedIn @tamaleaver