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Audiences and Spectatorship.

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Assignment 3 Audiences and Spectatorship Are audiences' vulnerable pawns ensnared under the manipulative and calculating control of the media or, do audiences' actively engage in the media by constructing their own interpretations and meanings of the world? This is an extremely controversial issue that is extensively debated all around the world. Some view audiences as being easily influenced masses of people who can be persuaded to purchase products and conform to societies ideals or even follow corrupt leaders through advertising. There have also been fears that the media may alter the way people behave for example, being more violent and aggressive. On the other side of the coin, there are theorists who believe that the media has a great deal less influence over audiences then is hypothesized. This is the central argument that this essay will be debating, to conclude whether audiences are passive individuals who are targeted victims of the media, or whether they are active and are thus not fictitious cohorts who believe everything they are told or watch in the media. To avoid misrepresentation the definition and differentiation of audiences is crucial. An Audience is......dictionary definition. There are two types of audiences that are marketed in the media-mass and niche. ...read more.


Their preferences allow them to pick and choose the viewing they wish to indulge in and if "the audience demands diverse content, then the marketplace will provide it."(Webster and Phalen, 1994:29) This model insinuates that in view of the fact that audiences actively engage in their choice of viewing they, to a certain degree, have power over the media. One must, however, not be too hasty in succumbing to the notion of the active audience because there is a proliferation of theories regarding audiences as being passive entities. The debate concerning audiences being passive victims of the media and media being capable of radically effecting people's behavior and beliefs, dates far back into history. An extremely appropriate illustration of this is when Hitler and Stalin attempted to use the media as propaganda by persuading the mass audiences to follow their policies and beliefs. Thus we can see how what an extremely precarious weapon media can be in the wrong hands, capable even of convincing millions to follow iniquitous beliefs. We see this persuasion still today in elections which is the same sort of propaganda. ...read more.


Firstly, the Gratifications theory can be criticized as it disregards the actuality that we do not always have absolute selection as to what we receive from the media. We typically have to choose the media that we consume from what is available. This emasculates the Gratification theory since we may not all have the equal prospects to utilize and benefit from the media merchandise we want. The Hypodermic Model can also be criticized on account of it being too simplistic and disregarding audiences' individuality. There is a definite association between the mass media and social change but many of the consequences attributed to the mass media can also be attributed to many other influences within society, thus the extensive debate. In weighing up the evidence of whether mass media is influential or not, it is clearly identifiable that the media does play a major role in the construction of representations in society. Therefore we see how the media is used as a powerful instrument in influencing audiences into certain modes and beliefs within society. So we can deduce from the arguments presented in this essay that while audiences are passive victims of an all-encompassing world of messages, they too are active in that they can rebel against the medias domination by ardently participating in it or by resisting it. ...read more.

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