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Character Blogs Revisited: Continues the Conversation

My article "Character Blogs as a Branding Vehicle" was just mentioned on, the site devoted to Joss Whedon and his work, such as Buffy and Angel.

And the most interesting part --- there are already 22 comments from the fans on their views of character blogs, especially in relation to the universes created by Whedon.

As was to be expected, some are positive, other negative, but all add to the debate. Do take a look, especially if you're interested in the consumer view of things.

Also, one of the readers here posted a really long and well-based comment on the original article. But since that article is now "hidden" in the archives, I'm republishing her thoughts below.

My response to both the comments on the site and the one posted below, is very short ...

This type of character blog, especially since we're talking about a show with such a loyal following, would only work with Joss and his closest team behind it. And that's the whole point.

A character blog should be "authentic" ... authentic in the meaning that it accuratly represents the character. And that could only happen if the authors were the real people behind the show.

And now for the comment ...

"Very, very interesting idea. Very.

Wouldn't surprise me at all if Disney or another like-minded corporation started this practice. Wouldn't surprise me if this practice was already taking place. If it is, it's my contention you will find a serious lack of quality in the work. Kind of like buying a comic book based on your favorite superhero only to find watered down dialogue, weak developments, and meh-type visuals (yet this is rarely the case regarding Joss Whedon's work in comics). Because this type of blogging could realistically take place, young consumers as you mentioned would not recognize the quality of these products has probably been compromised.

Buffy is probably not a good example, however. Joss Whedon would probably not endorse this type of character development, except perhaps on a very small scale. Knowing his devotion to "proper" character development, it's just really hard for me to make use of your example, but I can see how other writers/producers might try this idea. The ideas you mentioned have already been widely developed and explored via licensed fiction and related products, and consumers themselves, in the form of fanfiction, forums, etc. Furthermore, Whedon assumes his consumers have a brain. He shows us what the characters experience. He doesn't tell us (standard industry practice by genius writers). He doesn't have to. He knew, for example, after viewers saw the attempted rape and the Scoobies' encounters with the First that we'd be able to figure out for ourselves what was going on in their heads. We saw for ourselves how everyone "dealt." In fact, Whedon prefers his viewers draw their own conclusions, as he's publicly stated many times.

As a novice writer, I understand his POV. Completely. Whedon is the best example of an artist who will not let major corporations alter his visions, and fans LOVE him for that. Writers and creators would first have to give up creative control of their products in order to allow this type of blogging to take place.

It could be an interesting venue for a writer or creator who is not very well-known. In that way, consumers could learn a great deal about the artists and the products the creators want to promote. They could have their periodic "fix" just by logging in on a regular basis. This type of blog would be incredibly cheap to produce and maintain, pleasing both consumers and creators, much like the way not-so-well-known musicians offer a few free songs for download on their official websites. Makes everybody happy!

I'm glad you used Joss Whedon in your example, actually. Through my devotion to the study of his work, I've learned that I'm not just a fan who appreciates his art. I'm also a consumer of his products. According to the bottom line in his biz, money matters before all else; no ifs, ands or buts. Therefore, I must take certain considerations into account when consuming his product, such as: Who wrote it? Who sponsors it? Who else gains financially? and so on. So this type of blog would have to be critically viewed as any other type of product or promotion (obviously). As far as young consumers are concerned, this is the same type of product parents should screen but probably won't. This would be one of those new products or mediums most parents don't know exist; they are more likely to learn about this product through own experience or their children, if at all.

The likely result of character blogs would mirror the same development products already experience in other promotional venues. The uncompromising artist such as Whedon would likely only create such a blog with strict control. Artists who have licensed their products and have no say in the process would likely shrivel and weep as the liberties taken with their characters become further and further removed from their creative visions. Unfortunately, these practices would be likely unknown by the general fanbase. If character blogs continue to develop, it will be up to the uber-fans to decide if the blogs are worthy creations. Trust me, the rabid fans will let you know."

Posted by: April at April 28, 2005 03:53 PM


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