We live in an era where people have become very emotionally invested in characters and storylines. We don’t want things to end, and when we can’t let go, we extend. Fans and producers “continue” a tale with transmedia storytelling. Professor and blogger Henry Jenkins defines transmedia storytelling as “…a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience” (Jenkins). Transmedia storytelling often occurs via webisodes, parody accounts (twitter), blogs, books, comics, and fan fiction. These channels extend the storyline, adding detail and further insight to characters that tie back into the original form/plot of the work.
FX’s Sons of Anarchy, a television show about a motorcycle club, exemplifies transmedia story telling in several forms. Firstly, Apple’s iStore and the Android market released Appisodes, which are short mini clips/episodes ranging from 1-3 minutes. At the end of Season 3, the boys of SAMCRO (the motorcycle club) were sent to prison. The first episode of Season 4 is the day they are released. In the Appisode “Mexican Basketball (Day 305)” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWbkTVp0uBE), we get to watch them during incarceration, something viewers did not get to see on the aired program. This ties in with Jenkins’s idea that “…transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories…” (Jenkins). This extension of the show gives us more detail and a deeper, greater perception of the plot, as well as “…provide insight into the characters and their motivations” (Jenkins).
In addition to furthering story lines, “transmedia storytelling is [also] the ideal aesthetic form for an era of collective intelligence…[which] refer[s] to new social structures that enable the production and circulation of knowledge within a networked society” (Jenkins). On this SAMCROpedia web page (a play on the name of the motorcycle club and Wikipedia) fans are able to discuss on forums, take polls, and chat. This demonstrates Jenkins’s idea that transmedia storytelling allows fans to come together and discuss with one another, furthering the story and their understandings. The SAMCROpedia has photos of each character, their bios, videos, links to popular sites/apps relating to Sons of Anarchy as well as summaries for each episode. These summaries and posts “…function as textual activators – setting into motion the production, assessment, and archiving information…” (Jenkins).
Sons of Anarchy is a solid example of what Jenkins discusses on his blog. The Appisodes further plot and understanding with mini clips, and the SAMCROpedia allows for fans to come together and collectively exchange knowledge. These channels take this show and further its continuation, which greatly exemplifies transmedia storytelling.
Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p., 22 Mar 2007. Web 2 Mar 2014. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html>.