May 30, 2009

Transmedia in Latin America (Part I of II)

Xiaochang and I just got back from Turner Networks where we did a presentation on spreadability and many other convergence culture-y things. One of the first requests we received was to address the issue of transmedia narratives across borders, in my case, specifically across Latin America. My first, very silly, reaction was to say "sorry guys, there is nothing there" and then proceeded to obsessively look for evidence to prove me wrong. Of course, there is much transmedia storytelling in Latin America, I just hadn't read these properties as such. In these two posts, I'd like to share with you the three cases I presented to our partners in Atlanta.

First, "El Chavo del Ocho" (The Kid from Apartment 8), this sitcom grew out of a comedy sketch in 1971. It tells the story of an homeless boy that lives in a barrel in the middle of a low-income housing complex surrounded by un-empathic yet comedic children and adults. The children are all played by adults and in fact Roberto Gomez, the show's creator and protagonist, played "El Chavo" until his mid-sixties when he thought it might be "grotesque" to play a boy.

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May 12, 2009

IP or Censorship: DMCA take-downs of racism protest

Recently, in one of the "routine sweeps" of DMCA take-downs we've all become accustomed to throughout a variety of user-generated content platforms, the contents of the store were removed from on-demand retail platform was a non-profit effort that sold t-shirts to protest the all-white casting of non-white leads in the Avatar: the Last Airbender live-action film (more details on that particular controversy here and here The store sold shirts with original art and designs, mostly slogans such as "Aang ain't white," and none of the products on the site contained any images from the series (check out the designs) -- the only thing "in violation of Viacom's intellectual property rights" were words used to talk about the Viacom property. (In an update, a counter-claim was filed and the store was restored, with both and Viacom refusing responsibility and laying the blame with the other party).

We are, by now, long accustomed to epic failure on the part of DMCA takedowns initiated by major media conglomerates. Viacom, in particular, has been a visible and often hilariously illogical offender, with its memorable removal of a clip Christopher Knight put up on youtube from the show WebJunk 2.0, which had featured none other than Knight's own campaign commercial (presumably aired without permission).

A version of this was originally posted at

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