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Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Audience Theories

    Hypodermic Needle Model:

  • ·         Developed by Frankfurt School of academics (Adorno and Horkheimer)
  • ·         They worked in Germany in 1930s and were influenced by the success of Nazi propaganda
  • ·         The media ‘injects’ its message directly into the audience
  • ·         This model sees the audience as passive
  • ·         Mass audience model

Uses and Gratifications Model:

  • ·         Blumler and Katz
  • ·         This model suggests that audiences have expectations which they expect to be satisfied by media texts

  The audience needs are:

  • ·         surveillance – telling us about the world around us
  • ·         personal identity – influences how we see ourselves and our place in society
  • ·         personal relationships – develop relationships with media characters; aids social interaction
  • ·         diversion – provides escapism from daily life




    The possible positions are: 

  • ·         Dominant – the reader shares the text’s code and accepts its preferred reading
  • ·         Negotiated – understands the text’s code, generally accepts the preferred reading but modifies it according to their social position and experiences
  • ·         Oppositional – understands the code but rejects the preferred reading.  The audience member will be reading the text from an oppositional position (e.g. a feminist reading)

      Social and Cultural Context:

  • David Morley
  •  Reception theory – ‘the politics of the living room’
  •  The meaning of the text will be constructed differently depending on the audience member’s position in society
  • Differences based on things like social class, gender, and ethnicity, may determine an individual’s cultural tastes
  • People from different social groups will have a knowledge of the codes of different types of media text
  • Stuart Hall
  • The preferred reading of the text is encoded using technologies and conventions of the medium
  • Audience members will respond to the text in different ways

Madonna - Like a Prayer

      Audience Theory
      Madonna – Like a Prayer
      Hypodermic Needle Model
     The message within like a prayer tells the audience that they shouldnt hesitate or live in fear and to believe in religion as it will guide you in the right direction to make the right decision.
     Uses and Gratifications Model
     The audience expectation of this music video by Madonna would generally be high as Madonna is a highly rated musician but other than that they would expect to be able to listen/watch like a prayer and expect to escape from the individual viewers life and feel they can relate them selves to the characters in the narrative. This also informs the viewers as to what the world is like around them and allows them to see where they stand themselves in the society they live in. 
     The way that the song is interpreted by the audience is dependent on their personal views and opinions. Some may watch the video and accept it for what it is where others may take the narrative of the video and amend it to relate themselves to the narrative. Alternatively there could be some viewers who completely disagree with the text for their own reasons and will oppose to the text, for example of like a prayer some audience members may be religious and disagree with the narrative. 
     Social + Culture Context
     Again, the interpretation of the song is dependent on the audience members beliefs and views, whether they are of a religious or ethnic origin and don't agree with the music video for Like A Prayer. Alternatively,depending on the audience's position in society they may actually agree with the content and narrative of Like A Prayer and feel that the way the video and message of the song are portrayed is acceptable. 

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Function of Genre


Central to film industry practises is the construction of a ‘narrative image’ for each film.  ‘An idea of the film is widely circulated and promoted, and idea which can be called the “narrative image” of the film, the cinema’s anticipatory reply to the question, “What is the film like?”’ John Ellis (1981)


‘The attraction of genre to the industry is closely linked to its presumed appeal to viewers.  Filmgoers generally like to have a broad idea of what to expect from any individual picture.  Genres are constituted not just by bodies of films but also by the established expectations of viewers.’ King (2002)


'genre theorists argue that ‘shifts in film content reflect changes in society.  The underlying assumption…is that popular films are more or less an accurate mirror of social structure, because by choosing the films it attends, the audience reveals its preferences to film studios and distributors which…passively produce and finance films reflecting audience desires.’ Kapsis (1991)

Classification and Interpretation:

‘genres are not simply bodies of work or groups of films…Genres do not consist only of films: they consist also…of specific systems of expectation…which spectators bring with them to the cinema, and which interact with film themselves during the course of the viewing process.  These systems provide spectators with means of recognition and understanding.  They help render films, and the elements within them, intelligible and therefore explicable.’  Steve Neale (1990)



'Generic convention is a product of the formulaic repetition of the capitalist-financed studio system, and can therefore only produce meanings in support of the status quo.  Genre films temporarily relieve the fears created by social and political conflicts by offering simplistic solutions based on following tradition.'  Judith Hess

Elements of Genre:

 Genre is comprised of:

  • Iconography – elements of mise-en-scene specific to a particular genre which signify meaning
  • Character Roles
  • Narrative Structures
  • Visual Style
  • Values and Themes (ideology)

Steve Neale would argue that genres are also comprised of the expectations of the audience, and the ‘extra-textual relay’ that circulated about genre and individual films.

Function of genre
50 Cent – In Da Club
Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Snow
The music video for this song contains numerous cameo appearances from Eminem and Dr. Dre as well as one from Xzibit. This promotes the music video as their reputation shows that their appearance in the video means that it is high quality and gives the image 50 cent wants for his rap song.
There are many shots of the members of the band highlighting and promoting their own individual talent to the audience. Also, the majority of the video is them performing live, promoting themselves my showing the experience they provide to a live audience and how good they are.
 The audience for this song would be fans of 50 cent himself of general fans of raps songs. Therefore in the video the video was dominated by 50 cent while rapping with the odd appearance of other rappers. The video contained elements that are expected from the audience such as 50 cents posse and all of them to look cool with sports clothes and expensive jewellery.
The audience for this song would be fans of Red Hot Chilli Peppers or general rock fans. It is expected from a rock video to show the band performing live and to have a number of shots in black + white. The band try to provide what the viewers of the music video want to see to meet or exceed expectation.
Socio-culture applied to this song would be that any fans that watch and listen to 50 cent many want to be like him. Therefore, they would want to buy expensive sports clothing or go out to night clubs more to get as many women as he is shown to. Alternatively, this music video could be an incentive for some people to maybe start rapping or work out as much as 50 cent as an aspiration.
The socio-culture of this music video may encourage their audience to go to more live performances or to make their own band. Viewers may also show their expectation resulting in distributors providing what they want in order to be as profitable as possible.
Classification + Interpretation
Rap songs come with a lot of expectation when it comes to the connotations of the genre. With 50 Cent - In Da Club, many expectations are met when the viewer watches the music video with the way they dress, expensive cars and jewellery and 50 Cent's posse going to the club and attracting a lot of female attention.  This theory indicates that some viewers may relate themselves to rap artists and have high expectations of them.
Rock songs come with a lot of expectation when it comes to the connotations of the genre. With Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Snow, many expectations are met when the viewer watches the video with the mixture of live performances and video for the narrative. Also, with the numerous shots highlighting the individual performances and the experience on stage the band provide, viewers expectations are met.


 50 Cent - In Da Club                                                           

 Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Snow

Conventions of Rock:

  • Both narrative and performance based
  • Tends to show romance between the lead singer and a girl
  • Performance aspect tends to be either a live performance to an audience or a performance just in front of the camera
  • Frequent shots of the bands logo - reminds viewers who's performing / strengthens reputation of the band
  • Mise-en-scene being that the location and costumes of the artists are relevant to the narrative 
  • Generally in black and white. 
  • Frequent shots of the band - highlighting the stars

Conventions of Rap:

  • Various locations such as night clubs, parties, expensive houses, expensive cars etc.
  • Often flaunt their success; references to money, clothing, possessions etc. 
  • Regularly shown in a posse
  • Cameos from other successful videos - promotion of video and artist's reputation
  • Casually dressed - basketball tops, jeans + trainers etc.
  • Usually features themes of violence or sex
  • Sections of the artist rapping to the camera with some narrative - primarily highlighting star to promote them.
  • Variety of camera angles - generally close ups/mid shots of the star

Application of conventions:

50 Cent - In Da Club

This screen shot from 'In Da Club' highlights a number of conventions that are typically found in a rap genre music video. Here, a mid shot has been used to highlight the star who is wearing casual sports clothes, but also flaunting his wealth and popularity with his jewelry and by showing him leading his posse in to the club. 

More typical conventions of the rap genre in this screenshot are shown as you can see that another star, Xzibit, is playing a cameo role in 50 Cent's video which will promote both of their reputations. Also, this shot highlights that the common setting of a nightclub is being used for this music video and not to mention that 50 Cent is surrounded by females and shown with a different female in each shot. 

Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Snow 

These two screenshots show that the convention of a rock video that there is a mixture of both narrative and performance to a camera at a venue in the Red Hot Chilli Peppers music video. The narrative screen shot also highlights the convention of which the band frequently try to have shots of their logo or band name as a form of promotion for themselves. Also, these two screen shots both show that rock bands generally produce their music videos in black and white.

In this screen shot of 'Snow' by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, we can see that a mid shot has been used to show the drummers performance. Generally in rock genre music videos, this will frequently occur as there will be a number of shots of the band as a whole and individual members highlighting their performances and emphasising their talents. 


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Representation Theories


  • Developed by Ferdinand De Sessure
  • Studied how language created meaning
  • Language doesn't reflect reality - meaning is constructed.   

SIGNS ------------------ >  REPRESENTATION ------------------- > INTERPRETATION OF SIGNS


EG:   Heart  = Love

Visual Pleasure + Male Gaze:

  • Theory developed by Laura Mulvey
  • Feminist Film Scholar - 'Visual pleasure and narrative cinema'
  • Argued that female characters were objects for male characters sexual desire. 
  • The Male Gaze - male characters are 'the barer of the look' which is usually aimed at physically desirable, sexually submissive characters.
  • Mulvey argues that spectators watch the films though the eyes of male due to 'The Male Gaze'
  • Cinema offers voyeuristic pleasures. 
  • Women connote 'to-be-looked-at-ness' 


  • Stereotypes are often used as a cultural shorthand when represented by the media. 
  • Dyer had argued that stereotypes are only used to reinforce peoples differences and singling people out as this stereotype. 
  • Dyer had also argued that stereotypes are used to represent peoples differences as natural.  
 EG: Stereotypes about youth represents that they are all wreck less and  irresponsible - giving the brand of 'youth' to everyone.   


  • Theory developed by Jean Baudrillard
  • Representation is problematic
  • Simulations of realities which don't exist
  • Hyper reality - 'a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are blended together so there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins'
  • Celebrity images are a good example of this. 
  • There is no distinction between reality and and representation, only the simulacrum.
  • Baudrillard researched hyper reality, noting how humans accepted simulation as reality. 
  • Realized that many people now couldn't identify the line between reality and altered representation. 
  • Baudrillard questioned if anything was truly real in the age of mass media. 
 EG: The Only Way is Essex. 


    Tuesday, 10 July 2012

    Narrative Theories

      3 Main Narrative Theories





    Vladimir Propp, a Russian critic, active in the 1920’s, published his Morphology of the Folk Tale in 1928. While the Soviet cinema was producing excellent films, Propp was essentially interested in the narrative of folk tales. He noticed Folk tales were similar in many areas. They were about the same basic struggles and they appeared to have stock characters. He identified a theory about characters and actions as narrative functions. According to Propp, every character within the narrative has a specific function which back up the text and provide a structure. 

    Examples of the characters narrative functions would be: 

    ·         The Hero – a character that seeks something
    ·         The Villain – who opposes or actively blocks the hero’s quest
    ·         The Donor – who provides an object with magical properties
    ·         The Dispatcher – who sends the hero on his/her quest via a message
    ·         The False Hero – who disrupts the hero’s success by making false claims
    ·         The Helper – who aids the hero
    ·         The Princess – acts as the reward for the hero and the object of the villain’s plots
    ·         Her Father – who acts to reward the hero for his effort 

    Actions as functions of narrative:


    A community/kingdom/family is in an ordered state of being
    A member of the community/kingdom/family leaves home
    A warning is given to the leaders of the community or a rule is imposed on the hero
    The warning is discounted/ the rule is broken
    The villain attempts to discover something about the victim of the broken rule
    The villain tries to deceive the victim to gain advantage
    The victim unwittingly helps the villain


    A state of disorder
    The villain harms a member of the community/kingdom/family
    One of the members of the community/kingdom/family desires something
    The hero is sent to get what is desired
    The hero plans action against the villain


    The hero leaves home
    The hero is tested or attacked/ he meets the test and is given a magical gift or helper
    The hero reacts to the donor
    The hero arrives at the place he can fulfil his quest


    There is a struggle between the hero and the villain
    |The hero is branded
    The villain is overcome
    The state of disorder is settled


    The hero returns
    The hero is pursued
    The hero escapes or is rescued
    The hero arrives home and is not recognised
    A false hero claims rewards
    A task is set for the hero
    The task is accomplished


    The hero is recognised
    The false hero or villain is unmasked
    The false hero is punished
    The hero attains the reward (princess/ kingdom)

    To Propp, events are not just about character and action but also about progressing the narrative.


    Tzvetan Todorov is a Bulgarian structuralist publishing influential work on narrative from the 1960s onwards. Todorov suggested that stories begin with an equilibrium or status quo where any potentially opposing forces are in balance. This is disrupted by some event, setting in chain a series of events. Problems are solved so that order can be restored to the world of the fiction being shown on screen.

     Todorov suggested that conventional narratives are structured in 5 stages:
    ·       A state of equilibrium at the outset
    ·       A disruption of the equilibrium by some action
    ·       A recognition that there has been a disruption
    ·       An attempt to repair the disruption
    ·       A reinstatement of the equilibrium

    The narrative has a clear being, middle and end.
    Everything begins with equilibrium, then disequilibrium occurs and finally the narratives equilibrium is restored.


    In the mid-20th century, two major European academic thinkers, Claude Levi Strauss and Roland Barthes, had the important insight that the way we understand certain words depends not so much on any meaning they themselves directly contain, but much more by our understanding of the difference between the word and its 'opposite' or, as they called it 'binary opposite'. They realised that words merely act as symbols for society's ideas and that the meaning of words, therefore, was a relationship rather than a fixed thing: a relationship between opposing ideas.
    For example, the understanding of the word 'coward' depends on the difference between that word and its opposing idea, that of a 'hero' (and to complicate matters further, a moment's thought should alert you to the fact that interpreting words such as 'hero' and 'coward' is itself much more to do with what our society or culture attributes to such words than any meaning the words themselves might actually contain).