By Geraldine Harris
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Extra resources for Beyond Representation: Television Drama and the Politics and Aesthetics of Identity
Obviously, the collective processes of production within television have always rendered the ascribing of authorship problematic. However, as Nelson indicates, the postmodern turn to issues of reception, genre, intertextuality and the aesthetics of the medium as a whole means that like socialism, discussion of authors apparently became inadmissible in television criticism (8). Yet as noted above, this concept does play a part in Fiske’s discussion of Madonna, as it does in feminist essays on this performer such as the one by Anne E.
The logic of this argument is that, in order to be popular, television must appeal to a diverse range of viewers and therefore ‘provide space’ for a diverse range of meanings and pleasures to be articulated in relation to their differing ‘social interests’ (73, 88 and 92). While he argues that the television text exists in a state of tension between ‘closure’ and ‘openness’ of meaning (84), he simultaneously describes it as operating through a ‘producerly’ aesthetic, borrowing from Umberto Eco’s notion of the ‘open’ text and Roland Barthes’ concept of ‘writerly’ texts.
This point is not always clear because he constantly moves between discussing the medium, specific television texts, the conditions of reception and the subjectivity of those who receive them, always emphasising the similarities between these things. Hence the properties of the medium, on the micro level of editing and the macro level of programming, advertising and scheduling and the conditions of its reception, mean that for Fiske, television as a whole is a ‘rapid succession of compressed vivid segments where the principle of cause and effect is subordinated to that of association and consequence to sequence’.