Networked film criticism as a way of learning: Exploring the culture of a virtual film community and the stories of amateur film critics
Chi-Ying Yu, Teachers College, Columbia University, United States
Teachers College, Columbia University . Awarded
The rapid growth of film blogs and online film forums, known as networked film criticism, has changed the landscape of contemporary film criticism. Research into the phenomenon has tended to be based on either an essentialist view of film criticism or a technological determinist perspective. The former overlooks the role of the Internet in effecting cultural production and transformation, whereas the latter neglects the characteristics and conventions of film criticism as an established genre. Given the gap in the published research, the purpose of this study is to identify new language, theorize new concepts, and create new discourses relating to film criticism undertaken within an Internet community.
From a cultural-educational perspective, three research questions were posed: How does an online film community form, evolve, and change? How does an online film community shape a distinct culture of its own that influences and draws on its members' film criticism? How do members of the community develop film critiques and literacy over time? A primarily qualitative and complementarily quantitative mixed methodology guided the research design. The Netflix community was selected as the case to study—with particular emphasis on its film-reviewing culture. Data for the study comprised open-source information on the Netflix website, posts and discussion threads on The Netflix Blog and Movie Fans, responses to an online survey designed to meet the research goals, and email interviews with selected five active reviewers.
Through analyzing the data collected, I found that the Netflix community was formed, transformed, and deformed by both top-down and bottom-up processes. Its underlying structure was that of the distributed communities of individual networked film reviewers. In addition, the film reviewers engaged in their practice in a nomadic way especially after the Netflix community had collapsed. Reflecting on the process of culture-generation in the community, we can argue that the Netflix community serves as a learning space where collaborative education in film reviewing is manifested. Likewise, looking at the development of each of the five reviewers, their engagement with Netflix's features, member reviews in particular, significantly motivated them to become more literate in film art.
Yu, C.Y. Networked film criticism as a way of learning: Exploring the culture of a virtual film community and the stories of amateur film critics. Ph.D. thesis, Teachers College, Columbia University.
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