Communication: Power Struggles …?

While users of Bravo TV’s discussion boards lack the ability to exercise personal creativity – as the discussion forum is both structurally and aesthetically entirely generated and crafted by Bravo – users are afforded the ability to practice autonomy and freedom of speech. Despite the fact that the “terms and conditions” of the discussion board, which must be accepted before use is permitted, maintain the right to remove any material Bravo deems “objectionable,” the extent to which Bravo does and is able to monitor posts to the board and exercise its power are limited by the very nature of the forum itself.

For example, the following post, which I’ve added to the Fashion Hunters (season 1) discussion board displays “[expletive deleted]” where I had written the word “bitch.”

Bravo’s website features hundreds of individual discussion boards, as a separate board exists for each different episode in each different season of each of the network’s vast array of TV programs.  And some boards contain over 3,000 posts, making it extremely difficult for Bravo to oversee every single comment that is posted. As a result, comments that very obviously defy the forum’s “terms and conditions” (such as “Teresa [talking about] about her sore vagina…” and “[Danielle is] an old street wise sex worker drug crazed addict”) are left uncensored and free to be read by any visitors to the site (including those who have not registered to participate on the discussion board). I, myself, have technically violated Bravo’s terms and conditions by posting this comment to the Work of Art Season 2 discussion board (which was not removed from the board)…

In this sense, Bravo’s discussion board users maintain an enormous amount of power in terms of communication.

Users maintain such power in other ways too.

For instance, during the season two premiere of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I was curious about viewer expectations and viewership in general. I logged onto the Bravo TV website, scrolled through its active discussion boards, selected The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and… to my surprise a discussion board for the new season had not yet been created. This is, once again, an instance in which Bravo has more power than its website’s registered users.  Discussion and communication about a particular show ceases to exist if there is no place for it. Or does it? I thought I’d give it a go and check out the discussion board for season one. Sure enough, real-time communication was happening right there – out place, perhaps, but happening nonetheless.

Even when there is no “mode” or discussion board for communication to take place, people still find a way to communicate.

It’s interesting, also, that so many of the forum’s users gathered together (virtually, of course) in this “old” space. Perhaps, these users are merely seasoned veterans of the discussion board world and didn’t have to think twice about utilizing the board of a past season for the new one. Even so, what can be said about these online communities that don’t give up at the first sign of such an absence but, instead, persist and find any way they can in which to communicate and maintain communication?

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