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Why audiences may respond differently to the same media text for AS Media

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Why audiences may respond differently to the same media text for AS Media

  1. 1. With reference to your own detailed examples explain why audiences may respond differently to the same media text. The focus for this question is on what the audience do with the media. (Media to audience question) Key theory: Reception Theory  Preferred reading – the message intended by the media  Dominant reading – if the audience accept the preferred reading  Negotiated reading- the audience partially accept some of the message but reject part of it  Oppositional reading – the audience reject the message. Uses and Gratifications Theory What pleasures the audience take from the text? Pleasures include:  Information/ education/surveillance – finding out more and learn about what is going on in the world  Personal Identity – the ability to compare your life with that of characters and situations presented in media texts  Personal relationships/social interaction/integration – identification with characters and being able to discuss media texts with others  Entertainment and diversion – as a form of escape from everyday life
  2. 2. Model Answer Audiences may respond to the same text differently by having different readings of the same text. These readings can be influenced by many factors such as age, gender and cultural understanding. Even factors like where you live can influence the audience. People Like Us is a fly on the wall documentary about the area of Harpurhey in Manchester, broadcast on BBC 3. It represents this area as deprived and a place of anti-social behaviour. This representation is constructed by the opening titles that include a long shot of a police van, with someone being arrested. There is a low angle, establishing shot of a council tower block that looks intimidating. There is a medium long shot of two people walking down the street in pyjamas and it used a big close up of a youth who describes himself as the neighbour from hell. The light hearted music helps create the mode of address as comical and entertaining. This is a stereotypical and negative representation of the area. The stereotypes are constructed to create a short cut to understanding the characters and to create comedy by exaggerating stereotypical features. The preferred reading intended by BBC 3 would be to view this documentary as entertaining, unserious way, as it has some comical characters. One response would be to accept this view, This would be a dominant reading made by the audience. However there are many other possible responses. One response could be to view this stereotype a way to view Manchester as a whole. People living outside Manchester might take on this view-point. However people living in Harpurhey challenged the BBC about this representation of the area. They thought it could have represented many positive aspects of the area but had left these out (omission). The residents rejected the representation that had been created. This would be an oppositional reading. However a negotiated reading would be to view the area as having some anti-social issues and some problems with crime, but recognise there are many positive things about the area too. Audience may also respond to the same text different as the audience can get different pleasures from the same text. To explore this further it is useful to look at the Uses and Gratification’s theory that seeks to understand what pleasure audiences get from texts.
  3. 3. The front cover of Men’s Health offers many different pleasures. One pleasure could be the information that is gained about getting fit and advice about body shape. However, another pleasure that is offered is that of personal identity. The medium long shot and the visual codes of the t-shirt being lifted reveals an air-brushed, toned stomach. This offers an idealised image of masculinity that some people might aspire to and gain a sense of identity from. The san- serif masthead suggests traditional values and the red strongly contrasts with the white background suggesting strength and confidence. The sell-lines are constructed using bold, san-serif fonts. These are often on a block back- ground and are built up on each other. This further suggests strength is important to masculine identity. The use of blue fonts further constructs a representation of traditional masculinity. The articles construct a narrative of self-improvement and suggest this can be achieved quickly as there are many references to periods of time on the front cover, such as “180 second fat burners”. To accept this representation as something to aspire to would be a dominant reading. To view this representation as something that could be partially achieved but view it as unrealistic to ever look like the model on the front cover would be a negotiated reading. Some men however might reject the whole on concept that men should use their bodies as something to be admired. This would be an oppositional reading. Other pleasures offered are integration. This allows the audience to use the text to form a community with other people. People using the knowledge about fitness gained from this magazine to form a bond with others and to give them the confidence to discuss body image. This knowledge would be useful to form a community with other people who have this knowledge in places like the gym. Other media texts encourage integration by inviting the use of social media. Offers to use the hashtag or like media texts are a common feature of the media today. Audiences will associate with particular texts to form part of their own personal identity.
  4. 4. Another pleasure that is offered is escapism through entertainment. This can offer a diversion from everyday life. Men’s Health offers articles about sex and relationships that might act as a diversion. Audience therefore may respond to the same text differently because of the different reading that audience member can form due to their experience of life or because of the pleasures they want to get from a text.

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