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New Media

Hypotextual form, and taking issue

Not that I’m wary of the big hitters, but when I take issue with someone, I’d rather it not be David Bordwell (Bordwell is to co-author of Film Art, which quite rightly is recommended to every first year student we see). I feel like I’m daubing my name on a statue of Churchill.

Still, if the statue’s wrong, never mind who it’s of ‘eh?

And it’s not wrong, exactly, just really missing the point. Or, more properly, A point, as this is my take, and not any absolutist position.

Henry Jenkins was taught by Bordwell while at Grad School, or so his tweet suggested, and that snippet makes sense, as the two approach new media objects from a similar perspective – namely that film has an natural primacy in any transmedia story form (a Genettian ‘hypotext‘). This is expanded in Bordwell’s recent post on transmedia story structure (here) – I have a few comments:

Bordwell is very, very good (as I’d expect) when the task is a summary of the ‘rules’ of transmedia story. He captures the nature of the beast very well, and highlights the ‘added value’ element offered by transmedia story – that embracing a larger experience of story (and it has (problematically) to be the whole experience) affords a more complex experience of story than that offered by one narrative platform alone.

Okay, that’s fine.

But, skipping over the ‘whole experience’ problem (if I don’t watch all of the Matrix transmedia texts, then I’m supposedly missing some aspect of the whole. I can choose not to engage though?), Bordwell (I can’t bring myself to call him David, just seems too familiar) doesn’t take an extra leap, and consider the new textual object (the sum of all of those pesky transmedia elements) as a new thing. The Matrix and Star Wars are all very well, and illustrate safe ground in which to operate and critique, but what wold happen if something was designed without the ‘franchise’ structure that affords a primacy to film? The example of Lance Weiler is interesting, but it’s still rooted in a televisional/filmic bias.

I don’t want (to address Bordwell head on) to receive tweets from Juno, or know about Daredevil’s down time, because those narratives weren’t designed to appropriate those elements of storytelling. But form can be utilised to ground a narrative object in a transmedia state. The hypotext can be the text itself – and that hypotext is utterly about control, and yes – artistic tyranny. It’s construction does though, require a toolbox not constrained by film, or the page, or the microphone, or camera, or even the audience.

Interesting summary though. Especially considering the author’s place in the canon.

Oh, and Rob. Hi.


One comment for “Hypotextual form, and taking issue”

  1. This article makes you think. I like that. Thanks for posting it.

    Posted by Darth Lightsaber | April 13, 2010, 12:13 am

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