Blog 3: Effects and Conditions of Reception
Cultural competence is the awareness of ones own cultural worldview and the attitudes towards different cultures,without world cultural competence = passive audience. The representation of Brokeback mountain can be positive or negative due to issues of stereotyping or homophobia, A white homosexual british man in his 30’s will have a different reading to a white christian american in his 50s. There are different rules for different social groups.
Effects are the texts that can emphasise in which audiences receive media messages e.g how they react to their reading,listening and viewing and what audiences do with that experience. Brokeback Mountain is also a good commentary on sexual taboos and how uptight and repressed most people (at least in America) still are.
Children should be protected from exposure to violent and explicit materials because they can be unduly influenced by it. The argument presupposes that the audience is passive and not able to discern between the right and wrong and that they will therefore react to the text and possibly act out its content.
The effects model of audience suggests that susceptible members of the audience will act out extreme scenarios shown in a film in a copycat fashion. Clockwork orange (UK -1971) supposedly set off a number of violent attacks when it was originally released (but failed to do so when re-released in 2000).
Conditions of Reception are how you watch a product. You are more likely to go to the cinema to see a film that you really want to see than to see it at home. Brokeback mountain is a 15 so no one younger than the age of 15 can see/rent/buy this film. This tells us that it may contain moderate language, violence,sex and nudity. The way we understand a product is affected on how warm/cold we are and how comfortable we are sat. Wether we are fully awake or tired and how hungry or thirsty we are also for the people we are with,they are more likely to talk with friends at home than in a cinema and you are more likely distracted on a date for example if you are a 16 year old female who likes shopping and your partner is an 18 year old male who likes cars and football you will read a text differently and will have different outcomes because not everyone likes the same thing,especially if your partner chose the film you wasn’t interested in. The more you already know about this film through a trailer the more you will be drawn in.Audiences will not pay full attention if they are wanting to go to the toilet.
Blog 2: Media Literacy,Pre/Post viewing and Frameworks of Interpretation
The more Media Literate you are the more you acknowledge films. If you are not media literate you will not know certain reasons and expectations of a film. for example someone who has read the Harry Potter books will be more media literate than someone who just goes to see the films, because they will know about the characters more and they will know more about the background knowledge such as J.K Rowling only wanted a British cast and the location of the films. You can be more media literate if you have previously been learning about a topic, such as media students and camera technology. They will know why shots have been used for that genre and what specific shots they are,that we are easier to identify what the director is trying to show, compared to someone who doesn’t know at all. If you are a fan of a film you can be more media literate because you will know about the actors lifes,previous films they have been in and the films you seem to be drawn to due to your favourite genre.
Another example is a maths student, an English and an art student as they would take different meanings of a film. The maths student will take in what the film has to offer, but try to resolve the situation before the next scene,when it came to the creative side of filming the art student will look at the setting and lighting and the English student will focus on the dialogue,emotion and the characters.
Pre viewing is everything we experience in our lifes before we see the film. There are structures in society that follow certain patterns or rules. Initially,most interest was centered on the use of language,language was essential in communicating the ideology of the beliefs of a culture. Your gender,age,religion,race and education can easily affect your individualism and that can affect how we view a film and how we interpret meanings, if you have not experienced something that another audience member has you can have different perspectives for example on Brokeback Mountain,A homosexual male could take a negative reaction because the characters are disgusted in homosexuality and this person has been bullied all his life for his decisions, compared to someone who is homophobic and is brought up in a homophobic environment without the right understanding could agree on those films and that everything that happened then is right, and that’s how we should be treated in the now and so forth.
Post viewing is when you come out with your own meaning after the film,that can easily be changed when you discuss it with your friends,read reviews,look at the DVD extras and Interviews. By listening to what someone has said could change the first initial meaning you took from the film. For example a middle aged woman who watched the film and didn’t like the male bond could have her interpretation widened or be impacted by a female teenager talking about her views and it is then either adjudicated into ones persuasion or it enhances the same settlement. Basically spectators are decoding of the text in order to create the best meaning.
“Ideology may be seen as the dominant set of ideas and values which inform any one society or culture,but which are imbued in its social behaviour and representative texts at a level that is not necessarily obvious or consious.”
Frameworks of interpretation-SCHEMAS are the formations that systematizes our understanding and presumptions of whatever topic that is used for building information.
The genre and narrative are frameworks of interpretation as they keep you engaged,intriged and active, keeping you guessing. Narrative is important as the code and conventions without them together you wouldn’t understand. Cognitive theory is the complex learning process that you build from an early stage, to which you train yourself and learn how to respond. You undertake an action that reinforces a positive mind and into achievement. For example as a child you wouldn’t know to catch a ball when it is thrown at you to the face, but you start to understand it has a negative reaction and that it hurts you. You then understand to block the ball with your hands before it reaches your face and then finally as the grown up is helping your brain work to recognise,process and place the stimulus you then find it comes possible to read and learn the responses of your action to then catch the ball and throw it back. As children are passive audiences they are forced into this passive role and they can’t process what the text or meaning is until they find out through cognition or post structuralism.
Blog 1: Active Spectatorship and preferred readings
In my four blogs I will explain the understanding relationship between audiences and films. The film I have chose for my main example is Brokeback mountain,being a familiar film for me to discuss.
Preferred readings are a “way of seeing” a film as audience reception.
A preferred audience is when the creator gives their outcome and the audience fully accept it/ they find it relatively easy to align the messages and attitudes of whom created the text.
A negotiated audience will take the producers message and question about it and will want to interpret the message differently.
An oppositional audience will take the producers message and fully neglect it and create their own response. We can use this example with Brokeback mountain.
P- No matter what sex you are or the different background your from,you can fall in love.
N- Confines the expectations of what it is to be a man.
O- Two unfaithful, untrustworthy men living separate lives,playing out with marriages,children and jobs as they reunite for brief liaisons on camping trips in remote settings over the course of 20 years.
The ‘uses and gratifications’ model suggests that audience
use films for entertainment, as a source of social interaction, to get a sense of their identity and to fain information In other words the audience question and analyse media texts than just consuming them..Uses and gratifications theory gives the audience a little more power and sees them more as active consumers here people are not helpless consumers of the mass media, rather, they are able to use the media to show their behavior, emphasising the uses to which audience put even the most unlikely texts. If we use Brokeback Mountain to this theory, members of the audience may be:
Entertained- By the drama and romance.
Discuss- Many men who do not identify as gay or even queer, but who nevertheless have sex with other men, two straight guys who fall in love, heterosexuals forming a bond.
Consider- How different readers take the story is a reflection of their own personal, Physical sexuality or just human emotion, values, attitudes, hang-ups.
Learn- Forbidden sides of human love in 1963.
Passive consumers are the audience accepting what the text contains.
Active consumers are the audience that are able to read and interpret media texts for themselves.
Reception study is seen as active. It suggests that every media text has a meaning which is not obvious or transparenmt but hidden within the text itself,in order to understand the meaning of a text the audience must actively extract that meaning from how they interpret this meaning will be affected by their individual culturalbackground and life experience, for Brokeback mountain they would talk about the story and they would go into detail of why they fell in love and the reasons of cheating,poverty and work,the suffering of dissapointment in each other and the nudity also weather this story is not about love and friendship but power and sexual urge. Audiences will also question about why the characters didn’t chose to stay together.
Audience Theory for American history X
In American History X there are different theories that understand the audience reactions towards the film. One of the theories of how an audience responds to the film is Active and Passive Consumers. An active audience would be able to read and interpret media whilst a Passive audience just accepts what the text contains/dominant ideology. An example of an Active audience is the uses and gratifications theory. This gives the audience more power and they will use the film to gain certain gratifications such as interaction, entertainment, information and so forth… In other words the audience will analyse the film instead of just being injected with the products basic story line. If we use this theorem in the curb stomp scene, each people will have different opinions, such as the sense of “what the..?” Because Derek could have just shot the victim and they would think if Derek actually had any bullets left and why was he insisting on being brootal and witty about it (he is happy with the outcome until the police cuff him) because we want to know the full story we make add different pieces into our head like a puzzle. Another opinion would be interacting with the character such as shouting at the screen to stop Derek or to sit there and laugh. This theory can be based on Negotiated readings with different races such as an old African American to an old white American, showing opposite feelings and views towards the scene because they interpret the meaning affected by their individual cultural background and life experience. Symbolism and reception studies tie a knot when the film was released. Only the people who would understand the history and events involved with the Nazi’s could interpret the film further and then would understand the film more, but for the audience who wouldn’t know the information would have just seen the poster and just looked at a skin head man holding his chest with a tattoo on himself (wouldn’t have been obvious and only a hidden message within the text itself to extract a meaning from it). Another example of this is most of the audience won’t probably realise that they need to pay attention to the ending as there is a speech on racial acceptance. This shows we don’t respond in the same way. We can use these examples to describe how children should be protected from exposure to violent and explicit material incase they are influenced by the film. They would be passive because they wouldn’t be able to decide between right and wrong and therefore react to the text and act out its content due to the fact that the film is an 18. Children would also be active because they will choose to watch the film under parental guidance. A lot of underage people do this because it’s sorta like Chinese whispers, so you seem to follow the crowd from the information told (whether it’s real or not) and end up watching the film to see what it’s really like. An active audience is the most predictable and easily noticed because of cultural competence and participatory reading; this means that because we can communicate and interact easier in this modern age, we are more likely to be involved with the text. For example using the internet means we are more able to understand other cultures.
An example of a passive audience theorem is the Hypodermic needle theory, meaning that the audience consumes the film without questions with a mostly dominant reading. So the Director “Tony Kaye” encoded the film with an intended message that will directly be received and fully accepted by the audience. The message he gave was the use of Violence. So he would want you to be affected in a way that your shocked, constantly disturbed, leave you completely numb and uncomfortable. He would also want you to have the immediate action of putting your hand over your mouth or eyes. So if we break down the Curb stomp scene we will realise that it is one of those images you cannot get out of your head. Literally scars you.
Fan culture can describe any effect of the media. The audience can clearly stereotype and represent Derek’s character as a Nazi white supremacist. There is bound to be a very (and by that I mean tiny) part of the audience who have been introduced to white power that will feel to have white pride. They could also copy the film by listening to thrash metal and wanting to cause offence and trouble.”I like to rid the earth of its impurities ad play chess (in which I always choose white and I always win)”. The uses and gratifications can explain why the target audience would be based in America. Americans seemed to have held a high majority of believes and enforced ideas before the film was made and you can now see an entire difference with America combining race or they would have never wanted a black president.
How has ‘American History X’ been constructed to appeal to a specific audience?
American History X is rated R for graphic brutal violence (gore of death scenes and attacks), strong language (racial discrimination and cursing), strong sexuality (homosexual rape) and nudity (sex scene at the beginning of the film).
Whilst some may consider it to be monstrous and disturbing, it is in its framework and cannot be measured to take away from the film, just as it is in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ as its still relevant to today’s society. It is a dark film that doesn’t flinch away subject matter with reception study.
The film is emotionally bold, shocking and stands out to everyone.
American History X shows the audience examples of failed lives, bad and good outcomes, sympathy for characters, in-depth illustration and representation of mixed cultures, factors of immigration results, and multiple scenes repeated to add the tension and build up. Uses of Nazi symbolic references throughout the film.
The most effective way this film has addressed an audience is the use of slow motion (used with orchestrations).
Scenes such as The mother walking towards the house and kneeling on the floor, when Danny drops to the floor as his brother is getting arrested, when Derek falls to floor in the prison showers, when Derek is taking a shower at the flat, the store breaking with the staff woman, when Danny gets shot etc. Most of the black and white scenes and slow motion are put together to show us the negative parts towards the film as we start to understand the disruption we also feel like we are there so we become direct and active- the director did this so we learn our own lessons in life and that we gain information from the film.
A culturally aware audience can value the study of the belief systems which the American society is based upon, as it academically dissects them rather than taking them as true for granted. Without being culturally aware, an audience may feel offended by the film. But what we realise in the film is that its focus is on the fabrications of a family and how one thing has lead to consequences and redemption.
Tony Kaye establishes a connection with the audience. Modes of address are dependent on the particular medium often working with an image of the audience and what it wants. American History X is a self-reflexive film that draws in on racial discrimination; therefore a focus on audience is valuable, as the medium must work to satisfy the audience. When the audience assemble the significance from a media text using frameworks already present in culture, it is only by understanding the meanings constructed by the audiences that we can understand how that cultural form functions within the larger culture.
We know something bad is going to happen when the music rises (Composed by Anne Dudley) Songs such as “raiders” and “storm clouds gathering” are the most effective and most powerful in the film, gives you an emotional feeling that draws you into the film which most people would cry at.
“People look at me and see my older brother” and “he would have served life if I had testified” the use of typing on the screen to make us feel even more involved (inclusive addressee) because we feel like Danny is letting us in on a secret and puts power in the hands of the viewer, However because the director has inserted different opinions and meaning does not mean it is obvious in the text it could also means that the audience may not read these messages or even agree with them like with films such as ‘Fight Club’ and ‘The Matrix’.
The target audience for this film would be intended for Americans before worldwide, the audience would most likely be straight males, in a low to middle income salary between the ages of 17-30. However cultural competence will give different readings to different people. Especially people who are not from America. The majority of the targeted audience would most likely be students because they have totally different attitudes, lifestyle and values and they would have found out about the explicit content and have then wanted to watch the film. The film is gender biased and male dominated so it would influence males to watch it more. The codes and conventions show that the target audience is male as it’s a crime drama and full of action and violence drawing together the codes and conventions of each genre to appeal to the specific audience.
The film addresses the audience by being able to speak directly to their intended audience and we know this from the use of dialogue which guides us through the story but we still have the sense of accomplishment when grasping the narratives twists and turns.
American History X is constructed to appeal to an educated audience, as it references media literate material, they can relate and analyse the film in which a less educated person will take less meaning and would have struggled along with the film if there were no narrations. It also contains certain references, which is essential to know prior watching the film (White supremacists).
The film is set in Los Angeles, California, USA, which can suggest our target audience.
Within this film I feel there are two main codes of address, the first being informative, throughout the whole film we are drip fed information on the Vinyard family, what it was like in prisons, what its like to be in a gang. This has a huge effect on the audience; they have a greater understanding of the film and the reality of racism. Also highlighting several issues still in modern society.
The other mode of address is, We are privileged observers when it comes to scenes such as Danny being shot and finding out what happened in the past so we put it all together in our heads and come to our own conclusion, We see everything that the other characters don’t know such as Danny’s essay. It gives the audience the satisfaction of feeling involved, which plays a big part in the cinema.
The narrative drives the film and the story is told with Danny’s voiceover to connect to the audience (even though we know the main character is Derek)
Derek uses narration when in prison so that Danny hears out Derek’s explanation on why he’s changed, we also understand this through camera shots, shots used such as the camera looking down on Danny when his brother is giving him advice.
Close ups were used a lot in the film to express feelings such as putting the masks on when breaking into the store, when Derek takes a shower. The camera also focuses on the other character whilst another character is talking to make us feel like we are part of the film.
The film leaves you with the biggest feeling of sympathy and the question of will Derek go back to his old self now his brother has been killed? By blaming himself.
“He’s just a boy. Without a father”.
American History X: Content Analysis.
American History X is a 1998 American crime/drama film which was directed by tony Kaye. The film wasn’t created from a book and is one of the films to see at least once in your life. American History X was up for 9 nominations and won twice (best performance and best actor for Edward Norton) the budget was $20 million and the gross revenue is coming up to $25 million.
The film follows Derek vineyard (Edward Norton) a former neo-Nazi, tattooed, skinhead outlaw that is left with no choice, but to set out to stop his younger brother from following his path (using the deliverance of redemption).Derek serves three years in prison for killing two people (also injuring one) who had attempted to steal his truck. We find out through his younger brother; Danny’s voiceover (Edward Furlong) that Derek was a leader of a white supremacist gang that committed crimes in the local neighborhood. We later on come to realise that Derek’s gang reforms and grows bigger whilst in prison and they await his return/release for a party.
When Derek reunites with the family he notices Danny was influenced by his past actions, so he has to make him understand the rights and wrongs by explaining the consequences in prison, such as rape and the good factors of making friends with different races.
The movie leads us to believe Derek chose the wrong path due to his own accord
From his fathers death (killed in a black neighborhood whilst doing his job as a fireman), but we come to the conclusion that it was his father to blame for prejudiced negative opinions on races that aren’t white.
“Has anything you’ve done made your life better?”: The major quote of the film that Dr Sweeney tells Derek in prison that makes Derek change his ways, Derek also decides to confide in Dr Sweeney after being informed about Danny’s ambition to follow Derek’s past.
The title American History X is referred to Danny’s history class with Dr Sweeney after writing a paper on Hitler’s autobiography. Danny then has to write about the events of his brothers past or he will be expelled.
Crime drama is a sub-genre that shows us the focus on criminals and their motives, in depth realization of the characters, the structure of dramatic texts and modes of production. Crime drama shows suspense, fate, twists and usually portrayals of real life crimes. It is usually contrasted with action for conflict and is based on the theme of the law enforcement and the legal system.
The narrative structure
American History X is a non-linear, realist, closed ending narrative. The film can be confusing and the only way we understand the film better is because we have scenes in black and white. Tony Kaye does this to show the past or memory- flashbacks that explain more in detail of how Derek became a skinhead and also the story of his time in Jail.
The film covers racism from every view and it makes the audience feel racist in the film.
Death of Danny(Edward Furlong)- an unexpected, but realistic ending that no one saw coming, either an excuse to make a dramatic ending or to prove that changing your ways doesn’t mean forgive and forget, also that solutions may never work out in the end. There is also the fact that the black gang member wouldn’t let Danny get away for standing up to him. It was a shock to the audience because you think the black boy can’t fight his own battles in the film (when asking for help at the basketball court and the scene of the unfinished drive by)
Death of the Black Gang Member (Stealing of truck/Curb Scene)-. Derek Scapegoats black people by attempting to make them bear the blame for the difficulties and failings of others. Derek shows negative impacts that are one side over simplified prejudicial portrayals of black people, by using unfavorable opinions to treat them different because of past beliefs. He does this in an obvious deliberate way so the film has to show his character in a bad light or the media will use Derek’s judgment as the blame and influence for daily life crimes (from passive viewers), by using this scene the public will have a natural reaction and have a preferred response that racist discrimination is bad because Derek brutally murdered someone who didn’t deserve to die. The black man attempted to steal Derek’s truck and due to the colour of the victims skin this was the accused result of Derek’s dads death. Derek forces the black man to put his mouth on a curb and then stamps on his head.
This scene is shown a few times but with missing parts of the actual head stomping action to bring up tension to the audience whether Edward Norton’s character kills the man.
We only see the scene after we find out Derek has had trouble with the man before when gaining territory at the basket ball court (the man elbows Derek in the face). “Nigger, you just fucked with the wrong bull! You should’ve learned your lesson on the fuckin’ basketball court! But you fuckin’ monkey’s never get the message. My father gave me that truck motherfucker! You ever shoot at fireman? You come here and shoot at my family? I’m gonna teach you a real lesson now motherfucker. Put your fuckin’ mouth on the curb.”
The two conference scenes- Derek’s argument at the table with his family: the dialogue used in this scene is explicit and with his mothers powerful quote. ”What did I do to you?” She is lead to smoking and coughing throughout the film and Derek doesn’t seem to notice that his actions led her to breakdown; there can be more than one possible reading of both scenes whether being active or passive and being for or against Derek in the arguments. The second conference is when Derek persuades and confronts people to start his own white supremacist group, so they can control and take over the neighborhood, they trash a store that has ethnic staff and there are disturbing scenes of pouring food over a woman face.
The rape Scene- Derek gets jumped by other white supremacists, I wouldn’t say they were true supremacists after dealing with mixed races, and they showed a fake profile. The scene made the audience more in favor of mixed races and also have sympathy on Derek and we come to realise he is a good person (he was fed the wrong opinions from his father). It was disturbing and effective to draw the attention of prisons and gang members. The scene led to the audience’s awareness of their worldview on prison life and gave them an attitude towards cultural differences.
Derek and Lamont’s relationship- The audience see this as relevant on the media for two races to combine friendship no matter what situation (such as Derek’s racism). The unlikely friendship is usually noticed in a prison or in the army. The film makes us see it in a positive and participatory light. “I’m thinking the only reason I’m getting outta here in one piece is you” and “Just remember, in here, you the nigga. Not me.”