Hello my field daisies!
For my final Media Studies 165 blog post, we are tasked with talking about an internet case study. I could not resist talking about a recent trend that has taken form on the Internet as the “Confused Travolta” gif.
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The confused Travolta gif comes from the movie Pulp Fiction, where ponytailed hit man Vincent Vega played by John Travolta is struggling to find an intercom in the home of his boss’s wife, Mia. Confused Travolta started appearing on the Internet as meme by Redditor “ILikeToWonkaMyWilly,” who wanted to depict the feeling he felt when he asked his daughter what she wanted for Christmas and she said a doll:
There are just so many dolls to choose from! Which one will he pick? The world may never know.
And the best part is? The Redditor user shows other users how to recreate the meme themselves in his tutorial here. Someone else even created a YouTube video where you can download a version of confused Travolta behind a green screen:
This type of debauchery would only happen on the Internet. Andrew Keen would see these gifs as harmful to the Pulp Fiction franchise and that “user generated content suck the economic value out of traditional media and cultural content” (16). But I disagree. I think these gifs are pure gold, and they make me want to rewatch Pulp Fiction again and again just so I can see the part where Travolta walks around confused. Keen believes that we aren’t learning anything from these confused Travolta gifs To him, Web 2.0 is not a place of knowledge, community or culture but rather a place for random users to upload dubious content that takes up our time and plays into our gullibility (17). This content is a bunch of nonsense, but it is what makes the Internet so great.
The Internet is a decentralized place where users from all over can upload their content to be seen by the masses. While an upside of this decentralization is that it provides users the flexibility to upload at will, it also makes the Internet very difficult to manage (Jackson Access). But it is because of this haphazard free for all that beauties like the confused Travolta gif are born. Without the freedom the Internet provides, this gif would not exist. What a world that would be.
The confused Travolta gif is a great example of collective intelligence, or “the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal” (Jenkins 4). Keen believes there can be nothing learned on the Internet, but obviously this isn’t true since people are learning how to recreate this confused Travolta gif and posting it like wildfire. The Internet provides the world with a new set of media literacies, a culture of remixing and re appropriating new meanings out of old texts. Participatory culture has become the norm as new media technologies allow for average consumers to “archive, annotate, appropriate and recirculate media content in powerful new ways” (Jenkins 8).
I mean come on! Who wouldn’t want a Matrix/Pulp Fiction mashup? This is just so great!
We have always had the desire to contribute to media texts (Jackson Participatory Culture). This desire is not new. The Internet has just provided us the easier and better means to do so than ever before. This is not harmful to the media industry itself. In fact, the media industry relies on the Internet to recirculate its texts, and “more than any other commercial sector, the popular culture industry relies on online communities to publicize and provide testimonials for their products” (Baym 1). I’m sure somewhere Quentin Tarantino is enjoying himself some of these gifs. The confused Travolta gif should not be seen as a place where culture falls short. It should be seen as a place where culture thrives.
Love ya’ll and thanks for reading!
Hope you have a daisyish day!