Below the Line: Producers and Production Studies in the New Television Economy

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Press: Duke University Press Books (May 16, 2011)
Publication Date:2011-5
Author Name:Mayer, Vicki


Below the Line illuminates the hidden labor of people who not only produce things that the television industry needs, such as a bit of content or a policy sound bite, but also produce themselves in the service of capital expansion. 
Vicki Mayer considers the work of television set assemblers, soft-core cameramen, reality-program casters, and public-access and cable commissioners in relation to the globalized economy of the television industry.
She shows that these workers are increasingly engaged in professional and creative work, unsettling the industry’s mythological account of itself as a business driven by auteurs, manned by an executive class, and created by the talented few.
As Mayer demonstrates, the new television economy casts a wide net to exploit those excluded from these hierarchies.
Meanwhile, television set assemblers in Brazil devise creative solutions to the problems of material production.
Soft-core videographers, who sell televised content, develop their own modes of professionalism.
Everyday people become casters, who commodify suitable participants for reality programs, or volunteers, who administer local cable television policies.
These sponsors and regulators boost media industries’ profits when they commodify and discipline their colleagues, their neighbors, and themselves.
Mayer proposes that studies of production acknowledge the changing dynamics of labor to include production workers who identify themselves and their labor with the industry, even as their work remains undervalued or invisible.

About the Author

Vicki Mayer is Associate Professor of Communication at Tulane University. 
She is a co-editor of Production Studies: Cultural Studies of Media Industries and editor of the journal Television and New Media.


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Comment List (Total:1)

  •     I'm in academia myself and have a considerable vocabulary, yet found myself startled and downright mystified by her choices of words throughout this book--choices that often made little sense and seemed calculated to impress the reader. At the same time, the writing is stilted and awkward, sentences strung together as if they simply fell into place on the page rather than because they made linguistic sense. The section on "producers" of "soft-core porn" at Mardi Gras is disingenous, with no critique of the possible unethical behavior of the alleged "producers" who are presented as "professionals" even as most of them admit to shooting video of drunken women who are often coerced into revealing themselves "for fun" or because it gets them invited to parties.This is a thinly-veiled approximation of research, though much time may have been spent putting it together. The writing, at least, could have much improved if the author had spent as much time striving for clarity as she did fighting to fit impressive words into odd circumstances.

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