Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Week 2 Reading: Convergence Culture, Chapter 5: Why Heather Can Write

Have there been any books or movies that have inspired you to the point of action, either to be like people/characters in the book/movie, or to do something creative? What books/movies and what did you do? 
     I can pinpoint the exact moment that my interest for moviemaking and television production was sparked: October 31, 1986.  After running wild among the streets of my neighborhood, fueled by a collective (and concerning) amount of sugar induced adrenaline, I returned to my Nana’s house to watch the “Double Creature Feature” on television.  The first movie that they showed has forever been etched in my psyche and has fueled every endeavor that I have taken on in the realm of film and television: Night of the Living Dead.  The black and white tale of survivors battling an unstoppable army of the undead is the stuff that fuels the imaginations of little boys everywhere.  From there, I would write stories that “continued” the Dead mythology.  I would borrow my Nana’s camera and enlist my little brother and sister to star in my epic features (most of which didn’t last over two minutes in length).  The idea that a single idea or story can generate so much response to an entire audience or fan base is easily understandable.
     Flash forward to today, as hundreds of wide eyed “wizards” cram the local Borders at midnight to catch the latest Harry Potter adventure.  The internet opens up endless creative opportunities as every imaginable interplay takes place – everything from fan fiction to cosplay (costumed play for those unfamiliar with the term).  Jenkins describes how technology and availability have changed the media landscape of today:  “…consumers are using new media technologies to engage with old media content, seeing the Internet as a vehicle for collective problems solving, public deliberation, and grassroots creativity” (Jenkins, 2006).
     But just as the media powerhouse of Warner Brothers and J.K. Rowling fought for control of their bespectacled, George Romero had less power over control of his film.  This all stems from the issue of copyright.  The original title for Night of the Living Dead was Night of the Flesh Eaters.  Romero had placed the copyright on the original title, but when the Walter Reade Organization retitled the film, they forgot to place the copyright on it.  A 1968 copyright law required works to show a proper notice or they would lose their copyright.  This allowed everyone to rip off Romero's movie and it fell into Public Domain.  The movie was made for a little over $100,000 but has grossed over $40,000,000 around the world.  Romero has gone on to produce several other movies, but he has barely recovered any of the money made off of Night of the Living Dead.  Several people have paid homage to his Dead Universe, as you will see in the YouTube links below:

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. New York, NY: New York University Publishing.

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