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Final Papers for You to Enjoy

So after about two hours I finally realized what I had done wrong when trying to attach a PDF file to my last blog entry. So here are three of my papers for your enjoyment! ;)

Disneyization

This was written for my Deconstructing Disney class. It was a graduate level course that studied Disney and the effects it has or is percieved to have on society. I argued that Disney is NOT negative to society.

Creative Process Paper

This paper was also written for my Deconstructing Disney class. It was our final paper for the semester and in lieu of a written final. I was even able to interview two storywriters from Walt Disney Imagineering for this paper. It’s very interesting, even to those not studying Mass Communications.

Transmedia Storytelling and Convergence Culture

The paper that made me cry. But also the one I am most proud of. For my Mass Communications Theory Class (graduate level) we had to write a research proposal for our final project, and as a requirement we had to look at the future of mass communications. While we did not do the actual research, I’m definately thinking about that for my next research class as this paper was interesting to write. Talks about Harper’s Globe, Harper’s Island, Dollhouse, etc.. If you enjoy it and want to fund a research project let me know ;) .

That is all for now. I still have lots to write about the L.A. Times Festival of Books, Bear’s First Trip to Disneyland, and lots of other ideas floating around in my head, but those will wait until another time.

Disney – Why I Remain Intrigued

Hi everyone! I apologize for the lack of updating. School ran away with me and I’ve been trying to keep up. Here is a paper I wrote for my Disney class to peek your interest, and later today I will be posting my research paper on the Creative Process. Enjoy! Hopefully I will have lots more creative posts as the summer approaches.

Under Their Magical Spell: Why Disney Continues to Intrigue Me

Disney has always represented creativity, imagination and fantasy since my childhood. I grew up watching the Disney Channel, reading Disney related books and magazines, collecting Disney dolls, and visiting Disneyland with various school organizations. Disney was a place I could relax and ignore reality, even if for a few hours. This love of the imagination followed me through my adult years and into a job with the company. Even though I now see more of the reality than the fantasy, every visit to a Disney theme park has the ability to take me out of this current time and place and into a timeless world where it is okay for me to be a child again. This ability of the Walt Disney Company to create a magical world, where children of all ages can experience their wildest dreams in a safe environment, is one of the many reasons that I continue to be a Disney fan.

The experience of Disney as a place where adults can once again be children is often echoed by visitors to its theme parks. It was even mirrored by ten of the original mouseketeers when Disneyland celebrated its 50th anniversary. These mouseketeers who, at a young aged danced, acted, and entertained children through The Mickey Mouse Club, were once again inspired to perform like they had as kids. One even remarked that “We’re not old, we’re original” (Edds, 2005). This shows that people, no matter what their age is, can once again feel young and excited about the world of adventure when they allow themselves to be caught up in the magical environment of Disney.

My impression of Disney before I began this class was a favorable one. I have been employed by Disney for eight years and have worked in many different roles. While working for Disney has not always been a fairytale, there are many aspects of the company that I enjoy and which give me a continued hope for the future. Many different aspects of the company have already been explored and examined in this class. While this has not changed my status as a Disney fan it has given me a more varied outlook and has allowed me to clearly see the flaws of this company, which in turn allow me to examine it closer. It has given me a more accurate vision of Disney as a company that I would not have otherwise and has opened my eyes to some of the less attractive dealings that have taken place over the years. These dealings include Walt’s conflicts with the Unions and his participation in the Motion Picture Alliance (Wasko, 2001, p. 16-17).

Coming into this class, I was aware of the varied entertainment that Disney provides to its consumers. However, it was a surprise how Janet Wasko tends to emphasize Disney’s focus consumerism. Understanding Disney also provides an interesting critique of projects Disney was involved in during the past and is currently not involved in, such as Celebration, DisneyQuest, and the ownership of the Anaheim Angels baseball team as well as the Anaheim Mighty Ducks hockey team (Wasko, 2001). These different business dealings are well known; however a quick online search shows the many different Magazines and cable channels unrelated to Disney that is owned by the company. The most unusual are the variety of the magazines. I was unaware that Biography and U.S. weekly were both partially owned by Disney, not to mention multiple industry and news magazines and an automotive magazine. I was also unaware that there was a Disney Food, Health, and Beauty division of the company (“Who Owns What”, 2008). These revelations put into retrospect the range of the Walt Disney Company and just what a wide variety of business units they have, a surprise for someone who thought they were aware of all the different ventures Disney has been involved in. It also gives me faith in Disney by showing the company is acknowledging the need to step outside their comfort zone in order to remain competitive. They are acknowledging the changing audience and are attempting to create additional consumers they would not otherwise have, something that I, unlike Wasko, admire.

Diversification is a theme that Disney does extremely well. This is seen in various ways, including the rebranding of Disney Wide World of Sports as ESPN Wide World of Sports (Albright, 2008, para 1). While the company is hoping to house another sports team during their training sessions, it is more about gaining a larger reputation as a first class sports facility then the money from the teams themselves (Albright, 2008, para 6 & 7). The families traveling to a sports competition for one of their children or traveling to see a certain team is an idea that Disney has been using to its advantage since the opening of Wide World of Sports. Disney is incorporating current travel trends in order to further their status as a vacation destination. The company must hope that this rebranding furthers that goal.

Another successful example of Disney diversification is their entry into Broadway shows. These include the reimaginings of some of their most popular animated movies, such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, as well as a successful reimagining of the opera Aida with music written by Elton John. It has been said that Disney has elevated the cultural experience of attending a Broadway production to “vacation status”, using big name directors, composers, and actors, and of course charging a premium price (Pressley, 2008, para 13). Offering their consumers varied ways of accessing their most popular properties has been a successful tactic that Disney has employed since the creation of Disneyland in 1955. This continued use of their well known properties is what makes Disney what other companies strive to become, rather then just a play on the consumer.

It is my belief that in order for Disney to succeed in the current world of entertainment they must continue to diversify and incorporate new ideas and technology into their theme parks and media ventures. Bob Iger has proven to be an intelligent choice as CEO of the Walt Disney Company due to his favorable attitude toward new media, creative ways of thinking, and focus towards family entertainment (Siklos, 2009). These are the ideas that Disney strives on and what, in my opinion, makes the company successful.

As talked about previously, the range of Disney’s properties was not unfamiliar, however the acknowledgement of Disney influence over what is produced in the media was an idea that I had yet to think about. Disney has more of a profound influence over the media then I initially thought. From offering trips so reporters can experience the new attractions in a park to the various Disney Voluntear events held over the course of the year, Disney attempts to hold a strong control over their public image. This idea of control is something that Wasko mentioned frequently in her book Understanding Disney and has been echoed by Disney executives as well. One example of the company’s desire to maintain control is illustrated in the Copyright Extension Act of 1998. During this time period Disney successfully lobbied to extend copyrights, which allowed the company to maintain control over Mickey, Minnie and other characters that Walt Disney created during his life (Wasko, 2001, p 85-86). This is an attempt by Disney to maintain control of the images associated with them and ensure they are not used for any improper materials. While this revelation seemed drastic to me, I understand Disney’s desire to maintain the quality and image that they have taken so many years to acquire.

Another example of Disney’s desire to maintain control is seen when Disney, under the influence of Michael Eisner, begins to get involved with the reimagining of Times Square. The first impulse is to gate the area that they will be controlling, which is unreasonable in a commuter city like New York. Peter Rummell, Disney Chairman, states “The question in these urban environments really becomes: ‘Is there a way you can have enough control?’ Because we are control freaks” (Business Week, 2004). Even Disney acknowledges their attempts to maintain as much control of any given situation as possible. They are aware, yet perhaps maintain that this control is necessary to create entertainment of as high a quality as is expected of them as well as to maintain their relationship with the public that trusts them.

The study of the Walt Disney Company as a media conglomerate has made me hyperaware of the products Disney produces on their many different platforms. Disney continues to produce high quality entertainment for kids, as well as for the family to experience together. But they also are beginning to offer more unique, audience specific forms of entertainment. This class has allowed me to look at these products with a more subjective eye and yet still enjoy them for what they are: wholesome, moral family entertainment designed primarily for the entire family to enjoy.

References

Albright, M. (2008, September 25). Disney Adds ESPN Cachet. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from ProQuest Newspapers (1561244551).

Edds, K. (2005, October 4). Mouseketeers celebrate 50th anniversary. Orance County Registrar. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from ProQuest Newspapers (907085791).

Pressley, N. (2008, June 29). A Roaring Success and Its Effects on Broadway. The Washington Post. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from ProQuest Newspapers (1502226921).

Siklos, R. (2009, February 3). Bob Iger rocks Disney. Retrieved March 1, 2009, from http://money.cnn.com/2009/01/02/news/newsmakers/siklos_eisner.fortune/index.htm

The Mouse Takes Manhattan. (3878, April 12). Business Week. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from ProQuest Newspapers (612372051).

Wasko, J. (2001). Understanding Disney. Maldon, MA: Polity Press.

Who Owns What – Walt Disney Company [Electronic version]. (2008). Columbia Jouralism Review.

The Future of Entertainment

Some of you know that I’m in a program to get my Masters in Communication (Advertising) at Cal State Fullerton. Others know that I’m very interested in social networking and social media (hence my obsession with twitter). Well, because I am currently taking a class on Mass Communications Theory the two interests often collide.

I’ve become very interested in a new Social Show called Harper’s Globe. It is an ongoing web series that is part of the Harper’s Island mythology. It is also done by the same company that created the LonelyGirl15 experience, so it’s already making a large splash.

This week the theory in question that I chose to write on was the Information Diffusion Theory and whether it was relevant in a modern technology world. By looking at Harper’s Globe I saw that it proved the theory valid. The following is my paper that looks at it. I hope you enjoy!

Information Diffusion Theory

In the ever changing world of mass media one must look critically at the current mass communications theories to see their validity in today’s society. One such theory that can be proven as relevant in today’s world of mass communications and new technology is the information diffusion theory first introduced by Everett Rogers in 1962. His information diffusion theory had five stages that new mass communications technologies must be passed down through before being widely adopted (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271). The following discussion will examine the stages in relationship to the new media phenomena of the social show, in particular Harper’s Globe, produced to go with CBS’s new television show Harper’s Island.

The first stage is where people are first being made aware of the new form of communication. This can be done through information from mass media (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271). It was also suggested that change agents could be involved in the distribution of the information regarding the innovations to assist others in their use ((Baran & Davis, 209, p.272). In looking at Harper’s Globe it is seen as getting press in new media groups as being the first of its kind. The creators of the program, who would be the change agents, are seen through the mass media explaining the concept and inviting people to join the website to find more. They are also available on the website to help people begin to enjoy the experience. As the site begins to become more popular the forming of the second stage is seen.

The second stage is when the communication form is adopted by a small group of early adopters (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271). This group of early adopters on the Harper’s Globe website comprised of the creators and members of the company that created the site and the program. They are a small group of people including family and friends of those who created the site and people running the website in various capacities. It is them who explained to the opinion leaders in stage three how the website worked and the in and outs of the new phenomena of a social show (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271).

In stage four the opinion leaders encourage their friends to use the medium (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271). This is currently the stage that Harper’s Globe is in within the information diffusion theory. The opinion leaders are sharing the information about Harper’s Globe on other social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. This allows the information to reach a larger number of followers, or opinion followers. As the site grows it is hoped that more people will find there way to the new social show after the television series debuts on CBS. These people would be the late adopters to the show (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271).

Various other factors must be taken into consideration though. One such factor is the role of the active audience. In order for someone to be interested in Harper’s Globe it is suggested that they be an active member of the audience by posting comments, solving mysteries and communicating with the characters, however it is not necessary in order to enjoy the weekly episodes. While being an active audience member can enhance the understanding and pleasure one gets from a social show, it is not crucial, just something extra to keep people interested in new media interested. Unfortunately, the idea of being an active audience is not introduced in the information diffusion theory so it is uncertain how being an active part of the audience influences people’s decisions to try and encourage the use of new media. Time and further exploration of the role that audience participation has in the evolution of new forms of mass communication can, in the future, help form opinions to revise this theory appropriately.