Media AFP course 16-18: Television Unit By: Yan PHu (Photography: Original photos by Yan)

Theories/ideas/concepts that will relate to my analysis on a television series:

I will be referring to most of these theories and ideas in my textual analysis.

The Evolution of the TV audience - how TV has been/is consumed (The impact technology has on the relationship between media and audiences)

1950s - Only middle class families owned televisions, working families did not have access to television and their form of “media” was newspapers/radio, and larger families (due to baby boom) watched television together - smaller screens, less choices, family would sit together to watch television

1970s - Shows are more catered towards children, colour television means realism has increased (a more true reflection of the world), wider TV unit, smaller family units

1990s - Children are exposed to more mature, sophisticated content, evolved to satellite television, a more vast choice of channels

2000s - More demographic areas - shows fit to a person’s gender or likes, more media forms with the rise of technology e.g computers, reduction of the relevance of traditional television, the “Second screen” may sometimes support the viewing experience, but at times is a distraction (a reverse effect), television plays a multimodel role

Channel fragmentation - increase in number of mass media outlets and unprecedented choice over the last few decades e.g UK in the 1976 with only three terrestrial TV channels, now there are more than 80 digital, satellite, cable or online channels on Youtube, Netflix, Amazon etc.

Audience Fragmentation - The division of audiences into smaller groups as a result of variety of media outlets (channel fragmentation). TV audiences as well as mass audiences.

Time Shifting & Place Shifting - Technology allows audiences to choose when and where they consume television content, ‘on-demand’ television which allows people to watch shows whenever and wherever they want (instead of sitting with the family and watching X-Factor but choosing to watch it on the bus on the next day), An engagement based paradigm, no longer experienced communally (shared by multiple members) although social media is a communal experience

Cultivation theory - Examines the long-term effects of television stated that the more time people spend ‘living’ in the television world, the more likely they are to believe social reality portrayed on television

Mean world syndrome - The belief that the world is more dangerous than it actually is

Cultivating anxiety theory - Gerbner argues that watching television actually makes audiences more anxious, as crime genres cultivate an image of a scary world. Reactions to this may cause distrust and eventually contribute to more crime. Also known/linked to the “Mean World Syndrome”

(Subgenre) Nordic Noir - gloomy looking, grey, deliberately desaturated imagery,

Participatory culture - Fan pages, shares, fan fiction, the audience participating with the show, and making fan fiction - predicting what will happen with the show.

Four strands of the Users and Gratifications theory:

Audiences actively looking for pleasure through media - way to measure text and audience for the 1970s

  1. Diversion from our everyday lives - entertained
  2. Surveillance needs, unlike before, this information comes to you - use of media for information: From Blumler and Katz, dates back to 1974
  3. Personal identity - we shape our identities partly by those in the media whom we like, their values may influence us
  4. Social integration - hyper real, discussing fictional characters or engaging in narrative as if they are real, different to being analytical

Hypodermic needle theory - A passive audience, unable to resist impact of messages in media, suggests mass media can influence large numbers of people.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Textual analysis

Television series: Arrow

Introduction:

Being an individual who does not watch television on the regular occasion, I found it difficult to choose a suitable television series to analyse. At first, I had considered analysing the television show “Skam”, as it was very commonly viewed amongst a lot of my friends. I initially thought it would be a good show to analyse as it has very successfully marketed itself to it’s target audience (teenagers), however I thought that it lacked the element of action, and crime, which in my opinion relates to more varieties of theories, e.g. “Mean world syndrome”, though “Skam” may relate to this in some extent (because of the element of drama), it is not as obviously presented. With the productions of many praise-worthy shows throughout the years, I settled on the series “Arrow”, as I had many primary research sources at hand (friends who watch the show). This was also based off my own interests, as I prefer action over drama.

Brief description of show:

“Arrow” is an American television series based on the DC Comics character “Green Arrow”. It falls under the categories Superhero fiction, Action, Drama, Crime, and Mystery. It features a range of superhuman heroes and villains. The main character “Arrow/Oliver Queen” seems to live a double-life and has an identity which is kept secret, similar to other well-known super heroes (Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Wonderwoman, etc). As Oliver begins the reconciliation process with his family, he creates an alter-ego “Arrow”, and plots revenge against the corruptors of “Starling City”. In multiple episodes, the show features superhumans from other television series, for example “The Flash”, another highly rated and viewed series targeted towards teenagers.

(This is not a theory, just a feature I noticed) Firstly, similar cinematographic features from the subgenre “Nordic noir” stood out to me. Each episode seems to begin or have scenes with the same recurring palette, of gloomy looking, grey, and a seemingly deliberately desaturated setting. To stimulate the audience’s “unavoidable” fear of darkness, violence crime and fight scenes are almost always set in the dark.

Though the show itself is not based entirely on crime that is investigate by detectives, and in reality, there are no such superhuman beings or supervillains, the recurring idea that the city itself is controlled and bombarded with corrupt organisations, could cause the audience to feel as if the world is more dangerous than it actually is, altering their perspectives. This is evidenced and shown through many seemingly trustworthy characters having an alter-ego and/or working with or actually being the villain in secret based on personal beliefs, or even for revenge or to pay debt. An example of this is in Season 1, where a character named “Slade” had been a mentor-like figure to main character “Oliver”, yet their relationship resulted in a betrayal against Oliver. Throughout this series, there many more characters fall prey to deception from seemingly reliable comrades. With the audience being vulnerable to so many incidents of betrayal, acts of brutal murder, troubling backstories, kidnapping, and gory homicide, despite how promising a character seems, this could create a fear or sense of uncertainty, suspicion, and distrust hence the “Mean World Syndrome” - the belief that the world is more dangerous than it actually is.

Effects from “Mean World Syndrome” ultimately lead to the “Cultivating anxiety theory” - Gerbner argued that TV is making audiences more anxious. Crime genres cultivate an image of a scary world. Reactions to this may cause distrust and eventually contribute to more crime. Initially, I didn’t think this would relate to this type of show, but with many cases of betrayal, this could lead to certain members of the audience to have trust issues, cultivating more anxiety in response to the show rather than pleasure. This can also cause non-existent threats to appear to the more sensitive members of the audience, for example, in the case of this show, a sense of constantly being watched by a (possibly hooded or dark) figure, whilst alone at night on a deserted alleyway, or even at home (this always seems to occur in the show), and/or a constant suspicion or doubt over the morality of people around them. The increase in distrust could ultimately lead to an increase in crime.

My own “simplified” interpretation of the “Cultivation theory” (examines the long-term effects of television stated that the more time people spend ‘living’ in the television world, the more likely they are to believe social reality portrayed on television) composed by “Gerbner & Gross” is that the higher the viewing frequency of television viewers, the higher the likelihood of being influenced by media messages, and the belief that they are real and valid. For example, viewers who watch television frequently will be more exposed to violence, hence are more affected by the “Mean World Syndrome”. Another example of this theory at work is through the perpetuation of certain stereotypes, e.g. “all asians are smart and/or are mastered in martial arts.”, “every black man is a criminal”, which are obviously non-generalisable, however, these norms/paradigms can be conveyed through high exposure and viewing of media and television. An example of this is through the location of which this show is set - Starling City, which is portrayed to be a highly corrupt city, rife with poverty, crime, and corruption. The paradigm being conveyed here are the high crime rates, therefore spawning and stimulating a fear of the real world.

Oliver Queen: formerly a billionaire play-boy, current Mayor of Star City, former owner of the nightclub “Verdant”, and former CEO of “Queen Consolidated”. The connection between his apparent wealth, and status of being a superhero creates a paradigm that the wealthy become a target to crime and villains. And is also evidenced in many other movies and television series, for example Ironman (he claims to be a billionaire play-boy), and Batman, in which both posses enough wealth to invent a seemingly unlimited resource of the highest-quality of modern technology. With this norm in mind, it could cultivate the fear of villains targeting the rich, and the fear of terrorism, maybe (probably rarely) even the fear or extreme wealth, reiterating and possibly exaggerating the fear of the current world.

“Hypodermic needle theory” - audience is seen as passive, and unable to resist the impact of the message in media. This suggests the mass media could influence a very large group of people directly and uniformly by “shooting” or “injecting” them with appropriate messages designed to trigger a desired response, e.g. Nazi propaganda. With this theory dating back to the early 1900s, with the example of Nazi propaganda, we can make conclusions that the consumers of this propaganda were not necessarily passive, as the leader (Hitler) himself, did make ambitious promises. Based on the Uses and Gratifications theory, this shows that the audience is in fact active, not passive, seeking to fulfil personal needs. In regards to this television series, the representation of female superheroes in this show is rather controversial, as it could have both a positive and negative impact on the audience. The positive being that females are being represented as powerful, leaders, able to protect themselves, and almost measurable to men, unlike “damsels in distress”. However, based on the way they are dressed - rather revealing attire, and advertised, the audience is unconsciously being spoon-fed the “ideal” figure/body women are “supposed” to have, that they are meant to look a certain way to be powerful. Their bodies are unrealistic, sexualized representations of female figures, with large chests, curves etc. Their skin-tight outfits accentuate their sexuality. Both “Canaries” - female characters in the show, are good examples of this. This may cause different members of the audience to react in different ways after viewing the series, some may unconsciously develop expectations of what women should look like, or even unconsciously gain pleasure after viewing the show. Though, this has not drawn much attention or caused any comments online, showing that people may already have been "normalised" to this paradigm, hence proving that this theory is somewhat true.

The five levels in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs include: 1. Physiological, 2. Safety, 3. Belongingness, 4. Esteem, and 5. Self Actualization. Firstly, physiological needs and safety are fulfilled by the audience themselves, the need for belonging can be fulfilled through this series, as certain members of the audience who are keen on the show may choose to belong to groups, fanfiction, and events based on the show, which could create connections between viewers and maybe form friendships. Esteem can be built up through connections being made with other viewers of the show, relating to the strand in the Uses and Gratifications theory - Social integration, as it is possible to develop social skills and interaction with those who also watch the show. This strand also relates to an audience’s need for Belonging. Self actualization can be discovered through the audience processing information and attempting to piece the plot together and solve problems within the show themselves, which develops their problem solving skills and is part of their personal growth.

Broadcasting:

Legal broadcasting, both online, and on television:

The CW (official Television Broadcasting Company, only provided in the US - TV)

Nine Network (official Television Broadcasting Company, provided in Australia, a division of Nine Entertainment Co. - TV)

Hulu (Television network, American subscription video on demand service, provides non-pirated tv series and movies, plan options are available - ONLINE)

Foxtel (Australian pay television company - TV)

Netflix (Season 4 only)

Illegal broadcasting online (mainly consists of torrenting):

Eztv (provides a warning: making it obvious that it illegally streams shows)

Besttorreng.org (as well as torrenting tv shows, this site also allows users to illegally torrent games, and movies)

Putlocker (torrents all sorts of free movies, and tv series, commonly used)

Torrentcounter.com (torrents all sorts of television series)

And many many more...

“The Evolution of the Television Audience”

Based on these searches, it is shown that despite there are legal, official sites, there are many more that illegally provide this series online. Considering the target audience, it would be expected that they mainly consist of teenagers to young adults, who do not have the capability or patience to start any new plan options, purchase the show, or even wait weekly for the show to air on television. The CW has launched an app, which enables many television series watched on-demand, including “Arrow” instead of watching television show weekly at home via an actual television screen, shows can now be watched on demand, wherever and whenever anyone wants (Time shifting and Place shifting), however, these may come with monthly/annual costs. With easily accessible content, the audience can gratify/fulfill their satisfactions through watching television. In these recent years, the rise of “binge watching” has become apparent, and acts as a Diversion from our everyday lives (Uses and Gratifications theory), and the update in technology allows this “diversion” to occur more frequently and easily. The audience can enjoy the thrill of action, violence, and seeing their their heroes who always live in danger in any location desired, whether they are on their way to work, or at home, keeping them entertained and drawn away from the everyday stress and reality of the world. With demographics suggesting an average of over 2 million viewers, it is not hard to imagine that a small portion of these viewers would binge watch the show.

Considering that we live in the 21st century, the obvious advance in technology allows us to demand for information wherever, and whenever we want. “Traditional television” is no longer a common sight, where a family as a whole watches television together facing an actual television screen. This also allows us to instantly share information, and is a major convenience. Throughout this century, the rise of social media has become apparent, whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, etc. thus relating to “The Evolution of the Television Audience”.

The creation, and usage of fan pages/fiction relates to the Uses and Gratifications theory, as it may alter our 3. Personal identity, the actors/actresses in “Arrow”, being superhuman are rather influential. Some of the audience may choose to watch this series, as characters in “Arrow” may have corresponding values, the consumer could be choose to watch this series to help reinforce self values and behaviour - needing reassurance that they are living the correct way.

Another strand of the Uses and Gratifications theory - Social integration - hyper real, discussing fictional characters or engaging in narrative as if they are real, different to being analytical, where Blumler and Katz believe that some people may choose to consume media texts as a “tool” to bond between other people of similar interests. For some it may be a way of finding a common interest and relationships with other people. For other people it can assist with the development of social and interactive skills. It can allow the consumer to find a sense of belonging and similarities with others, be it friends or family. This is evident through fan-fiction, twitter or tumblr accounts made specifically for the purposes of collecting content based on “Arrow”.

Since this series is fiction-based, unfactual, and has an element of fantasy, I was unable to relate it to the strand from the Uses and Gratifications theory - Surveillance, where Blumler and Katz believed that some people choose to consume media texts as a source of surveillance and information, could be done simply through watching weather reports, news programmes, or any informative or fact-based programmes, its purpose to ensure that viewers ‘stay in the loop’ with current happenings. The showcased advance in technology within the show is unrealistic, and the occasional elements of illusions, and magic do not relate with current happenings in the real world.

Jenkin’s reception theory of “Participatory culture” can be very easily applied, based on fan-fiction, the use of social media to express thoughts on the show, reactions, as well as post on fan-pages, tumblrs, twitter, etc. This is identified through fans collecting content or storyline from a show and “remixing” it to create a similar, yet new and different story. Popular sites to allow fans to discuss, post, and create fan fiction include “fanform.com”, “fanfiction.net”, etc. Through Tumblr, we can see an obvious connection going on between the show and the audience, memes, and gifs of the audience’s favourite quote or characters have been created. Hashtags are also used, allowing content to be fan-content to be easily searched and retrieved. An obvious example of this is through a controversial “feud” (link in bibliography) as over the last two seasons, Arrow has seen its audience deeply divided over the show's central romantic plot. Since Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak started actively courting one another, a large number of fans have complained that the relationship has overwhelmed other aspects of the show. Resulting in the main actor - Stephen Amell dismissing most of these complaints, and believes that most fans can still enjoy television the “traditional way”, meaning that they simply watch it and don't engage with other fans on social media. Stephen Amell called Twitter "overblown" and blamed its often-toxic environment on the fact that the platform allows anonymous users, (unlike Facebook, LinkedIn, or other platforms which require a real name and/or an e-mail address). He also said: “If you’re going on the attack for fictional characters, you’re probably not real fans of the show,” he believes some fans don't seem to know how to build up their favorite characters without tearing someone else's down. This is a good example to show how Participatory culture can cause dispute, and the extremities of the reaction of the audience to certain events in a show. The rise of “shipping” two characters together is a strong piece of evidence to show Participatory culture working itself into the audience. After Cassidy's character was killed, “Olicity” (Oliver + Felicity = Olicity) fans started a #ByeByeBirdie hashtag to celebrate her death, resulting in the actress Katie Cassidy to fall prey to harassment on twitter. These twitter feuds ultimately markets the show by setting trends on the internet, this could be via hashtags, retweets, magazine posts, an overall a rise in attention regarding the situation, therefore causing more people to be drawn to the show and drama. This controversy is only one of many more controversies drawing attention to the show, some include fans’ thoughts on the controversy of crossing over other DC Comics tv series e.g. The Flash, or Super Girl. As Jenkins did say “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.”, thus suggesting that this type of controversy is necessary for the television show to be well-known and well-marketed to it’s target audience.

Marketing:

Legal broadcasting stations use successful methods to market the show, for example, the CW also posts regular updates on the official Arrow twitter account, posting behind the scenes footage, footage of the actual series, hinting at the next series of events to occur - sneak peaks, first looks, etc. This keeps the audience up-to-date with current happenings in regards to the show, and gets them excited for any upcoming episodes or seasons. Keeping the idea from Jenkins “If it doesn’t spread it’s dead”, the methods in marketing may revolve around this idea. The producers would want any new trends, updates to be spread through social media platforms, and thoroughly through the internet to reach the audience, avoiding attention from being drawn away from the show. In fact, controversies surrounding the show may be essential to keep the show trending, an example of this is written above relating to the Participatory culture.

Bibliography:

http://usesandgratification.blogspot.hk/

http://comicbook.com/dc/2016/05/28/arrows-stephen-amell-addresses-olicity-and-negative-attacks-on-s/

http://www.slideshare.net/belair1981/audience-the-effects-debate

https://masscommtheory.com/2010/03/12/cultivation-theory-how-violence-might-affect-us/

https://masscommtheory.com/theory-overviews/cultivation-theory/

http://www.slideshare.net/HannahCharlesMedia/hypodermic-needle-theory-29639628

https://www.learning-theories.com/maslows-hierarchy-of-needs.html

Textual analysis

Blue Peter Puppet Makes

PRocess:

Job application letter

Below is the my application letter for the role of the camera operator:

I ended up getting the "job" (role). Skills I learnt: Must not be longer than one sheet of A4. Think of any achievements or commitments to write about, even if they don't relate to the role.

Research on camera operator's role:

To find out more about my role, we had a look at the previous BTEC Year 13 students' television production "Teachers Got Talent". I found out that as a camera operator, I would have to pay attention to the floor manager, as he/she would inform me about the areas I could cover without being in shot. It was also crucial to pay attention to the director's instructions, as the whole make itself was actually very fast paced, and it had the "you only have one chance/shot" feel.

Schedule + Logistics + Planning

I volunteered to test out the product during the christmas holidays, below are some of the photos of the final product that we made, and the equipment needed:

Items needed
Final product
Final product

An email was required so that we had permission to leave the can in the freezer. This was quite troublesome during the make, as we had to send someone to rush and get it. Also, the melting of the water made it quite wet.

Script:

Initially, the script was assigned to three people in our group. I did most of the decision making as to where the sting would go, which camera shots to use, etc. However, I didn't receive many suggestions from my group.

The new term "sting" is the equivalent of a short animation.

Rehearsal footage:

Initial Studio plan, except that we only had one presenter. Similar to a studio shoot, there is a three-point lighting set up, though slightly different, as all the lights are placed behind the three cameras, so that they won't be in shot.
Rearranging cables to make sure I don't trip over them, as instructed by the floor-manager. Tape seen on the floor was placed by the floor manager to mark the extent of the area which I could cover. A lot of compromise had to be done between me and the floor manager.
Abby briefing each of us on our separate roles.
Experimenting between hand holding the camera, or making it stationary on the tripod. I found it was relatively easy to hold it still by hand, and more convenient to move around without a tripod.
Sound (left), Visual mixer (centre), and Director (right)
It is crucial to listen to directions/instructions given by the Director on which shots to provide, in this photo, I am at a close-up on the presenter's hands, as shown on one of the screens by the Visual mixer. Because I was constantly moving in and out of position, I found it useful to set the focus of the close up beforehand. Most of the shots from my camera unit were close ups, or extreme close ups of action. The wide angle shots were mainly coming from the central camera unit 2, most of the time, that camera was stationary, placed on the tripod and not hand held. We were constantly changing the types of shots, as so to not bore the audience, and provide more variety.

Footage of actual production:

Rehearsal footage:

Distribution possibilities:

With the advance in technology, and keeping “The Evolution of the TV Audience” in mind, we can conclude that almost all social media platforms will be effective in ensuring that our television make reaches the target audience - our target audience being teenagers. Based on a qualitative research project conducted within our own Year group as well as a year group below us (13-15 year old students), our findings conclude that the most commonly used social media platforms include Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Youtube. The rise of Snapchat has only begun these past two or three years, and Instagram seems to be gaining popularity amongst younger students compared with older students, who tend to stick with Facebook. Youtube is a popular site for research, as well as personal leisure. Therefore, the most effective sites to share our television make on would be Facebook, and Youtube. The television make could be posted on the school’s film-purpose Youtube channel. This specifically targets students in school, whilst uploading to Facebook spreads the video not only to students, but to students and adults outside of school. Facebook and Youtube videos allows content to be viewed not only on a computer, or laptop, but also on mobile devices, similar to on-demand television, and is more convenient and efficient, which is also recognised as 360 degree commissioning. To ensure that the target audience is aware of the making of the television program, the show could be marketed on different social media platforms, allowing content to be spread easily through “sharing”. Snapchat can be put in use here, by uploading short snippets of rehearsal footage.

Final production report:

The set requirements for this task were to successfully create a 3-minute television make where the audience must be targeted towards our age group. The roles in which we could apply for included the director, PA, floor manager, sound mixer, vision mixer, and three camera unit operators. The role I applied for was to be one of the camera operators (application letter above). At the beginning of the planning stage, our group found it rather difficult to come up with a “make” that would satisfy our teenage target audience. Unable to make any suggestions, as we initially thought 3 minutes was too short to make anything, we settled on the “Tin Can Candle Holder”. In regards to our script writing, we initially had written way too many words, and we were desperately attempting to reduce the word-count to under 200 words. In my opinion, I think our group did the planning quite efficiently, and we had communication groups set up. After some more planning and experimenting over the holidays, the day of the actual production soon rolled around. I found that I was quite comfortable using the video cameras provided, it was a good opportunity to put technical skills in cinematography into use. During the production, communication between me and the floor manager and director went quite well. Unfortunately, the drastic reduction in our word-count, combined with a fast-paced make meant that we were unable to reach the three minute mark, and resulted in about a two-minute and ten second make. This could have been avoided by including more informal dialogue into our script, as well as further practice. Overall, I think that our group worked relatively effectively as a team, although lacked communication in some aspects of planning and experimenting. If I were to do this again, I would want to take on the role of the Director, as it is a good opportunity to direct the group and instructing all members on what to do. Also, it would be interesting to work backstage along with other members e.g. sound and visual mixer, unlike being a camera operator, which I find is a more individual role.

Credits:

Yan Phu

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