Remembering with the Muppets: Considering the Media Franchise as a Site of Memory

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Despite their increasing dominance of the television and film markets, franchises are often viewed as lacking creativity or as the result of the increasing corporatization of Hollywood. While these explanations partly address the emergence of media franchises, they fail to explore why audiences continue to return to these reruns, reboots, or repeats. This dissertation examines one aspect of the social function of media franchises—their role in collective memory. By examining the press coverage of the Muppet franchise over the course of thirty years, this study outlines how the Muppet franchise is situated as a site of continuity between past and present. Using frame analysis, different mnemonic frames are identified as the press coverage responds to changes in the franchise. Twelve different mnemonic frames emerge from the analysis of press coverage of the Muppet franchise. These frames fit within Nora’s (1989) concept of a site of memory, suggesting that the press coverage of the Muppet franchise promotes its use as a site of memory. In conclusion, this dissertation argues that part of the appeal of franchise productions is their role as a site of memory, helping build social continuity. Thus, the Muppet franchise could function like other traditional sites of memory, memorials and museums. However, the Muppet franchise is privately owned and protected by intellectual property rights, unlike the national and public-ownership of traditional sites of memory. This private ownership could, therefore, have implications on the expression of memory, particularly how remembrance is transformed in a consumptive act.
Cinema, Mass Communications
McDermott, B. (2015). Remembering with the Muppets: Considering the Media Franchise as a Site of Memory (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/27622