May 18, 2020
Latinx pop culture guru Frederick Luis Aldama, contemplates streaming platforms in his latest on Latinx Spaces.
In “I Want My Incredible Shrinking Screen: Latinx Televisual Storytelling in the Age of Our Planetary Lockdown,” the co-editor of the University of Arizona Press Latinx Pop Culture series, dives into the ever-changing ways of streaming television offerings. You can read the entire essay here.
Today’s streaming platforms, webisodes, and audio-visual narratives created to be consumed on smartphones and laptops constitute also a layer-cake moment. We have all variety of creators making webisodes with story and aesthetics front and center. And, we have those who are creating audio-visual narratives for quick-fix, drop-and-go consumption. Netflix has plenty of these, and, also those that use the streaming platform as, well, disposable gimmick. I think of that Black Mirror episode, “Bandersnatch” where viewers could click-click their laptop, tablet, or lap-top screen on the protagonists everyday decisions to alter the plot outcome. But also we have a vital cross-flow of learning across these differently willfully shaped creative spaces.
In this vital cross-flow of learning and sharing new aesthetics are emerging—as well as co-creating practices. I don’t have to wait a week for another episode of Mr. Iglesias or One Day at a Time. I can binge two, three, four episodes at a time. This also means that the cliffhanger device is no longer needed to keep us interested, freeing writers and showrunners to create bigger story arcs, for instance.
These new nodes of new creation and distribution technologies are birthing a new artform. And, with this renaissance we’re also seeing the rise in visibility of content otherwise relegated to the margins. I think readily of LGBTQ+ narratives such as The F Word, Her Story, The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo.
Of course, these non-network and non-cable spaces have proved a breath of vital air for Latinx storytelling: QUIERO, Hello College, It’s Me, Lupita!, Brujos,and Muy Excited, featured in Latinx Spaces (October 17, 2017). Recall that Netflix’s Gentefied begun as the super-edgy YouTube webseries, Gente-fied. It’s in these spaces that we see complex narratives of Latinx identities, experiences, and subjectivities.