Realms narrated

Following the examples discussed in the weeks before, we would like to stress the concept of transmedia aesthetics in two of the already used case studies. Transmedia aesthetics is concerned with the telling of a story or the exploring of a certain realm across several media. Every medium has its specific qualities and things it does best. The first case study we will discuss here, is The Bridge, the Swedish/Danish police series that is adapted by two other border-regions and made into three different series. The creation of a realm is furthermore established by making several ‘behind-the-scene’ videos, accessible via YouTube.
In the case of the World Cup in Brazil, there is something entirely different at stake. While the sports is being praised in the Western Sports Media, there are also critical narratives that try to prove a differet view. Can Brazil handle the organization of such a large event? Why does the government not take FIFA money that is common to accept in such cases while the cities in Brazil suffer under severe crime and drug rates? Should FIFA and the rest of the world take a learning from this?

In Beyond the Brick: Narrativizing LEGO in the Digital Age Aaron Smith helps us understand the growing, convergence and outsourcing of LEGO throughout the last decades. The possibilities of LEGO in creative, imaginative and play potentiality are unlimited and hereby offering a larger level of both drilability and spreadability. Where the earlier suggested series of The Bridge might not be so spreadable (inviting to take and share paratexts) it is very dirable (potentitial to descend into the core and parse through its nuances). By recreating the series in different environments, we get different views upon the same story. The stories get furthermore interconnected and meaning passes from one to the other.

As far as transmedia aesthetics go, the different media for The Bridge lies in its crossing of nations, and therefore of geocultural markets (Hesmondhalgh, 2013). The definition goes, however ‘each media text offers unique narrative contributions to the whole franchise while standing on its own as a satisfying experience’. (Smith) While the setting and border are the same, the different borders in the Scandinavian, American and European series provide entirely different contexts.

At the same time, YouTube provides the context behind the scenes.

In this video Malmö and Copenhagen are considered a region; they are tied together very clearly. ‘The series has its own universe,’ the director argues, ‘which allows a good deal of creative freedom.’ It is obvious they have created their own reality and ask people to come along in this.

World Cup 2014

In the text From Broadcast Scarcity to Digital Plentitude (Hutchins and Rowe) the new age of sports commodity is explored. Sport is an important feature of national television and therefore of national identity. Brazil is known as a sports country for all of us.

‘Show the world we are one’

The promotional video of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil shows a football country; a country where the sports is more than that, it is a way of living. The singers in the clip are proud of their country: ‘Show the world where you are from, show the world that we are one,’ they repeat over and over. Brazil is depicted as a wealthy country that will be happy to welcome all the sports tourists.

Many Brazilians however, feel that the World Cup is bad for Brazil, the New York Times write. According to a survey, 61% of the Brazilians feels that the World Cup took away sources from schools, health care and other public services. Not only the doubt is whether it will be good for the country at all, Brazilians are also said to be concerned about what it does for their image in the rest of the world. There are three almost equally large groups that think it will either enhance or hurt their position or have no effect at all.

On CNN the despair in the ‘Cracklands’ is visible. The amount of people using crack is the highest in the world. Between 300 and 400 people come to street in São Paulo every night to smoke, not trying to hide it at all. The officials have tried to do something about it, but critics say that they are ‘focused on cleaning the streets’ instead of addressing the causes of the addiction and providing solutions. In other words, they want ‘clean’ the image for tourists instead of having to help the people stop using the drugs.

Brazilians feel there is a lot of potential in their country, but that they cannot put up with the developed countries as yet. The World Cup was not the direction they needed to go, some argue. For the preparation of this blog we asked two Brazilians, abroad during the time of the World Cup in 2014, personal acquaintances and friends and so maybe not a mirror of the whole society to comment on the Brazilian World Cup. Mateus Souza Santos, Brazil citizen but spending his Erasmus year in Budapest is not the biggest sports fan. (He says, jumping on and of his seat in a furthermore quiet café just next to the city center, when Brazilian’s favourite almost scores a goal). Later, he admits that ‘even for me it was quite exciting’, but:

[…] the shitload of money spend on stadiums, people who lived for 30 years around them and were dumped just because parking lots needed to be built. The Brazilian government declined FIFA to pay taxes because “they didn’t have to” – money that could have been spent on schools, hospitals, or to raise the wage of base education teachers. All foreigners went outside of Brazil probably without knowing this reality.  Lots of construction companies got richer than they should, lots of politicians got richer than they should, all for a good show. We use to say that Brazil is one of the countries with best international relationship around the globe, so what gets me very sad in this whole history is that maybe we could stop worrying too much about this relation and how much money we are spending with it and start to care more about our own people.

Marie-Laure Ryan, editor of the volume Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling argues that a medium shapes the narration, a text and eventually the story. The story of the bridge is very clear-cut, has several dimensions and creates a broader realm by adapting the story for several geocultural markets. What, however, when we try to view the Brazilian world cup as a narrative? It has a passing of time and a way to tell it. It was a good show, but the sports industries and Brazilian tell a different story than for instance critical journalists from The Guardian or CNN.

We think that the narratives across media can be broader than just this. In the case of The Bridge it becomes very clear that even without changing media the stories can get intertwined and attach to each others meaning. There was a realm created, and within this realm there are several storylines explored. It is not necessary to watch all three series to know what is going on, to follow it and be able to appreciate it.

In case of the Brazilian World Cup, you can see that the people who have different interests in the event present the story in different ways. The song shows us a happy, united Brazil with good international relations, whereas journalism shows us how much problems there are in the country that need to be solved: ‘… maybe we could stop worrying too much about this relation and how much money we are spending with it and start to care more about our own people.’ In both cases we need different sources to get a good image of the whole. In every other medium we get information that belongs to the realm but you can not get anywhere else and we think that this is the power, but also the danger of a narrative that is shattered across different media.


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