13B Media Theories


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13B Media Theories

  1. 1. Propp’s character theory Vladimir Propp developed a character theory for studying media texts and productions, which indicates that there were 7 broad character types in the 100 tales he analyzed, which could be applied to other media: 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 Criticism: Propp‘s theory of narrative seems to be based in a male orientated environment (due to his theory actually reflecting early folk tales) and as such critics often dismiss the theory with regard to film. However, it may still be applied because the function (rather than the gender) of characters is the basis of the theory. E.g. the hero could be a woman; the reward could be a man. Why the theory is useful: It avoids treating characters as if they are individuals and reminds us they are merely constructs. Some characters are indeed there just to progress the narrative.
  2. 2. Structuralist Film Theory Structuralist film theory is a branch of film theory that is rooted in Structuralism, itself based on structural linguistics. Structuralist film theory emphasizes how films convey meaning through the use of codes and conventions not dissimilar to the way languages are used to construct meaning in communication. An example of this is understanding how the simple combination of shots can create an additional idea: the blank expression on a person's face, an appetizing meal, and then back to the person's face. While nothing in this sequence literally expresses hunger—or desire—the juxtaposition of the images convey that meaning to the audience.
  3. 3. Stuart Hall Stuart Hall looked at the role of audience positioning. He came up with a model suggesting three ways in which we may read a media text: ENCODING AND DECODING: Dominant Reading – The reader fully accepts the preferred reading (audience will read the text the way the author intended them to) so that the code seems natural and transparent. Negotiated reading – The reader partially believes the code and broadly accepts the preferred reading, but sometimes modifies it in a way which reflects their own position, experiences and interests. Oppositional Reading – The readers social position places them in an oppositional relation to the dominant code. They reject the reading.
  4. 4. "Not only are words signs but also gestures, images, non-linguistic sounds like the chimes of Big Ben. Obviously devices (such as flags) created by man in order to indicate something are signs, but so are, in ordinary language, the thread of smoke that reveals a fire, the footsteps in the sand that tells Robinson Crusoe a man has passed along the beach, the clue that permits Sherlock Holmes to find the murderer."
  5. 5. Roland Barthes  Roland Barthes‘ theory was about narrative codes. He said that texts can be unraveled in either one way or in many different ways (so the text can either be opened or closed). He also decided that the things that you look at to unravel meaning in a text were called narrative codes and they can be categorised in five different ways starting off with action codes, enigma code, the semantic code, the cultural code and the symbolic code.
  6. 6. Lévi-Strauss French anthropologists Talks about binary opposites. He explains that binary opposites are used a lot in the media filming especially in horror films. Examples of these are: • Good vs. Bad • Old vs. young • Weak vs. strong Believed certain words depends not so much on any meaning they themselves directly contain but a lot more on our understanding of the difference between the word and its ‗opposite‘ or as Claude Lévi- Strauss calls it ‗binary opposites‘
  7. 7. Katz + Blumler Uses and Gratification Theory The Uses and Gratification theory focuses on understanding mass communication. The theory places more focus on the consumer, or audience, instead of the actual message itself by asking ―what people do with media‖ rather than ―what media does to people‖ The theory assumes that the members of the audience are not passive but take an active role in interpreting and integrating media into their own lives. The approach suggests that people use media to fulfil specific gratifications. Some of the gratifications are personal identity, entertainment.
  8. 8. MASLOW Abraham Harold (1908–70), US psychologist. He explained human motivation with a hierarchy of needs. This is applicable for films, advertising and magazines.
  9. 9. Laura Mulvey- The Male Gaze Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema The concept of ‗gaze’ deals with how an audience view the people shown For feminists it can be thought of in three ways: -How men look at women. -How women look at themselves. -How women look at other women.The camera lingers on the curves of the female body, and events which occur to women are presented largely in the context of a mans reaction to these events. Relegates women to the status of objects. The female viewer must experience the narrative secondarily, by identification with the male.