Blogs and the Media

We’ve discussed the blog as an online diary and a way for us to convey bits of our identity to the world; we are able to write and post our thoughts, emotions, and opinions for others to see. We read Madeline Sorapure’s article, Chapter 32, about online diaries assuming this role. Blogs and online diaries enable us to connect to the writer and what they write about. They write for an audience, presumably friends, family, or any other online acquaintances, and are able to connect on an emotional level. From their blogs, we are able to read into their lives and think as they do for a brief moment in time. While blogs serve to be a personal gateway, there are certain television shows that use blogs to further develop characters and enable fan interaction. The characters whose blogs we are reading are therefore ‘real’ to us.

For example, on the television show “How I Met Your Mother”, the character Barney Stinson, portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris, is a womanizer and very opinionated (albeit sometimes perverse, hypocritical, but always entertaining). In the early seasons of the television show, Barney frequently references his blog, an online tool he uses to vent but mostly to raise and spread awareness of his awesomeness. What does this entail? Posts about how to pick up women (he has an entire book dedicated to this), how to dress (always in a suit), how to deal with illness (stop being sick and be awesome instead), and more. He is probably one of the most popular characters on the show and his blog is an extension of his persona on screen. Fans are able to follow his lives and advice by reading his blog. Writers of the show are able to continue flexing their creative muscles and continue Barney’s muses online, continuing the themes of the show and keep fans satisfied with further representations of the character they love.

(Sidenote: Recently, though, ‘Barney’ has signed up with Twitter. His last blog post was in May, 2011 towards the end of last season. His Twitter feed is updated much more frequently suggesting that the writers are using a more immediate form of social media to spread the characters’ musings as well as information about the show.)

If we look overseas, the BBC has an extraordinary representation of Sherlock Holmes in the 21st century entitled “Sherlock”. The titular character is essentially the same as one would expect reading the books written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and is masterfully portrayed by actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Sherlock has a blog entitled ‘The Science of Deduction’, which chronicles his cases as seen in the show. Sherlock regularly uses the blog, particularly in the third episode of Series 1 (season one) of the show, and fans can see the blog exactly as Sherlock would have written it to be. There is little difference between what the television portrayal of the blog looks like and what the fan online sees. Furthermore, Sherlock’s friend and cohort, Dr. John Watson, also maintains a blog on the television chronicling the cases the two have undertaken. This is reference in the show itself, a point of contention between the characters, and is written in the style, tone, and voice of John Watson himself, who must write a blog at the behest of his therapist. Both blogs allow comments but not to fans of the show, but rather, the other characters on the show.

These blogs allow fans of the shows to look into another realm of the TV show. The characters continue to live online and fans are able to access them at any time. While blogs and online diaries allow us to look into people’s lives, so to then these blogs allow us to look into the lives of the characters as well as maintaining continuity within the show. These two shows have shown a mastery in using blogs to further build interest in their shows and characters.

The Barney Stinson Blog: http://www.cbs.com/primetime/how_i_met_your_mother/community/barney_blog/index.php

The Sherlock Holmes Blog: http://www.thescienceofdeduction.co.uk/hidden-messages

The John Watson Blog: http://www.johnwatsonblog.co.uk/

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2 Comments

  1. I think that using social media is a very interesting way to extend other entertainment avenues such as TV shows. It make it a lot more personal with the fans, and gives them a much closer insight into the character. It also doubles as such a low cost advertising tool for the television program, as people spread and share the different blog posts to each other. Another thing is that makes the viewer feel like they’re part of the TV show’s universe, as it’s as if the character actually exists and is interacting with the viewer. Overall, I think this is a really good example of how social media can be used in so many different ways and for so many different uses.

  2. In a way, these examples demonstrate some of the limitations of remediation theory. Here, it’s not so much that Barney’s and Holmes’ online presences are seeking to appear more immediate or hypermediate than their television forms, but that the entirety of their digital and television production contribute to forming a transmedia product that spans over multiple mediums. Nor are they the first to follow such a route; NBC’s digital division had websites and fictional homepages for their characters as early as 1997. (See Jennifer Gillan’s Television and New Media, Must-Click TV.) Fitting with Terranova’s terminology, these twitter feeds and blogs are part of the immaterial labor that creates the TV product.
    –MH


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