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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Promotional Horror Media: Consent, Control, and Space
by Svensson, Alexander Mark, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2019, 311; 27671750
Abstract (Summary)

Everyday life in our media saturated world frequently presents us with promotional content that we do not explicitly choose to encounter and engage with. Advertisements and marketing materials appear not just consistently and with considerable force, but also randomly and without warning across public and private space–from billboards along city streets and highways, to commercials on our television screens and mobile devices, we often don’t consent to being advertised to. This dissertation takes as its foundation the observation that, for many consumers, promotional content specifically crafted for the horror genre often puts into relief and exacerbates the irritating, seemingly uncontrollable nature of our hypercommercialized landscape. Culled from entertainment news sites, social media feeds, online complaint forums, and streaming video comment sections, this dissertation is a study of deeply critical and combative reactions to horror promotional texts and experiences. These reactions are varied, complex, and often overlapping, existing across a broad spectrum of emotional, affective intensities: dislike, discomfort, confusion, fear, shock, disgust, disturbance, controversy, moral panic, personal trauma, and so on.

Importantly, such reactions are not just expressions of dislike, disapproval, and disavowal. Additionally, contentious reactions to horror film and TV promotions lead to calls for such content to be edited, censored, banned, and physically removed. As I illustrate in this dissertation, these demands are explicitly linked to the spatial contexts of the particular ads being railed against. Though there are of course overlaps, the case studies and chapters of this project are demarcated by specific spatial contexts: outdoor, public city space; the semipublic space of the movie theater; the supposedly private space of the home; and the more abstract spaces of the digital and virtual. Our understandings of and relationships to these spaces define how we experience and process the varied media texts that constitute them. Using horror as a particularly affective and jarring framework, I ultimately expose and emphasize the ways that promotional cultures and technologies increasingly force their ways into nearly every space of public, semipublic, and private life–forces that are regularly questioned and contested by citizens of our sometimes frighteningly mediated world.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hawkins, Joan
Commitee: DeBoer, Stephanie, Klinger, Barbara, Vogel, Shane
School: Indiana University
Department: Communication and Culture
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 81/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Communication, Multimedia Communications, Marketing
Keywords: Affect, Audiences, Horror, Paratexts, Promotion, Shock
Publication Number: 27671750
ISBN: 9781392893340
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