G325 Critical Perspectives in Media Exam PreparationSection A: Theoretical evaluation of ProductionThere are two questions in Section A, which must both be answered.Question 1(a) will ask you to DESCRIBE and EVALUATE your skillsdevelopment across your production coursework for your Foundation PortfolioAND your Advanced Portfolio. You will be asked to refer one or two specificproduction practices, which could be either: Digital Technology Creativity Research and Planning Post-Production Using conventions from real media texts WE WILL PRACTICE QUESTION 1(a) NEXT WEEKQuestion 1(b) will ask you to select ONE production (AS or A2) and evaluate it inrelation to a media concept. The list of concepts is as follows: Genre Narrative Representation Audience Media languageTask1: Read the level3/level 4 response to Question 1(b) from last year’s paper,along with the examiners response. Annotate using Ctrl-Alt M.(b) Analyse one of your coursework productions in relation to the concept ofaudience.The concept of audience is fundamental to the making of a media text. A producermust take into account the age, social status and gender and interests of a targetconsumer in order to adjust the text to make it as appealing to them as possible. Formy A2 coursework I created a horror called ‘The sleepover’. Classification of ageappropriateness is important in audience identification. Films are screened by anexternal board and given a minimum age of viewers. Most horror films are rated 18,due to extreme gore, violence, sex and disturbance – not to mention emotional traumawhich is why I chose to rate my film as 18 as my film was a very conventional slasherfilm.The Hypodermic Needle effect is the first audience theory. It originated in the 1920swhen mass media first began to be popular. This suggests that a producer has anintended meaning which is definitely understood by the audience. In this theory theaudience are completely passive. If this was applied to my text the audiencewouldview the killing scenes and sex scenes and instantly replicate the actions. This 7
of course is unrealistic and this theory is often argued to be very simplistic andoutdated, considering how much the media has developed this century. The uses andgratifications audience theory suggests than an audience consume particular texts inorder to receive something from them. Bulmer and Katz identified four uses andgratifications as diversion (entertainment and escape from reality), surveillance(information), personal identity (seeing yourself reflected in the text and learning newvalues and personal relationships (seeking emotional interaction and substitutingmedia relationships for your own). In my coursework, a consumer may use diversion -the horror trailer is escapist – a route away from reality and they would be entertainedby the mystery and fear of my film. Diversion would also include catharsis that mytrailer would enable, which is using the media as an outlet of emotion – they wouldexperience horror in the safety of cinema. They would also experience the ‘personalidentity’ stage in seeing themselves in, or, admiring, the good characters – particularlythe ‘final girl’ character and her charming boyfriend, depending on gender ofaudience member. They would also have the personal relationships because theycould feel emotion of the fear and sadness of the victims whilst substituting theiremotional relationship with the friendships in my trailer or the main characters’romantic relationship with her boyfriend. My audience would not use the surveillancestage as horror films are not intended to be instructional. The most modern anddeveloped theory of audience is reception theory. This model based on Stuart Hall’sencoding model, suggests that a producer will encode a text and the audience willdecode it. Their reading is affected by many contextual and personal factors such asage, social status, gender, current mood and personal experiences. I encoded myhorror trailer as well as I could using beautiful, edgy, feminine characters whichappeal to the female consumers. I used isolated settings which suggest to the audiencethat escape isn’t possible (deserted house, woods) this highlighting the experience offear and panic that one hopes for when watching a horror film. I used acoustic codesin the form of a deep male voice over and jumpy, low orchestral score to hope that myaudience will feel tension and suspense. My killer was masked and always appearedsilent and in the shadows, connoting evil and dehumanising him hopefully creating aresponse of fear from the audience. My main target audience were males and femalesaged 18-30. I used attractive actors to appeal to the audience who would admire /desire them. The ‘cool’ stylish clothing adds to this. I used the male gaze theory byLaura Mulvey, showing a victim’s cleavage and the ‘final girl’ theory (hopefullycreating a stronger feminist image to other women) to attract both genders. I usedaudience research in the form of questionnaires to find out my audiences preferencesand dislikes in order to make my trailer meet their interests as fully as possible. I alsoasked for audience feedback on my first drafts which allowed me to makeimprovements based on the opinions of 20 18-30 year olds. They told me toexaggerate gore and violence more and use more threatening music which I thenincorporated using iMovie so that me audience was tempted to watch my piece. Iaimed my piece at a low social status as my trailer was a version of British teenagersexperiencing the American slasher experience. I used strong language, popular musicfor soundtrack and fashionable clothing to hopefully attract this group.This is a level 3 / level 4 borderline responseLevel 4 qualities –coherence, range of useful examples, ability to answer thequestion in sustained manner, relating of theory to practice. The understandingof Hall’s encoding / decoding model in relation to own work. The discussion of
‘effects’ early on is clear and relevant.Level 3 qualities – the application of audience theories (insufficiently developedfor level 4 – eg the ‘use of’ Mulvey, in the same paragraph as the use ofquestionnaires for feedback).Task 2In pairs, write a brief summary of the response for each section in the table below.Identify any areas of weakness in relation to the examiner’s report (these come laterin the essay) and state how you might improve the response. Keep it brief!Section Summary Improvements needed (if any) The intro is very brief andIntro accurately tells the reader the film she has analysed which is ‘the sleepover’ and what conventions she has used based around the audience theory. The first audience theoryTheory 1 she applies is the hypodermic needle theory. She gives a small amount of background information about this and applies it in detail to her film ‘the sleepover’, such as the replication of the sex scenes. The uses and gratificationTheory 2 audience theory is applied and explained about how the text must be in a specific order. She talks about the 4 uses and gratifications and applies it to their own piece of work. Information also includes diversion. The last theory is theTheory 3 audience of reception theory. Explaining how the audience decode the
encoded text. The features she has usedDescription of production has been applied to herand audience responses answer explain techniques used such as strong language and also tells us she has used audience feedback to improve. Her general targetDescription of target audience is both gendersaudience and evaluation of 18-30. After evaluating herresponses responses this is how her target audience was chosen after making adjustments and improvements.Task 3Using the above as a guide, write your own plan in relation to either your A2 ORAS production coursework
Task 4 (Homework)Use your plan to write your own answer for homework, deadline next Monday.Remember to use the activity completed before Easter on audience, available onMoodle, to help you.1(b)Analyse ONE of your coursework productions in relation to the conceptof AUDIENCE. (June 2011)Audience theory is crucial when making decisions regarding an audiencewhen presenting a media text. Many things must have thought behinddecisions such as age, gender and social classes. My coursework I completedand will analyse regarding audience theory is a music magazine I completedcalled ‘Volume’. Volume is a magazine which focused on a rock and indiegenre with similarities to magazines such as ‘Kerrang’. I completed a frontcover, contents and a double page spread of the magazine. The reasonbehind the audience of both indie and rock was to increase the audience sizewhich I can target.In my magazine the hypodermic needle theory could be applied. Whenlooking at the front cover of my magazine the idea of a mass audience being‘injected’ with the influence of the main story could attract many peoplewithin the target audience. Using a central image for the main characterinvolved in my magazine can influence people to read the magazine and findout more about what they are known to be on the front cover for. However onthe other hand the theory can be seen to be out dated and my magazine maysupport this as the influence of a central image may not be as affected asmany competitors will have similar designs and stories.Another theory applied to the front cover of my magazine ‘Volume’ is the usesand gratifications theory. One of the four basic models is to identify what isin front of the audience. This can be met when the central image is a well-known music artist. Another is to entertain. This is used for escapism, theaudience can read about my magazine which will then take their minds offevery day problems as they can enjoy reading about their favorite artists.Lastly social interaction can be applied to my magazine because it issomething that can be talked about between friends. The public can discussthe music magazine and the stories they have read within it.The last theory is the reception theory. The theory has been created by StuartHalls in the 1970’s, a much more recent theory. This can be applied to mymusic magazine on the double page spread because the audience can decodethe story about ‘Rachel’ which I have encoded. The text can then go on todominant, negotiated or preferred, depending on the audience’s views andopinions.