T.V, Film and Theory University Module

DRAFT 7

Here are all of the weeks learning diaries:

Week 1

This week we looked at the history of television, including the birth of the BBC and the way that the UK government viewed television throughout history. To expand on this knowledge through my extended reading I decided to see if this attitude towards television exhibited by the U.K was present in other countries. This is the idea behind my reading taking a focus on American attitudes to television.
The lecture for this week focused on the importance of understanding how U.K television has evolved and changed of the years. This is important to study as it enables us to know why we have some of our current television conventions and what we can expect for the future of television. Faye Davies highlighted an important quote from Matthew Arnold in 1869: “The best arts transcends all issues in all classes”. This quote helps explain the attitude that people had when it came to creating art before television.
The seminar gave everyone a chance to discuss the set reading as well as the extended reading with other attendees. As it was the first seminar there was a lot of diversity amongst the sources with some focusing on technology whilst some focused on the history of television.
Something interesting found from Creeber’s(2003) article is that the US generally allowed its T.V channels to be un restricted in much of the 20’s and 30’s “to allow entrepreneurism to run amuck in the field of broadcasting”. This feeling was reinforced by Morden’s(1999) findings as it states that regular broadcasting did not start until 1939 in the United States. This is very different from the origins of television in the United Kingdom with the introduction of the Lord Reith’s BBC in the 20’s.
In conclusion this week has focused on the history of television in the U.K. The set reading helped as it has allowed me to contextualise this information.

Bibliography:

Morton, D. 1999, “Viewing television’s history”, Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 87, no. 7, pp. 1301-1304.
Creeber, Glen (2003) The Origins of Public Service Broadcasting (British Television Before the War) in Michele Hilmes (ed.) (2003)

Week 2

The key concepts that were introduced this week were political economy and public sphere. The lecture focused heavily on political economy so I decided to base my personal reading for that week on a political economy. A political economy is looking at media texts as cultural commodities. Political economies are important as they give us an insight into what environment we as media producers will be working in.
Public sphere is the idea that a media text can offer or create a platform for everyone to voice their opinions free and unencumbered. This is viewed as almost impossible now due to the commercialism of television always creating a bias, in some aspect, in almost everything we watch.
The biggest crossover in the set reading and my own personal reading is the agreement that funding is paramount in television and almost always has an impact on the end product. Ien Ang(1991) comments on commercial television, stating “In the end, all such aims must be subordinated to the overriding profit-maximising goal”. Here, Ang is referring to the ultimate aim of the decision makers in television. He goes on to make the link between highly viewed programming and being able to attain more money “audience maximisation has become so paramount a principle in commercial television”. The extended reading
In my own extended reading, Bob Franklin(2005) talks about how funding directly relates to quality “money doesn’t mean that it will be quality, but that it might be”, stating that although it is hard to define quality, the amount of funding received tends to be a good indicator. Franklin uses the BBC as an example in his text, mentioning the lack of money compared to other commercial endeavours.
Peter Dahlgren’s(1995) book brought up the idea that the definition of a political economy is loose and needs to be properly defined, which I found quite interesting. It argues that political economy of the media should take into consideration the level of accessibility each citizen actually has to “mediated culture”.

Bibliography

Franklin, B. 2005, Television policy: the MacTaggart lectures, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.

Dahlgren, P. 1995, Television and the public sphere: citizenship, democracy and the media, Sage, London.

  1. 172-185 Chapter 2 (“Audience-as-market and audience-as-public”) in Ang, Ien (1991)Desperately Seeking the Audience. London: Routledge.

Week 3

The lecture for this week considered the ways and language in which television and film communicates with its audience. An important point was raised in the lecture about how significant it is to be able to see the ways in which these visual mediums can communicate its themes. The ability to see the construction of the themes within a media text will allow us as producers to construct these themes and messages within our own works. The main points to take away from the lecture were to see film as (reality quote( and television as a purposefully constructed medium full of rhetoric and semiological devices to construct that meaning.
I found Ellis(1982) to be an interesting read as a television specialist as it focused more on that medium and why it differs from television, where as Nowell-Smith(2000) is much more focused on film and does not mention television at all. The theme that both excerpts share is that film is much more complex and allows the viewer to interpret meaning by itself, “Films mean because people want them to mean”. Television must stick to a much more direct yet simple meaning in order to ensure that its viewers can watch it in a much more casual way, “It(television) has a lower degree of sustained concentration from its viewers” pg.
It is also explained that film uses a much more complex language, although both readings do not make the comparison, it is clear to see the value that is placed on television language compared to film language.
The directed study this week took a step forward from this and looked at an online video, the language it conveys and why it uses the rhetoric devices it does. The video used was a promotional video for the BBC News Youtube channel. This directed study forced me to evolve what I had learned from the out-dated key readings and adapt it for the current world.

Bibliography

Ellis, John (1982) Visible Fictions: Cinema, Television, Video, Routledge: London – pp. 127-159

Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey (2000) ‘How films mean, or, from aesthetics to semiotics and half-way back again’ in Gledhill, C and Williams, L. (2000), Reinventing Film Studies. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

 

 

Week 4

The lecture this week talked about the moral panic that often media texts can be perceived to cause. The media can either be the messenger of moral panic or often times it is considered as the vehicle for moral panic. Although there have been numerous studies suggesting that the media does not have much direct impact on the viewer’s behaviour, this is ultimately difficult to prove as everyone responds and reads media text in different ways.
The personal reading this week once again, modernised the set readings and allowed a deeper understanding and contextualisation of today’s moral panic. Sun Sun Lim(2013), offers a much more succinct definition of moral panic: “the social anxiety that results when media, public opinion, interest groups and authorities converge around an issue that is deemed to be of societal concern”. It is clear from the set reading from Bignall(2004) and Nelmes(1999) that the United Kingdom has always been particularly concerned with censorship and not allowing mass media to contribute to moral panic. According to Bignal, the cause of moral panic has changed over the years, once “Newsreaders could be sacked for being involved in a divorce”. Both Bignall and Lim cite AIDS at one stage being an extremely controversial topic and potential causer of moral panic “Such panics have erupted in the wake of issues as diverse as AIDS”, says Lim.
Nelmes raises a valid point with regards to the United Kingdom film classification board, the BBFC. Although the BBFC claims to be an independent organisation, it is entirely funded by individuals in the film industry. This would be an interesting political economy study to undertake as Nelmes speculates that there are a large amount of BBFC decisions motivated by money. This was a discussion undertaken within my seminar. “In the US freedom of speech is guaranteed. No such position exists within the U.K”. This is another example of how moral panic is avoided in this country.

Bibliography

Bignell, J (2004) An Introduction to Television Studies, London: Routledge. pp 229-252

Nelmes, J (1999) An Introduction to Film Studies, 2nd Edition, London: Routledge. pp. 48-53

Lim, S.S. 2013, “On mobile communication and youth “deviance”: Beyond moral, media and mobile panics”, Mobile Media & Communication, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 96-101.

Week 5

This week the lecture focused heavily on representation, introducing a more advanced form of the rhetoric analysis studied earlier on in the year called discourse analysis. I also focused my personal attention on completing a discourse analysis in order to form a better idea of the concepts behind this type of analysis and how to differentiate it from other methodologies. I attempted a discourse analysis of the title sequence of season one of the critically acclaimed television show “The Wire”.
A discourse analysis is the type of analysis that we use to convey a message in a media text. Essentially discourses are practices that form the idea or message that readers of a particular media text receive. For example:. The set reading from Machin and Mayr(2012) attempts to explain discourse analysis better, however it even claims that the definition is loose, stating that the actual term ‘discourse analysis is a “loose combination of approaches founded in linguistics”.
To better understand discourse analysis and be able to contextualise my reading I attempted to undertake one of my own for the title sequence of season 1 of The Wire. An theme taken from my discourse analysis is that both crime and surveillance from our police force can be viewed as secretive, frustrating and often wrong. This idea is presented from the reoccurring close-ups used in the intro which make the audience frustrated that they can not develop any context to the shots that they are seeing.
I have chosen to analyse Faye Davies’ discourse analysis of “The L Word’, a television show focusing on the lives of lesbians in suburban Los Angeles. After reading over the analysis from Davies, it is clear that discourse analysis is a more in-depth methodology compared to rhetoric analysis. Where as rhetoric analysis deals with how a message is conveyed to the reader, discourse analysis explores why we understand certain rhetoric signals as signifiers of an idea. Faye(2010) outlines numerous times how the show portrays lesbian identity as strong and not overtly sexual “in vast opposition to historical media representation of lesbians”

Bibliography:

Machin, D and Mayr, A (2012) How to do a Critical Discourse Analysis, London: Sage. pp 1-29

Beirne, R. (2010) Television Queer Women, New York pp 179-193

Week 6

N/A

Week 7

This week’s was focused on studying audiences and audiences theories; looking at what an audience does with the ideas and information given to them after reading their media text. This was done in the form of learning a new theory called Reception theory as well as undertaking a small audience analysis of my own and comparing and contrasting between two audience studies, the. It is important to note that with ____ readings, they are older pieces and such must be contextualised within the time that they are written.
Reception theory, as stated earlier, is the theory that asks the question of what audiences do once they have obtained the ideas given from a media text. It is crucial to remember with this theory that the audience is not viewed as idiots or “dupes”. The theorist also commented that, whilst studying reception theory will expose the level of indoctrination information for our society found in “almost every aspect of our everyday life”
Fiske,J. (1989) Understanding Popular Culture London: Unwin Hyman Ltd

  • , we should not let that knowledge effect us.
    My own audience study was a virtual ethnography observing the way older fans discuss the ideologies behind popular teenage cartoon “Adventure Time”. I used the online forum for “AdventureTime” found on the website “reddit.com.”. The study results was discussed within my seminar group and the general consensus was that older fans explore the show’s complex ideologies much deeper than the show’s intended audience, suggesting that perhaps the show has a hidden audience.
    The set reading by Gillespie(2003) surrounding the audience of the television show “Neighbours” was discussed in depth at the seminar the following week and a large amount of good responses were made. The overall message of the reading is that “soap talk is much more a feature of females than male communication”. The reading continued that the audience of Neighbours felt that generally gender stereotypes portrayed an accurate representation of themselves “characters of both sexes providing strong points of identification for male and female viewers”. However, does the show correctly portray female and male stereotypes, or does the audience view the text and change and conform their attitudes to match characters on the show. This point was discussed in depth in the seminar, with little conclusion being reached.
    My own personal reading was a Dutch audience study observing a police and crime show, either “Baantjer” or “Spangen” in the hopes of getting a better understanding of how audiences are interpreting the ideas presented to them given the rise of crime shows in the Netherlands. The Joost De Bruin’s(2010) study draws a similarity to Gillespie’s, that young people enjoy talking and discussing television shows, often as a vehicle to explore their own ideologies. “In talking about ethnic minority characters in police series, young people voiced their opinions and concerns regarding Dutch multicultural society”Bibliography:

    Fiske,J. (1989)Understanding Popular Culture London: Unwin Hyman Ltd

    Gillespie, Marie (2003) “Television, Ethnicity and Cultural Change” IN Will Brooker and Deborah Jermyn (eds.) The Audience Studies Reader. London: Routledge.

    De Bruin, J. 2010, “Young people and police series: A multicultural television audience study”, Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 309-328.

 

Week 8
This week’s theme is how we as media practitioners can keep up with the fragmentation of television, moving towards a more digital and interactive age.
The lecture this week talked about how the development of digital television pushed forward a new wave of niche programming. This development was pushed forward mainly by sports broadcasting, Craig Robinson(2004) can be quoted as saying, “sports broadcasting is critical for global media corporations”. An idea that I had not considered from the digital age and the explosion of the range of digital channels available is the scramble for content and the increase in reruns.
I believe that generally, digital television is a better way of distributing television for many reasons. It enables audiences to become producer, with audiences now being able to decided when they watch something, how they watch something and now have a greater range of what they watch. It is also good from a producer’s point-of-view as it enables me to produce content and have it seen by a wider audience with greater ease. The downsides, however, to digital television are that the market is now saturated with content and it can often feel overwhelming to the audience. Also, as a producer, the market is now much more fragmented and so it is difficult to garner an audience size similar to terrestrial television.
Personally, recent technology has allowed me the freedom to explore what media texts I actually enjoy, with such an array of content now available anytime I want on platforms such as Youtube, BBCiPlayer, Vimeo and many more. It has also enabled me to choose the way that I read my media text and to change that according to what I am watching. For example, high quality dramas such as The Walking Dead or Game Of Thrones will be viewed by me alone, where as shows such as Channel 4’s “First Dates or ITV’s Take Me Out can be streamed on my television in a room with my peers.
Something interesting to pick as an area of study would be the impact that digital technology has had on the way that audiences consume their news programing. This question would have to be refined in order for it to be feasible that I can explore it, however given the advent of the 24 hour news cycle and online journalism, it would be an interesting study to undertake.

 

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