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The concept of audience • What is an audience? How could you describe them, how would you classify them? • Early media theorists saw audience as a “Mass audience” similar to mass crowds that attended a football match, rather than individuals experiencing the media.
Mass audience or is everyone different • • Here is how the sociologist Herbert Blumer described it in 1950: First, its membership may come from all walks of life, and from all distinguishable social strata; it may include people of different class position, of different vocation, of different cultural attainment, and of different wealth. . . • • Secondly, the mass is an anonymous group, or more exactly is composed of anonymous individuals [Blumer means anonymous in the sense that unlike the citizens of earlier communities, the people who are members of the mass audience for the media do not know each other]. • • • Third, there exists little interaction or change of experience between members of the mass. They are usually physically separated from one another, and, being anonymous, do not have the opportunity to mill as do members of the crowd. Fourth, the mass is very loosely organised and is not able to act with the unity of a crowd.
TASK It is worth thinking about some of Blumer’s ideas in more detail: task • 1. Do you think the audiences for most media texts do come “from all walks of life” or do • different kinds of people watch very different kinds of programme? Are there any • examples of media texts that you can think of that do seem to have audiences of all kinds • of people? • 2. How much of your media experience occurs when you are on you own and how much • when you are with others? • 3. Are there any ways in which you share your experiences of the media with other people • who weren’t around when you experienced the text?
Mass market • Although we can argue that people are not the same people they are still tended to be grouped on mass i. e demographic categorise i. e based on soc, location, gender, age, ethnicitiy, sexuality
• • • • • Income bracket/status One way to classify audiences is by their class, which is normally judged on the kind of job the main wage-earner of the householder has. A Upper middle class Top management, bankers, lawyers, doctors and other professionals B Middle class Middle management, teachers, many 'creatives' eg graphic designers etc C 1 Lower middle class Office supervisors, junior managers, nurses, specialist clerical staff etc C 2 Skilled working class Skilled workers, tradespersons (white collar) D Working class Semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers (blue collar) E People at lowest level of income Unemployed, students, pensioners, casual workers
1(b) AUDIENCE • In your introduction: Who is the audience? How did you choose them? What expectations might they have of your text? How have you tried to meet these expectations? What is their motivation for accessing texts like yours?
Exam • Task: 2. Evaluating your own work with audiences Choose one of your productions (main or ancillary, AS or A 2) and explain how you selected and targeted a specific audience. You could consider: · How you chose a target audience in relation to the genre and form you selected. · Whether you targeted an existing audience which already enjoys specific existing products like yours. · How you made creative choices to appeal to this target audience. · How you think your target audience will use your text (consider uses and gratifications here) · How your media text could be marketed to the target audience (e. g. making use of social networking and other interactive technology). 1. Who is your target audience? How did you choose this audience? 2. (a) What expectations (uses/gratifications) might they have of your text? (b) How have you tried to meet these expectations? (c) What is their motivation for accessing texts like yours? 3. Under Stuart Hall’s theory of ‘Preferred Readings’ what type of ‘reading’ might this target audience give to your text? Audiences
Linear models: • Sender Message Receiver For example (a) ‘Two Step Flow’ theory Ideas travel from mass media – to opinion leaders – to passive individuals in society (b) Hypodermic Syringe Theory Audiences accept the messages that are ‘injected’ into them by the media they consume • These are outdates models, but developed over time. Replaced by reception theory
Audience theories • Effects models • The hypodermic needle model: The intended message is directly received and wholly accepted by the receiver. • Uses and gratifications: People are not helpless victims of mass media, but use the media to get specific gratifications. • Reception theory: The meaning of a "text" is not inherent within the text itself, but the audience must elicit meaning based on their individual cultural background and life experiences • Whether you view the audience as active or passive i. e making decisions or just sitting back
Media effects • Early research into media audiences was dominated by the debate about 'media effects', in particular the link between screen violence and real-life aggression. Several moral panics fuelled the claims, such as the incorrect presumptions that Rambo had influenced Michael Robert Ryan to commit the Hungerford massacre and that Child's Play 3 had motivated the killers of James Bulger • In the 1990 s, David Gauntlett published critiques on media 'effects', most notably the "Ten things wrong with the media effects model" article; and then in the 2000 s sought to develop new methods which would explore possible media influences using 'creative' approaches, using processes in which participants were asked to make things such as collage, video, drawings, and Lego models using metaphors.
What the model says – This theory suggests that the audience receive an intravenous injection of a media text which could be negative or positive. – The weakness of this model is that audiences are seen as passive and malleable with no thought of their own.
Contrasting viewpoint: Active V’S Passive audience
Uses and gratifications • • • During the 1960 s, as the first generation to grow up with television became grown ups, it became increasingly apparent to media theorists that audiences made choices about what they did when consuming texts. Far from being a passive mass, audiences were made up of individuals who actively consumed texts for different reasons and in different ways. In 1948 Lasswell suggested that media texts had the following functions for individuals and society: surveillance correlation entertainment cultural transmission Researchers Blulmer and Katz expanded this theory and published their own in 1974, stating that individuals might choose and use a text for the following purposes (ie uses and gratifications): Diversion - escape from everyday problems and routine. Personal Relationships - using the media for emotional and other interaction, eg) substituting soap operas for family life Personal Identity - finding yourself reflected in texts, learning behaviour and values from texts Surveillance - Information which could be useful for living eg) weather reports, financial news, holiday bargains
Reception theory • Extending the concept of an active audience still further, in the 1980 s and 1990 s a lot of work was done on the way individuals received and interpreted a text, and how their individual circumstances (gender, class, age, ethnicity) affected their reading. • This work was based on Stuart Hall's encoding/decoding model of the relationship between text and audience - the text is encoded by the producer, and decoded by the reader, and there may be major differences between two different readings of the same code. However, by using recognised codes and conventions, and by drawing upon audience expectations relating to aspects such as genre and use of stars, the producers can position the audience and thus create a certain amount of agreement on what the code means. This is known as a preferred reading. •
Moral panics • A moral panic is a term used to describe a sudden flurry of attitudes towards the media (usually film or music) when something which is perceived as too shocking or graphic is released to the public. For example when the film Reservoir Dogs was released in the UK there was a "Moral Panic" because many thought that it was too violence, and in particular the way the violence was treated by director Quentin Tarantino was offensive. This moral panic spread and the film was banned until an edited version was released years later. • Moral panics are usually inspired by real life events and tragedies for which the media, and usually the director of the most violent film of the moment, receive blame. The Columbine High School massacre sparked a moral panic into two areas of the media, violent films and violent music Most moral panics in media focus around the role of violence in the media as a whole instead of against any particular film. •
The effects debate • The effects debate is linked to moral panics because some in society worry that violence, graphic films and music can have an effect on people. This view is often linked to the hypodermic needle model or where the audience is viewed as passive, and heterogeneous i. e the same and can be directly influenced by the media. • There are others including David Gauntlett that disagree with this view and say other issues such as peoples experience and background play a role with how we interact with the media text.
Example to use • Negative effects research treats children as vulnerable, which isn’t necessarily the case. In 1993 the murder of James Bulger was linked to Child’s Play 3 (Bender, 1991) as psychologists like Elizabeth Newson inferred that violent murder was a direct result of the film. The BBFC then updated the Video Recordings Act to include the ‘harm test’. Martin Barker argues that films like Childs Play 3 are often targeted because they ‘address political issues’ and David Gauntlett agrees, as negative effects research ‘treat children as inadequate’. In 2008, Batman (Nolan) caused uproar as parents complained that it was rated at 12 A when it should have been much higher. Obviously everyone has a different idea of what ‘harm’ is so the BBFC are not as effective as they could be if their guidelines are underpinned by flawed logic.
Media violence • Media Violence • The debate is dominated by one question— whether or not media violence actually causes real-life violence. But closer examination reveals a political battle. On the one hand, there are those who blame media violence for problems in societal and want to censor violent content to protect children. On the other hand there are those who see regulation as the slippery slope to censorship or a smokescreen hiding the root causes of violence in society. • This again comes down to the question of whether we believe in the hypodermic needle or follow a uses and gratification view point.
Graphical • • • Other research indicates that media violence has not just increased in quantity; it has also become much more graphic, much more sexual, and much more sadistic. Explicit pictures of slow-motion bullets exploding from people's chests, and dead bodies surrounded by pools of blood, are now commonplace fare. Millions of viewers worldwide, many of them children, watch female World Wrestling Entertainment wrestlers try to tear out each other's hair and rip off each other's clothing. And one of the top-selling video games in the world, Grand Theft Auto, is programmed so players can beat prostitutes to death with baseball bats after having sex with them.
Research • Laval University professors Guy Paquette and Jacques de Guise studied six major Canadian television networks. Paquette and de Guise also identified a disturbing increase in psychological violence, especially in the last two years. The study found that incidents of psychological violence remained relatively stable from 1993 to 1999, but increased 325 per cent from 1999 to 2001. Such incidents now occur more frequently than physical violence on both francophone and anglophone networks.
Video nasties • http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=Mvo 74 r. D g. Ov 0 • http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=p. Mes. Rmz 1 d. EI
Criticisms of media violence • David Gauntlett http: //theory. org. uk/tenthings. htm
Weaknesses with the effects debate • However, theorists since have thought that media could not have such direct effects on the audiences they serve, and consider the media as a comparatively weak influence in moulding individual beliefs, opinions and attitudes. Other factors present in society, such as personal contact and religion, are more likely to influence people. The Effects model is considered to be an inadequate representation of the communication between media and the public, as it does not take into account the audience as individuals with their own beliefs, opinions, ideals and attitudes: