Monday, 9 June 2014
Explore the main ways your three main texts appeal to their audiences.
In all three of my texts it is clear to see that they have been encoded with certain features which appeal to their audiences.
To start, in Mad Men, in the episode 'The other woman' there is a scene where Don goes to visit Joan at her home regarding the Jaguar pitch. During this scene aspects of the mise en scene are encoded to appeal to an active audience. We see the use of a traditional 1960's flat with the orange wallpaper, the 1960's clock and table. Don is also dressed very formal which is typical of mens fashon at that time. This would appeal to an active audience as they would take a preffered reading to how the mise en scene has been encoded to create a clear representation of the time it is set in. However, a passive viewer would not recognise that these features have been purposely encoded, building onto the idea of a polysemic viewing.
In the same scene Don talks to Joan's mother, asking to speak to Joan. During this we see Joan's mother go into a separate room where Joan is. However the camera doesn't follow her into the room, it stays with Don. This lack of exposition would be gratifying to an active audience as they would realize that the story is not being told to them every step of the way. It would also make the active audience question what they talk about when she goes into the room. Another thing to point out about this scene is how Don speaks to Joan. In the 1960's there were very sexist values around women, it was a very male dominated misogynistic society and it was made out that women were lesser than men. However in this scene we see Don speaking on the same level as Joan saying "I want to tell you its not worth it", like he sympathises Joan and cares about her, respecting her as a woman. This contradiction of the time its set in would appeal to an active audience as they would realise that this feature has been encoded to move away from the stereotype around attitudes towards women in the 1960's. We see a similar idea being shown later on in the episode during the scene where Peggy is handing in her notice and resigning. During this scene we see a shot of Peggy standing looking down on Don whilst he is kissing her hand goodbye. This would be recognized by an active audience as Peggy having power over Don which strictly contradicts the ideology of values of women towards men at that time. The uses and gratifications theory can be applied throughout this as it evidently shows how the producer has encoded the texts with the lack of exposition to suit an active audience, viewing them as more powerful.
Lost however is a mainstream text, encoded to suit a passive audience. During season 1 episode 2 we see characters including Kate, Sayid, Boone and Charlie walking through the forest the use of a film score plays a vital role. As the bear starts to charge we hear fast, tense and dangerous non diegetic music. This would be appealing to a passive audience as it this exposition instantly lets them know what emotions to feel and sets the mood of the scene before anything has really happened, so much so that the need to visually see what is happening isn't needed to understand what is going on. During this same scene when the bear initially roars we see close ups of the characters faces. We see a shocked and scared look on their faces. This close up of their faces, taking up the whole screen with these emotions, again acts as a form of exposition towards a passive audience, letting them know what is happening and how to feel. Kate even says "Somethings coming" which clarify's even further that this danger is approaching fast. The use of a film score, close up shots of facial emotions and the verbal dialogue all contribute to the exposition a passive audience gets and how they are told what is happening step by step without reason to question otherwise. This exposition relates to the hypodermic needle theory and how the producer has encoded the texts with passive connotations.
To build on this, a little further on we see Boone shoot the polar bear with a gun. As the characters crowd around the bear we see a shot of it. As an audience we can clearly see that it is a polar bear through the white fur. Even so, the vocal clarification and of Kate saying "That is not just any bear, its a polar bear" is still there, thus appealing to a passive audience through this exposition. The fact that Boone has a gun and that there is a Polar bear on a tropical island will work as an enigma and appeal to both a passive an active audience. A passive audience would take a preferred reading and recognise that these aren't usual occurrences and question why they have happened, but not take matters any further. An active audience would also take a preferred reading, recognizing this enigma but will socially intergrate with other Lost fans, discussing this on social sites such as lostpedia. This relates to Stuart Halls idea of a polysemic viewing.
Moving on, the fact that Lost uses an ensemble cast means that there is a wide range of ethnicitys and personality's shown throughout. This in turn leads to a form of personal identification as audience members may be from the same ethic background as some of the cast. Not only does this lead to favoritism with the result of social intergration about the characters but it also expands Losts audience to a global scale with the use of people from different countries. The use of an ensemble cast could also work as an enigma code with the use of different attitudes. This would make a passive and active audience question where this will lead them in the future and make them wonder if any conflict will arise.
During Peaky Blinders, in season 1 episode 2, we see Aunt Polly talking to inspector Campbell in the church. During this scene there is the use of no non diegetic music and there are long pauses between the characters dialogue. This would appeal to an active audience as they would recognize that there is a lack of exposition with no score to convey a certain emotion about the scene and that it purely relies on the characters acting and dialogue to show what is happening. Even when inspector Campbell pushes Aunt Polly against a wall there is no non diegetic music, just the echo of the church they are in and the dialogue they are speaking. To build on this, as Campbell pushes Aunt Polly, she stands up to him by kissing him. This shows how Aunt Pollys character has been encoded to represent a strong independent woman who can look after herself. As this is this is set in 1919, post world war one, the attitudes towards women were misogynistic and there was a patriarchal society. This in turn would appeal to an active audience as they would recognize how the stereotype of women, much like in Mad Men, has been contradicted. During this scene referenes to the time it is set in and the real world issues of the time are shown through reference to the war when Aunt Polly says "Im lighting candles for boys from the garrison who lost their lives in France". This would gratify a active audience as historical references give a clear portrayal as to the time it is set.
Another scene to mention is the scene where Aunt Polly and Ada are sitting in the kitchen. During this scene aspects of the mise en scene show a typical post world war one style kitchen with the use of raggy curtains, brick layered walls and old fashioned wooden furniture. Additionally the lighting of this scene has a sepia effect, looking like it was filmed at that time. This would appeal to an active audience as they would recognize that the producer has encoded the mise en scene to suit and represent the time it is set. Another historical reference is made in this scene also when Aunt Polly says "The IRA are killing our boys, 10 a day". This historical reference along with no non digetic music would appeal to an active audience as they would recognize that this fact has been said with no musical exposition to highlight a certain emotion around the fact that people are being killed.
Another historical reference is made during the scene where Tommy is riding his horse through the streets of Birmingham. During this scene we hear the digetic sound of mechanical explosions and loud bangs. As this frightens the horse we hear Tommy say "Its just noise. In France we used to say its just a music horn band turning up". There is also non digetic music in this scene, we hear it is soft and sad, sounding somewhat sympathetic for Tommy and the horse. This scene would be gratifying for both an active and passive audience through the exposition telling the passive audience how to feel and the historical reference teaching the active audience, thus showing polysemic features
In conclusion all three of my texts are encoded with particular features which make them appeal to their targeted audience. However all three show essences of a polysemic viewing.