Avengers: Endgame Dissertation (Part 2) – The Findings

[DISCLAIMER: This blog post is a condensed version of my research’s findings. If you’d like a copy of the complete dissertation paper, please e-mail arifahbadli@gmail.com. If you’d like to read about my journey in writing this dissertation (including my personal motivations, challenges, and methodology), head over to Part 1]

After an insane amount of late nights and hard work, I managed to submit my final year dissertation consisting of 10,000 words during a global pandemic. Alhamdulillah, Newcastle University gave my research paper, “#DontSpoilTheEndgame: An Investigation Into Social Media Engagements With the Viral Phenomenon of Avengers: Endgame” a First Class grade of 78/100! 

ABSTRACT: Avengers: Endgame was a film released in 2019, the finale of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity saga, that not only became the highest-grossing film worldwide but broke records in terms of social media engagements, making it a viral phenomenon. This research explores the factors leading to high engagement with the film online, revealing social media’s role as a space for meaningful conversations about a beloved media franchise. To investigate this area, insights from 692 online questionnaire respondents as well as a sample of 1,000 random tweets posted during the film’s screening period were gathered. This data was then analyzed thematically to interpret the ways in which social media users interacted with Avengers: Endgame, and why they were inclined to post or share about the film. Drawing on theories of participatory culture, convergence culture, virality and cultural phenomena, the findings argue that meaningful social media engagement with Avengers: Endgame was influenced by psychological motivations – such as emotion, exclusivity, and secrecy. Other than that, this research discovered the powerful capacities of social media in uniting people across the world to interact with the film online through fandom communities, production of user-generated content, and interactive features. This communal genuine urge to share about Avengers: Endgame succeeded in spreading the word to a large audience and making content about the film go viral. However, the negative aspects of this, such as fan labour and spoiler-related anxiety, are also touched upon. Evidently, social media plays a huge role in elevating media audience participation in this digital era. 

Keywords: Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Cinematic Universe, social media, engagement, fandom, participatory culture, convergence culture, viral, cultural phenomena, film marketing

As we all know, academic writing is often dull – it lacks humour, storytelling, personal experiences, and is full of hard-to-understand jargon. So please enjoy this condensed and more fun version of my dissertation findings! For every major finding, I’ve also provided an alternative example from a different real-life event for better understanding. It will take you about 15 minutes to read, if you can spare the time to do so. 

endgame

Why choose Avengers: Endgame as a case study?

Well, other than the fact that I myself am a huge Marvel fan… the movie gained 40.5 social media engagements during release week, breaking internet records. It was also named as the most tweeted movie of all time in 2019. Also, director Joe Russo himself mentioned that Endgame couldn’t have achieved the numbers it did without social media.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is also an extremely unique movie franchise in the sense it released 21 movies prior to Endgame are interconnected with each other. Every movie is a small part of a huge jigsaw puzzle, despite featuring different characters. This means that most people who regularly consume American entertainment are familiar with at least a few movies or characters even if they aren’t huge Marvel fans. That small sense of familiarity could have influenced them to watch Endgame, thus posting about it on social media.

Continue reading Avengers: Endgame Dissertation (Part 2) – The Findings

Avengers: Endgame Dissertation (Part 1) – Producing A 10,000-word Research Paper During A Global Pandemic

[DISCLAIMER: This blog post is about the journey of writing my dissertation (including my personal motivations, challenges, and methodology). To read a condensed version of my research’s findings, please head over to Part 2.  If you’d like a copy of the complete dissertation, please e-mail arifahbadli@gmail.com]

On the 29th of May, 2020, I finally submitted my 10,000-word dissertation titled “#DontSpoilTheEndgame: An Investigation Into Social Media Engagements With the Viral Phenomenon of Avengers: Endgame”. I consumed way too much coffee for the defining assignment of my university life. It was worth it though – because I am extremely proud of my findings. And well, it ended up being a First Class dissertation, receiving 78 marks out of 100 – which is considered a brilliant score in the UK system. Alhamdulillah! I’ve only written one other essay that managed to get a mark higher than that. 

desk

So, what is a dissertation, exactly? There are many other word variations for a research dissertation – thesis, final year project, and so on. But generally, many university students all over the world have to produce a piece of original research during their final year. For my Diploma in Communication and Media at UiTM, my groupmates and I did research on The Portrayal of Skin Colour in Malaysian Advertisements. Even conducting research as a group gave me severe head pain – but nothing compared to my degree dissertation! In fact, that Diploma assignment looks so amateur now compared to my most recent work. 

So for those of you who don’t know, I am a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and have been since the first Avengers movie came out in 2012. Obviously, I was super pumped for Endgame (my followers would know…) and had the best cinematic experience of my life watching it with an amazing crowd. Being a media student, I was extremely fascinated observing the amount of social media hype regarding Endgame. I think my curiosity about this started as early as Infinity War (April 2018) – because before Infinity War, I’d known invested Marvel fans to be a tight-knit group of people. Like, among my circle of friends… I know who the Marvel nerds are, and I rarely talk about Marvel to those who aren’t interested. But when Infinity War came out, there were spoiler leaks all over the internet (yes, I’m still traumatized by that… that’s why I ended up writing a whole dissertation about it…). Which made me scratch my head and wonder, SINCE WHEN DID EVERYONE AND THEIR GRANDMOTHER BECOME A MARVEL FAN????? I was getting forwarded spoilers in class and housemate Whatsapp groups – something I have NEVER witnessed for any other movie ever. I barely even remember anyone talking about Avengers: Age of Ultron when it came out in 2015 other than my fellow Tumblr mutuals! So naturally, I decided to pursue this area of interest for my dissertation. I mean, if I was gonna be investing a lot of time and effort into writing something, it might as well be something I’m passionate about. 

I had to write my research proposal while Avengers: Endgame was still screening. A whole year before my dissertation submission. Yet, a nagging thought entered my head: what if people don’t remember engaging with Endgame on social media anymore months later when it’s time for me to conduct my research????? So I did something probably nobody else did: I collected data immediately. I got an ethics form approved and distributed my online questionnaire to people. Before I had even done literature review readings or been assigned a dissertation supervisor. Insane, I know. But I had to do it, to ensure respondents’ maximum retention of their experiences engaging with Endgame on social media. I asked them stuff like “On which social media platform do you encounter the most Endgame content?” and “Which posts from the cast/crew stood out the most for you?” and “How did social media raise your awareness of Endgame compared to traditional media?”.

Continue reading Avengers: Endgame Dissertation (Part 1) – Producing A 10,000-word Research Paper During A Global Pandemic

fandom.

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

NOTE: I wrote most of this post last week.

Glee is finally over. *cue collective whoop of gratitude across the universe*

It is complicated to talk about Glee. Season One was promising, but by Season Three a lot of people had begun to quit watching due to the increasing problematic aspects of the show which includes but is not limited to; discrimination, unequal TV time given to characters, lack of development, plot holes, horrible continuity and et cetera.

I quit before mid-Season Four. After that, only episode I watched before I graduated from high school was the tribute to the late Cory Monteith. And maybe the Previously Unaired Christmas. I did watch three or four episodes of Season Six, including the two-part show finale. Personally, I loved ‘2009’, especially the part where they talked about Finn during the secret meeting. That episode reminded me horribly about the person I used to be, and why I (and everyone else) watched Glee in the first place. It was a story about outsiders. Too bad it didn’t stay that way. ‘Dreams Come True’ had its spectacular and also terrible aspects, which is very like Glee. But who could resist smiling during ‘I Lived’, right?

Still, I watched Glee for two years, and was deeply involved in the fandom. Fanfiction. Fanart. Roleplaying. You name it. In fact, until today I’ve never really felt the impact of anyone’s death more than Cory’s, who was an actor I’ve never met who lived across the planet. But then again, no one really significant to me has ever died. Yet. Alhamdulillah for that.

This show was a huge part of my life for some time — and I don’t completely regret that. I learned and discovered things. I was exposed to different kinds of people with different backgrounds and opinions. I found solace in certain characters, who, like me, had to deal with Crap with a capital C at school.

So, it is strange to think that the series has ended forever.

See the world not as it is, but as it should be.

Last Saturday, I went to the Harry Potter and The Hobbit Exhibition at UiTM Shah Alam, organised by Hollywood Malaysia and the Malaysian Fandom Union. Went with my brother Arif, and my cousins Nabilah and Ammar. Dad drove us there.

It was actually quite impressive. It was no Making of Harry Potter @ London, of course, but it boasted an array of movie props such as the Sorting Hat, Tom Riddle’s diary, the Firebolt, scripts signed by the actors and JKR herself, Dan Radcliffe’s face mold, uniforms that he actually wore, etc. It was hard for Nabilah and I to contain ourselves. For the Hobbit, they had swords and maps and gems and stuff. Sorry, I’m not much of a Hobbit fan so I didn’t pay much attention. But they even had a sword actually used by Ian Mckellen, and the super-long document that the dwarves asked Bilbo to sign in the first movie.

Anyway, I just went through the files on my old personal computer. Turns out I wasn’t a bad fiction writer or a gif-maker at the age of fourteen, fifteen. And I am quite sad that I find it difficult to write or edit like that now.

When I was thirteen, I wrote a Harry Potter oneshot for fun (no, I am NOT going to give you the link, it’s too embarrassing), but people sort of liked it then. Mostly because it was sad and about the death of a certain character. I gained a few hundred followers on Tumblr thanks to that – and also a lot of messages in my inbox.

At that age, ideas would pop into my head (“like daisies!”). I wrote fanfiction, I wrote original stuff, I even planned to write a novel and actually had a file for it. Not a computer file, a REAL solid blue file. Now I’m just like, ‘…………………’. The only time I ever write fiction is during English Paper 2. Oh wait, I’m done with SPM. Which means I haven’t written fiction at all in around four months…………. Yay.

So basically, I went through my Word documents and was like, “OMG I WROTE THAT????”. In fact, there was a pretty good Glee/Hunger Games crossover fic. Haha!

As for gifs, well, you won’t really get this unless you’ve ever been on Tumblr, but I made pretty nice gifsets. I regret that a large portion of my Photoshop knowledge has gone down the drain. They weren’t magnificent or anything, but they’re decent compared to anything I can do now. Sure, I can relearn easily but I am seventeen and a half and I’ve moved on from fandoms, really. Focusing on the more important things in life, and death. Of course, not all gifsets are fandom-related but I just can’t be bothered. I don’t even have a proper Tumblr, for one. I’d happily relearn if I were to study design in university, though.

Toodles.

Workshop IMpossible

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

Last Saturday, Sarah and I went to IACT College in Jaya One to attend their creative workshop. We had a scrumptious breakfast at Wendy’s (Morning Sausage! Yum!). I’m endlessly thankful that Sarah agreed to go, because I couldn’t find anybody else as they were all busy or uninterested in artsy stuff. It was a relief that Sarah was all for going to Workshop IMpossible even though she wants to be an engineer. Everyone else there wanted to be journalists and illustrators and filmmakers.

We listened to a talk on the importance of the creative industry (which was really inspiring and made me see things in a new light), and then Reuben Kang from JinnyBoyTV arrived to share his success story. He used to be a sweeper! And now he’s a famous YouTuber.

After lunch, we divided into groups based on our ‘interest’ that we selected from a drop-down list when we registered online. I told Sarah to pick Graphic Design but she accidentally picked Mass Communication instead. Sigh. Oh well. You have to meet new people once in a while, I guess.

The task? We had to market Reuben Kang.

For example, the mass communication group had to interview him and write articles.

The filmmaking group had to come up with videos of him.

The marketing group (I think) had to create a restaurant based on him. And I really liked their idea – a movie-themed restaurant where they’d have movie screenings every Saturday… with COSTUME THEMES (e.g. Star Wars). Also, they’d sell food like Titanic Burger. The presenter for their group was also remarkable at public speaking and persuasion. Except he talked for too long, and said ‘thank you for putting up with ME’ instead of ‘US’. The judges made sure to comment on that.

My group, the graphic design group, were the only ones who worked individually. We worked in the Mac Lab on Adobe Illustrator, and our job was to personalise cameras based on Reuben Kang. We didn’t draw or anything. It was more like an online doll dress-up game. We picked the lens, flash light, buttons, camera skin, background designs, colour scheme and et cetera. The essential part was presenting: what was so special about our cameras and how does it reflect Reuben Kang?

My design, signed by Reuben Kang.

I chose to go last. I said that my camera was a Polaroid camera, but not just ANY Polaroid camera. Instead of printing static pictures, it would print VIDEOS. That’s right, people. VIDEOS. You can keep videos in your wallet, take them out, press play and it would be just like in Harry Potter! I chose red, black and white for the camera skin to represent YouTube.

And well, the camera buttons are supposed to represent Reuben’s sepet eyes and the sun/beach background was to stand for energy and fun, but I didn’t talk about that because my mind just went blank at one point. But I think my presentation was okay. Fifteen times better than it would have been if I had to present two years ago.

The workshop ended with monopod giveaways to those who answered questions. I answered the one from Reuben himself (mostly because I wanted a selfie stick), “Other than creativity, what is something that you have learned today?. And I rambled something along the lines of, “Well, it doesn’t matter if you’re the most artistic person in the world, if you don’t have the ability to present to crowds or market your products, you’ll never get compensation for your creativity”. One of the lecturers, Miss Nat, said, “Like a pro!” and I got my monopod. Heh.

Aaanyway, I now want to emphasise on the best part of the workshop; the company I had.

I felt like after eighteen years, I finally found my planet, with my kind of people. The enthusiasts who have a deep interest in analysing movie plots, music videos and lyrics! The misfits who could go on for hours about The Hunger Games or LOTR! The weirdos who would gladly converse with you about stop-motion animation and the process behind the making of Frozen! The geeks who actually know what terms like ‘vector imaging’ means!

I mean, sure, I tend to find these people a lot since birds of a feather flock together, but they’re scattered all over the universe. In this context, we were all in the same room and undoubtedly burning with fiery passion.

It was like Tumblr in real life.

For example, I sort of used to talk a lot to this girl on social media. Let’s call her A. I don’t keep in touch anymore but I regularly stalk her because her life seems interesting because she’s a person who thinks out of the box and makes good art and travels a lot. A girl in my group (we’ll call her B) was from her school. I know a lot of people from her school so I just asked B some general questions. A while later, she mentioned that she was the editor of the school magazine last year. THEN I got excited, because I knew the editor of the previous year was A.

So I talked about how pretty the design for the yearbook was, blah blah blah, A designed it didn’t she,  the colour scheme was beautiful, blah blah blah. Then B got as excited as I was, because apparently she was the one who coloured it!!! I was just like… wow.

THESE KIND OF CONVERSATIONS USUALLY ONLY HAPPEN ON THE INTERNET!!!

Well, for me.

Anyway, yeah, Workshop IMpossible was a thrilling experience and has awakened my eagerness even more to venture into the creative industry.