Advertising and Product Placement

“Advertising can be characterized as a material device employed in the definition or qualification of markets, and this is a role that merits much closer investigation than it has yet received.” (McFall 2004, 2)

Historically speaking, advertisements were much more straight forward and descriptive in regards to the product one was trying to sell. New age advertising focuses more on selling an image that appeals to the customer, rather than the product itself (McFall, 2009).

Using images in advertisements did not even appear until the mid-19th century. Bold, italics, asterisks among other grammatical techniques were used in print to make the advertisement stick out (Addison, The Tatler, 14/9/1710: 1).

Now images plague the industry and include little to no description about the product itself. Advertisements are coming in all different shapes and forms so it may even be hard to recognize that you’re actually looking at one (Callon, Advertising class lecture)

A great example of this would be product placement, specifically in music videos. In my previous blog post about globalization, I referenced the characteristics of the US dominance model in society. Consumers are interested in success and reputation. They aspire to be like the famed Hollywood figures that so many people look up to.

“Advertisements seem to offer an insight into what one nineteenth-century author described as ‘the wants, the losses, the amusements and the money-making eagerness of the people’.” (McFall 2004, 2)

So what exactly is product placement? It’s when a manufacturer will pay for their product to be in a feature film, music video or other outlet so it will gain more exposure to the customers. This really makes it difficult for us to distinguish between ads and not ads. (“Good to Know!”, 2017)

One music video that really stuck out to me was Hold it Against Me by Britney Spears. Throughout her performance, you can see images of SONY products being flashed on screen or used by the performers. Subconsciously, one may relate the product to their absolute favourite singer, Britney Spears. In this way there’s an emotional connection between the consumer and the product. The other way it could work is just from mere exposure to seeing the image (Britney Spears- Hold It Against Me, 2011).

The strength of this approach is in fact the increased product exposure. Some advertisers are clever enough to make the customers not even realized that they’re seeing an ad. They want them to feel like they’re choosing it on their own without the influence of the industry.

The weakness falls where we get too many industries putting their products together. Synergy is a great thing for this economy, although the talent of the music artists can get lost with all of this product placement. If it’s takes over the screen more than it should, it can distract away from the main performance.

-Ashley Edwards

Britney Spears- Hold It Against Me. JIVE Records: Sony Music Entertainment, 2011. video.

“Good One to Know!” N.p. , 2017. Wed. 25 Feb. 2017

Liz McFall, 2004. Advertising: A Cultural Economy (Culture, Representation and Identity series). 1 Edition. SAGE Publications Ltd.

Liz McFall, L. 2009. Advertising: A Cultural Economy. London: SAGE.

Creative Industries and A Series of Unfortunate Events

Creative Industries have been dominating the artistic scene for quite a time now. Some people are concerned that the functionalist reality of the neoliberal policies and practices of the creative industries create a space where creativity can almost do without the artists. Has art become formulaic? Are capitalism and creativity being merged together?

In the film industry, specifically involving adaptations, we can see a large amount of discrepancies between remakes of books and even other movies. The majority of the time, it appears that most authors or original creators do not have much of a say, if any at all, in regards to creating a new version of their original book or movie.

The pinnacle of this concept can be easily observed in the work of David Handler, or better known by his pseudonym as Lemony Snicket. Handler is the author of an extremely successful book series called A Series of Unfortunate Events, which contained an impressive total of 13 children’s books. Handler was initially interested in writing gothic literature for adults, but after having a conversation with his publisher, he went onto writing these children’s book characterized by Victorian gothic tones and absurdist textuality. Initially he was opposed to the idea, but managed to incorporate the elements of dark humour and sarcastic storytelling elements into the children’s series (“A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV Series 2017-)”).

The interference of the publisher is a small indication of larger corporations or positions having influence over the ‘little guy’. Even this minute example gives us an insight to what cultural industries believe they have the power to do, and what they do to enforce them.

A Series of Unfortunate Events gained significant popularity throughout the entire publishing period, which lasted from 1999 to 2006. At one point, books were being published at a rate of three to four per year. Between all 13 books there were over 65 million copies sold and were translated into 41 different languages (“A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV Series 2017-)”.

Due to the worldwide success during this period of time, the creative industries began to swoop in. A video game, card game, board game, song album, film, TV show, several companion books as well as assorted merchandise were made as offspring to a the book series.

In 2004, Paramount adapted the first three books of a Series of Unfortunate Events into a feature film. Globally it was quite successful, bringing in 200 million US dollars. Although, no additional films were made to incorporate the remaining ten books in the series.

Even with these statistics, fans to A Series of Unfortunate Events were quite disappointed with how the film came across. It was way too condensed, leaving out large portions that were quite significant in the books. Also, the tone was much too comical compared to the series. The books were solemn and serious, with the occasional implication of wry humour. This largely had to do with the power that Paramount had and the lack on involvement of David Handler. We can see here that the authority of the ‘new owner’ of the creative material does not need to stay true to the original artist.

This bring us to the discussion of why this is seen as unsuccessful. When working with a big name company such as Paramount, the artist must realise that the brand must come first, which is a hard thing to accept. Even though the material stemmed from Handler’s original creativity, he must let them follow through with their business plan. In this sense, it does take the autonomy away from the artist when you involve the commercial business.

We discussed in seminar how money has been come a vital part of cultural industries and creation. In this situation with a Series of Unfortunate Events, the creative product and original intention of the artist has been lost. This truly represents how the distinction between private creation and public business sectors are diminishing. Handler would not have had the funds to film the movie on his own, so he would have to compromise with the big companies to get the means to do so.

In John Hartley’s book ‘Creative Studies’, he brings up a valid point about the contradiction in the term ‘creative studies’. “’Creative’ seems to preclude organization on an industrial scale, emphasizing instead the aspect of individual imaginative creative talent. ‘Industries’ seems to preclude most human creativity from consideration. In short, if creativity is part of human identity, then what has is got to do with industries? Most people do not ‘identify’ with industries as part of their sense of self, even if they work in an industrial environment- which most people in the world do not.” (Hartley 2005,106)

So from this perspective, is it ever possible for the artist to remain autonomous if they’re part of the whole world of creative industries? In some ways it is completely possible to work in synergy with a large company and keep the integrity of one’s work. A Series of Unfortunate Events managed to do so after the whole movie fiasco.

Earlier this year, the Netflix original series ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ was released. Although it’s produced yet again by Paramount, the same company to produce the earlier 2004 film, it has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. Their involvement is much smaller than the film, including the fact that their television department will be producing the show (Gatenburg, 2017).

Cultural industries are becoming more and more streamlined in terms of what they actually specialise in. “The ownership and organisation of the cultural industries have changed radically. The largest companies no longer specialise in a particular cultural industry, such as film, publishing, television or recording; they now operate across a number of different cultural industries. These conglomerates compete with each other, but, more than ever before, they are connected- with each other and with other companies- in complex webs of alliance, partnership and joint venture.” (Hesmondhalgh, 2013, 3)

It seems odd that Paramount would get another shot at producing A Series of Unfortunate Events, but when you realise how large of a scope they have on the industry it makes sense. An entirely different production group will get to have control, so it won’t even matter what happened during the making of the previous movie.

This series will be much more in depth than the previous 2004 film, so no prior knowledge of the books or film is needed for any of the viewers. The first season of A Series of Unfortunate events will only cover books 1 through 4, spanning over a total of 8 episodes. This gives them a chance to go extremely in depth with the material from the original book series. All 13 books will be covered in the Netflix series and supplemental stories. David Handler is very involved in the series this time around. He wrote every single episode alongside Emily Fox (Gatenburg, 2017).

This time around, a stronger approach to the use of creative industries has been illuminated. The ability for a big company to work with the original artist, and still allow them to remain autonomous is a step in the right direction for this community. The Netflix series is still in the beginning stages of its first season, so we can’t be entirely sure how successful it will be in comparison to the film. Although, there are rumours that the second season has in fact been undergoing its pre-production phase.

One can’t say if creative industries destroy autonomy completely. It’s a matter of how the companies are willing to work with the artists or how the artists must work for the companies.

-Ashley Edwards


“A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV Series 2017-)”. IMDb. N.p. 2017. Web. 13 Feb, 2017.

A Series of Unfortunate Events. Paramount, 2004. film.

A Series of Unfortunate Events. Paramount, 2017. Available: Last accessed 22/02/2017.

David Hesmondhalgh (2013). The Cultural Industries. 3rd ed. London: SAGE. 1-3.

Gartenburg, Chaim. “Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events Gets Right What The Movie Got Wrong.” The Verge. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.

John Hartley (2005). Creative Industries. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. 106.

Globalization and Reality TV

Over the past decade, reality television has become increasingly popular worldwide. This relatively new format incorporates everything from the drama to everyday events and competitions into a broadcast. The dramatization of some of these television shows seems so unreal and yet still audiences from all different countries have become more and more enamored with these reality TV stars. So what makes reality TV so popular?

One extremely well-known reality television series would be The Bachelor. Since 2002, there have been 19 aired seasons in the states. Several spin-off series have formed as well, such as The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, and The Bachelor Pad which have been deemed as successful as the original Bachelor series (Fitzpatrick, 2015).

“Sarlanis says creator of the Bachelor, Mike Fleiss [and his producing team], has been evolving the show, in juxtaposition to the booming trend of soapy storytelling on unscripted television, seen on ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’, which Sarlanis worked on at E!, before he joined ABC’s team. ‘Story soaps were blowing up so they said, let’s infuse that storytelling, but ease up on the format’”(Wagmeister, 2015).

As of late, Bachelor and Bachelorette series have been spreading like wildfire across most of Europe and several other locations in the world. We now see Bachelor copycat series in Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, Slovenia, Romania, Israel, Brazil, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Poland, France, Ukraine, Russia, Canada, Finland, and the UK. Bachelorette series have popped up in Romania, India, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and Australia (Fitzpatrick, 2015).

“Cultural products increasingly circulate across national borders. Images, sounds and narratives are borrowed and adapted from other places on an unprecedented scale, producing new hybrids but also, for some, reaffirming the value of cultural authenticity. The long-standing domination of cultural trade by the USA may be diminishing” (Hesmondhalgh, 2013).

The streamline of similar TV formats seems a bit redundant yet they still manage to entertain the general public audiences and receive great ratings. One thing we must incorporate into this is the characteristics of US dominance, like we discussed in class lecture (Hesmondhalgh, 2013).

Tracking what the audience is feeling and what they want is an important tactic for the producers of reality television shows. “The way that the cultural industries conceive of their audiences is changing. There is greater emphasis on audiences is changing. There is greater emphasis on audience research, marketing and addressing ‘niche’ audiences.” (Hesmondhalgh, 2013).

The TV market in the states relies on success, formulas, and reputation. In the Bachelor, they normally choose the next person in the series, such as the Bachelorette, from the pool of women that are already on the show and who have gained a fan base. This guarantees (to a certain extent) that there will be viewers for the show. From the audience’s perspective, they may have gained a certain emotional attachment to their favourite contestant and want to see how the rest of the journey plays out in the next season (Hesmondhalgh, 2013).

The aspect of competition also plays an extremely important role in the Bachelor. The states is predominately a capitalist society that thrives on competition. The Bachelor and Bachelorette play off of the audience’s emotions and feelings towards romance, yet the competition aspect is quite relevant. Each episode, a contestant gets voted off if they haven’t ‘connected’ enough with the Bachelor or Bachelorette. It seems a bit vile to have this in parallel with the romantic aspect of the show, but with such a wide audience, it sparks interest for different reasons creating a larger audience scope.

The strength of globalization through the lens of cultural economy is that it unifies the interests of our society, as well as worldwide. Creativity isn’t original, so it gives for a chance for more variety, even if they are starting from the same point. Now starting this can get us into the other argument of why globalization is bad. The weakness is that things become too mainstream, redundant and unoriginal. Oddly enough the strength and weakness of this concept overlap, but the industry seems to be split over the idea of it (especially regarding TV formulas). Like I mentioned in my previous post about creative industries and big company take overs, this format moves us into the industrial side, which can potentially remove the creativity from the project and autonomy from the artist.

I think the Bachelor and Bachelorette is an excellent text to observe for this purpose. They fit the criteria for a formatted television show, extend to a wide range of audiences and ages, while still keeping the interest of the people.

-Ashley Edwards

David Hesmondhalgh (2013). The Cultural Industries. 3rd ed. London: SAGE. 1-3.

Fitzpatrick, M. (2015) Here’s what the bachelor and the Bachelorette look like in 18 countries. Available at: (Accessed: 22 February 2017).

Wagmeister, E. (2015) ‘The Bachelorette’: ABC exec talks why the franchise is so successful. Available at: (Accessed: 22 February 2017).

Purple Haze


Original screenplay written by: Ashley Edwards

A pair of dirty white sneakers nervously kick up small
pebbles along the bend of a deserted dirt road. Trees reach
up into the sky and tower over the 23-year-old girl standing
at its edge.
The sun disappears behind the ominous clouds. Drizzling rain
falls parallel to the tall, peeling tree trunks. Slow heavy
breathing turns into quick frantic pants. They become louder
with each breath.
                    VIOLET (V.O.)
          Violet. V-I-E-. Shit. V-I-O-L-E-T.
               (sharp inhale)
          473 Oakley- I mean Oakwood Lane.
          Sacramento, California.
               (several deep breaths)
          23. 23 and a half actually.
Violet's breathing begins to steady.
Violet's wide eyes refuse to blink as she stares blankly out
into the bleak woods. The rain thickens, blurring her vision
and causing the remaining makeup to drip down her porcelain
white cheeks.
          VIOLET (V.O.)
Fucking pull yourself together
Violet. Deep breaths like Mama told
you. In. Out. In. Out. In-


The same dirty white sneakers stand still in a puddle that
has begun accumulating along the bend of the deserted dirt
road. The sounds of heavy breathing have been replaced by
hollow rain drops bouncing off a plastic surface. To the
left of her sneakers lies a large black bag that is oddly





shaped and lumpy in appearance. Violet takes a few small
steps toward it. She looks at the black bag. She looks right
down the dirt road. She looks left down the dirt road. She
looks out into the trees in the forest.
Violet kneels down in front of the bag. Hesitantly, she
pulls back the thick plastic to see what's inside, revealing
a pair of red Nike shoes. Violet jumps back in shock. The
scenery around her begins to spin. The rain continues to
pour down, matting her thin blonde hair to her head, yet
Violet doesn't even seem to notice. After a few minutes, she
slowly brings herself to remove the rest of the plastic bag
from the body.
A pale hand becomes visible, dried blood streaked all the
way from the wrist to the middle of the forearm. The cuffed
white sleeve is also stained with dark red blood. Violet
gags violently onto her already dirty white sneakers.
          (shouting) Fucking hell.
Her exclamation echoes into the lonely forest. Wiping her
mouth with the back of her hand, she continues to remove the
rest of the bag. Dried blood and deep purple bruises
everywhere. The face of a young man, pale and lifeless,
slips out from under the plastic bag.
     (audibly gasping)


          VIOLET (V.O.)
     (between weepy breaths)
Not him. Not him. Not him. Not him.


Peter sits in the bed of a 1987 red Ford pickup truck,
perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the city. The sun
has begun to flirt with the border of the horizon, casting
an array of warm hues throughout the clear summer sky.
He looks over his shoulder and flashes a wide toothy smile.


Violet peers through the truck's rear window, illuminated by
the last sun rays of the day. She hops out and makes her way
over to Peter. He lifts her up into the bed of the truck
while she playfully giggles and shrieks.
As the sun continues to dip behind the sparkling city, Peter
glances over at Violet and lovingly puts his arm around her.
They kiss just as the sun vanishes into the night.
The disheartening rain comes to a halt and the dark clouds
vanish. Violet slumps over Peter's body, looking almost
lifeless herself. Violet's eyes refuse to blink as they
stare blankly out into the bleak maze of tree trunks and
shrubbery. The golden sun dances across Peter's lifeless
skin and flash off his green eyes, which remain wide open.
Slight bruising under his left eye is starting to turn
yellowish in color. Violet glances over and swiftly shuts
his eyes.
               (shakily and rushed)
          Violet. V-I-O. V-I-. 4-? 47-?
               (frantic panting)
A slightly rusted metal door, the numbers 4-7-3 sloppily
painted under the peep hole. They've started to chip off.
Muffled shouts are heard from inside the apartment. One
scream, distinguishably louder than the rest, is followed by
a series of thuds, crashes, grunts, and more screaming.
The door suddenly swings open in an angry manner. Peter
emerges from Violet's apartment enraged and rushes out of
the building. Violet can be seen bent over, hands clasped to
her weak knees, struggling to catch her breath just behind
the rusty door that remains slightly ajar.
Violet's body shakes uncontrollably as she lifts her hands



out in front of her. Bruises dot the inside of her forearms
and knuckles.
               (softly, still looking at her


With the sun creeping lower in the sky, shadows from the
towering trees are cast across the lonely dirt road. In the
distance, the faint sound of rubber tires crackling along
small pebbles and loose dirt become more and more
noticeable. A car begins to encroach upon the spot where
Violet and Peter's fully exposed dead body remain sprawled
on the ground.
                    VIOLET (V.O.)
               (Internal dialogue)
          Get the fuck out of here Violet.
          Move the body.
Immediately, Violet hastily shoves the large plastic bag
back on Peter's head. She pulls it down over his body to
cover his blood stained torso and red Nikes in one fell
swoop. Just as the car breaks the corner, Violet slips into
the woods, Peter's lifeless body in tow. The headlights
flood the dimly lit street with two bright beams. Violet
crouches at the edge of the forest, hidden behind a tree.
Peter's body lies next to Violet.
          In. Out. In. Out. In-
The car comes to a stop. Violet inhales sharply and covers
her mouth with her hands.
                    VIOLET (V.O.)
               (internal dialogue)
          Violet don't make any god damn
Violet watches anxiously as a large burly man steps out of
the car. He makes his way to the side of the road where
Violet had been sitting with Peter's dead body nearly a



minute ago. The passenger rolls down their tinted window. A
woman's high-pitched voice shouts from inside the car.
          WOMEN IN CAR
Honey please tell me it's not a
lil' animal on the side of the
road! People are jus' so reckless
out here nowadays.
     (sighs heavily )
The man doesn't respond. He reaches down and picks something
off the ground.
                    WOMAN IN CAR
               (slightly more worried)
          Paul? What in the God's name is
          that? Should I give animal control
          a ring?
               (shouts back)
          Gina darlin' there's no need to
          worry! Just some kid's knapsack.
               (sounding confused)
          Not sure what the hell it's doin'
          all the way out here...
          Well i'll be damned you almost gave
          me a heart attack!
Paul opens the black knapsack and retrieves the first thing
he lays his hands on.
          Suga' just leave it be! We're gonna
          be late. I can guarantee Susanna
          has already had too much to drink
Paul blocks out her voice as he draws his attention back to
the knapsack.



A tattered brown leather wallet, careful burgundy stitching
and a single letter V branded on the front, rests in Paul's
sturdy hands.
Paul flips the wallet open. The plastic insert held a
California-issued driver's license. Paul slipped it out.
Violet Coppola. 473 Oakwood Lane.
Sacramento, California (pause)
Someone was quite lost!
Lovely. We can bring it to the
station tomorrow.
Violet, still hidden several feet away from the car, hears
her name spoken aloud and instantly freezes. Her breathes
become tight and few.
V-I-O-L-E-T. That's mine (pause)
That's mine?
Paul sticks the wallet into the front pocket of his neatly
pressed khaki pants while he reaches back into the knapsack.
Paul's hands begin to shake as he pulls something out of the

What the…?

He tosses the knapsack and it's contents aside while making
a straight beeline for the car.
          Paul what on Earth is the--
Paul furiously pulls off down the dirt road, possibly giving



his wife minor whip lash.


Violet waits, holding her breath, until the coast is clear.
A cloud of dirt is suspended in the air from Paul's sudden
getaway. Once the dust starts to dissipate, Violet lightly
treads over to the knapsack and it's spilt contents.
The single streetlight is just enough light to help Violet
indicate what's been left strewn about the grass. As begins
she combs through, Violet abruptly pulls her hand, yelping
in anguish.
Violet spreads out her fingers, feeling the sticky warm
blood stream down into the palm of her hand. She wiped the
gushing blood onto her legs, completely saturating her light
wash jeans. Violet scans her strained eyes around her filthy
white sneakers.


A silver switchblade knife coated in dry blood, and now
Violet's, lays glistening right in front of her.
                    VIOLET (V.O.)
          Is this...
               (shallow breathing)
          Holy shit.
               (internal dialogue)
          Did I...did I do something bad to
Violet delicately picks up the silver switchblade and lays
it across her bloody hands. The cold metal causes an influx
of goose bumps and the hair on the back of her neck to stand
up. The streetlight begins to flicker a few times and then
burns out. Violet panics. She attempts to run back into the
forest to grab Peter's body, but didn't get very far. Being
as light-headed as she was, Violet collapsed and made
contact with the hard ground.
Violet feverishly yells at Peter as they walk down a smoky,
narrow alleyway. Peter remains silent and stoic as she rails




him with profanity and vicious insults. Suddenly, Violet
snaps. She turns to Peter, forcefully shoving him against
the brick wall with both of her hands. Peter begrudgingly
sinks to the ground as Violet continually throws fists at
his defenseless body, screaming all the while.
Peter lays face down, cowering away from Violet. He looks
desperately into her eyes as she kicks him straight in the
gut. Peter lets out a defeated moan. Violet stands across
directly across from Peter. With her stiff spine pinned up
against the crumbling brick wall, Violet seethes with anger
while Peter lays limp on the cold pavement. In attempt to
calm herself, Violet begins taking deliberate breaths, in
and out and in and out, at a steady rhythm.
          Violet. V-I-O..
               (continued uninterupted)


The creaking sounds of the forest and the cool breeze swirl
between the trees and brush past Violet, yet she remains
still and silent.
                    VIOLET (V.O.)
               (internal dialogue)
          Time to go Violet.
Violet methodically marches herself back into the woods near
to the large black plastic bag. She grabs the bag with
Peter's body with her good hand and whisks it away into the
depths of the night. Violet drags his body along the forest
floor, entirely void of emotion.
Violet's sneakers crunch the damp twigs as she walks deeper
into the forest, still dragging peter's dead body behind
her. the plastic bag rustles the wet leaves as it snakes
through the dark woods.
The sun finally breaks the surface of the horizon and light
seeps into the trees. Violet looks worn down, arms growing
weary from lugging the body bag around.
A clearing up ahead becomes visible. Violet musters the
remaining strength in her body and manages to pull the bag
out into the center of the clearing. Violet drastically
drops to her knees.
After catching her breath, Violet begins to remove the black
bag. First the red Nikes, the blood-stained cuffs. Then the
dark red splotches across the torso of his white button
down. And finally the sunken eyes of a broken man.
Violet sheds a single tear that mixes in with all the mud
and makeup caked on her exhausted face.
Violet storms into Peter's apartment in a bad mood. As she
enters the usually pristine apartment, ready to start her
regular outbursts, Violet stops dead in her tracks. Peter
lies in the middle of the living room, blood seeping from
his wrists onto the oriental rug.


Peter's suicide note was laid purposefully next to his stiff
body for Violet to stumble upon:
"Fuck you Violet. You broke me. Despite all the bruises, I
still tried to love you. But you can't love or be loved. You
always claim you don't remember hurting me but that's a
fucking lie, Violet. It's your fault I killed myself and
everyone will know it."
The most blood curdling scream erupts from within Violet as
she grasps onto Peter's suicide note. She screams until no
sounds can escape from her lungs any longer.
               (loudly between heavy sobs)
          It's not my fault. It's not my
          fault. It's not my fucking fault.
As the seething anger fades, Violet recognizes that she



needs to do something.
               (speaking quietly to herself)
          No one will know if you make him
          disappear Violet. No one will know
          it's your fault.
Violet wipes away her bitter tears and simultaenously
notices a shovel leaned near the entryway in Peter's
Propping herself up off the hardwood floor Violet carries
herself out of Peter's apartment gracefully, shovel in hand.
Violet stares intently into a decent sized hole that she had
dug in the clearing. She drags Peter's body over the edge of
the hole. Peter's sad body lands uncomfortably, taking on
awkward and twisted angles at the very bottom of the hole.
               (smiling softly)
          Fuck you Peter.
The sun shines on his face one last time before the clouds
roll in and Violet returns all of the dirt to the hole.
Slowly but surely, Peter disappears beneath the Earth.
Violet drops the shovel at her makeshift grave's side. For a
split second, she's overcome with grief and begins rapidly
breathing. Her shallow breaths slow and Violet begins to
grin. She kicks the last bit of freshly upturned soil onto
the pile with her filthy white sneakers.
Violet. V-I-O-L-E-T. Violet.



Kaleidoscope Saves the Day!

Kaleidoscope wanted to spend the afternoon outside with her friends. Shortly after she left her house, rain clouds rolled in from the distance and it started to rain. All her friends were sad and were about to head home. But Kaleidoscope is not one to be defeated easily. She had a great idea! Using her chromokinesis powers, Kaleidscope mustered up all the energy she had to create a massive rainbow in the sky. The clouds disappeared and the sun returned! Kaleidoscope and her friends were now able to play outside!

BuzzFeed Content and Creation



BuzzFeed’s Background

  • Back in 2006 Jonah Peretti launched an idiosyncratic side project with his partner John Johnson, initially not grasping the vast of impact it would have on today’s creative industries (New York Magazine, 2013). His successful media outlet, popularly known as BuzzFeed, has become the most influential news organization in America and continues to spread worldwide. Pulling inspiration from previous media eras, Peretti believes “major technological change has always created opportunities for new publications to lead the way- until the industry shifts again. When Edward R. Murrow moved from radio to television, people said it was undignified. When CNN first aired people made fun of it because it was so grassroots and low budget” (The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed, 2015).
  • It’s undeniable that no one masters content and functionality on the Internet better than BuzzFeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti. What’s the secret to his platform’s success? Data. The output of the site is based on tracked content of their audiences (Fortune, 2017). “In traditional media, organizations need to make things that will appeal to 80 percent of the population. In social media, it is quite the opposite. The more specific our content is, then the more useful it is to that audience,” notes Peretti (Bill Connolly, 2017). In the early years of BuzzFeed, the only way they produced their material was through the use of algorithms to show ‘stirrings of virality’ on the web. They persuaded companies to allow their programming to monitor their partner sites and collect information to create a strong appeal to the public on the Internet (New York Magazine, 2013). In simplest terms, BuzzFeed’s innovation has more to do with how content is followed across the web, rather than how the content is presented on their site (Fortune, 2017).
  • In many other current creative industries, the focus on audience research is profound as well (Hesmondhalgh, 2013). ‘Audience power’ is commercial mass media’s principal product (Dallas Smythe, 2006, 233). “The way that cultural industries conceive of their audience is changing. There is a greater emphasis on audience research, marketing and addressing niche audiences” (Hesmondhalgh, 2013). The producers of media create an environment through the consumer’s various interactions on the Internet.
  • Appealing to the customer has always been a strong suit of BuzzFeed. They exude an omniscient-like understanding of data flow across the internet with incredible precision, creating relatable articles for all different types of members in their audiences (The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed, 2015). “It turns out Peretti’s vaunted algorithm revealed an obvious truth: People like upbeat, even childlike content” (New York Magazine, 2013). Heavy and light content stories generally appear to be synthesized together, and subsequently flood reader’s social media feeds. What makes BuzzFeed unique is their revolutionary way of reporting on both types of content, ranging from GIFs of Ryan Gosling, silly quizzes and serious political articles (The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed), which make them a well-rounded news source.
  • Being able to capture and generate emotionally triggering content puts BuzzFeed a few steps ahead of most media sites. “Great content isn’t about the content itself, but the emotion it can evoke from its audience” (Bill Connolly, 2017). Their belief about producing spreadable media revolves around the idea that a reader is more likely to share a post when they feel a sentiment, sympathy, grief, happiness, inspiration, pride and even anger towards the content in an article. Peretti spoke on this at a recent conference stating: “We think of media as something people use to help them in their lives” (Bill Connolly, 2017). This rings true in the articles that they continue to successfully produce.
  • Back in 2012, BuzzFeed noticed an increase in shared content labelled as ‘comforting’ after the horrific shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Their response to this was to create positive content specifically for the people in shock from the incident and lift their spirits in this devastating time. The relevant article was called “26 Moments That Restored Our Faith in Humanity This Year”. This is a great example of BuzzFeed’s algorithmic process in action. Not only does this show how they use the data to create articles, it highlights the deep seeded interest in the reader’s emotions (Bill Connolly, 2017). This process applies to a political economy, which can be defined as “the study of social relations that mutually constitute the production, distribution, and consumption of resources, placing the goal of understanding social change and historical transformation in the foreground” (Vincent Mosco, 2009, 12-13). All of the aspects of this are equally as important when creating media product a specific audience.
  • One method to gather data regarding customer interest is through the analysis of customer traffic in advertisements. BuzzFeed manages to implement a “native advertising” technique where they create “custom content worth sharing” (The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed, 2015). Their site refrains from using traditional banner ads and are meant to be easily digestible for the readers, just as their articles are. “Users are not passive watchers, but to a certain degree active creators of content. The users’ data is sold to the advertisers as a commodity (uploaded data, social networks, interests, demographic data, browsing and interaction behavior)” (Fuchs, 2012). These days advertisements center on appealing to customer interests, which help offer an insight to companies on what they should tailor their content to (McFall, 2009).
  • There has been some discussion about whether or not advertisers influence the articles written on their site, especially when BuzzFeed relies so heavily on them for content purposes and generate a considerable amount of their revenue from them. In one instance, there was an article about Dove that had been removed by the BuzzFeed editors. They claimed that the writer of the article tried to “advance a personal opinion instead of reporting on a larger conversation” instead of using ‘BuzzFeed’s voice’ (The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed, 2015). The controversy arose because of Dove’s advertiser affiliation with BuzzFeed, which sparked criticism. Peretti came out later clearly stating that their advertising relationship was not a factor in the removal of the article from their site. Shortly after, the article was reinstated to BuzzFeed’s website (The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed, 2015).
  • This cracks open the topic of ownership and autonomy in creative industries. Does the use of data retrieval restrict the creative potential of BuzzFeed employees? Do they have finite opportunities to explore their own realms of interest? Does it jeopardize pluralism in respect to keeping free and diverse media outlets?
  • This ongoing debate about ownership looks at public versus privately owned media. Private outlets are concerned with serving the public, while public outlets are capitalist enterprises with the main goal of making money (Edwin Baker, 2007). BuzzFeed is private and autonomous in the aspect that it’s an individually owned company with a multitude of employees creating work for the site, but the link between them and advertisers and the algorithms raise concern about media concentration. “The sorts of public policies which are, or ought to be, adopted in order to deal with concentrated media ownership depend on what impact such concentrations are thought to have on the collective good of society. This is a complex and, at times, controversial issue” (Gillian Doyle, 2002, p.11). We can appreciate the multiplicity of voices BuzzFeed provides, but how far does the idea of ownership go in affecting their diversity?
  • Indicated in his article, Edwin Baker insists that there are several reasons why we should avoid concentration; vulnerability to outside pressures, inefficient synergies, and internal distortions (Edwin Baker, 2007). Even though the internet offers a large amount of diversity, we can still see the power of large entities on the way things are reported to the public. It has everything to do with lack of media monopoly regulation as of late. With focus on profit, there’s a noticeable downward shift in quality of content. We need to be cognizant of the potential threat of autocracy in the creative industries if we allow a very slim margin for who controls the media. Ending up with just one body in charge would be disastrous for the industry altogether (Edwin Baker, 2007).
  • Even today you can see where we may be headed in the wrong direction. Currently the company Newscorp owns the top newspapers in the U.K., Australia, and even the in the United States. In the United States alone, five global dimension firms have stake in most of the magazines, book publishing, motion picture studios, radio, television, and newspapers (Bagdikian, 2004, p.3). In the U.K., 71% of the national newspaper market is owned by three companies. Including online content, 80% is owned by five companies (Media Reform Coalition, 2015). This is an issue that needs to be addressed swiftly and accordingly. “The Internet should be a universal, open and essentially free space. Technology is liberating- it can empower individuals, facilitate independent communication and mobilization, and strengthen an emergent civil society” (Gillian Doyle, 2002). With the digital economy growing, taking up atleast 8% of the U.K.’s GDP (Digital Britain Report, 2009), we must continue to find ways for content to be empirical and open minded and not dominated by the large companies.
  • BuzzFeed has looked at expanding their empire into other realms of creative industries. Peretti has mentioned getting involved in the creation of apps and mobile videos, as well as their launchings of several podcasts that are centered on Millennial audiences (The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed, 2015). “We see lots of trends merge together. Video, mobile usage, and social media have converged and we are at the center of that behavior,” said Peretti (Bill Connolly, 2017). BuzzFeed always appears to be ahead of the curve, anticipating what we need and want before we even know it. “The largest companies no longer specialize in a particular cultural industry; they now operate across a number of different cultural industries. These conglomerates compete with each other, but, more than ever before, they are connected in complex webs of alliance, partnership and joint venture” (Hesmondhalgh, 2013, p.3). They are spreading vastly and will continue to grow for years to come.
  • Some like to draw similarities between USA Today and BuzzFeed, which Peretti naturally deflects. Although the fact that both embrace charts, photos, and short amounts of text, the resemblance is quite striking. Regarding the trend of each of their success, both platforms attracted an incredible amount of readers. Timesreported USA Today having “earned itself more than five million readers and the grudging respect of competitors and many journalists” (The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed, 2015). New York Times logs in around 57 million unique readers, while BuzzFeed has itself boasts a hefty 78 million (Fortune, 2017).
  • Even though BuzzFeed is an American-based media site, their content has circulated across national borders and become a large source of information and entertainment for people all across the globe, not just young people. Their presence on the Internet extends far beyond the “fluff” pieces that they’re usually known for. The serious political posts should be taken seriously, especially with all their combination of creative research and access to data. BuzzFeed managed to expose an invalid statement from Russian President Vladimir Putin, where he claimed they hadn’t deployed any Russian troops in Ukraine. Social media told us otherwise. A Russian soldier posted pictures of himself driving around in a tank with a geo-tag from inside of the country of Ukraine, which an employee at BuzzFeed uncovered (Bill Connolly, 2017). This goes to show how clever they can get with the use of technology to write interesting and important articles about real life issues in all corners of the world.
  • The editorial team at BuzzFeed pushes the boundaries of the industry. They dish out media product that relates to specifically to certain groups while keeping them connected in the same swoop. They keep the Internet on their toes by providing early coverage of hot topics, such as same-sex marriage and immigration (The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed, 2015). “The Internet is the most influential medium- and, in some crucial ways, BuzzFeed demonstrates an understanding of that medium better than anyone else” (The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed, 2015). With 200 million unique monthly readers and 1 billion video views a month, it’s safe to assume that BuzzFeed isn’t going away anytime soon.


How to Edit Any Web Page in your Browser

  • Go to Browser Menu.
  • Select View –> Developer –> Developer Tools


  • This will open the Developer Tools on any web page.
  • Switch to the Console Tab.

  • Type the following command into the Console window and hit enter:
document.body.contentEditable = true

  • This makes the entire webpage editable- Click anywhere on the web page and start typing.

How many differences do you spot?

  • Once the webpage is refreshed, all the edits will reset back to the original webpage.