Remembering Changi: Public memory and the popular media

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Journal Article
Media International Australia, 2009, (131), pp. 136 - 146
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Media arenas are increasingly the place where most of our negotiation over the meaning of the past is carried out. Indeed, many commentators argue that television plays a particularly central role in the shaping of social memory. This paper seeks to examine how the various forms of media are changing the relationship between personal (and often silent) memories and public ones by asking what happens when personal memories of experience, which are not passed on within families - or only in a limited way - finally become public. I argue here that television and the internet, as increasingly interdependent cultural forms, have an important role in mediating between the personal experience and the public memory of events, as well as between genders and generations. As a case study, I examine the audience response to the television series Changi, aired on the ABC in 2001, using comments posted on the Changi guestbook internet forum. From this example, I examine how technologies of popular culture - especially new digital media - interact to create new 'publics', thus both increasing democratisation and access for individuals and also encompassing much larger collectives than in former times.
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