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Audience Theories

Revision

Active or Passive?
Every time we encounter a model that tries to assess the relationship
between the Audience and a Media Text we can ask one simple question.
DOES THE MODEL VIEW THE AUDIENCE AS ACTIVE OR PASSIVE?
We always see the audience as a 'mass'. Despite the fact that we can
classify the audience into groups, we can't analyse audience members
individually.
There are many theories which we will look at that examine the
relationship audiences have with a text. These theories consider the
audience in two ways: Passive or Active.
This doesNOTmean that there are two different types of audience
-
a Passive audience and an Active audience.

PASSIVE

ACTIVE

Easily
manipulated
Compliant
Weak willed
Followers
Controlled
Dominated

Engaged
Involved
Responsive
In Control
Free willed

Hypodermic Syringe // Desensitisation Model //


Cultivation Theory // Two Step Flow // Uses and
Gratifications

Which theories agree


with which
statements?

Effects Debates
The theories we'll be looking at here are largely described
as 'Effects Debates' - and that describes exactly what they
are - models, arguments and theories which examine
exactly what kind of effect the media can have on an
audience.
Many of these theories are very old (starting from as long
ago as the 1930s ) and as you will see, many of them can
be considered as outdated and in fact are obsolete.
You may then be asking, why do we look at them at all?
Well, the answer is simple yet a little depressing.
Unfortunately many of the arguments we look at are still
used by the news and other institutions to blame the media

Problems with the Hypodermic


Syringe model...
Ignores people's free will
Ignores people's personalities
Ignores your environmental situation - what are
you doing? Where are you consuming this text?
Doesn't consider the cultural upbringing that
people have
Neglects to consider an individual's moral
compass
Suggests the audience is PASSIVE

This model was used when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12
school children and one teacher at Columbine High School. It was
suggested that a combination of violent video games, watching
violent movies and listening to the music of heavy metal band
Marilyn Manson, over the course of many years made them go
out and massacre thirteen people.
The problems are self-evident as we probably all know someone
who has a similar diet of media and yet they haven't been
involved in such a terrible thing. Why didn't they?
So the problems with the Desensitisation model...
Despite certain things becoming normalised by the media - we are not
all drug addled, violent alcoholic nymphomaniacs!
People have free will to decide what they do
Ignores changes in culture - e.g. attitudes to swearing change over time,
not just because the media has more bad language
Your personality and cultural upbringing are likely to be much more
influential on your behaviour than the media
Treats the audience as PASSIVE

This model is not suggesting that the media rules our


lives or makes us do things - it states that we have a
set of existing beliefs - these are our ideologies - and
that the media can reinforce those ideologies.
Think about the stereotyped views you may have of
certain nationalities because of their portrayal in the
media - if you have never met anyone from that group
of people, how can you be sure that it is not just a
creation of the media?
e.g.
The French are all romantic
The Italians are all hot-headed
Teenagers are all violent
Pensioners are all old fashioned

This is not to say that the media creates our perspectives


on these ideas - but it may reinforce our ideas through
stereotypes used in advertising, characters in sketch

ndship is an important part of our li

Whilst this model still suggests that we rely on


others to help us understand messages, and that
others influence how we consume; it is not treating
the audience as entirely passive.
There are many Opinion Leaders in the media:

filmmakers (including documentaries)


film reviewers/ critics
twitter users?
each other?

"WE MUST GET AWAY FROM THE HABIT


OF THINKING IN TERMS OF WHAT THE
MEDIA DO TO PEOPLE...
...AND SUBSTITUTE FOR IT THE IDEA
OF WHAT PEOPLE DO TO THE MEDIA."

Escapism/Entertainment
Humour - though we must analyse what type of humour it is
Dramatic elements - drama can come from conflict, despair, irony
- wherever emotions are involved
Transporting us to places alien to us - maybe exotic, perhaps
dystopian
Information/Surveillance
News
Facts
Specialist information
Personal Identity
Sharing commonalities with characters - such as age, where
you're from etc
Sharing personality traits and outlooks on life with people
Enforced identification through Close-Ups, Voice Oversand Point
of View shots
Social Interaction
Media that we consume with others - playing with, watching with,
communicating with...
Discussing with friends, family colleagues about our experiences
after we've consumed

4 Cs Aspirer/ Succeeder // Lifestyle Categories Egoists &


Trendies
model on the
cover has the
kind of physique
that the Aspirer
would buy the
magazine in
order to acquire
Egoist will be
drawn to the
article
promising the
reader will:
"Look Great in
the Summer" as
this clearly
offers them
personal gain
which fits in
with their
outlook in life.

Strapline appeals
to the Succeeder's
need for
prominence, to be
the best
Trendies would
respond
positively to
articles which
promise to "Boost
Brain Power" and
"Pro-tips for
Speed" - these
things will surely
make him
respected by his
peer group who
will have similar
interests.