Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Cultural Studies

Editor-in-Chief: Miller, Toby

Open Access
Online
ISSN
2451-3474
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Showrunner as Auteur: Bridging the Culture/ Economy Binary in Digital Hollywood

Elizabeth Blakey
  • Department of Journalism, California State University Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8311 USA
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2017-11-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2017-0029

Abstract

This article engages the metaphor of showrunner as auteur to examine freedom of expression in television. News articles offer the metaphor of showrunner as auteur, with Hollywood journalists discussing the writer-producers of the new Golden Age of Television. Media convergence, including cable and digital technologies, has disrupted traditional TV organisations and power brokers, bringing about a renaissance. Jenkins (2006) challenges scholars to see media convergence in terms of voice and participation, rather than technology. Following Jenkins, this study engages auteur theory, and Marshall McLuhan’s analysis of the medium and the message, to better understand TV showrunners. Critical insights from Marx and Bourdieu are considered with regard to the interplay of cultural and economic forces. The analysis compares earlier film directors-Jim Jarmusch and the Coen Brothers-with showrunners of the cable and digital era, including David Chase, the Wachowskis, David Benioff, and Diablo Cody. Because of disruptive technologies, TV showrunners are able to break free from media restraints and bridge the culture/economy binary that structures TV as a field of production. No longer bound by broadcast censorship and scheduled programming, TV showrunners are producing shows that express their signature messages, transforming TV into a cinematic experience.

Keywords: digital television; freedom of expression; McLuhan

References

  • Allen, Michael Patrick, and Anne E. Lincoln. “Critical Discourse and the Cultural Consecration of American Films.” Social Forces, vol. 82, no. 3, March 2004: 871-893.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Astruc, Alexandre. “The Birth of a New Avant-Garde: La Caméra-stylo.” L’Écran Français, vol. 144, no. 1, 1948: 17-22. Translated by Peter Graham and reprinted in The French New Wave: Critical Landmarks. Eds. Ginette Vincendeau and Peter Graham. London: British Film Institute, 2009: 31-36.Google Scholar

  • Bazin, André. “De La Politique des Auteurs.” Cahiers du Cinéma. Vol. 70, 1957: 2-11. Reprinted in Auteurs and Authorship: A Film Reader. Ed. Barry Keith Grant, Malden: Blackwell, 2007: 19-28. Google Scholar

  • Bennett, Tara. Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show. London: Titan Books, 2014. Google Scholar

  • Bernardi, Daniel and Julian Hoxter. Off the Page: Screenwriting in the Era of Media Convergence. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017.Google Scholar

  • Bernardo, Nuno. The Producer’s Guide to Transmedia: How to Develop, Fund, Produce, and Distribute Compelling Stories Across Multiple Platforms. Lisboa: beActive Books, 2011.Google Scholar

  • Bing, Jonathan. “The Art of the Matrix.” Review of The Art of the Matrix. Ed. Spencer Lam. Variety, 18 Dec. 2000: 37. Google Scholar

  • Bourdieu, Pierre. The Field of Cultural Production. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993. Google Scholar

  • Brown, Harry. “Dream Worlds, Film-Game Franchising and Narrative Form.” The Business of Entertainment. Eds. Robert C. Sickels, Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers, 2009: 111-128.Google Scholar

  • Chappell, Bill. “Facebook Watch Is Company’s New Plan for Online Video.” NPR.org, 10 Aug. 2017 Web. 30 Oct. 2017. <www.npr.org/sections/thetwoway/2017/08/10/542625208/facebook-watch-is-companys-new-plan-for-online-video>Google Scholar

  • Collins, Scott. “Showrunners Run the Show.” Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov. 2007. <www.latimes.com/business/la-ctchannel23nov23,1,5491248.story.> No longer available.Google Scholar

  • Corrigan, Timothy. “The Commerce of Auteurism: Coppola, Kluge, Ruiz.” A Cinema Without Walls: Movies and Culture After Vietnam. Ed. Timothy Corrigan, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1991: 101-36.Google Scholar

  • Cooper, Sarah. The Soul of Film Theory. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013.Google Scholar

  • Criterion Collection. “Thoughts and Reflections of Jim Jarmusch.” Feature on compact disc of Down by Law. Dir. Jim Jarmusch, 1986. Video file.Google Scholar

  • -----. Stranger than Paradise. Dir. Jim Jarmusch, 1983. Video file.Google Scholar

  • De Baecque, Antoine, and Serge Toubiana. Truffaut. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.Google Scholar

  • Defino, Dean J. The HBO Effect. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.Google Scholar

  • Doyle, John. “Ethnic Stereotyping? Fuhgeddaboutit.” Globe and Mail, 9 Apr. 2001: R2.Google Scholar

  • Federal Communications Commission. “Program Content Regulations.” FCC.gov, <www.fcc.gov/media/program-contentregulations.> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Gonzalez, Eric. “In and Along the Mississippi: The Motif of Music in Joel and Ethan Coen’s O Brother Where Are Thou? and Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train.” Revue Français D’Études Américaines. vol. 98, 2003: 99-110.Google Scholar

  • Grant, Barry Keith. Ed. Auteurs and Authorship. Malden: Blackwell, 2007.Google Scholar

  • Gray, Jonathan, Cornell Sandvoss, and C. Lee Harrington. Eds. Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. New York: New York University Press, 2007.Google Scholar

  • Fathallah, Judith. “Statements and Silence: Fanfic Paratexts for ASOIAF/Game of Thrones.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies. Vol. 30, no. 1, 2016: 75-88.Google Scholar

  • Fleishman, Jeffrey. “In TV’s Latest Golden Era, It’s the Writers Who Can Be Found Toiling at the Base of the Creative Rainbow.” Los Angeles Times, 25 June 2017. Reprinted at <www.pressreader.com/usa/los-angelestimes/20170625/282389809488456> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Hibberd, James. “Showrunners Enjoy Bigger Profile.” Hollywood Reporter, 28 Oct. 2008, <www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/showrunners-enjoy-bigger-profile-121902> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Higgins, John M., and Allison Romano. “The Family Business: It Became a Cultural Phenomenon, but now The Sopranos is a Money-making Machine beyond Tony’s Wildest Dreams.” Broadcasting and Cable, 29 Feb. 2004, <www.broadcastingcable.com/news/news-articles/family-business/102282> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • IPT (Idaho Public Television). “Dialogue: Creating ‘Game of Thrones,’ Part One.” YouTube, uploaded by Idaho Public Television, 16 Nov. 2016, <www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKlBU49KI5s&t=1410s> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Internet Movie Database. “Diablo Cody.” IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/name/nm1959505/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm. Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Insdorf, Annette. François Truffaut. Revised and updated edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.Google Scholar

  • Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: When Old Media and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2006.Google Scholar

  • Kompare, Derek. “More ‘Moments of Television’: Online Cult Television Authorship.” Flow TV: Television in the Age of Media Convergence. Eds. Michael Kackman, Marnie Binfield, Matthew Thomas Payne, Allison Perlman, and Bryan Sebok. New York: Routledge, 2011: 95-113.Google Scholar

  • Krishnamurthy, Sarala. “A Feast for the Imagination: An Exploration of Narrative Elements of the Text and Hypertext of Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.” NAWA: Journal of Language and Communication, vol. 7, no. 1, 2013: 86-97.Google Scholar

  • Kuntz, Peter C. “The Dude Goes Digital: The Big Lebowski, New Media and Participatory Culture.” Fan Phenomena: The Big Lebowski. Ed. Zachary Ingle. Bristol: Intellect Books, 2014: 80-88.Google Scholar

  • Landau, Neil. The TV Showrunner’s Roadmap: 21 Navigational Tips for Screenwriters to Create and Sustain a Hit TV series. New York: Focal Press, 2013.Google Scholar

  • Lavery, David. Reading the Sopranos: Hit TV from HBO. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.Google Scholar

  • Lector.org. “The Mystery of Larry Wachowski.” Lector.org, 23 July 2006. <lecter.org/forum/showthread.php?t=248> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Legros, Dominique. “Chance, Necessity, and Mode of Production: A Marxist Critique of Cultural Evolution.” American Anthropologist. Vol. 79, no. 1: 26-41.Google Scholar

  • Lindsey, Cameron. “Questioning Netflix’s Revolutionary Impact: Changes in the Business and Consumption of Television.” The Netflix Effect: Technology and Entertainment in the 21st Century. Eds. Kevin McDonald, and Daniel Smith-Rowsey, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016: 173-84.Google Scholar

  • Littleton, Cynthia. “Showrunners Write Strike Script.” Daily Variety, 20 Nov. 2007. <variety.com/2007/scene/marketsfestivals/showrunners-write-strike-script-1117976327/>Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • -----. “Jenji Kohan Leads Band of New Female Showrunners Breaking TV’s Old-School Rules.” 15 Aug. 2015. <variety.com/2015/tv/news/jenji-kohan-female-showrunners-shonda-rhimes-1201555729> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Lowrey, Brian. “Tuning In: Time to Say Goodbye to the Old Gang.” Variety, 14 Feb. 2005: 23.Google Scholar

  • Martin, Denise, and John Dempsey. “‘Sopranos’ Reruns Stir Mob Scene. Daily Variety, 10 Jan. 2005: 1.Google Scholar

  • Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. Translated by Martin Milligan, Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1988.Google Scholar

  • McLean’s. “‘This Show Isn’t Pretty’: The Sopranos’ Creator Says Tony’s Vulnerability is What Attracts Viewers.” McLean’s, vol. 116, no. 25, 23 June 2003: 40-41.Google Scholar

  • McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994.Google Scholar

  • MGM. Fargo, Special Edition Two-Disc Set. MGM, 1996.Google Scholar

  • Miller, Toby, Nitin Govil, John McMurria, Richard Maxwell, and Ting Wang. Global Hollywood 2. New York: Springer, 2004.Google Scholar

  • Ostrowska, Dorota. “Zentropa and Von Trier: A Marriage Made in Heaven.” Studies in European Cinema, vol. 2, no. 3, 2005: 185-98.Google Scholar

  • Oxford English Dictionary. “Showrunner.” 2017. <www.oed.com.libproxy.edu> Subscription required.Google Scholar

  • Petrie, Graham. “Alternatives to Auteurs.” Film Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 3, 1973: 27-35.Google Scholar

  • Radosinska, Jana. “New Trends in Production and Distribution of Episodic Television Drama: Brand Marvel-Netflix in theGoogle Scholar

  • Post-Television Era.” Communication Today, vol. 8, no. 1, 2017: 4-28.Google Scholar

  • Reilly, Claire. “Movies Anywhere is the Voltron of Streaming Services.” CNET.com, 11 Oct. 2017. <www.cnet.com/news/moviesanywhere- voltron-of-streaming-disney-amazon-itunes-google-vudu/> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Richwine, Lisa. “Movie Studios Join Disney-led Service to Link Digital Purchases.” Reuters.com, 11 Oct. 2017. <www.reuters.com/article/us-walt-disney-films/movie-studios-join-disney-led-service-to-link-digital-purchases-idUSKBN1CH0DZ> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Rucker, Allen. Ed. “David Chase: The Interviews.” The Sopranos: A Family History. New York: New American Library, 2000, appendix.Google Scholar

  • Ruppersburg, Hugh. “Oh, So Many Startlements: History, Race, and Myth in O Brother Where Art Thou?” Southern Cultures, Winter, 2003: 5 -26.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Sánchez-Escalonilla, Antonio. “The Crisis of the American Dream in New Century Independent Cinema: Indiewood and the Recovery of the Ordinary Citizen (2002-2015).” Communication and Society, vol. 29, no. 1, 2016: 21-34.Google Scholar

  • Sarris, Andrew. “Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962.” Film Culture. Vol. 27, Winter, 1962: 1-8. Reprinted in Film Theory and Criticism, 6th ed. Eds. Leo Braudy, and Marshall Cohen, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004: 561-64.Google Scholar

  • Sharp, David. Introduction. Auteur Theory/Auteurs, London: British Film Institute National Library. 2003: 8-9. <www.bfi.org.uk/filmtivinfo/publications/16+/auteur.html> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show. Directed by Des Doyle, performances by J.J. Abrams, and Kristen Bell, Dublin: Black Sheep Productions, 2014.Google Scholar

  • Spangler, Todd. “Disney to End Netflix Deal, Sets Launch of ESPN and Disney-Branded Streaming Services.” Variety, 8 Aug. 2017, <www.variety.com/2017/digital/news/disney-netflix-end-acquires-bamtech-espn-ott-services-1202519917/> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Truffaut, François. “A Certain Tendency of the French Cinema.” Cahiers du Cinema. Vol. 31, January 1954: 26-27. Reprinted in Auteurs and Authorship. Ed. Barry Keith Grant, Malden: Blackwell, 2007: 9-18.Google Scholar

  • United States’ Supreme Court. Playboy Entertainment Group. v. United States. 529 U.S. 803, 22 May 2000. Ithaca: CornellGoogle Scholar

  • University Law School, Legal Information Institute, <www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/98-1682.ZO.html> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Wachowski, Lily. “Lilly Wachowski Shares Her Serendipitous Coming Out Story.” YouTube, uploaded by Logo, 3 Apr. 2016, <www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHBq_PF7va4> Web. 30 Oct. 2017.Google Scholar

  • Walker, Joseph S. “Livia and the Logic of Falsehood in the First Season of The Sopranos.” This Thing of Ours: Investigating the Sopranos. Ed. David Lavery. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002: 109-121.Google Scholar

  • Writers Guild of America West, and Jeff Melvoin. “Showrunner Training Program Legacy Series,” <www.wga.org/members/programs/showrunner-training-video> Web. 30 Oct. 2017. Video file.Google Scholar

  • Wyatt, Justin. “The Formation of the Major Independent: Miramax, New Line and the New Hollywood.” Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. Eds. Steve Neale and Murray Smith, Abingdon: Routledge, 1998: 74-90.Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2017-09-06

Accepted: 2017-11-04

Published Online: 2017-11-30

Published in Print: 2017-11-27


Citation Information: Open Cultural Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 321–332, ISSN (Online) 2451-3474, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2017-0029.

Export Citation

© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

[2]
María-José Higueras-Ruiz, Francisco-Javier Gómez-Pérez, and Jordi Alberich-Pascual
Doxa Comunicación. Revista interdisciplinar de estudios de comunicación y ciencias sociales, 2019, Number 28, Page 79

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in