Frames and Vectors and Netflix

Yep, so after spending a little while trying to wrap my head around what all these words like vectors and frames meant in the context of our media consumption everything started to click. So obviously there are the really common debates between frames like that in the music industry or the journalistic practice but I’d like to go to my age old favourite topic of discussion the movies.

Movies have a very similar framing divide that pits the “capitalist” studios against the sharing and caring “pirates”. Film and TV piracy is reaching record highs lately, just see the season 4 premiere of Game of Thrones, which saw at one time more than 120,000 people seeding the show on torrent websites and that doesn’t even begin to include illegal streams and further copies of those copies. Millions of people watched this show at once and it’s all because of this process of framing. Piracy is framed as something that is mostly ‘okay’ for the general public, this framing is defined and generated by the general public only however (you’re not gonna see HBO being cool with Game of Thrones being pirated). Actually I’m going to stop here for a second and say this is where frames get confusing and start to interrelate. Because the chief executive of HBO did in fact come out and ‘support’ piracy, stating that it didn’t affect the shows revenue. Gregory Bateson seems to be the one referring to this idea of frames being contradictory or paradoxical as it is here. It does no good to think of the debate of piracy as these hard and fast frames that have no communication between each other.

The framing of modern film and tv piracy is social, psychological (in that it involves a lot of group validation) and temporal. It’s a product of its time in that right now demand for the instant is stronger than it’s ever been. This is where the vectors come in attempting to perhaps negotiate the relationship between the pirate and corporate scenes of film distribution. Netflix is a popular example of the corporate controlled vector trying to negotiate between frames. It offers much of the instantaneous popularity of illegal downloading while still allowing copyright holders to receive payment through monthly membership fees. People are willing to give it a shot however, because it offers a service similar to the one they can get for free, without the complications of illegality and the convenience of watching content instantly on any device without any tricky file conversion. The Netflix app is everywhere! Not that I would know, it’s not available here in Australia.  

Lakoff and Johnson however go even simpler than my little illustration here. Or maybe its more in depth depending on how you think of it. But they describe frames as not just patterns of thought but as “structures of feeling” that literally allow us to create and understand our reality. They use the example of chairs (P.116) to illustrate how the image of the chair has an intentionality that allows us to implicitly know what it is just by the images it conjures up. So yeah frames are broader than just sort of sides in an argument, nearly everything is part of frame

Frames bring together a range of experiences and in the process giving things like going to the movies or going to a restaurant a ‘reality’. They are a way of negotiating our own experiences.  

 References:

Time Warner, Inc. CEO admits Game of Thrones piracy is good for HBO

Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark (1999) ‘The Efficacious Cognitive
Unconscious’ in Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to
Western Thought, New York: Basic Books: 115-117

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