A lot has been said about the creative industries. Paragraphs upon paragraphs could be written about the term ‘creative industries’ alone. For this following post, it’s necessary to simplify all the ideas and notions about the creative industries into a series of developments. The developments are based on the conclusion of Raúl Rodriguez-Ferrándiz’s essay: Culture Industries in a Postindustrial Age: Entertainment, Leisure, Creativity, Design.
Rodriguez-Ferrándiz writes that culture industries have moved past the Fordist means of production and are now rooted in a Post-Fordist society where the ‘old’ mediators of culture and media have fallen away and de-mediation and re-mediation is taking place. This also means that the culture industries has merged together with the leisure industries, that making and re-making cultural objects is now something people do all the time for their leisure. This has also taken steps and have moved to a more closer fusion according to Rodriguez- Ferrándiz where these recreational practices have become practices of creation. These ideas are not the easiest to grasp and to illustrate what these developments of de-mediation, re-mediation and recreational practices mean, we are going to use the case study of Tumblr as a guide to these concepts and developments.
Tumblr is a ‘micro-blogging’ website/social medium. Like, for example, twitter, it allows you to follow people whose posts appear in your central feed. You can then reblog or create posts, therefore who follows you gets to see that post, etc. The type of user and the type of material on tumblr varies from artistic, focused on photography or fashion, to humorous and focused on fandoms. Tumblr is also often a platform for social justice issues, with strong voices that are pro-choice in the abortion debate, feminist and for gay rights.
The concept of de-mediation can be illustrated perfectly by what happened on Tumblr during the events surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown, the non-indictment of Darren Wilson and the riots that followed. What happened on Tumblr was that there were hardly any news reports on there. What happened in Ferguson was communicated to Tumblr via tweets and blog-posts from the people that were actually protesting there. This is an example of de-mediation because it removes the mediator like the news companies from the equation and just brings the news to the consumer through nothing more than the accounts of people who are actually there. There’s far less “editing” so to speak.
The practice/development that is the most visible on Tumblr is the practice or re-mediation. In the original text of Rodriguez-Ferrándiz he does not expand much on that particular concept but from his examples of remixing and remaking media into something new with a meaning that is put there by the consumer, it is implied that re-mediation means exactly that: Taking the media and shaping it into something new, changing the meaning of it.
A good example of this is ‘racebending’. Racebending means changing the race of characters in fiction. A very popular character that is often racebent is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books/movies. A quote from a tumblr user explains the feelings that people have towards a black Hermione Granger:
but can we talk about how much sense it makes for hermione to be Black?
(aside from the hair cos like forreal tho and she had to straighten it to suddenly be considered beautiful like shoooot do I need to go on)
more like her disgust that a house elf that wants to be free is considered defective (this one is forreal because the same was thought of enslaved people when they expressed a desire to be free)
more like her advocating for oppressed groups, both magical beings and muggleborns, and not accepting that your heritage should not be the thing that makes people decide you are inferior
((also jokingly, no one but a Black mother could have come up with that beautiful beautiful name lol))
This a way of re-mediating: The original meaning of the movies that Hermione was white is cast aside and instead, Hermione is made a black girl, and suddenly her backstory changes because of this different way of framing. The source remains the same; the information from the books does not describe her race, but the way it is mediated is completely different. This also implies that de-mediation is part of this re-mediating process, because for Black Hermione to exist, White Hermione has to be forgotten first.
Finally, Tumblr is and remains a site where people go for their entertainment and in their leisure time. This puts everything that was said before about Ferguson and Black Hermione in a context that connects with what Rodriguez – Ferrandiz describes as “a magma in which culture industries coexist in close synergy with the leisure and entertainment industries, on the one hand, and with creative industries, on the other”. This inter-activism of connecting to ferguson through eye-witness accounts only and this remediating practice of making Hermione Black is connected to the entertainment-centered site that Tumblr is supposed to be. Tumblr has become this melting pot of creativity, activism and mediation and is therefore a very good example of how the cultural industries are developing.