The idea of “failure” has often been understood as objective and one-dimensional, with failure as the opposite of the constructed notion of “success.” Failure can also be viewed as a multi-faceted process that operates outside of a failure-versus-success model, and occurs across layered facets of the media industries that reverberate on cultural, political, economic, and aesthetic levels. Failure is transitory and shifting: whereas a project may have once been considered a failure, it may find success in subsequent temporalities, spaces, and uses. Likewise, something that was once lauded as a success may be reconsidered as a failure in contemporary industrial and cultural contexts. This special issue of Flow invites scholars to grapple with broad and narrow considerations of failure as it pertains to media: the different ways in which failure has been defined, what it means to fail, and the lessons that can be learned from studying failure.
Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to:
- Reconsidering projects that were once deemed to be “failures” or applying a lens of failure to projects otherwise deemed “successful”
- Failed adaptations (as seen in, for example, “the book was better” discourse)
- Failed representations of race in popular media
- Reappropriated uses and lives of failed projects
- Fleeting trends and one-hit wonders
- Industrial or regulatory systems that have failed media producers or audiences
- Comparisons between audience, critical, or industry reactions to failed projects
- Failure to embody normative gender and sexual representations on screen
- Failure as a counter-hegemonic strategy to create alternative media spaces
- Failure as a mode or aesthetic category (cult, “low brow,” and “bad” objects)
- Projects canceled mid-development or stuck in “development hell”
- The revisiting or “fixing” of past projects by cultural producers and/or audiences
To be considered for this issue, please submit a completed column of 1200-1500 words, along with at least three images (.gif or .png) or embeddable audiovisual materials with image sources. Please send your column, media files, sources/citations, and a short bio to Flow’s co-managing editors, Laura C. Brown and Ash Kinney d’Harcourt, at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, January 17, 2022. The Special Issue will be published at flowjournal.org in early February.
Flow is a critical forum on media and culture published by the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at the University of Texas at Austin. Flow’s mission is to provide a space where scholars and the public can discuss media histories, media studies, and the changing landscape of contemporary media.