My research focuses media industries convergences, particularly legacy media institutions’ use of “new” technology in content strategy. Sites of inquiry include film and television production and promotion; digital distribution; multiplatform content; streaming video and podcasts; social platforms; and professional wrestling. I am particularly interested in ephemeral media—not just media companies’ manipulation of temporality but also failed, discarded, and projects.
Social TV: Multi-Screen Content and Ephemeral Culture (2022)
This book reveals how the US television industry promised—but failed to deliver—a social media revolution in the 2010s to combat the imminent threat of on-demand streaming video. I examine the rise and fall of Social TV across press coverage, corporate documents, and an array of digital ephemera. He demonstrates that, despite the talk of disruption, the movement merely aimed to exploit social media to reinforce the value of live TV in the modern attention economy. Case studies from broadcast networks to tech start-ups uncover a persistent focus on community that aimed to monetize consumer behavior in a transitionary industry period.
To trace these unfulfilled promises and flopped ideas, I draw upon a unique mix of personal Social TV experiences and curated archives of material that were intentionally marginalized amid pivots to the next big thing. Yet in placing this now-forgotten material in recent historical context, Social TV shows how the era altered how the industry pursues audiences. Multi-screen campaigns have shifted away from a focus on live TV and toward all-day “content” streams. The legacy of Social TV, then, is the further embedding of media and promotional material onto every screen and into every moment of life.
“It Really Works!: Qualitative Content Analysis of Multi-Level Marketing Organizations’ Online Promotional Messaging and Recruitment Strategies” with Rachelle Pavelko in Women’s Studies in Communication (2022)
Though controversial due to their similarities to illegal pyramid schemes, multilevel marketing (MLM) companies annually generate billions of dollars and recruit millions of people, particularly women. The purpose of the present study is to assess how three major MLMs—It Works!, Young Living, and Younique—situate themselves online. We engage in a qualitative content analysis of these companies’ Web sites (including the language, visuals, and site navigation) to identify notable themes that emerge from online recruitment efforts.
The analysis draws upon theoretical frameworks related to feminism, faith, and commodity activism as they intersect with neoliberal capitalism. The application of critiques of neoliberal feminism and commodity activism to an ignored but significant corner of modern capitalism shapes the development of a coding schema that unlocks a deeper understanding of how women are targeted by MLM promotional messaging.
“From Cinematic to Podcast Universe: Wolverine: The Long Night and the Multiplication of the Marvel Universe” in The Superhero Multiverse (2021)
Rather than consider Marvel’s podcasting initiatives as a direct replica of its multiverse franchising strategies in print or on screen, this chapter reveals how Wolverine: The Long Night and subsequent Marvel podcasts operate through multiple and simultaneous frames of adaptation, intertextuality, intermediality, and paratextuality. Employing critical textual analysis of The Long Night and the promotional discourses surrounding Marvel’s podcast experiments, I argue that the process of multiverse multiplication necessitates not just remaking or readapting but also a systematic synthesizing of disparate-but-familiar industrial and cultural touchpoints.
Together, the synthesis of content and strategies from the existing world into the new world positions the Marvel Podcast Universe as strategically separate from, but also intimately related to, other storyworlds within the multiverse. While accepting Hollywood’s fascination with deeply interconnected storyworlds, I submit that the multiverse strategy also allows franchise managers to shape fan interest through intertextual (or interuniversal) references. This is particularly relevant at the point of multiplication where a storyworld must be accepted by many industrial and audience constituencies.
“The Surprise Drop: The Cloverfield Paradox, UnREAL Season Four, and Evolving Patterns in Streaming Video Distribution and Reception.” Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies 16.2 (2019): 243-272. https://www.participations.org/Volume%2016/Issue%202/13.pdf.
“Sports Networks, Pro Wrestling, and the Live Programming Bubble.” In Media Res. October 2019.
“‘Tout It Out’: WWE’s Experimentation and Failure with Social TV.” In #WWE: Professional Wrestling in the Digital Age, edited by Dru Jeffries, 159-176. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019.
Review of John Tinnell, Actionable Media: Digital Communication Beyond the Desktop. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. Convergence: The International Journal of Research Into New Media Technologies. Online first, July 1, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856519856623.
“WWE Network: The Disruption of Over-the-Top Distribution” (with Andrew Zolides). In From Networks to Netflix: A Guide to Changing Channels, edited by Derek Johnson, 385-394. New York: Routledge, 2018.
“From Social TV to TV on Social: Original Content Comes to Facebook and Twitter.” Transformative Works and Cultures 26 (2018). https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2018.1291.
“‘Great Shows, Thanks to You’: From Participatory Culture to ‘Quality TV’ in Amazon’s Pilot Season.” Television & New Media 18.5 (2017): 441-458. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476416667817.
The Age of Netflix: Critical Essays on Streaming Media, Digital Delivery, and Instant Access (co-editor with Myc Wiatrowski). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2017.
Arrow and Superhero Television: Essays on Themes and Characters of the Series (co-editor with James F. Iaccino and Myc Wiatrowski). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2017.
“It’s Not TV, It’s Twitter: HBO’s Branding Practices and Tweeting Quality and Distinction.” The Projector: The Journal on Film, Media, and Culture 15.2 (2015): 73-112. https://goo.gl/iLZpQt.
Review of Bad Boys & The 84 Draft, directed by Zak Levitt. 2014. The Journal of Sport History 42.2 (2015): 227-229. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/594220.
Review of Wired TV: Labor Over Television’s Interactive Future, edited by Denise Mann. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2014. The Journal of Popular Culture 48.2 (2015): 435-437. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jpcu.1227.
Mapping Smallville: Critical Essays on the Series and Its Characters (co-editor with Chris Ryan and Myc Wiatrowski). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2014.
“‘Social’ TV: Pretty Little Liars, Casual Fandom, Celebrity Instagramming, and Media Life.” The Popular Culture Studies Journal 2.1/2 (2014): 215-242. http://mpcaaca.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/B10-Barker-Social-TV.pdf.
“‘Chlark’ Versus ‘Clois’”: Shippers, Anti-Fans, and Anti-Fan Fans.” In Mapping Smallville: Critical Essays on the Series and Its Characters, edited by Cory Barker, Chris Ryan, and Myc Wiatrowski, 174-192. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2014.
“Populist or Prestige? Amazon’s Attempts to Brand Pilot Season.” Antenna: Responses to Media and Culture. August 2014.
“Check-in vs. See It: How Twitter’s Latest Moves Impact GetGlue.” Antenna: Responses to Media and Culture. October 2013.
“More than Logos: AMC, FX, and Cable Branding.” Antenna: Responses to Media and Culture. April 2013.
Review of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, written by Rob Salkowitz. New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. The Journal of Popular Culture 46.3 (2013): 693-695. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jpcu.12043_10.
“Working Out the Kinks: Perceived Pilot Quality in Contemporary Network Comedy.” In Media Res. September 2012.
“Quality Television-by-The-Numbers: Veena Sud and AMC’s Failed Products and Faulty Assumptions.” In Media Res. November 2011.
Review of Television and New Media: Must-Click TV by Jennifer Gillan. New York: Routledge, 2011. Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture 9.3 (2011): 232-233. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15405702.2011.587170.
“Stranger in a Strange Land: Quality Television’s Episodic Failures.” In Media Res. April 2011.
“Making the Scripted More Real? Pro Wrestling and Twitter.” In Media Res. August 2010.