Monday, September 28, 2009

Cultural production through Facebook Bumper Stickers

On Facebook, there is an application that allows people to create and send "bumper stickers" to friends. These bumper stickers can be displayed on your profile. On the surface, many people use the Bumper Sticker application to simply spice up their profiles and give their friends a laugh. However, it can be argued that this aspect of Facebook serves as an expression of cultural production through textual poaching, political criticism, and image sharing.

According to Sturken and Cartwright, textual poaching allows fans of TV shows, books, movies, bands, etc. to create their own interpretations: " that they "make do" with the original popular culture texts yet use them to make new kinds of scenarios that depend on original texts for their new meanings" (p. 84). The rise of the Internet only propelled this movement, as it became easier for fans to connect and to share their work. The Bumper Sticker application is a great example of this. For instance, the text in this image creates a new meaning from a scene featured in the Harry Potter series. Reworked, this now pays homage to the Twilight series.

Facebook's Bumper Sticker allows for "amateurs" to create and distribute images involving cultural and political commentary without having to have a professional background or spend lots of money.

Images can also be circulated and displayed by users in order to express themselves. "Users are increasingly deploying images to define their public profiles and construct their identities" (p. 85). The bumper sticker below is likely displayed by Facebook users that want their conservative values to be intertwined with their online lives.

Overall, the Internet has become a tool for lesser known artists to express their creativity. More specifically, social networking websites such as Facebook and YouTube make it easier for individuals to produce and share their own culture texts. People are able to create and recreate their own interpretations of images and other elements of popular culture, and display it for others to see. The Internet is continually shaping and changing cultural interaction. "...culture is not a set of obects that are valued in some way but a set of processes through which meaning is constantly made and remade throught the interactions of objects and peoples".

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