Vicki MayerMar 11, 2013
Below the Line
Producers and Production Studies in the New Television Economy
Duke University Press 2011
In Below the Line: Producers and Production Studies in the New Television Economy (Duke University Press, 2011), Vicki Mayer provides a major theoretical contribution to media production studies. The book self-consciously challenges the idea of the "TV producer" that industry figures and scholars alike often assume. Mayer traces how the "TV producer" category came to be associated with--indeed defined by--creativity and professionalism. Below the Line upends this definition, through four empirical case studies of largely invisible television production: (1) television set assemblers in Brazil, (2) soft-core video cameramen in New Orleans, (3) reality TV casters, and (4) local cable television citizen regulators. The book weaves a theoretical thread through these ethnographic portraits that are themselves framed by political economic analysis of the industry and the broader economy. What once seemed stable--the idea that TV producers are above-the-line creative professionals--lies in elegantly written tatters by the book's conclusion.