Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Audience)



  • Audience in the film industry = the people a film is directed towards
  • Genre is directed at a certain audience e.g. horror films to an older generation
  • Every film has an intended audience because no one film is accepted and liked within every community
  • The ways to understand the relationships between the texts and their audiences:
    • The hypodermic model
    • Uses and gratifications model
    • Reception theory

Para 1: Hypodermic model

  • Also known as effects model or hypodermic needle
  • The consumption of media texts has an effect on the audience
    • PASSIVE/weak audience
  • More often negative
  • Audience can’t prevent the influence as don’t know it’s happening
  • Messages of the film are “injected” into the audience by the media
  • Bobo Doll Experiment:
    • Children copy violent behaviour
    • Children were shown adults punching and shouting at the Bobo Doll
    • Children were then exposed to the same doll in a separate room, and their behaviour was observed
      • More of the children that were exposed to the aggressive behaviour on the television screen acted aggressively towards the doll and ignored the more attractive toys.
    • “Copycat” effect on the children
  • Said to be used by the media and politicians
  • Used in advertising: Levi jeans:
    • Man getting undressed in a launderette to wash his Levi jeans
    • Sales of jeans went up by 800%
    • People were asking for signed posters of the man
    • Boxer shorts sales rocketed also
      • People thought that if they bought the jeans, they would effectively end up being like that man, with women being drawn to them

Two step flow theory:

  • Lazarsfeld and Katz
  • Two generations of meaning translation:
    • Mass media
    • Opinion leaders
    • Mass audience
    • The audience still has to take in what the leaders say, but can still make some of their own inferences
  • American media was so bias it was comical at one point
    • Comedians started taking the news and making a mockery out of it

Para 2: Reception theory:

  • Opposite of hypodermic model
  • The power of the text lies within the audience, and audience uses the text
  • ACTIVE audience
  • Stuart Hall: three potential reading of a text:
    1. Dominant
    2. Oppositional
    3. Negotiated
  • No text has one singular meaning – the audience creates the meaning for themselves

Para 3: Uses and Gratifications model:

  • People watch media productions for 5 main reasons:
    1. Information and education- but television is apparently starting to dumb down
    2. Entertainment
    3. Personal identity- role models, people identify to certain characters (can relate)
      • Can be negative: violence in films or video games (as seen in Bob doll experiment
      • the representation of body image in fashion (anorexia is common)
    4. Integration and social interaction- talking about the production afterwards
    5. Escapism- video games and action films

Essay Draft One:

Apply the concept of audience to one of your media production.

In the film industry, the audience are the people that the film is directed towards. The audience of a film has a major influence on how it is produced, or where it is available. For example, every film genre is directed at a particular audience, such as, a horror film is generally directed at an older generation as they are deemed unsuitable for younger members of society. It is very rare that a film that conforms to a specific genre, is accepted and popular within every community. It has been established by many scholars over time, that there are 3 ways to understand the relationship between a media text and its audience: the hypodermic theory, the uses and gratifications model and the reception theory. A similar theory, the two step model theory, argues the same idea that the audience is manipulated to believe in a certain way, however,this one day that there is a second layer of control. These people perceive a message from a text, and then pass on their inferences to the next generation of viewers. These people could be television presenters, journalists or even someone within the immediate social circle, such as a friend or a family member.

The first theory that is going to be addressed is the hypodermic needle model. This model is first to be introduced as it was one of the primary theories that was devised to explain the correlation between the media and the audiences. It is also known as the effects model, and proposes that the consumption of media texts has a consequential effect on the audience. The audience are referred to as being passive, this is because they have no control over the influence, and can’t prevent it from happening. The hypodermic model has many negative connotations, because it suggests that people such as politicians, or media presenters have the power to manipulate the audience, to their own benefit. In relation to filming, it can be applied by saying that the creator of the film or production, “injects” messages into the audience, subliminally. In 1961, Stanford University came up with the Bobo Doll Experiment, where the tested the effect of violent videos on supposedly innocent children. The study generally showed that children do copy violent behaviour if they see it. Half of a group of children were shown videos of adults performing violent acts on a clown toy that was called the Bobo Doll. The other half were not exposed to the violent videos, that contained punching, using a hammer, and shouting. The children that were exposed to the videos, were generally more aggressive towards the Bobo dolls, when they were alone in the room with one. This study into mimicked violence showed that the media can have a very negative effect on its audience, if it aims to do so. This audience theory, however, bares no relation to our media product, as we had no intentions to manipulate the audience into believing a certain thing. Our film was based on the love between two sisters, and therefore, without any violence shown, or negative messages trying to be sent, this theory is simply not applicable. A very similar theory to this one is the two step flow theory, originally created by Lazarsfeld and Katz. This theory states that there are two generations of media translation: there is the mass media, presented to the “opinion leaders” which is then fed into the mass audience. This theory is similar to the hypodermic needle in the way that the audience is still semi-passive, as they are fed their supposed “opinions” and made to believe they came up with them on their own. The opinion leaders can be people such as, presenters, reviewers, politicians, or even someone within one’s immediate social circle or family. This theory is also not applicable to our film, because our audience was intended to be small, so there wouldn’t have been potential for opinions to be developed and fed to other people, therefore, everyone was entitled to have individual readings of the text.

The second theory that is going to be explored and compared to our film is the Reception theory, first established by Stuart Hall. Reception theory is a middle ground between the hypodermic model and the uses and gratifications model, and suggests that the audience is more active, rather than passive. Hall devised a list of three ways in which a media text can be read: dominant, negotiated and oppositional. The first (dominant) is when the audience perceives the texts the same way that the producers would like them to. In other words, the message that has been “encoded” into the media text by the creators, has been correctly “decoded” by its audience. The term negotiated refers to the idea that the audience can agree with the message, but can also have arguments against it; they can see both sides of the story. The final reading, is the oppositional kind, where the audience completely disagrees with the message trying to be sent. Unlike the previous one, this theory can be applied to our film, as there is so much room for subjection. The message that we had ‘encoded’ into our film was that the bond between two sisters is so strong that no matter how stable the family is, they will remain best friends. Inevitably, the intended reading of this was simply that one’s siblings will always remain reliable regardless of the situation. On the other hand, an oppositional reading of this style of text could be that the neglectful parents have cause both the eldest and the youngest sister to be a lot more damaged than they should be at their age. A negotiated reading could be that the absence of the parents made the children closer, but that it had a negative effect on the child’s mental health, social life and well being. To illustrate, the eldest sister reads a message on her phone from a friend asking her to meet up, but the sibling declines the offer because her younger sister is ill. This could be seen in a negative light rather than the intended positive one, by arguing the idea that she is reducing her social life to take care of her sister.

The final theory, is the uses and gratifications model. This is the polar opposite to the effects model, as it implies that the audience uses the text, and plays a very active role in making inferences and opinion building. It was stated within this theory that there are five main reasons people watch media productions, the first of these being for information and educational benefits. However, it has been also said that television has started to dumb itself down, by focusing more on the entertainment side. Whilst there are still existing documentaries, and a lot being produced, less are being watched with an increased rate of productions such as soap operas and television dramas. The next reason is for entertainment as mentioned previously. It could be said that this is the most common reason why people indulge in watching television, or YouTube videos.  The last three reason are for personal identification, integration and escapism. The idea of personal identification has been recently associated with negative incidents, such as the replication of violence from films or video games, or the body image in modern fashion, as it appears to endorse anorexia. These last three don’t necessarily apply to our product, as we didn’t intend for people to relate to the main characters, we wanted them to feel empathy towards them. As well as this we did not intend for the product to act as an action film, or a video game, as in touched on sensitive topics, that do occur within some families. Because of this, we hadn’t made the film to supply people with a release from real world problems, we wanted to draw attention to them. Although, we did intend the film to be used in an educational way, for people to learn and understand the feelings that the girls went through.


One thought on “Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Audience)

  1. Leah

    The following is the exam board’s description of a level 4 answer, from the June 2011 mark scheme (

    Level 4 (21-25 marks).

    Candidates demonstrate a clear understanding of narrative and relevant media theory and can relate concepts articulately to the production outcome, describing specific elements in relation to theoretical ideas about how media texts are constructed as narratives. Candidates offer a range of specific, relevant, interesting and clear examples of how their product can be understood in relation to relevant theories of narrative. The use of conceptual language is excellent.

    Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently using a style of writing appropriate to the complex subject matter. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar

    I would mark your current answer as being Level 3, possibly 19/25.

    – Proof read, Cannon! What does this even mean, “this one day that there is a second layer of control”???
    – You explain the various theories well, but beware of “opting out” of providing readings of your film. I know it can feel a bit forced, but try to come up with something. For hypodermic needle, for example, the direct message of your film might be that it is unfair for one sister to be left to look after her little sister. Another reading might be that this is a “character building” or bonding experience…
    – You need a conclusion to draw things together. Perhaps talk about how some theories have been largely discredited and others seem more relevant.


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