LO2/3 AUDIENCE THEORIES Unit 1: Contextual Studies Student:
LO2/3 AUDIENCE THEORIES Unit 1: Contextual Studies Student: Tomala White Lecturer: Faustina Starrett Audience Theories This presentation will describe, explain and analyse the passive and active audience theories in relation to the Horror genre; The Hypodermic Model A Passive Audience is more likely to accept the messages encoded in a media text without challenge therefore allowing a direct effect by the
message. An Active Audience engages, interprets and responds to media, challenging the ideas encoded in it. Cultivation Theory PassivDesensitisation e Copycat Theory Audience Theories Uses and Gratifications Active Reception analysis and ethnography BBC
(2017) The Hypodermic Model The theory suggests that the mass media could influence a very large group of people directly and uniformly by shooting or injecting them with appropriate messages designed to trigger a desired response. The emotive imagery of the hypodermic needle model suggests that media messages are injected straight into a passive audience which is immediately influenced by the message. They express the view that the media is a dangerous means of communicating an idea because the receiver or audience is powerless to resist the impact of the message. There is no escape from the effect of the message in these models. The population is seen as a sitting duck. People are seen as passive and are seen as having a lot of media material "shot" at them. People end up thinking what they are told because there is no other University of Twente. source of information. (2017)
The Hypodermic Model Strengths Weaknesses This approach draws attention to the power that media producers have. The injected audience is seen as powerless and passive. It is indicative of the importance of what forms of media audiences have access to. This model is more commonly used when the effects of media of women and children are the
subject of research. The way people use media remains unaccounted for. Cultivation Theory This theory states that high frequency viewers of television are more susceptible to media messages and the belief that they are real and valid. The most notable example may be that heavy viewers are exposed to more violence and therefore are effected by the Mean World Syndrome, the belief that the world is a far worse and dangerous place then it actually is. Mass Communication Theory (2010) Cultivation Theory
Strengths Weaknesses This theory is suggestive of the fact that audiences gain a lot of knowledge from media. Its hard to prove accurately. It recognizes the important role media has today. It encourages views that may not be correct e.g. Crimewatch feeds perceptions that Britains crime rate is growing. Desensitisation
The theory of a medias audience becoming less sensitive to real life behaviour based on being exposed to too much violence, sexuality and death. A decrease in fear and sensitivity to extremely aggressive behaviour and taboo subjects, and possible introduction to every day life. Desensitisation Strengths Weaknesses Draws attention to the volume of violence and representations of sex in the media. It is difficult to separate the
effects of the media from the effects of housing, class position, mood, education, wealth/poverty, gender, sexuality, cultural background, ethnicity etc. Raises questions about the amounts of these representations we should be witnessing. How can this theory be proved? Copycat Theory This approach suggests that people will imitate what has been seen in the media.
Monkey see, Monkey do The copycat theory relates to something which is publicized in the media that creates a lot of attention, which results in other people imitating or copying this. Well known examples of this are copycat murders, suicides and other violent acts that come with no motive other than attention, caused by the same acts seen in the media. Prezi (2017) Copycat Theory Strengths Weaknesses
It feeds out and/or mirrors types of concerns that parents have about kids media use. Different people have different preferences, seeing different levels of risk in different media. It could encourage the parents to be strict with the ages restrictions, stopping kids from consuming violent content e.g. video games/films. While short term is measureable, long term effects are hard to measure.
This is based of moral panics e.g. video games lead to violence. Example of passive audience in relation to film Copycat Theory & Horror Due to the violent nature within some sub-genres of horror, one of the most relatable passive audience theory to be used for this genre is the Copycat Theory. This is due to paranoid parents, politicians and select groups of people who believe audiences are susceptible to manipulation through media and in their minds it is a matter of the audience being passive to the point of Monkey see, Monkey do. Copycat Theory & Horror In a 2001 article for The Guardian, Osborn states that, 24 year old Belgian lorry driver Thierry Jaradin chose 15 year old Allison Camier as his victim and that the act
was influenced by the 1997 cult classic film Scream by Wes Craven. He also explains the how the incident took place; Alison had dropped by Thierrys home to exchange some videotapes, he made advances towards her, which were rejected, and this enraged him. He excused himself for a few minutes and returned wearing the iconic ghost face costume. Thierry then proceeded to stab Alison 30 times, placed her on his bed and put a rose in her hands before calling his father and a colleague to confess. Thierry stated that the crime was premeditated and had been influenced by the cinematic trilogy (Osborn, A. 2001). The only similarity between this incident and the cult classic Scream (1997) is the ghost face costume which Jaradin and the fictional killer in the film wore to commit the murder. The crime was not derived from the fictional film (Moss, C. 2015). Uses and gratifications This approach focuses on why people use particular media rather than on content. In contrast to the concern of the 'media effects' tradition with 'what media do to people, this theory can be seen as part of a broader trend amongst media researchers which is more concerned with 'what people do with media', allowing for a variety of responses and interpretations.
However, some commentators have argued that gratifications could also be seen as effects: e.g. thrillers are likely to generate very similar responses amongst most viewers. And who could say that they never watch more TV than they had intended to? Watching TV helps to shape audience needs and Chandler (1994) Uses and gratifications Strengths Weaknesses
The audience is seen as active. Too much optimism about power and choices of an active audience can act as a distraction from the power/influence media institutions and ownership may have on texts and understandings. Life experience in general is regarded as more influential then experience of media. The pleasures that media offer are not regarded as negative.
Reception Analysis Audiences are seen as active producers of meaning, rather than consumers of media meanings. Producers/directors construct a text encoded with a hidden message or meaning conveyed across to the audience. If done correctly the audience will be able to pick up the meaning or message straight away, but the audience will need to be reminded of the message through out the film this could be done through character dialogue or actions within the film. There are three main types; Dominant - what the audience wants to hear from people and agreeing, but with limited knowledge on the subject. Negotiated - when the audience agrees, disagrees or questions media based on what has already been learned. Oppositional - when the audience recognises the Dominant message but rejects it due to culture or political opinion etc. Media Fort (2013) Reception Analysis Strengths
Weaknesses Values the specific, personal and contextualized responses of individuals and groups. More emphasis is given to responses and readings of the audiences rather than the media itself. Peoples life experiences are important influences which enable them to make active choices as members of media audiences. Some researchers can get sidetracked into analyzing audience lifestyles thus neglecting
media reception for a more holistic sociological approach. Example of active audience in relation to film Uses and Gratification & Horror This theory states that all media is constructed in order to fulfil the audiences needs. It is possible to apply this theory to those who enjoy the horror genre in particular and show why is is a preferred genre. Surveillance An audience gets pleasure from the knowledge that the text is offering, as a sense of security is present when watching a disturbing scene/film knowing that it is not real. For example, in The Ring (2002), the audience would feel safe and secure knowing that they are not the ones who are in danger of the evil spirit in the film. Personal Identity An audience is able to relate to a character in the media by adopting the most desired characteristics. E.g. if a character shows bravery in dealing with a unsettling situation, the audience may seek to adopt this bravery trait in their own life. Personal Relationships Film and TV are only two exampled of media that can be consumed as part of a social activity that can bond people together. It allows an audience the opportunity to discuss the film and share a traumatic or emotional horror film experience with each other. Escapism This allows the audience to escape reality and delve into a world of hyper-reality
to escape all problems that exist in the real world. It is possible for an individual to imagine themselves in the place of a character or situation that they wouldnt normally encounter. The Horror Closet Uses and Gratification & Horror This is the model that is used more often by active audiences when watching films within the horror genre. The reason this model can be used to describe most audiences for the horror genre is because it is used for entertainment; Escaping, or being diverted, from problems Relaxing Getting intrinsic culteral or aesthetic enjoyment Filling time Emotional release Sexual arousal Horror is a genre that aims to create a sense of fear, panic, alarm, and dread for the audience. tsl (2016) (Chandler., 1994)
Conclusion There are several audience theories, each one have been relevant for different classes at different times throughout history e.g. The hypodermal Theory would have been more relevant in relation to horror in 1938 when Orson Welles broadcasted The War of the Worlds on the radio and sent thousands of people into the streets in a panic. However, todays audiences are less passive. The horror genre is received with open armed for the most part, entertainment purposes. The audiences are aware of the similar codes and conventions within the horror genre that create the desired scare factor. References BBC (2017) Audience Appeal [Online] Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/guides/zg24frd/revision/3 [Accessed on: 08/06/17]. Chandler (1994) Why do people watch television? [Online] Available from: http://visual-memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents/short/usegrat.html [Accessed on: 08/06/17]. Mass Communication Theory (2010) Cultivation Theory [Online] Available from: https://masscommtheory.com/2010/03/12/cultivation-theory-how-violence-might-affect-us/ [Accessed on: 08/06/17]. Media Fort (2013) Reception Theory [Online] Available from: https://mediafort.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/reception-theory/ [Accessed on: 08/06/17]. Moss, C. (2015). 5 Times Killers Mimicked Horror Legends and Films. America. Bustle. Available at:
https://www.bustle.com/articles/117134-5-times-killers-mimicked-horror-legends-and-films [Accessed on: 08/06/17]. Osborn, A. (2001). Scream movies are blamed by teenage girls copycat killer. United Kingdom. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/nov/18/filmnews.film [Accessed on: 08/06/17]. Prezi (2017) The Copycat or Modelling Theory [Online] Available from: https://prezi.com/wz2uiautbjix/the-copycat-or-modelling-theory/ [Accessed on: 08/06/17]. The Horror Closet (2012) Uses and Gratifications in Horror [Online] Available from: https://laurenteague.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/uses-and-gratifications-in-horror/ [Accessed on: 08/06/17]. Tsl (2016) Horror [Online] Available from: http://thescriptlab.com/screenplay/genre/horror# [Accessed on: 21/10/2016]. University of Twente. (2017) Communication Studies Theories [Online] Available from: https ://www.utwente.nl/en/bms/communication-theories/sorted-by-cluster/Mass%20Media/Hypodermic_Needle_Theory/ [Accessed on: 08/06/17].
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