Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

The Art of Immersion

Posted on | January 30, 2013 | 1 Comment

An interesting theme that stood out in Roses book was how engagement affects narrative. He discusses how social media can impact television and how content creators respond to such engagement.

Thinking about his example of how a television network forced twitter to remove the pseudo accounts of its fictional characters I quickly thought of the various twitter accounts I follow that adopt the persona of fictional characters. For myself it adds a level of depth when I re-engage with the character after reading a twitter feed about how x character would respond to a real-life event, i.e. Homer Simpson deciding to do all his Christmas shopping on Christmas eve. When I initially read the comment it dimensionalized the character for me because as I scrolled through reading messages by people, there was Homer, a fictional character as though he were real, responding to an event I myself was also experiencing. FOX, allowing their character to seep into the real world adds to my overall engagement with their content.

However, the reason some content creators view this as a negative engagement is obvious, as Rose discusses it is all about control. For example losing control of a characters personality, or allowing it to be shaped by the general public allows viewers to engage in a way that was not initially designed by the creators. Social media being far more accessible than cable television allows this kind of engagement to spread quickly. Content creators themselves are also unsure how this kind of publicly controlled engagement will develop and so they can be reluctant to support it.

Ultimately the concept of authority-in-narrative in the book is placed in the hands of the consumer and not the content creators. While this may sound obvious Rose points out that in the past although content was tailored for the user/viewer, it was a top down architecture. Meaning there was no level of engagement or any ability to contribute let alone affect the narrative on the same level we can today.


1. How does engaging in social media affect our relationship with narrative?

2. Do twitter accounts of fictional characters that tweet their would be lives add more to the viewing experience or take away from it?

3. Do content creators who deny members of the public the ability to integrate their work into social media prevent a larger or deeper narrative from happening in within work?

Matt K


One Response to “The Art of Immersion”

  1. mtozer
    January 30th, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

    Hey Matt,

    For you second question, fictional characters that tweet – I think that it definitely adds to some sort of narrative, immersive and social experience. I am not so sure about the actual viewing experience. The viewing experience could be either heightened or not, depending on your level of engagement with these twitting fictional characters, and if so, it depends on how (positively or negatively) you respond to their tweets. In the case of the Mad Men example given in the book, where someone decided to tweet as Betty Draper, there is a sort of social component amongst friends that could help engage the audience more to the narrative content. For example, they could converse about which character tweeted what and question what does that mean? How does that relate to the story? Or what will happen next week as a result of this tweet?

    And perhaps with this example we can discuss your initial question. Maybe when audiences engage in a narrative multiple ways, especially with social media, they want to interact and communicate with the characters and with the story another more intimate way. They want to feel a sort of relationship, an emotional connection with the characters and feel like they are actually connecting with a ‘real’ person. And then whatever happens to the character in the constructed story, say if Don Draper got shot in Mad Men, people would react in a deeper way (maybe more concerned way) because they may have a much larger emotion connection to the characters. Perhaps this is one way the creators and developers could try to ‘control’ there stories. By setting up characters that are ’socially’ engaged and controlling the content they post.

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