Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Post 3: Transmedia Storytelling -

Post 3 – Transmedia Storytelling – Breaking Bad

Multimedia represents the convergence of text, pictures, video and sound into a single form.  It is a way to tell one story on many different platforms.  Transmedia is the convergence of multiple stories from many different mediums that fit together to create a stronger, more compelling story.  Henry Jenkins describes transmedia storytelling as the following:

“Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.  Ideally, each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story” http://henryjenkins.org/2011/08/defining_transmedia_further_re.html

Jenkins illustrates how The Matrix, a story that began as a movie, was expanded to include videogames, comic books, animations, and two sequels to expand the entire story.  This brought in new audiences, as well as new contributors who would further add to the ever-expanding story by creating fan-fiction on blogs and fan sites.  Similar to The Matrix franchise, the television show, Breaking Bad on AMC is a story that is expanded upon through the engagement of fans, artists, and writers.  Through blogs, social media networks, and various online forums, the show’s audience is able to connect with one-another to further develop the story that was started by the creator of the show, Vince Gilligan.

Breaking Bad is a character-driven story, with the majority of the story focusing on development and transformation of each character throughout the series.  Vince Gilligan stated at the beginning of the show that he wanted the main character, Walter White, to start out as “Mr. Rogers” and transform into “Scarface”.  This notion alone provided fans and critics a chance to engage and discuss how they believed this transformation would occur.   The show also suggests that each character has a significant back-story that is alluded to in the show, but leaves many questions for the viewers to make up themselves.   In addition to many fan-created blogs, AMC even created blogs for several of the main characters to connect with fans and build upon their character.  We, as an audience, are actively generating a more compelling story by discussing the characters’ back-stories and creating a persuasive history of the world within Breaking Bad.

The show has also been strategically promoted online to explicitly engage audience members, and get them to participate in games, interactive comics, webcam conversations, and other story-driven interplay between the show itself and the audience.  One of the most interesting promotions that was created for the show was a website called SaveWalterWhite.com.  When Walter Junior, Walter White’s son, find’s out that Walter has cancer he decides to launch a website to help raise money for his dad’s cancer treatments.  At the very same time, AMCtv.com launched the very same site featuring Walter Junior’s on-air web design and acclamation to his father.   This site provided a real-life opportunity for fans to help fight cancer by directing fans to donate to the National Cancer Coalition.   In the three years since the launch of SaveWalterWhite.com, over one million fans have clicked on the “Click to Donate” button and to date, have donated more than $125,000 to the National Cancer Coalition.  www.SaveWalterWhite.com

In addition to promotions such as SaveWalterWhite.com, AMC created several online video games such as an RPG comic where users play as Walter White’s brother-in-law, DEA Agent Hank Schrader, as he interrogates a suspect in a murder.  Prior to season three, they created a Breaking Bad Criminal Aptitude Test, which is a personality quiz that compared the user to various criminal characters featured in the show.  The promotions are all very interactive, and engage users to enter into the story from different perspective, and create their own interpretations of where the story will take us.   Through these interactive promotions, fan-sites, blogs, videos, and comics, the story of Breaking Bad is one that extends from the actual show itself and engages audience members to participate, collaborate and build upon a synchronized narrative that encompasses the world of Breaking Bad.  Below I have included a piece of fan art and an interesting chart derived from the story.

Amraj Lalli

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