Television Cultures – Blog Post #4

For years, researchers have studied television audiences and viewing preferences. Advertisers, commercial broadcasters and even government policy makers care about audiences as they are the individuals who will bring profit to the industry. These ‘commodity audiences’ are reflected via ratings as they “reflect neither mass taste nor the taste of an intellectual elite” (Jenkins, 2013). Ratings give a small representation of the actual audience, making them only an indicator for companies using television as a way to make money.

But what about Fandoms?

Many television culture researchers have attempted to trace the emergence of an organized media fan culture, to the late 1960s efforts “to pressure NBC in returning Star Trek to the air” (Jenkins, 2013). In 1969, the show was cancelled after a lack of popularity shown in the ratings. The ratings only give a small representation of the actual audience, and perhaps this meant that the fans were excluded. However, reruns were then aired in over 150 domestic and 60 international markets, helping Star Trek develop a fan base greater than its popularity in the original run. As a result of large fan gatherings and conventions in support of the series between 1967 and 1972, the franchise was revived and is still thriving today.

Fandoms are stereotyped as cultural others – “as obsessive, freakish, hysterical, infantile & regressive social subjects” (Hill, 2007). Fans are often seen as ‘textual poachers’ who find pleasure in aspects of the text that are not necessarily valued by producers or those with institutional training. Pop cultures take on fandom has typically been one of distaste and critique, with fans’ emotional attachments to media texts and celebrities being viewed as “irrational” (Jenkins, 2013).

Yet despite all of this, fandoms have become an incredibly important tool for many television programs. Many producers have “employed fans as a base of support in their own power struggles with network executives” (Hill, 2007), in order to keep their programs on the air. Other producers have gone down the path of transmedia storytelling, providing extra content for fans, such as trailers, behind-the-scenes footage or webisodes in order to gain a larger fan following and to keep fans interested. At the end of the day, the fans enable programs to continue running as they are the ones that bring in capital for producers.

First being aired on May 31, 2000 on CBS, Survivor is an example of a “TV Phenomenon that sparked a multilayered convergence of media-based fan activity” (Taddeo and Dvorak, 2010). The reality television program follows a group of strangers, or celebrities, in an isolated location where they must provide food, water, fire and shelter for themselves, whilst also competing in challenges to stay on the island, in order to win the million-dollar prize. Viewers clamored to be part of the “Survivor experience through fan sites, discussion boards, mediated videos posted on YouTube, and a host of other online participatory” (ibid.). Survivor also has behind-the-scenes footage and other exclusive content, that fans are able to access via a website, promoting the concept of transmedia storytelling. It is also important to note that Survivor produced two seasons of ‘Survivor – Fans vs. Favourites’, created for fans who believed they could out-survive original contestants of the show. This suggests that producers took note of the conversations being had by fans stating that they could ‘do it better’, and thus created the program as a way of saying ‘prove it’.

It could be said that fandoms are a problem for so called ‘legitimate culture’, as they perhaps, muddy the boundaries of mass culture texts that otherwise wouldn’t be considered so highly. However, fandoms also enable important theory and criticism surrounding texts. Often their interpretations and evaluations go unheard despite the fact that they provide legitimate, negotiated ideas that may not necessarily be commonly represented. They also allow for an understanding of their own relationships to texts.

Whilst some people view fandoms to be full of individuals who are “obsessive” or “freakish”, we must consider the fact that they allow for a revival of particular popular culture texts, especially in the case of Star Trek. They enable texts to be interpreted in a deeper, more meaningful way and often become a tool for more enriching studies into the cultures surrounding television productions.


Jenkins, H. (2013). Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. New York: Routledge. (p. 28-33)

Taddeo, J. and Dvorak, K. (2010). The tube has spoken. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. (p. i-v)

Hill, A. (2005). Reality TV. London: Routledge. (p. 3-37).

Wikipedia, (2015). Survivor: Caramoan. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Oct. 2015].

Wikipedia, (2015). Star Trek. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Oct. 2015].

Wikipedia, (2015). Star Trek fandom. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Oct. 2015].


Television Cultures – Blog Post #3

What do you get when you cross a group of mid-twenties, female New Yorkers and Lena Dunham’s real life experiences? That’s right, the comedy-drama Girls, starring Lena Dunham, herself, as the main character, Hannah Horvath.

Girls is an American television series created by Lena Dunham, that premiered on HBO on April 15, 2012. The show centres around an aspiring writer, Hannah, and her three friends, Jessa, Shoshanna and Marnie, “who are as messed up as [Hannah] is” (Sheffield, 2012 pg. 32). Hannah gets a shock when her parents visit Brooklyn from Michigan to announce that they will no longer financially support her. She is left to her own devices where she must navigate her twenties alongside her closest friends. 

Classed under ‘comedy-drama’, Girls provides audiences with just that, comedy and drama. Lena Dunham, a comedian herself, takes the audience on a comedic journey showing us the typical humiliations, disasters and rare triumphs of the four women. The show has been heralded as “frank and fearless” for it’s “gritty and straightforward approach to taboo topics like abortion, its naturalistic and frank take on sex scenes and the importance of female friendship the show celebrates” (Daalmans 2013, pg. 359). This ‘up-front’ approach is typical of HBO quality drama, known for seeking “discomfort” (Fuller and Driscoll 2015, pg. 258) and exploring “contemporary anxieties” (Johnson 2005, pg. 61).


However, the show adopts an interesting approach on women by suggesting that the girls are all “self-evolved, self-entitled and… unable to define themselves without male influence” (Daalmans 2013, pg. 359). There is a “notion that these women’s sense of self-definition only comes through their relationships with a man”. This provokes a sense of disconnect for women, especially as the show attempts to represent women aged in their 20’s. What is also surprising is that Lena Dunham herself is extremely successful, yet she is portrayed as a character who lacks self-direction. Overall, the show is deficient of the millennial, successful and multi-cultural women, especially in a time period when society is pushing for equality and a positive representation of women.

In saying this, HBO’s Sex and the City is quite similar, in that it explores “sexual content… and the importance of sexual expression to its females” (Fuller and Driscoll 2015, pg. 259) so it is no different to Girls. Evidently, Girls follows a similar storyline to Sex and the City featuring four central female characters who are concerned with their sex lives. Girls has been critiqued for its similarity with Sex and the City, albeit the obvious shift in time periods where the show encompasses ideas that are relevant to the time in which it was created.

However, “Girls includes in depth sexual stories that Sex and the City would “never canvass, entwined with different stories about aspiration and identity, including the looming possibility of complete life failure” (ibid.). Whereas in Sex and the City, the women were not as concerned about complete life failure. Girls seems to make a clear comment on the way women approach their sex lives within today’s society and suggests that women are more open to talking about it. It also makes a comment on the fact that there is potentially more pressure today, to be a ‘successful woman’, signified by the women in Girls feeling as if they will fail, compared to the time of Sex and the City.


Girls has also caused a lot of controversy due to its lack of racial diversity. The show’s characters are all white, middle-class females living in the highly multiracial New York City. Hadley Freeman (2014) states that “when it transpired that there were almost no people of colour in the first series of the show, critics cried racism in a way that no one ever did about the similarly New York-based and Sex and the City” (ibid.). This leads to the fact that “New York is much more segregated” than people think; Dunham is making a comment on what needs to change. It is also impossible for Dunham to “represent all life experiences of everyone in her generation”, as she doesn’t have an everyman’s “view of the world” (ibid.).


But despite the criticisms that come with the show, we must herald this “fresh” and “ground-breaking” (Daalmans 2013, pg. 359) programme that seems to be a part of the revival of successful female-lead shows. The show provides a reflection for many women in their 20-somethings especially within today’s society.




Sheffield, R. (2012), Girls! Girls! Girls!. Rolling Stone, p.32.


Daalmans, S. (2013). ‘I’m Busy Trying to Become Who I Am: Self-entitlement and the city in HBO’s Girls’, Feminist Media Studies, 13(2), pp. 359-362.


Fuller, S. and Driscoll, C. (2015). ‘HBO’s Girls: gender, generation, and quality television’, Continuum, 29(2), pp. 253-262.


Johnson, C. (2005). ‘Quality/Cult Television: The X-Files and Television History’, The Contemporary Television Series, pp. 57–71.


Dunham, L., Dunham, L., Williams, A. and Kirke, J. (2015). Girls (TV Series 2012– ). [online] IMDb. Available at: [Accessed 22 Oct. 2015].


Freeman, H. (2014). Not That Kind of Girl review – Lena Dunham exposes all, again. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 22 Oct. 2015].



Television Cultures – Blog Post #2 (Scheduling and Masterchef)

We often tend to overlook the power of scheduling even though the concept of it is right in front of us every evening, when we sit down to watch television at dinnertime.

“The television schedule is a form of media temporality that simultaneously disciples and is disciple to the conventions of western ‘human time’ as they take place through standardised patterns of work, sleep, eating and family life” (Cover, 2005, pg. 14).

Schedules are important as they break down patterned audience behaviour (it is important to note that audience behaviour is relevant, as the aim for commercial television is to ‘sell’ mass audiences to advertisers in order to gain a profit from their programs). Firstly schedules include the inscribed assumptions about everyday life regarding working hours or meal times. This means that the evening television schedules often mimic evening schedules for households as this provides more relevant television and brings in viewers (therefore higher ratings, more profit). Secondly they cater to the annual pattern of seasons, events and special occasions. Thirdly, traditional slots tend to be more habitual i.e. news programs scheduled between 5-7pm (catered for the 9-5pm working day model), as this reaches a wider and larger audience range. And lastly are the assumptions about what the competition does and might do. Schedulers take into account patterns of behaviour from other networks or look at what is coming up on other networks, in order to provide the same sort of programming to compete.

The first point is relevant in regards to Masterchef as the program is broadcast around the time when individuals are preparing/eating dinner (7:30pm). Advertisers can market products relevant to Masterchef, i.e. Coles (a major sponsor of the show). For example, they may advertise half-price chicken which leads audiences to consider buying that chicken for a future meal.

Schedulers attempt to find the ‘best slot’ for particular programs especially when they are successful. This leads me to think about many popular cooking game shows that are manipulating ratings at the moment across quite a few networks including Channel 7, 9 and 10.

Channel 10 is definitely catering to my tastes with its hit television program ‘Masterchef’, an Australian reality television game show. The show features three main judges, Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston who are all highly regarded within the food industry. The first episode of season one aired on the 27th of April 2009 at 7pm, with the following seasons airing half an hour later (at 7:30pm). The first episode of season one attracted an average of 1.42 million viewers (cited in Wikipedia 2015), making Masterchef Australia the most watched show in the 7pm time slot. Six years on after moving to the 7:30pm time slot, the 2015 series averaged 1.168 million viewers each episode maintaining its spot as the number one program on television at its timeslot from May-July.

According to Paul Venzo (2009), “Masterchef was successful for a number of reasons. It coincided with the media’s focus on the global financial crisis… as it taught Australian’s how to prepare food that many of us could no longer afford to eat out.” Julie Goodwin (winner of season one) “embodied a key convention of reality television… a journey followed by a transformation into the more ‘ideal-self’.”

By playing on the stereotypical conventions of the family schedule, the producers of Masterchef are able to maximise viewing statistics and revenue through scheduling themselves around the typical family timetable.



Ellis, J 2000, ‘Scheduling: the last creative act in television?’, Media, Culture & Society, no. 22, vol. 1, pg. 25-38.

Wikipedia, 2015, MasterChef Australia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2015].

Venzo, P 2009, ‘Reality Really Does Bite: ‘Dead Set’ and the Development of Reality TV’, Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, no. 163, pg. 92-97.


/ Sound Design /

Nobody understands the excitement I feel to be starting a new elective next semester. Cinema has been great but the subject as a whole is not where my heart lies. Sound Design is one of my many passions and I just cannot wait to learn how to use particular programs to create sounds even if it is for film.

So what is Sound Design?

According to Google: Sound design is the process of specifying, acquiring, manipulating or generating audio elements. It is employed in a variety of disciplines including filmmaking, television production, theatre, sound recording and reproduction, live performance, sound art, post-production, and video game software development.

Here are several different links you can follow to some of my favourite all time soundtracks/songs from movies in the past 20 years. Everyone hypes over movies like Frozen but I hype over those movies that have the most beautiful instrumental pieces.

In some particular order:

Social Network; David Fincher (2010) (Music by: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) :

The Imitation Game; Morten Tyldum (2014) (Music by: Alexandre Desplat) :

Interstellar; Christopher Nolan (2014) (Music by: Hans Zimmer) :

American Beauty; Sam Mendes (1999) (Music by: Thomas Newman) :

Here is a long video with quite a few different songs from several different films: (It’s important to note that Hans Zimmer appears quite a few times suggesting that he has done pretty well for himself and is now a well-respected Sound Designer).

Happy Listening!

/ Media 1 – Seminar 5 – Practice with Video Cameras /

Above is an unedited video of the video camera practice we had before using them for our next assessment (Self Portrait on another person).

Here we experimented with using the tripod (both stable and moving) and handheld (including zoom).

It was a great way for me to learn how to use the camera as I have not used many in my lifetime and this one seems extra extravagant.


What’s the difference between a selfie and a self-portrait?

A selfie and a self-portrait are both expressions of oneself created by a person. They both can be completely valid and true to the person but can also be false as it is very simple for one to change an aspect of themselves to please others/make themselves look better.

Having read the article about the rise of selfie-taking – BBC: News Magazine article on ‘Selfies’, it has come to my attention that our generation is becoming more self-confident and perhaps at times, a little narcissistic. But who doesn’t love a bit of self-confidence? After all, isn’t that what we seek? To be proud of the way we look/who we are?

I have always had self-confidence issues. Haven’t we all? It’s hard living in a society where there are many images projected in the media of ‘perfect’ women with ‘perfect’ bodies/hair/personalities… you name it. So I wouldn’t say that selfie-taking is a bad thing. I’m glad people are beginning to appreciate the way they look and have the confidence to take a photo of themselves. Everyone should be happy in their own skin!

Now ever since I found out about what a selfie was, I have been taking them nearly every day. The article mentions that the likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Justin Bieber take selfies proving that it has become a world-wide phenomenon where even the most popular people within a society are following the trend. and  I don’t particularly see myself as very self-confident. I take selfies because I like to share information with my family and friends on apps like ‘Instagram’ of where I am at/who I’m with etc. They “invite us to photograph on the spur of the moment, regardless of location or company” thus proving that they are an easy way of sharing information to friends and family without having to write any text. It is also an incredibly unique way of sharing information as there does not have to be any text involved for others to understand the image “a picture paints a thousand words”.

The article mentions that selfies “tells other people how we want to be seen” however I believe that is completely up to the ‘poster’ of the selfie. I will post any (appropriate) image whether I am smiling or making a funny face. I do not try to differ my ‘online identity’ from my ‘real identity’ as I believe that it is important and healthy to be who you are always as creating false identities can create issues.

The article also mentions ‘sexting’ and how selfies are related to this. Again it depends on the type of selfie that is taken. Obviously if there is nudity then that will create issues, however if an individual takes a ‘selfie’ of oneself smiling (fully clothed) and sends it to a friend, that can be hardly classified as sexting as there is no form of ‘nudity’ within the image.

For me it is perhaps not the photo but the captions/comments that come with the selfie. But that takes me off the topic of the photo itself.

To conclude, I believe that both self-portraits and selfies are the same thing as it is completely up to the individual as to how they wish to be seen in both cases.

Thanks for reading!

Peace xoxo

Follow my yellow brick road

So hello,

My name is Samantha Beniac-Brooks however I prefer to be called Sammy. It’s my first year in BComm Media and I’m feeling very excited to be starting my dream course. I hope to become a Media Presenter!

This blog has been created so that I can submit work on a public forum so feel free to leave any comments on posts or send me a message! I hope I can be teach you some things about the media as I go on my journey to learn more about the media also. I’m so incredibly excited to have a place where I can share my work to the public! I have always wanted a blog but have never had the time to keep up with it. However RMIT shall keep me in line!

Here is a link to a website run by a few of my favourite celebrities. It’s (I quote credit to the website) “a positive online community for women (although men are always welcome!) covering DIY and crafting projects, beauty, friendship, sex & relationships, pop culture, pets, television & movies, nostalgia, fandom, tips on savvy and stylish living meant to inspire a smile – founded by Zooey Deschanel, Molly McAleer and Sophia Rossi.”

Take a peek and let me know what you think. I’m sure you’ll become just as obsessed as I am!

I hope you enjoy my blog as much as I will enjoy creating it and posting!

Happy reading!

Peace xoxo