Audience Engagement with Complex TV dramas : Posthuman Narratives and Human Identity
Sammanfattning: Through qualitative interviews with ten study participants, this research investigates connections between the theme of artificial intelligence on HBO’s Westworld, and issues of identities of its audience members. The thesis critically examines audience engagement with complex television dramas. It begins by the analysis of industrial contexts of narratively complex serialized fiction. First, it provides HBO’s brief institutional overview, the theoretical summary of complex narratives, and practices of modern audience. Then, it analyses viewers’ engagement modes with Westworld’s complex narrative by relying on poetics of television storytelling. Lastly, it puts together viewers’ reflections on android representations on Westworld, and links them to the concept of human identity from the perspective of posthumanism. What this case illuminates is that complex narratives in television dramas engage viewers with great cognitive and emotional intensity. It demonstrates that Westworld, as asymptomatic and multi-layered entertainment media text of its times, is not about escapism but about the rigorous internal dialogue of audience members, who try to make sense of their own identities, and subjectivities in the face of seismic technological changes.
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