How Media Producers Use Paratextuality To Their Advantage

These days the media we enjoy, whether that be film, television, video games or books, seems to be becoming more and more connected.

It can be hard to tell where one media product ends and another begins. Media convergence has created an industry that thrives on media products that feed into

Paratextuality is all the media products that accompany a primary text. Everything that is related in some way to the primary text that isn’t the primary text.

So for instance, the paratexts to the Harry Potter books, would include the book reviews, the film franchise, the movie trailers, the movie posters, the film review, interviews with the cast, the video games, even the toys (See: Toyetics).

Interestingly, a paratext isn’t fixed. The Harry Potter books could even be described as the paratexts to the film franchise, depending on the individual’s experience of the texts.

Paratexts have become just as important as the primary texts to a franchise. Sometimes they are even more successful, like an amazing trailer for an average movie.

Paratexts can help to build on the storyworld presented in the primary texts. They’re an often a great way for media producers to cash in on fandoms.

Merchandising can be far more profitable than the actual primary text (See: Star Wars and the merchandising deal that made George Lucas rich!).

In this video presentation using Touchcast, I use The Walking Dead franchise as a case study to discuss fan-made paratexts, and the problem with putting too much stock in them.

I also explain Off-screen studies, and the importance of paratexts to scholars, industry and audiences.

References are in the video description. You can read more about paratexts in Robert Lackie’s post on the matter or check out Jonathan Gray’s book Show Sold Separately to learn more.