All 20 entries tagged Media Studies

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September 13, 2008

The Production Process

The Production Process

Return to Advanced Production

Whilst you are making your project you should be making a record of what you are learning. Whether you are working on a moving image project a web project or aa audio project you will need to be keeping a record about any problems you find learnng the relevant software, any criticisms of the software.

You must keep a record of the different tools and features of the software by making print-screens as you go along. The project is word counted so it is advisable to use images to illustrate what you have learned. This can save words and be far more exaplanatory. I suggest to my students that they keep a table open in a Word document with two columns. In one column  insert the printscreens as you r project develops  and in the other column  provide some annotations.

This method allows you to make a brief summary of what you have learned about the software and frees up word count for areas such as the industrial context of your project and also creates space to allow for more effective feedback when researching the responses of your target audience.

September 04, 2008

Preferred Meaning / Preferred Reading

Preferred Meaning / Preferred Reading

In media and cultural studies the idea of a preferred meaning that is embedded within a media text came from Stuart Hall then director of Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCS) at Birmngham University.

Media studies recognises that no media text is just "neutral", instead it is recognised that each media text carries a range of meanings that have been encoded into the text either deliberately or at a more unconscious level. The meanings are embedded by using a range of technical codes such as camera angles which can often imply power relationships. Freqently low angle angle shots of a person speaking to a superior come from an 'over the shoulder shot' where the audience is literally looking up at the superior person from the perspective of the inferior person.

The BBC Newsroom in News 24 usually has two presenters one male one female which signifies gender equality. Sports and busioness reporters, editors and correspondents are a roughly equal mixture of men and women. Women who are pregnant often appear as presenters. This never happened on TV at all until the 1980s and even then very rarely. Before that  pregnancy was  pretty much a taboo subject despite the fact that over 50 % of the population is female and a large proportion of this 50+ % become pregnant at some time in their lives. This reinforces the message of gender equality through re-presentation of people in what can be considered as a normal balance of life. The newsroom also has a good range of different ethnicities represented. Where there is a single anchor person presenting the news the balance is kept between male and female. 

BBC iPlayer has a range of different News programmes available. Check them out to see what the representational balance is between male and female.

  • News at One
  • News at Six
  • News at Ten

The BBC newsroom can be understood by viewers as a representation of a media institution that values equality of opportunity and meritocracy (people getting into a job on the basis of their abilities) in a society that is cosmopolitan and heterogeneous (mixed). Because the media institution is the British Broadcasting Corporation and is funded from millions of licence fee payers viewers and also has a global reach it conveys a prefferred meaning about the nature of British Society itself.  The BBC intends that a viewer whether British or not will form an impression of Britain being a liberal mixed society and egalitarian society. Whether the viewers "reads" the text this way is another matter.  Media and Cultural Studies have developed anothe idea called a negotiated reading.

The mise en scene of the Newsroom and the way the presenters are lit and dressed all underpin these re-presentations. We can therefore think of a media text being encoded with certain messages.

September 03, 2008

TV Drama: Textual Analysis

TV Drama: Genres


This posting is targeted towards AS Media students on the OCR course although many others will hopefully find it useful.  For those doing this course the key aim is to develop textual analytical skills particularly in relation to the moving image. This should becomes developed by understanding the the concept of representation and its relationship to the way a media text is constructed. This means that the focus of this unit is not about the genre of TV drama in general and the large numbers of sub-genres which have developed within this. There is no need to know anything about the history of the development of TV Drama which is of course an important issue in its own right.

The fundamental focus of this unit for exam purposes is understanding the relationship between how meaning within a text is constructed though the use of sounds, clothing, lighting, performance and camera angles, and tpyes of shot used. Much of TV Drama uses the same techniques for creating moving image as film. Core differences are production values which are constrained because of costs. The use of extremly expensive sets and models along with casts of thousands or even extensive use of very expensive special effects which are seen in Action-Adventure Films is simply not possible in TV. Another major difference between films made for cinema release compared to made for TV films is the way in which the characters perform more centrally on the screen. The action tends to take place here because many millions of people still have squareish TVs rather than widescreen TVs.  Increasingly TV programmes are designed for widescreen format and if you are watching on an older TV you will lose some of the credits. Having a digital box there will be a "wide mode" on the handset that will change the proportions of the image.

In order to fully understand how a preferred meaning is created by the makers of a media text you will need to understand the concept of media representation.  Remember the term media means being in the middle or inbetween things. People and places you see on TV or in film are re-presentations of a real person or event if it is a a documentary or imagined in a particular way if it is fictional like a feature film or TV drama. When you see people on screen for example how you see them  is constructed using technical conventions such as lighting and camera shots / angles to create a preferred meaning by the makers.

TV Drama: Textual Analysis & Representation

A major shift is the course this year is an increased emphasis upon issues of representation. Areas covered by this terms include gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, class & status, physical & mental ability / disability, regional identity, rural / non-rural, Britain / Rest of the World.

Moving Image Grammar & Conventions & the Creation of Meaning

Analyse and discuss the grammar and conventions of the moving image medium in relation to TV Drama in order to discuss the representation of individuals, groups, events or places. We will be learning to understand the structure and visual language embodied in moving images. This is a language which has evolved primarily in relation to film as this media form preceded TV as a media technology.

Textual Analysis Hub links  

Please note that all this work is based upon film and it tends to have a focus on Action-Adventure Films as well as this was the old specification. However the basic information about camera shots framing and sound is the same.

For more detailed work on the shot please follow this link

For more detailed work on Camera Movement / Mobile Framing please follow the link 

For more details about the use of sound including some YouTube examples follow this link

For discussion and YouTube Extracts about mise en scene please follow this link

For a revision check list of things to remember in a grid form to practise doing textual analysis at home please follow this link

For glossary guides to explanations of the terms that you will be using there are three Film & Media glossaries spilt into alphabetical sections as follows. Where you see entries with just a green hyperlink this will take you to a fuller entry.

European Cinema and Media Glossary A-E

European Cinema and Media Glossary  Ed-Mo

Media and Film Studies Glossary N-Z

Here is a Quick revision guide to technical terms  using the work of Media

Here is some Kinoeye work on genre. It is primarily written about film but the key elements of genre hold good across different media forms. An Introduction to Film Genre.


August 31, 2008

Happy–Go–Lucky(2008): Mike Leigh

Happy-Go-Lucky(2008): Mike Leigh

Return to Mike Leigh Page

Return to Contemporary British Cinema Hub

Trailer for Happy-Go-Lucky from YouTube 


I have just got the DVD of this film and sadly I wasn't too impressed despite generally liking the films of Mike Leigh. I have included a short synopsis of the reviews of other critics reactions to the film's theatrical release and have saved my own brief review until the end.

Synopis and Comment

Mike Leigh's latest film Happy-Go-Lucky is now on general release. It has proved successful in the recent Berlin film festival with Sally Hawkins who plays the lead role of Poppy picking up a Silver Bear. The film is promoted as a comedy drama which focuses upon the character of Poppy a London based 30 year old single primary school teacher. Poppy is a a cosmopolitan urbanite who takes life lightly but seriously. In fact she is "absurdly cheery" (McNab) in the face of life's minor set-backs such as getting her bicycle stolen. (Surely not a reference to Bicycle Thieves.)

Despite this 'comic' (idiotic?) side to her and the ability to be comic in the face of adversity is balanced with her commitment to good teaching and a stated concern about issues such as children 'playing too much on video-games' (Hopefully Leigh isn't contributing to moral panics about children's media consumption here). 

Happ go Lucky 1

Dave Calhoun in a Sight and Sound feature (May 08) has commented that Poppy, the central character of the film, needs to be analysed in relation to the Zeitgeist when as viewers we consider her actions and behaviour. He quotes an interview with Mike Leigh:

I don't think Happy-Go-Lucky is any less political than my other films... its as much about dealing with life and coping with issues as anything I've made.

If it is a Zeitgeist film Leigh would argue it represents a humanistic solidarity with fellow beings at a time when in a post-political (in a party sense) world there is little else one can do. After all it's hard to rise above the cynicism and disappointment displayed by an older man of late sixties in the bank in front of me expressing his horror at how the banks had been bailed out by a Labour government of all things. Well Poppy is clearly a survivor in a topsy turvy world. Calhoun describes Poppy as:

...a modern, urban woman, as comfortable with her friends as with her family, able to balance pleasure with work, and confidant in being single while retaining romantic ideals. 

Importantly Calhoun is pointing out that underneath Poppy's extremely lively 'in yer face' character there is an issue of whether she is repressing something or trying to compensate for a fundamental insecurity.  Many critics have described this as a comedy and then argued that this is a change of heart from Leigh who is often held up as a "miserablist".

Leigh comments that the structure is different to his other films in that there is really no parallel narrative unfolding:

The only thing that makes this film unique apart from two tiny scenes, there's no parallel action. The entire action focuses on what's happening to Poppy, whereas even in Naked there's a lot going on with other characters.

This change in narrative structuring is a significant break from Leigh's normal working practices where he tends to work in a semi-improvised way with the actors who are often only introduced to the turns in events in the story as they would happen to the character in real life.  It is an important break for as Leigh points out:

Rather than a causal narrative, here I'm more concerned with a cumulative narrative that evokes an atmosphere and evokes Poppy's spirit. 

The review in Sight and Sound by Geoffrey McNab makes the important comparison between the picture postcard London promoted by Working Title produced films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral or Notting Hill. Unlike these films Leigh notes the racism and also the racial and ethnic complexity of London. This makes a film which is giving a more honest representation of Britain rather than being a film which is a cultured British pearl for the American market, this is 'True Grit' one might say.

McNab makes a comparison between the permanently ebullient Poppy and Vera Drake in Leigh's film Vera Drake. For him there is a certain näivety yet ability to empathise with people common to both characters. At the same time Poppy appears to want to avoid responsibility. This is sharply pointed up when her pregnant sister Helen who is less than satisfied with her lot pressurises Poppy about marriage and a family: Poppy though, is having none of it. This would appear to be the Zeitgeist, if you can't change much better to think about the present than the future. Is this a Leigh critique of the postmodern condition?

Happy go lucky 4

Not everybody agrees with David Calhoun's interpretations of Mike Leigh and his approaches to this film and others in his oeuvre. The 'Letter of the Month' in the July issue of Sight and Sound is scathingly critical of Leigh:

Happy Go Lucky is about as accurate a study of British society as Four Weddings and a Funeral (David Secombe Sight & Sound July 2008 p 96)

Secombe continues arguing that Leigh is a middle class film maker making films for the middle classes. He bases the argument on the notions that Poppy is nothing like any primary school teacher despite the fact that:

...her overall presentation is intrinsically immature and occasionally suggests that she may be in need of remedial attention herself.

After spending some time commenting on what a change this makes for Mike Leigh the "miserabilist" the Channel Four reviewer sees the film in a rather less misanthropic light:

Poppy is the perfect primary school teacher. Her character's realism is found in memories of that supply teacher everyone once had, when their regular and boring teacher got pregnant or went to Pompeii, the one who let you do projects on space aliens and collect woodlice. Yet somehow you remember every word she said while the rest of those years are a Tudors-and-fractions blur.

The Telegraph reviewer argues that:

Leigh [admits that he] set himself a challenge: to make Poppy initially irritating, and then to allow her goodness to win audiences round. He embarks on this task subtly.

The divergence of opinions can perhaps be put down to everybody's memories of primary school teachers.  Remember to bring yur memories with you when you get to the the film. I can't say I've really considere Leigh as a miserabilist anyway rather more an astutue observer who works in a sort of 'tragicomedy of the quotidian'.


When it come to thinking about the state of British cinema in general the interview with Calhoun ends with some thoughts about what Leigh would like to make in the future. He expresses frustration with the fact that he can only access budgets of 5-6 million. Talking about a desire to use a larger canvas his metaphor becomes very obvious when he talks about wishing to make a film about Turner, nobody, he says is interested.  He admits that his ways of working haven't proved attractive to financiers and here one is remonded of Godard's Le Mepris with its ironic critique of an American producer trying to work in sex at the right point to make the film sell. Godard's film of course ended up a long way from what was being expected by his producers. 

Strange that in these days when appaerently the notion of 'cultural industries' is accompanied by notions of getting British identity up and running again that it appears to be impossible for a well respected film maker to be able to make a film about an iconic and extremly important painter. Turner certainly preceded the French Impressionists when is came to being modern as he applied some of Goethe's theories of colour into his work amongst other things but then of course the Olympics in already into its expected tripled cost overrun, which will doubtless keep the consultants happy if not the taxpayer. As for Mike Leigh making a film on Turner.....  

Special Preview Performance Q & A with Mike Leigh on Happy-go-Lucky

DVD Review

Having summarised some of the issues around Happy-go-Lucky identified by other reviewers when the film had a thaetrical release I have now had a chance to view the recently released DVD. I must say I found the film extremely disappointing. Admittedly I have high expectations for mike Leigh films and Abigail's Party (TV Play), Meantime, Secrets and Lies & Vera Drake are outstanding examples of his oeuvre over the years. This film bored and irritated me in roughly equal amounts.

There were some splendid examples of Leigh at his best when he brings a sense of shock to the actors which tranmits itself onto the screen because of the way he works. The Flamenco teacher was splendid, the scene at the house of Poppy's sister Helen worked brilliantly and the Eddie Marsden driving instructor was generally excellent.

By comparison the character of Poppy quite simply didn't add up. There is a difference between being 'happy-go-lucky' and a complete airhead. For most of the film Poppy was a complete immature airhead. There was a clear disjunction between Poppy as represented in her professional life as a primary school teacher and her life outside. There has been much made of Poppy's warmth, empathy etc by Leigh & Hawkins in interviews on the DVD as well as by some of the reviewers above. I totally don't buy into this idea at all.

Poppy is intensely irritating, unserious in terms of her own future and unserious when she takes the role of a student. She is a total clown in both the Flamenco class and in the driving lessons. Far from being warm and empathetic she is totally self-obsessed and I find it hard to disagree with the comments from the letter of the month in Sight and Sound

...her overall presentation is intrinsically immature and occasionally suggests that she may be in need of remedial attention herself.

Whilst Leigh makes a virtue of there being non-parallel actions within the narrative and a lack of causality this would be fine if the scenes such as the one with the tramp actually advanced some depth of character. The scene with the tramp is totally artificial. Poppy is going down a rough looking street at night and then hears some drunken singing offscreen. she follows this sound into a derelict factory which is apparently open to all the world and finds a tramp behind a pillar. no-one in thier right mind would have domne this in the first place as it wouldn't have been possible to see properly. Later in the scene after the tramp has changed positions there appear to security lights blasting out in the same derelict factory. OK so McNab's point that this isn't the tourist gaze of London is correct but this representation of the seamy side doesn't really come across well.

From the outset Poppy is the sort of person you want to shake some sense into. Her visit to the bookshop in the opening scenes represents her as a complete idiot. She displayed no interest in any books whatsoever and seemed intent on trying out some light flirting with the bloke running the shop who was entirely bored by her. Poppy's playing with chicken fillets as breast enhancers with her mates after the night club when they carried on drinking to the point of stupefaction is clearly what we expect from 30 year old professionals. What was more astounding if not surrealistic was the ability of her and her friends to make miraculous recoveries after a heavy night.  Poppy was a complete idiot when she got into the car for the first time with the driving instructor and carried on being an idiot. Poppy was also a complete clown when she turned up at the Flamenco sessions. This kind of a approach is unlikely to say the least from someone who is a practitioner in the educational system. She was behaving throughout like an immature office worker with no education at all and flirting with all and sundry. Had she not been a primary school teacher then the character added up, but Leigh by wanting to have it both ways and giving Poppy hidden depths in her professional life ends with a character that makes it impossible to suspend disbelief. Meet her in a pub and you'd probably be bored out of your head in two minutes. No she wasn't a malicious character but so what?

Even when there is a danger of Poppy entering serious discussions, such as when discussing the issue of children and video games or issues of parental responsibility for their children after a hard day at work, she skims the surface. The scene in Helen's house was sterotypical in terms of its content, with the sort of sharp binary positions being displayed which might have shocked in a 1960s play but just seem old hat nowadays. Poppy defends her freedoms from being tied down with a house and children against her sister who seems to be stuck out in an amorphous suburbia and is nearly 9 months pregnant. Helen is even made to act like a 70 something year old as is made up and dressed in an appropriate manner which again just didn't gel. Poppy even scorns a pension, except that as a teacher she would get a pension deducted from her salary anyway. Inexact detail lke this irritated.

In the past Leigh has been a master at creating quirky characters but believable ones not -as a correspondent in the September letters column of Sight and Sound suggests - surreal characters. People do not behave like automatons and Leigh has brought out this aspect of life significantly in the past. Leigh is associated with realism rather than naturalism but it has been a realism at the micro level which has focused upon the the dynamics of relationships between people and their individual choices rather than a realism such as Loach's which is always trying to strip bare the surface of the social world and identify and challenge what the structuring agencies within society are.

For me Poppy just didn't add up as a character. Her liberal ideas seemed to be without foundation and it is hard to believe that a person who had worked her way around the World as a teacher with sessions in Vietnam and sometimes classes of 60 wouldn't by the age of 30 have some deeper things to say. At times too there was a sort of faux-naivety in her dealings with other people. Far form being warm and empathetic she totally fails to understand the driving instructor, and the scene with the physiotherapist was ridiculous. Her flirty innuendos are fine coming from an 18 year old but they just made Poppy look stupid.  Does the argument that Leigh is a surrealist save this film by giving it a different reading? I don't think so. Certainly Leigh is able to appreciate the surreality of the quotidian but the defense that Leigh and Hawkins put up in defence of Poppy's character scupper this idea from the outset.

In the end this film was disappointing and frequently bordered on the vacuous despite being interspersed with some good sections. The films of Leigh's that I'm familair with and mentioned above are far more worthwhile and it is worth adding High Hopes to the list as well. I'm a little surprised that the reviewers have been as soft on the film as they have. Maybe I'm turning into a complete misanthrope but I can't remember anything in it which struck me as funny. This isn't to say that there wasn't an enormous amount of skill and effort involved. Hawkins was great at making you sqirm, its just that the character as originally conceived didn't gel leaving an impossible task for the actor. There is nothing very satisfactory in this film in terms of the relationships. The central interaction between Poppy and the driving instructor was also difficult to buy into, if you have ever actually taught anybody to drive. The best one can say of this was that it was a representation of post-modern pap skimming the surface and skittering onto the next thing, certainly it lacked depth despite sympathetic reviewers trying to root it out.  There are quite literally hundreds of good films to see and spend time and money on, sadly this wasn't one of them.


Independent review Johnathan Romney

Independent Sarah Sands on Happy-Go-Lucky

Sally Hawkins on meeting with Mike Leigh  

BBC on Happy-Go-Lucky with video interview available.  

Return to Mike Leigh Page

May 30, 2008

Audience Studies in Media

Audience Studies in Media


This article briefly examines some of the main ways in which media studies has researched audiences rather than institutions or the texts themselves. In this sense media has many dimensions which might require different research methods in order to generate maeningful knowledge.  The areas of research covered are the construction of the pessimistic notion of 'mass audiences', the construction of audiences as market by market researchers, reception theory and ethnographic research approaches.

Audiences as "Mass"

The media has usually been associated automatically with the process of mass communication.  As Ien Ang has pointed out the concet of "mass" audience was particularly powerful in the first half of the 20th century. This is unsurprising as the new media technologies of the time, film, radio and then TV became extraordinarily popular very quickly. This was so much so that the boom in radio shares in the United States helped create the stock market 'bubble' which lead to the Great Crash of 1929. Many readers will be familiar with another media lead stock market buble the so-called "" bubble which lead to a severe "correction" in the stock market although a full scale crash was avoided.

The underlying logic of these bubbles was based upon perceptions of audience and mass markets which shows how the two terms overlap. Sociologists of the time such as Blumler in 1950 saw the rapid growth in media audiences as part of what became dubbed as "mass society". Audiences were conceived of as "masses" who absorbed "mass culture". There was an underlying implication that it was very much "passive" uncritical absorbtion of the content which was produced.

Blumler who was a powerful influence in creating the model of audiences at the time described the concept of "mass" in the following way:

  1. Firstly: Its membership may come from all walks of life. This could include people from different classes and cultural and economic backgrounds.
  2. Secondly: The mass is anonymous, being composed of "anonymous" individuals
  3. Thirdly: There was little or no interaction or exchange between the mebers of these "masses". Unlike the crowd in the street they do not mill
  4. Fourthly:The mass has no real organisation and is unable to act with the unity of a crowd.

Although this was meant to be a purely descriptive evaluation of media audiences as Ang points out: is surrounded by many additional, evaluative meanings that are usually very negative (Ang questioning the Media first Edition p 157)

The negativity behind this model saw older concepts of civil society which helped people understand and contribute to the social world embedded in community and institutions like the church being weakened. Audiences were seen as passive, individualised or atomised taken out of thier social surroundings and therefore easily manipulated. Many people media theorists included thought that this situation left audiences totally exposed to the ideas transmitted by the mass media. This was particularly the case with popular forms of media such as films, TV and radio. this lead to what has been dubbed as the 'Hypodermic Needle' theory. This is a medical metaphor which relates to the power of doctors over helpless patients and assumes complete power over the individual, which soon leads us into another medical metaphor of "brain-washing".

Audiences as "Market"

The argument put forward by Ang seems increasingly outdated as globalisation and the accompanying commercialisation and consumer orientation deepen alongside the effects of digitisation and the Web. Ang points out that perceiving audiences as markets comes from this commercial context and is very much an American tradition compared with the Public Service Broadcasting ethos that has been prevalent in Britian and much of Europe until comparatively recently. Of course Ang also points out that audiences are seen as potential consumers for the goods and services advertised. One need go no further than lifestyle magazines such as GQ to see just how much that magazine is an almost total vehicle for advertising and integrally generating an ethos of consumption. The content and appraoch of these magazines is very much influneced by organisations such as ACORN. Companies like these exercise a lot of power in creating markets for goods and services by constructing an increasingly sophisticated range of categories, to fit in with more diverse lifestyle and identities.

See How ACORN assesses the area you live in:

upmystreet. You will neeed to type in your postcode.

Ang bases her criticisms upon the fact that the research methods used were quanitative ones just focusing on TV sets that were turned on and tuned in. This entirely ignored the subjective and qualitative elements of audience experiences. Cetainly we do not view ourselves as a 'market', we are however constructed as a part of a market. With the increasing fragmentation of audiences into a wide range of media forms and even user genersated content models of exactly what constitutes an audience are necessarily having to change. Nevertheless in an "On Demand" era of media (What you want when you want it where you want it) and the necessity to either produce a profit or provide clear value for money from PSB shows how sophisticaed the relationship between audience / market and the providers of media content / user generated content vehicles (MySpace etc) is.

Contemporary Online Media Targeting Audience

The BBC Online News  Service is a good example of how contemporary media institutions are adapting to the changing parameters of media because of digitisation and the expontential growth of the internet. The BBC has always aimed to have a global audience because it developed as an institution in the waning days of the British Empire which until the post war era still controlled more land mass than any other country. The use of the World Service partially funded by the Foreign Office was the main arm for this global extension. In the era of globalisation the importance of media is still fundamental. The following is an extract of how the BBC can use its size and depth of experience to address different audiences by place / location whilst  providing a much more sophisticated service to all users. The service is backed by the BBCs renowned aims and objectives of trying to report in a fair manner. As such for those detractors of pub;lic service broadcasting and the TV Licence fee need to think about the service being rendered by the BBC in providing better quality news well outside of the countries national borders. The BBC explains their policy below:

The BBC News website is published in two versions - one for the UK and the other for international audiences. First time users to the site will be automatically directed to the version based on their geographical location. In this way BBC News can offer a more relevant selection of headlines. (BBC News Website)

Uses & Gratifications Theory

Uses and Gratifications theory takes quite a different pespective when it comes to creating a model of what audiences are about. rather than people being engaged passively in a mindless pastime uses and gratifications theory considers that people's use of the media is very selective and needs prior motivation. The theory became named in this way because it is expected that using the media in a chosen way will offer some gratifications. These will satisfy social and psychological needs of the individuals concerned.

Research Methods of Uses and Gratifications Theory

The research tends to be very empirically based. Usually audience members are asked to fill in questionnaires about why they watch / listen to / use particular programs or media forms. Ang (ibid p 1590 reports upon Dennis McQuail who was a researcher using these methods over several years. McQuail came to the conclusion that there were four main categories into which people's reasons for consuming certain media formats fell:

Information: Finding out about aspects of the world and society. Driven by curiosity, learning and interest

Personal Identity: Finding reinforcement for personal values, finding out about models of behaviour, identifying with others important in the lives of the individual concerned, reflexivity or gaining knowledge and insight into the self

Integration and Social Interaction: Useful for a basis of conversation, helping to perform social roles, developing insights into the position of other people, developing a sense of belonging

Entertainment: Distraction from problems of everyday life, general relaxation, cultural and aesthetic pleasure, passing the time, emotional release, sexual arousal.

Common Criticisms of Uses and Gratifications Theory

One problem is the individualistic approach taken. The possibility that people are consuming media within specific social contexts is sidelined. Some people may have to endure aspects of media because it is forced upon them. Visiting a house with the TV on may mean that the conversation is circumscribed because some people like TV on all the time.

Reception Theory

Reception Analysis /Interpretive Communites / Subcultures

Reception analysis researchs how audiences interpret media products which they define as "texts". This can be applied from any media product from the Financial Times to Grand Theft Auto. The key point here is that audiences are understood to be producers of meaning not merely consumers

Ang (p160-1) notes that researchers interest: directed not to the individual ways in which people make sense of such a text, but to social meanings, that is, meanings that are culturally shared.

The term interpretive communities has developed to describe how groups of people make common interpretations of particular texts. An interpretive community does not have to be located in any specific place but the symbolical connection around a cultural text is a form of social space.

In general what reception researchers aim to uncover is how people in their own social and historical contexts make sense of all kinds of media texts in ways that are meaningful, suitable, and accessible to them. (Ang ibid p 161)

Media in Everyday Life

In recent years there has been a growth in the analysis and researching the practices of everyday life or the quotidian. The French theorist Henri Lefebvre was one of the first people to do this. After him another important theorist was Michel de Certau. Obviously the relationship and interactions between people and how they use and relate to media in their everyday lives is very important to this area of study. The media theorist Roger Silverstone has commented upon how media contributes to people's sense of being or social ontology by contributing to aspects of the everyday which make life familiar and predictable. Media can play an important part in this as part of a symbolic system underpinning everyday life:

Ontological security is sustained through the familiar and the predictable...The symbols of daily life: the everyday sights and sounds of natural language and familiar culture; the publicly broadcast media texts on billboards, in newspapers on television...

Ang notes the conclusions of researcher Herman Bausinger in 1984 who had spent a long time observing German families in their homes. He came to some key conclusions which need to be kept in mind when examining the role of the media in the everyday:

  • Many media forms are used by people throughout the day and this 'media ensemble' neds to be taken into account
  • People rarely fully concentrate on the media they are relating to at any given momnent
  • The media are an integral part of the everyday rhythms and routines of life
  • Media use is not an isolated process but a social one  with individuals often interacting with others whilst absorbing a media text

This type of approach to media is in many ways the most promising one of the ideas elaborated at least from the perspective of understand the interaction of people with media in the construction of their social and cultural worlds. This type of research method is described as ethnographic in which the fine-grained detail of everyday life can be observed and interpreted. Naturally this is a very different emphasis from those seeking to create target audience for the sale of media products. There has been useful work done by researchers like Ann Gray into issues of gender and media use in the home in her work Video Playtime

Select Bibliography

Ang, Ien. 'The Nature of the Audience'. In Downing et al. 1994. Questioning the Media. London: Sage

Silverstone Roger. 1994. Television and Everyday Life. London: Routledge

May 08, 2008

ITV Heavily Fined for Phone Scam by Ofcom

ITV Heavily Fined for Phone Scam by Ofcom

Ant and Dec the Scamsters

This is a fine example (excuse the pun) of not getting what you pay for. Well you never did actually and the ability of shysters to get punters to part with their money on a legal scam is fairly amazing. This little fiasco really takes the cake. Grade A mistake (whoops there's another pun).  

The fine may not be as high as Ofcom could have imposed, but the media regulator's verdict on ITV's misconduct is still damning.
The fine of £5.675m is almost three times the previous record - the £2m incurred by GMTV for its own phone vote scandals - and well above recent widely-reported predictions of £4m. (BBC analysis on the Ofcom fine on ITV)

The media regulator said the fine was by far the highest ever imposed and reflected the seriousness of ITV's failures and their repeated nature. (BBC report of the fine on ITV)

ITV has revealed that The Catherine Tate Show was robbed of a prize at the 2005 British Comedy Awards. (BBC on ITV admitting Ant & Dec should not have received award)

April 27, 2008

Contemporary British Cinema Hub

Contemporary British Cinema Hub

British Cinema and Society: Chronology 1997-20010

This entry is part of the British Cinema and Society Chronology which goes from 1939 until the present. It maps major social and political events and cultural and film policy changes as well as the films themselves enabling contextual comparisons to be made. 

Contemporary British Films

Atonement, 2007. Joe Wright

Brick Lane. 2007. Dir Sarah Gavron

Bullet Boy, 2005. Saul Dibb

The Calcium Kid, 2002. Dir: Alex de Rakoff

Control, 2007: Anton Corbijn

Dirty Pretty Things: 2003. Dir. Stephen Frears

Elizabeth the Golden Age, 2007 . Dir Shekhar Kapur

Ghosts, 2007: Nick Broomfield

Happy–Go–Lucky(2008): Mike Leigh

Hot Fuzz, 2006. Edgar Wright

In This World, 2002. Michael Winterbottom

It's A Free World,2007: Dir: Ken Loach

Last Resort. 2000. Pawel Pawlikowski

London to Brighton. 2006. Paul Andrew Williams

Of Time & The City (2008)

This is England. 2006. Shane Meadows

Contemporary British Directors

For contemporary British Directors please follow link to Contemporary British Directors page 

Institutional Issues  

The Irresistable Rise of the Multiplex

Contemporary British Cinema: Representing The World Locally

Digital Projection: Foundation of a New Exhibition System in the UK?

Film Marketing

Guerilla Cinema: The 'Other' of British Cinema

Mobile cinema in the UK 

Representing Changing Britain: Ethnicity and Hybridity

The Heritage Film in British Cinema Part 1

Working Title. Brief history of the production company  

British Film Institutions

British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)

British Council British film website and information hompage

British Film Institute Strategy Statement (Last update June 2007)

Sight & Sound Home Page. Sight and Sound has been the monthly film magazine produced by the British Film Institute since before the Second World War.

Department of Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) Film Policy Page
UK Film Council

BECTU reponse to DCMS consultation on the "Cultural Test" for the definition of a British film

Film Council to take on role of whether a film is British certification test

Vertigo Magazine: The Film Parliament

Future of British Film Archives Secured Purnell awards £25 million

Women and Film: Research Findings Essay

Women and Film: Research Findings Essay

Uma Thurman Kill Bill 1

Powerful woman in control or eroticised male fantasy? Whose gaze is it ?


You should by now have finished off your  research methods essay on 'Women and Film'. you should have discussed the different methods you employed on your project and how effective you thought they were. You should now be ready to write up your research findings

Research Driven by Your Findings  

You will need to make it clear in your introduction that you research was driven by what you found out as you went along (the process). For example you needed to do secondary research in order to start to map the field of knowledge and relate to what has already been found out. 

In doing so you should have engaged a little with the ideas of researchers such as Laura Mulvey, Jackie Stacey and Richard Dyer amongst others. They are dealing with the representation of women in film and how audiences engage with these representations. You should have then chosen your extracts to show audiences informed by some of these theories. Part of what you are trying to find out is how well these theories actually relate to the experiences of real live audiences. This live experience of the audiences is the core of your research findings and your conclusion should be relating how your research findings relate back to the theories and other findings of those who have already been researching in this area.  

Plan of the research findings essay

Introduction - summary of what you will be writing about

Summary of scondary research findings

  • Mulvey & the 'Male Gaze'
  • Stacey & negotiated readings by the audience
  • Dyer & the importance of Stars and Star Theory
  • Secondary research can also involve looking at the cultural reception of a cultural icon. A brief 'google' of 'Lara Croft' Images shows a mass of eroticised images presumably the products of male fantasists which is an intersting area in itself to research
Lare Croft 2

Powerful representation of woman or eroticised male fantasy? Who's gaze is it?

Choice of extracts

How the theories helped you choose specific extracts

  • Explain in some detail how cinematic conventions like camera movement and camera angles might have contributed to the construction of a 'male gaze' by creating the woman as an object of a voyeuristic gaze
  • The extract might also have been a woman in a powerful position. Powerful women action adventure heroes as in Kill Bill or tomb raider could be contradictory offering both a voyeuristic eroticised view and at the same time portrayed a powerful female figure.  One object of your research might have been to see if the male audiences you are using for research read the representation of the women differently to  your female  research audiences.

Results of the Focus Group Research

Here you should be writing up the responses of your focus group (qualitative research) to the extracts which you showed them. Remember to remind the reader about whether these were mixed sex or single sex focus groups. You should have noted if there were different responses from different sexes and genders (some people may have been gendered gay).  You should have noted down responses  which were informal. (Perhaps focus group memebrs shouted comments during the screening which may also have influenced responses).

When you write up the responses you should draw attention to whether these responses fit into the theories and discussions you used in your secondary research.  If they didn't then this is worth commenting upon. It might be an area for further research. (That is how knowledge becomes created). 

You should then say whether these results will influence your questionnaires being used for quantitative research.

Quantitative Research Results

Here remind the reader how many questionnaires you gave out and to whom. If it was in your media class then it was a 'knowing' audience who would have been more aware of cinematic codes and conventions whereas an untutored class may have had different responses.

Summarise your findings and use some basic statistics. You should know what percentage of your sample were male and female for example. You are allowed to take the statistical findings in with you in note form so you don't have to remember them. Accuracy not memory is being assessed here. 

Comparing Results

You should be able to make a comparison of your findings to see if the responses a re tending to agree or whther they tending to diverge.  Your qualitative results might have been very different from the quantitative results for example.


In your overall conclusion you should whther you think that you findings tend to agree with or challenge the previous research work you used in your secondary research. whereever there is a divergence either within your comparison of your own results or these results set against others you need to come up with a possible explanation. It might have been that you didn't organise your focus group very well therefore the results weren't as good as you had hoped for.

Finally in your conclusion you should comment about what you have learned about the whole process of doing social research and how you might improve it in the future.  

April 05, 2008

British Television Timeline (Screenonline)

British Television Timeline


This is merely a relay entry to a recent and very useful part of Screenonline which is now providing a British TV timeline. This will be especially useful to students wishing to gain a brief overall idea of developments within British TV history which will be helpful in dealing with the current debates of Public Service Broadcasting, the relevevance of the liceence fee, whether the licence fee should be topsliced and of course the fundamental changes now being wrought by the digitisation of the British mediascape due to be completed by 2012.  

Screenonline Timeline of British TV  

March 24, 2008

Lifestyle Magazines Hub Page

Lifestyle Magazines Hub Page


This page is a hub page for your Lifestyle magazines unit component of textual analysis. As new pages are developed links will be placed here in order to help you navigate to relevant pages on this blog.

What is a Lifestyle Magazine?

The Secrets of Magazine Cover Design  

Lifestyel Magazines and Branding

Grazia Magazine

Advertising and Magazines 

Lifestyle, Celebrity and Advertising

Magazines and Print Publishing  

Glossary of Magazine Terms  

The Magazine Industry  

Magazine Ownership and Control in the UK

ACORN Marketing classification for targeting advertising

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Audio content from The Economist magazine, including interviews with journalists and experts on world politics, business, finance, economics, science, technology, culture and the arts.

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