Spectator theory

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Spectator theory

  1. 1. What is emotion? As we watch films we can each experience fear, and pleasure, and desire, and surprise, and shock and a whole array of possible emotions, but we will not all experience these emotions equally at the same moments in a film What is that determines our individual predisposition to respond in particular emotional ways at certain points in certain films? Think carefully about this but don’t worry about a right answer, this is the debate. Your job is to recognise that there is an intense interaction with the sounds and images occurring as we watch films, and that film makers are deliberately setting out to create emotional responses.
  2. 2. What is emotion? As we watch films we can each experience fear, and pleasure, and desire, and surprise, and shock and a whole array of possible emotions, but we will not all experience these emotions equally at the same moments in a film What technical elements can a film maker use to create and develop the reaction in an audience? Think back to a scene that you had an emotional reaction to. What was the scene? What was your reaction? Why do you think you acted in that way?
  3. 3. What is emotion? What technical elements can a film maker use to create and develop the reaction in an audience?
  4. 4. Documentary Documentary is an art form that has developed and changed dramactically since the birth of cinema. Films, to begin with, were concerned almost exclusively with capturing a version of ‘real life’ on film, of showing moving images as reality. This is most clearly the case for the Lumiere brothers who pioneered the idea of a video camera and who documented Parisian life through the lens of cameras.
  5. 5. Exiting the Factory • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO0EkMKfgJI
  6. 6. Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (The Lumière Brothers, 1895)
  7. 7. Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (The Lumière Brothers, 1895) Even this film footage, presented as real life through a camera lens, provoked reactions from the audience. What could those reactions have been? How might the spectators of the time reacted to this film? Why? Here are some of the Lumière Brothers’ other early works. What kind of reaction do we have watching? Why? What kind of reaction might have audiences then have had? Why?
  8. 8. The Great Train Robbery (1903) The Great Train Robbery is a 1903 American Western film written, produced, and directed by Edwin S. Porter. 12 minutes long, it is considered a milestone in film making, expanding on Porter's previous work Life of an American Fireman. The film used a number of innovative techniques including cross cutting, double exposure composite editing, camera movement and on location shooting. Cross-cuts were a new, sophisticated editing technique. Some prints were also hand colored in certain scenes. • The film was directed and photographed by Edwin S. Porter, a former Edison Studios cameraman. Actors in the movie included Alfred C. Abadie, Broncho Billy Anderson and Justus D. Barnes, although there were no credits. Though a Western, it was filmed in Milltown, New Jersey. The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
  9. 9. Emotional response The emotional response that some audiences would have had to The Great Train Robbery are drastically different to ours. Why is that?
  10. 10. Emotion response What do you define emotion as now? For the most part we’ll be dealing with cognitive responses. The mental process of knowing, including aspects The mental process of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgement, that which comes to be known as through judgement, that which comes to be known as through perception, reasoning or intuition; knowledge. perception, reasoning or intuition; knowledge. Can our emotional response be different to someone else’s if we watch the same film film? Why?
  11. 11. Why people share emotional responses Film Studies and Cultural Studies Film Studies, influenced by Cultural Studies is increasingly likely to centre on local, small scale and precise groups of people who share, perhaps, some social or political ‘Formation’. Their behaviour both as individuated spectators and as a collective of people forming an audience is likely to be understood if we respect and try to understand the importance of particular life experiences and social; attitudes they bring with them to the viewing situation. What does this mean? In your own words, try to explain how we can be sure that people share emotional responses.
  12. 12. Why people share emotional responses Groups of people may share a social or political group/formation. You can be an individual with a specific and unique response, but you can still ‘belong’ to a group of similar people as an audience. We need to be able to understand and appreciate both. You = cry at people who don’t win on quiz shows. Audience = doesn’t cry. Still aligned as an audience because of your appreciation for that quiz show.
  13. 13. Spectatorship A spectator is an individual member of an audience. Spectatorship is an important concept in film theory. Traditional models of audience response tend to treat viewers, readers or listeners as groups, spectatorship study suggests that the film builds a specific relationship with every individual who experiences it. Rather than being concerned with media effects, spectatorship study focuses on understanding the ways films produce pleasure in their viewers.
  14. 14. Responses Our response to a film draws on the whole of the self, a self that includes: A social self who can make meaning in ways not very different from other with a similar ideological formation A cultural self who makes particular intertextual references (to other films, other kinds of images and sound) based on the bank of material s/he possesses A private self who carried the memories of his/her own experiences and who may find person significance in a film in ways very different from others A desiring self who brings conscious and unconscious energies and intensities to the film event that have little to do with the film’s ‘surface’ content
  15. 15. Responses A cultural self who makes particular intertextual references (to other films, other kinds of images and sound) based on the bank of material s/he possesses Use of celebrities and the jokes about them in Family Guy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlVUKQ96VxI Shrek fighting using ‘Bullet Time’ http://moviesimpsons.tumblr.com/ http://www.totalfilm.com/features/100-greatest-simpsons-moviereferences/harry-potter-and-the-philosopher-s-stone Tarantino references http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6860507/every-pop-culture-reference-fromtarantino-movies
  16. 16. Responses Our response to a film draws on the whole of the self, a self that includes: A social self who can make meaning in ways not very different from others with a similar ideological formation. http://cli.ps/sP6wn http://cli.ps/uWp3L http://cli.ps/MxCyj http://cli.ps/KdPx Write down your responses to these clips. Emotions, reactions, thoughts, opinions. Do we share any?
  17. 17. Responses A private self who carried the memories of his/her own experiences and who may find person significance in a film in ways very different from others Films which are especially brash, obvious or shallow in theme are unlikely to provoke a strong personal response. Action films, for example, are not usually something which someone could find a significant response in. (By significant we mean anything other than the ‘basic’ instant emotions of gratification.) Films which are more subtle, dealing in themes, often universal ones but on a micro level, are more likely to provoke a personal response because they allow for a degree of interpretation or interaction. A specific response may be triggered by something specific in, or suggested by, the film, but this is entirely down to the spectator.
  18. 18. Responses A desiring self who brings conscious and unconscious energies and intensities to the film event that have little to do with the film’s ‘surface’ content. What do you think this means? Can you rephrase it? Can you think of any examples in films that you’d be willing to share?
  19. 19. Emotional response and Filmmakers have always attempted to gain some sort of emotional response pleasure for their part spectators have always responded from spectators, and emotionally to film. More than that, spectators have always attended the cinema in order to have their emotions aroused and with the expectation that this will take place. This is, after all, a basic function of storytelling. Stories gain emotional responses from listeners, readers or viewers. Effective storytelling encourages us to feel human emotions by allowing us to sympathise, empathise or even identify with characters and their narrative experiences. As spectators (and as readers) we presumably find this process to be pleasurable or we would not return time after time to films (and stories), but in what ways is it pleasurable?
  20. 20. In what ways is it In groups, think of ways in which a spectator could find pleasurable? a film pleasurable. (You may want to think of different genres of films to give you ideas here) Laughter/escapism Mystery Happy Justice Lust Emotional ending Nostalgia Adrenaline challenge Ambiguity True stories Intrigue Twists Challenge your Inspirational Desirability intelligence
  21. 21. Deconstruction • This theory challenges the assumption that a text has an unchanging, unified meaning that is true for all readers and also the idea that the author is the source of any text’s meaning. The approach suggests that there is a multiplicity of legitimate interpretations of a text. • Theories such as this, developed particularly during the 1970s, tended to emphasise the viewer’s control over the creation of the film being watched.
  22. 22. Deconstruction • However, other theories have attempted to demonstrate how the spectator is fixed in place by the text (or by the system of values within the text) so that audiences are manipulated by filmmakers into seeing things, and therefore thinking, in certain ways. • The tension between concepts of the reader/spectator as on the one hand active and in control, and on the other hand passive and as a victim, lies at the heart of ideas regarding the experience of spectatorship, or the process that is taking place as we view films.
  23. 23. Reception Theory • Reception theory hoped to be a more sophisticated approach to studying audiences, concentrating more on those who consume a text than the text itself. • When a text is encoded (watched & understood; note, only possible for active not passive, viewers) certain ideologies are dominant in an audience member, a spectator. • The audience decodes this message in multiple ways and this is dependent on the background of the person.
  24. 24. Reception Theory When a text is encoded (watched & understood) certain ideologies are dominant in an audience member, a spectator. The audience decodes this message in multiple ways and this is dependent on the background of the person.
  25. 25. • Reception Theory Reception Theory states that an audience may respond in one of three ways based on their reading of a film and how they ‘decode’ the meanings / ideologies placed in to the text by the filmmaker. • Preferred Reading – taking an intended reading of the film identifying and agreeing with all messages encoded in to the text • Negotiated Reading – the viewer identifies most of the meanings encoded in to the text but does not agree with, or take the full meaning • Oppositional Reading – the viewer does not identify the meanings encoded in to the text and their own personal ideologies / experiences form an alternate meaning within the text
  26. 26. Reception Theory • Reception theory dictates that a film does not have any meaning without the spectator . Meaning is only generated when the spectator views. the text and ‘decodes’ it. • This makes good logical sense, after all, how can there be a meaning without it being seen?  What is the difference between ‘Meaning’ and ‘Response’?   Meaning deals with themes and specific scenarios Response is an all-encompassing interaction with the film as a whole.
  27. 27. • • Reception Theory Reception Theory states that an audience may respond in one of three ways based on their reading of a film and how they ‘decode’ the meanings / ideologies placed in to the text by the filmmaker. Preferred Reading – taking an intended reading of the film identifying and agreeing with all messages encoded in to the text
  28. 28. • • Reception Theory Reception Theory states that an audience may respond in one of three ways based on their reading of a film and how they ‘decode’ the meanings / ideologies placed in to the text by the filmmaker. Negotiated Reading – the viewer identifies most of the meanings encoded in to the text but does not agree with, or take the full meaning
  29. 29. • • Reception Theory Reception Theory states that an audience may respond in one of three ways based on their reading of a film and how they ‘decode’ the meanings / ideologies placed in to the text by the filmmaker. Oppositional Reading – the viewer does not identify the meanings encoded in to the text and their own personal ideologies / experiences form an alternate meaning within the text

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