Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Crime Television and Audience Theory IV

Stuart Hall and David Morley (1980) put forward the Encoding/Decoding Model, suggesting that audiences vary their response to the media, depending on social position, gender, experience, race and general context.  Media texts are seen to be encoded with a preferred reading, but not everyone will respond in that fashion.  Hall found three kinds of response.

First is the dominant or preferred response; here, the audience will agree with the dominant values expressed in a film.  This can, of course, cut both ways for censorship. 

Hall’s second category of audience response is a negotiated one, where the spectator may generally agree with the values expressed in the film, but there could be some disagreements, possibly dependent on social background and cultural competence.

The third category is the aberrant reading. This is potentially the most dangerous category, where viewers completely misread the director’s intentions. 

So, although this theory positions the audience as active, the idea of an aberrant reading implies that the text could have a negative influence, depending on the audience member's social/psychological/emotional background.

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