June 10, 2013
Television viewers are uploading episodes of their favorite shows and re-editing them, marking the next step in the increasingly interactive relationship with media content. One viewer unpacked the nesting-doll narrative of “Arrested Development” when the new season was released on Netflix, and re-edited it in chronological order before posting links on Reddit. Fans of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” recently posted their versions of a particularly violent scene to YouTube, after setting it to pop music and cartoon sound effects.
“These online offerings follow in the traditions of fan fiction, musical sampling and the remix culture fostered by artists like Shepard Fairey,” reports The New York Times. “Now, thanks to a combination of complex television series, ever more sophisticated home technology and simple ways to distribute content, television viewers can be co-creators of their favorite shows.”
However, producers of original programming may struggle with what this means in regards to content creation and media’s relationship with fans.
“Arrested Development” creator Mitch Hurwitz suggests the DIY re-edits offer a new way to engage with the audience, even after a season has aired. “I love the fact that they still have ways in which to play with it and dig it apart and enjoy it,” he said.
Hurwitz discussed the possibility of a more interactive season of “Arrested Development” with Netflix, one in which the viewers could decide which characters to follow. “The next iteration of the Netflix software, I’ll bet, is going to be more that you can jump from place to place,” he said.
Damon Lindelof, one of the creators and show runners of ABC’s “Lost,” recognizes that fan-created re-edits would appeal to those who “like to take something apart and put it back together.”
“But story does not work that way,” he said, “and ‘Lost’ and ‘Arrested Development,’ which are both very character-driven stories, when you take them apart, you completely and totally lose the narrative that we wanted.”
Lindelof uses Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” as an example, a story whose chapters are purposely presented out of sequence. “If someone went and put ‘Pulp Fiction’ in chronological order,” he added, “I’m not sure that movie would be as good.”