Convergence culture is the key-concept explored by Henry Jenkins in his crucial book dating back to 2006. Jenkins finally helped a lot to explain why popular culture (as in comics, fan fictions, blockbuster movies etc… and videogames, of course) is having such an impact in shaping our general attitude everyday, and how this impact could be used in a positive, pro-active way. His wise words on media violence, for instance, is what we should read every time someone tries to relate some shooting somewhere, to excessive exposure to violent videogames or movies.

The updates that Convergence Culture brought to the cultural debate, as the notion of transmedia (which updates and overcomes the “classic” multimedia category) are very important, but we have no time and space to discuss them here –  and they should also be quite known already. Read the book otherwise, it is a really interesting contribution!

convergence culture

One of the aspects of Convergence Culture that I loved more, is the idea that contributions of readers/users of any (transmedia) text are more and more relevant, to the point of being considered part of the experience and an enrichment to the text itself – indeed, a part of it, thus building the very convergence culture, which would go trough different paths to offer different parts/levels of the “user experience” to readers/users willing to follow all these paths, partly or completely.

Someone will notice the straight connections to the endless UX (user experience) design discussions that you might find online, so relevant nowadays to define how users would feel using new media as websites, apps, videogames, how immersive this use could be, etc etc. 
To me, this is just one more proof that here we are on the right track.

This idea that convergence culture would (finally!) consider users’ generated content as a part of the whole content experience may sound very new, and of course it is in the way it has been exposed, but it recalled to me at once the studies by my master-of-everything Umberto Eco about the open text, bringing Roland Barthes ideas further.

convergence culture

The idea that the reader (and then the user) could expand / change the meaning of a work of art is a very fascinating concept, already deeply present in 1900s poetry for instance (two names: TS Eliot and Eugenio Montale), and Eco writings on the open text and the role of readers in defining the content meaning are a starting point for many contemporary scholars and researchers about this topic.

Of course the other place to find relevance for users’ generated content is the internet, where (some) people may not have read Jenkins or Eco, but surely know stuff as Star Trek 1979 movie, in which the old Voyager 6 probe gets somehow in touch with sentient machines once entering into a black hole, and gets transformed in the all-mighty, all-knowing massive starship V’ger in order to “better fullfill its mission” of learning everything possible (and maybe generating the Borg, but this is another story…).

That’s maybe the same reason why some crazy geniuses who called themselves FXitinPost decided to honor the Trekker cousins, helping to “better fullfill its mission” one of the most discussed movie scenes ever.

I am talking about scene 38 of the original Star War movie, “A new hope”. That is, the last duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Dart Vader.

#SC38Reimagined is a project for a new, users’ generated version of the lamest lightsabers’ duel in any Star wars movie ever, fought by the two most important and able lightsaber holders throughout all the saga. After two years and a half of CGIs, green screens, renderings, shootings, overdubbing, editing, mixing and so on, the result is majestic:

The overdubbing of some audio from the previous confrontation between Obi-Wan and Anakin in Episode III makes everything even more epic, while new CGI parts bring the fight really to another level and most important -Vader here strikes first.

Ok, Obi-Wan still calls him “Darth”, as if it was some kind of nickname and not a Sith title the he would surely be aware of… but to keep the original audio, this could be (hardly) forgiven.

All the operation has been also made possible by the open attitude of Lucasfilm towards fan fiction (read more about it in Convergence Culture!) and their decision not to be so hard on copyright restriction about fan-made content – but then what next step could we imagine?

Might it be a future reissue of the movie with a collection of users’ generated remakes and remixes? Actually, it is what is happening in music since 20 years at least, and the results are good for the industry as well. So why not giving it a shot?

It’s convergence culture, baby… 🙂

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