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Media Audiences

Media Audiences: Television, Meaning and Emotion

Kristyn Gorton
Series: Media Topics
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Media Audiences
    Book Description:

    An engaging and original study of current research on television audiences and the concept of emotion, this book offers a unique approach to key issues within television studies. Topics discussed include: television branding; emotional qualities in television texts; audience reception models; fan cultures; 'quality' television; television aesthetics; reality television; individualism and its links to television consumption. The book is divided into two sections: the first covers theoretical work on the audience, fan cultures, global television, theorising emotion and affect in feminist theory and film and television studies. The second half offers a series of case studies on television programmes such as Wife Swap, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under in order to explore how emotion is fashioned, constructed and valued in televisual texts. The final chapter features original material from interviews with industry professionals in the UK and Irish Soap industries along with advice for students on how to conduct their own small-scale ethnographic projects.Key Features:*An accessible guide to theoretical work on emotion and affect, this book is key reading for advanced undergraduates and postgraduates doing media studies, communication and cultural studies and television studies.*Case studies on emotion and television in British and US media contexts demonstrate new research and provide a starting point for readers undertaking their own research.*Each chapter includes exercises, points for discussion and lists for further reading

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3036-3
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Preface: emotion, engagements and orientation
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. Introduction: why study television?
    (pp. 1-8)

    The question of why television should be studied needs to be addressed first since it is often an implicit one that students, academics and interested readers ask themselves when they pick up a book on television. Those more sceptical might even ask: can you study television? Television studies has been an academic discipline since the 1970s and comes from a variety of disciplines including literary theory, social sciences, journalism and linguistic theory. It is studied in universities and is either taught in departments that also teach theatre and film or exists as a primary component in departments that focus on...

  6. Part One: Theoretical background

    • 1 ‘Desperately Seeking the Audience’: models of audience reception
      (pp. 11-29)

      The Who’s ‘Who are you?’ is the theme song for one of the most popular and widely viewed television programmes in the US and the UK: CSI. It functions as a provocative opening and a pun as one of the central themes of the programme is to find out ‘whodunit’. It also serves as a useful juxtaposition – the earthy, rock tones of The Who bellow out in contrast to the high-tech sophistication offered by the forensic investigating team. This question, ‘who are you?’, is also at the forefront of audience studies. Who are you the viewing public and what...

    • 2 Personal Meanings, Fandom and Sitting Too Close to the Television
      (pp. 30-44)

      Henry Jenkins explains the way ‘texts become real’ by recalling the moment in The Velveteen Rabbit (1983) when the Skin Horse tells the Rabbit that ‘“Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real”’ (Bianco 1983: 4, cited in Jenkins 1992: 50). A more contemporary example can be found in Toy Story 2 (2000) when Woody (Tom Hanks) believes he is truly loved because his child owner has put his initials on the...

    • 3 Global Meanings and Trans-cultural Understandings of Dallas
      (pp. 45-54)

      The last chapter considered how television functions in the everyday or personal domain – how we feel guilty for watching too much TV, and yet keep watching it – how we sometimes have it in the background, what Gauntlett and Hill refer to as ‘electronic wallpaper’ (1999: 112) – how at other times it is seen as a friend or source of companionship. The last chapter also examined the ways in which this personalised medium is changing; how it is increasingly found in the public sphere and how viewers are viewing ‘irrationally’ with the invention of hand-held televisions, which invites...

    • 4 Theorising Emotion and Affect: feminist engagements
      (pp. 55-71)

      There is a long history of theoretical work on emotion and affect. Indeed Ann Cvetkovich argues that ‘the representation of social problems as affective dilemmas can be traced to its origins in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century culture’ (1992: 2). More recently, in the 1980s, feminist theorists such as Lila Abu-Lughod (1986), Arlie Russell Hochschild (1985), bell hooks (1989), Alison Jaggar (1989), Audre Lorde (1984), Elizabeth Spelman (1989) and Catherine Lutz (1988) took interest in women’s emotional lives and labours.¹ While these earlier influences are still resonant, it is only over the last decade that we have witnessed what Woodward (1996), Berlant...

    • 5 Theorising Emotion in Film and Television
      (pp. 72-86)

      The last chapter critically reviewed the literature on emotion and affect primarily within feminist theory in order to outline some of the key developments in research on the concept of emotion. This chapter will turn to film theory, where the concept of emotion has been explored primarily through research by cognitive film theorists. Television is still a new area in terms of work on emotion and affect, so it is necessary to draw on theoretical ideas within film studies in order to think about how these ideas might be transposed to television studies. There are some obvious problems with the...

  7. Part Two: Case studies

    • 6 A Sentimental Journey: writing emotion in television
      (pp. 89-99)

      In the introduction to Passionate Views: Film, Cognition and Emotion, Carl Plantinga and Greg M. Smith remind us that one of the primary reasons why people go to the cinema is to ‘feel something’ (1999a: 1). Indeed, in an advertisement for FilmFour the voice-over reiterates this notion by promising us that we, as viewers, will ‘be moved’ by moments in the films they have chosen. A movie’s ability to move audiences emotionally is crucial to their success, and yet, as Plantinga and Smith point out, it is one of the least explored topics within film studies (1999a: 1). This claim...

    • 7 ‘There’s No Place Like Home’: emotional exposure, excess and empathy on TV
      (pp. 100-114)

      In Restyling Factual TV, discussed in Chapter 1, Annette Hill argues that if viewers relate to people in certain programmes, then the way they view themselves and their experiences change. ‘When viewers witness the “ordinary drive of life” in reality programmes, they are immersed in the experience of watching and also reflecting on how this relates to them, storing information and ideas, collecting generic material along the way’ (2007: 106). She goes on to suggest that: ‘The most dominant response to Wife Swap is to mirror the judgemental attitudes of the participants’ (ibid: 198); ‘In this respect, participants in Wife...

    • 8 Emotional Rescue: The Sopranos (HBO 1999–2007), ER (NBC 1994–) and State of Play (BBC1 2003)
      (pp. 115-127)

      This chapter will continue to draw on the theoretical work presented in the first half of the book in order to examine how emotion is constructed in what Robin Nelson refers to as ‘contemporary high-end TV drama’ (2007). As discussed in Chapter 5, he argues that there is a ‘“look” and “feel” of the aesthetics of much “high-end” contemporary television’ (2007: 19) that has demanded new attention to television aesthetics. This demand for an aesthetic criteria in television studies, articulated by Charlotte Brunsdon in 1990 and pursued by John Thornton Caldwell in Televisuality (1995), has been taken up recently by...

    • 9 Feminising Television: the Mother Role in Six Feet Under (HBO 2001–6) and Brothers & Sisters (ABC 2006–)
      (pp. 128-141)

      Following an analysis of three ‘quality’ television programmes, the last chapter considered formal qualities that elicit emotion, such as music, editing, characterisation, writing and the longevity of a series. This chapter focuses on one device in particular: it considers how the mother figure in two television series is used to draw out emotional and intimate details from the ensemble cast. In centring on the mother and her relationship to her children, the series foreground the affective attachments within families and the dramas that come from such close bonds. This chapter also considers the way in which feminism is raised, negotiated...

    • 10 Researching Emotion in Television: a small-scale case study of emotion in the UK/Irish soap industry
      (pp. 142-155)

      The previous chapters have drawn on particular televisual examples in order to explore how emotion is developed, constructed and valued within television. It has considered how emotion can be fashioned for a reaction from the audience, how particular characters are used to elicit emotional intimacy and how specific textual elements are used to draw in viewers emotionally. The final chapter considers how the industry values the concept of emotion by drawing on interviews with those working within the UK/Irish Television Industry. To begin, however, I shall consider the role of ethnography within television studies and outline the initial set-up of...

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 156-172)
  9. Index
    (pp. 173-182)