Making Media Work: Cultures of Management in the Entertainment Industries

Making Media Work: Cultures of Management in the Entertainment Industries

Making Media Work: Cultures of Management in the Entertainment Industries

Making Media Work: Cultures of Management in the Entertainment Industries

Synopsis

In popular culture, management in the media industry is frequently understood as the work of network executives, studio developers, and market researchers--"the suits"--who oppose the more productive forces of creative talent and subject that labor to the inefficiencies and risk aversion of bureaucratic hierarchies. However, such portrayals belie the reality of how media management operates as a culture of shifting discourses, dispositions, and tactics that create meaning, generate value, and shape media work throughout each moment of production and consumption.

Making Media Work aims to provide a deeper and more nuanced understanding of management within the entertainment industries. Drawing from work in critical sociology and cultural studies, the collection theorizes management as a pervasive, yet flexible set of principlesdrawn upon by a wide range of practitioners--artists, talent scouts, performers, directors, show runners, and more--in their ongoing efforts to articulate relationships and bridge potentially discordant forces within the media industries. The contributors interrogate managerial labor and identity, shine a light on how management understands its roles within cultural and creative contexts, and reconfigure the complex relationship between labor and managerial authority as productive rather than solely prohibitive. Engaging with primary evidence gathered through interviews, archives, and trade materials, the essays offer tremendous insight into how management is understood and performed within media industry contexts. The volume as a whole traces the changing roles of management both historically and in the contemporary moment within US and international contexts, and across a range of media forms, from film and television to video games and social media.

Excerpt

Derek johnson, Derek Kompare, and Avi Santo

As represented in popular media, management is that force in our collective work worlds that renders labor inefficient, pointless, or suspect through its bureaucratic hierarchies, authoritarian mechanisms of control, and often the corrupted or inept personalities of those who rise to the position of manager. in the British workplace sitcom The Office, manager David Brent plays the fool, more concerned with his own ego than the productivity of workers under his employ. in the cult comedy Office Space, manager Bill Lumbergh plays the overbearing villain, a source of conflict who repeatedly tells the protagonist, “Yeah, I’m going to need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday.” and when we consider the self-reflexive popular texts that the media industries produce about their own work cultures and managerial class, the management of the media is made comprehensible in the same kinds of terms. Films and television programs like The Player, Get Shorty, Californication, Entourage, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and 30 Rock frequently position network executives, studio developers, talent agents and market . . .

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