Date: Wednesday January 23, 2013
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

Mickey, Vader, and Spidey Walk into a Bar: Why Disney’s Acquisitions Matter to Media, Merchandising, and Meaning

Summary: With Disney buying up both Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm in recent years, major media franchises like Star Wars and The Avengers now sit in new relationships to consumers, to media markets, and to one another. Of course, these media products have never been singular, with film and comic products surrounded by armies of other products–toys, television shows, video games, spin-offs, trailers, DVD bonus materials, and more. While we often assume these other products to be peripheral or secondary, they have had major impact on how people engage with the “tentpole” commercial media in which we seem to be more invested, whether shaping how and why viewers make meaning from and grow to love or hate blockbuster fare, or forcing media workers to craft their creative identities from positions perceived as marginal or illegitimate compared to making the “real” product. This talk, therefore, treats the interrelations between media products not as peripheral but as centrally important, asking why they matter to fans, to media workers, and to popular culture more generally. Rather than examine what acquisition of companies like Lucasfilm will mean for Disney’s bottom line, this talk can instead consider how the new, revised relationships that result between merchandised products, consumers, and institutions might further impact the meanings we invest in media culture.

Presenter bios:
Jonathan Gray is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at University of Wisconsin, Madison. After spending the first ten years of his life with all things Star Wars, the next five with more pirated 5 1/4″ PC games than one could imagine, and the next five with all things Simpsons, he turned to media studies and started analyzing, not just playing. He is now author of Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts; Television Entertainment; and Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality, as well as co-author of Television Studies. He is also co-editor of Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World; Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era; Battleground: The Media; and, soon, A Companion to Media Authorship. He still wishes he had a suit of Mandalorian armor.

Derek Johnson is Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. When not rearranging the action figures that adorn his office, he works to understand how creativity and creative identities are structured, imagined, and managed in the media industries. He is the author of Media Franchising: Creative License and Collaboration in the Culture Industries (Spring 2013), and the co-editor of the forthcoming Intermediaries: Cultures of Management and Management of Culture as well as A Companion to Media Authorship. In partnership with his 3-year-old daughter, he has also completed numerous Lego projects as well as created characters like “Feminist Batman,” and together they enjoy watching Star Trek and walking to the comic book store.


Hacking, Reality vs. Hollywood

Summary: Find out why most TV shows and movies make technology professionals, especially those that know about network security, twitch. Just why did that nerd start giggling and groaning during James Bond: Skyfall? Not only will this talk cover the ways that Hollywood gets things wrong, but the surprising ways in which they get things right.

Presenter bio: Glen Murie has been working on computers since he was a boy more years ago than he likes to think about. In that time he has done everything from building computers to web programming to network administration, and is currently doing software support and technical writing for a medical transcription software company. He has worked at more places than he can easily remember, from slaughterhouses (where debugging a printer takes on a whole new meaning) to nuclear power plants. So far, the radiation has not given him super powers, but he did have to stop eating fast food


So you want to have a cow?  Artificial insemination in the cattle industry.

Summary: Enjoy cheese? Good chance that the dairy cow providing the raw material was not the product of a good old fashioned romance, but instead a well thought out breeding plan which gave the best chance for a healthy and productive animal. A majority of dairy cattle are artificially inseminated, a technique pioneered in the early half of the 20th century. The process is both simple and challenging while allowing for some surprising opportunities, such as selecting the gender of the offspring.

Presenter bio: Dave is a Wisconsin native who grew up in the country, but not on a farm. He spent a great five year stint at UW Madison getting a degree in Chemical Engineering before heading to the land of the Red Sox and “chowdah” where he collected a PhD in Biological Engineering from MIT. Frankly, even after more than a year working in ag-biotech he has trouble not snickering at some of the common office vocabulary.