Are There Some Issues That Are Too Sensitive For Soap Operas?
Are there some stories that are just too sensitive for soap operas to cover? Discuss in relation to specific examples from television and or radio.<br />Team Discuss<br />Project Manager: Tae Inui<br />Research: Bronte Allen<br />Content Creation: Jenny Knight<br />Production and Dissemination: Daniel Baggott<br />
Are some stories to sensitive?<br />Can soap operas show anything just because they are not real?<br />“What is a soap opera?”<br />Introduction<br />“That viewers take soap opera seriously, and consider that the characters and problems portrayed are highly realistic and personally involving, has implications for issues of media effects.”<br /> (European Journal of Communication, 1988)<br />
Sensitive Storylines<br />Many Soap Opera’s embrace the fact that that viewers take soap opera seriously<br />British soap operas in particular, present sensitive issues in a gritty way<br />The Emmerdale plane crash in 1993<br />Mark Fowler’s HIV in Eastenders<br />The rape of Toyah Battersby in Coronation Street<br />The future Emmerdale storyline on euthanasia<br />
Sensitive Storylines<br /> “Our members are concerned that, as is all too common, a bereaved mother has been portrayed as deranged and unhinged… It is testament to our strength and self control that bereaved parents are largely invisible... If anything we are more compassionate and aware because we would not wish the loss of a child on our worst enemy." (Roberts, J 2011) <br />
Sensitive Storylines<br />The cot death/baby swap issue raised 6,000 complaints from the audience, out of the 11 million who watched it.<br />Women are more susceptible to effects according to Modleski :‘structural openness of soaps is an essentially 'feminine' narrative form’ (Modleski, 1982) <br />
Representation of characters<br />Perhaps was not that Eastenders dealt with this issue that caused the problem…<br />It was the way the character of Ronnie was being represented that was controversial!<br />Mumsnet thought this was an attempt to ‘create controversy’ (Roberts, 2011)<br />But could it be an accurate representation of a minority of mothers?<br />
Representation of characters<br /> “Stereotypes do not only… map out boundaries of acceptable and legitimate behaviour, they also insist on boundaries… where in reality there are none ” (Dyer, 1993)<br />There is no real limit to <br />what a character should do.<br />
Representation of characters<br />By showing the struggle of a man trying to reconcile these aspects of his life!<br />An example is Syed in Eastenders, who is a Muslim in a gay relationship.<br />Ofcom received 23 complaints that it offended the faith of the viewers. (Holmwood, 2010)<br />But as Reithian values are still important in the BBC, this story served to inform, educate and entertain…<br />
Increasing awareness<br />For example Coronation Street on PTS after a tour of duty<br />Eastenders in the past has dealt with many issues.<br />These broadcasts are usually followed by the displaying of a helpline on the issue.<br />
“The increase in traffic to the Foundation for the Study of Infant deaths website of more than 500% shows what an important subject this is.” (Roberts,2011) <br />This shows the importance of soap opera in reaching the everyday people who struggle to cope with issues and to find help.<br />Even in themselves, they raise awareness by allowing the opportunity to speak out!<br />Increasing awareness<br />The sensitive storylines do more good than bad!<br />
Desensitising of audiences<br />Media desensitisation can be traced back to Victor B. Cline.<br />“The high-television-exposure-subjects were found to be less aroused autonomically” (Cline et al,1973) than those who hadn’t watched violence on a regular basis. <br />Because of this desensitisation, soaps have to go further to keep us interested!<br />
Desensitising of audiences<br />The first ‘controversy’ in Coronation Street was in 1978 after a shooting in a factory<br />Now gun violence is less of an issue<br />Clearly we have been desensitised.<br />
Desensitising of audiences<br />“The success of Australian soaps… caused British soaps to reconsider their target audience… Hollyoaks is aimed primarily at young people… consequently, soaps are now more popular than ever" (The BBC, 2003)<br />
Desensitising of audiences<br />In 2008 Hollyoaks ran a storyline about a suicide, while news broke of two girls committing suicide in a similar way.<br />This story received no complaints to Ofcom.<br />This might suggest younger viewers are now more equipped to deal with these issues, or that they simply don’t use soaps to escape.<br />
Desensitising of audiences<br />“Media consumers have a free will to decide how they will use the media and how it will affect them.” (Blumer & Katz, 1974)<br />Audiences may choose how they read the text, or they may just react according to their age.<br />
Conclusion<br />Soaps bring to light delicate issues.<br />The mass audience is the most likely to accept the preferred reading.<br />They also suggest ways of coping with them.<br />And show help is a phone call away.<br />
References<br />Anon (2009) http://www.Dailymail.Co.Uk/tvshowbiz/article-1219300/channel-4-broadcast-hollyoaks-suicide-pact-storyline-despite-similarities-clyde-teens-deaths.Html[accessed: 15th February]<br />BARB (2011) Weekly top 30 programmes, BARB [online]. Available from: http://www.barb.co.uk/report/weeklyTopProgrammesOverview [Accessed: 15th February 2011].<br />Blumler J.G. & Katz, E. (1974). The uses of mass communications: current perspectives on gratifications research. Beverly hills, CA: sage. Cited in http://www.Uky.Edu/~drlane/capstone/mass/uses.Htm[accessed: 15th February]<br />Cline, V.B. Croft, R.G. And courier, S (1973) journal of personality and social study, volume 27, no.3 350-365, <br />Dyer, r (1993) the matter of images: essays on representation, London: routledge<br />Holmwood, L. (2010) Eastenders Koran outrage, the sun, 22nd July 2010 [online], available from: http://www.Thesun.Co.Uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/soaps/3063828/complaints-at-eastenders-gay-muslim-and-koran-scene.Html [accessed: 15th February]<br />Hobson, D. (2003) soap opera, Cambridge: polity press<br />Modleski, T (1982): loving with a vengeance: mass-produced fantasies for women. Hamden, CT: archon cited in http://www.Aber.Ac.Uk/media/modules/TF33120/soaps.Html[accessed: 15th February]<br />Roberts, J 2011, Letter of complaint to the BBC, Available from: http://www.Mumsnet.Com/campaigns/eastenders-cot-death-story[accessed: 15th February]<br />The BBC (2003) Conventions of soap opera, The BBC [online]. Available from: Http://www.Bbc.Co.Uk/dna/h2g2/A1087193[accessed: 15th February]<br />Why people watch soap opera: an analysis of the explanations of British viewers (1988) European journal of communication, 1, 55-80<br />
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