Ideological Criticism, Cultural Studies & Production Studies (Discussion)

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Decoding (or reading) a text

Groups 6 & 2

  1. Perform a dominant-hegemonic decoding of My So-Called Life. What would be the result of your reading in terms of representations of gender and sexuality, ethnicity, and youth (vs. middle age)?

Group 3

  1. Perform a oppositional decoding of My So-Called Life. What would be the result of your reading in terms of representations of gender and sexuality, ethnicity, and youth (vs. middle age)?

Group 4

  1. Perform a negotiated decoding of My So-Called Life. What would be the result of your reading in terms of representations of gender and sexuality, ethnicity, and youth (vs. middle age)?

Groups 5 & 1

  1. What do you feel is the preferred reading of this episode? What is the preferred reading in terms of representations of gender and sexuality, ethnicity, and youth (vs. middle age)? ("Hall and others often presume that the preferred reading encoded on the text by the television apparatus will be from the dominant position," but in this case it probably is not.)

Readings from Thompson & Mittell, How to Watch Television

  1. Group 3: How does Daniel Marcus define "nostalgia" in "The Wonder Years: Televised Nostalgia"? Thinking back to our discussion of semiotics, what do you think he means by "denotative authority" and "connotative authority"? What effect does this connotative authority have on the ideological decoding/reading of The Wonder Years—especially in regard to the pilot episode we viewed?
  2. Groups 4 & 5: In "I Love Lucy: The Writer-Producer," Miranda J. Banks lists five things for which I Love Lucy is "celebrated." In addition to these, what significant shift in the behind-the-scenes TV-production hierarchy does she identify? What new title did this result in and which unheralded individual associated with I Love Lucy fit this title? Why was the Screen Writers Guild wary of this development? How does the episode we viewed play out what Miranda Banks calls the show's "basic plot idea"?
  3. Groups 1 & 6: In "Modern Family: Product Placement," Kevin Sandler specifies two distinct attitudes toward the iPad's inclusion in the "Game Changer" episode. Summarize these "attitudes". Which do you think is correct and why? Also, how have technological changes necessitated marketing changes that affect narrative? What new techniques have you yourself noticed in TV advertising—especially in online services such as Hulu and YouTube?
  4. Groups 2: In "Modern Family: Product Placement," Kevin Sandler refers to Timothy Havens and Amanda D. Lotz's "industrialization of culture” framework as a way to understand the relationship between art and commerce in TV production. Explain Havens/Lotz's use of these terms: "mandates, conditions, and practices". How can these terms be used to explain the iPad's product placement in "Game Changer"? What is James Grant Hay's assessment of the episode and do you agree with it?

Strengths/weaknesses

List two strength(s) of ideological criticism, cultural studies and/or production studies. List two weaknesses of these approaches. Answers in boldface are the best ones.

  • Group 1 on production studies:
    • S: allows you to gain more insight on how the production side of the television industry works; leaves a lot to the viewer’s own personal interpretation
    • W: focusing on production could ignore the message of the episode or show; most viewers of shows are going to care about what is on screen rather than what is happening behind the scenes
  • Group 2 on Stuart Hall:
    • S: Your dominant-hegemonic readings will give you insight to the culture of the time. If you know what the dominant culture is it makes it easier to implement counter-cultural elements, potentially changing the culture itself.
    • W: Looking at it in this light ignores the author's intended messages. The only realistic option is negotiated as nobody will align entirely with either the Dominant-Hegemonic or the Oppositional reading.
  • Group 3 on Stuart Hall?:
    • S: numbers with money to make factual arguments, show has evidence.
    • W: not flexible (set in stone), opinion based/people could have different opinions
  • Group 4 on Stuart Hall:
    • S: 1.You can see the artist’s values and know that they put their heart into this creation. 2.It gives you a building block of analysis whether you agree with the values or not.
    • W: 1.It gives you a basis to not like a show based on one character’s value. 2.It shows bias.
  • Group 5 on Stuart Hall:
    • S: 1. It helps you understand what the creator wanted; what they wanted the audience to think. 2. It makes you see past the surface level of the TV show.
    • W: 1. It doesn't reflect the changing of time periods 2. Everyone has different values, especially in 2018.
  • Group 6 on production studies (specifically on product placement?):
    • S: Get Funding for Show -Make the world feel more realistic and lived-in
    • W: Takes you out of the show if used too often. Run the risk of alienating certain audience members

Bibliography

  1. Jeremy G. Butler, Television: Visual Storytelling and Screen Culture (NY: Routledge, 2018).
  2. Ethan Thompson & Jason Mittell, eds., How to Watch Television (NY: NYU Press, 2013):
    1. Miranda J. Banks, “I Love Lucy: The Writer-Producer,” 244-252
    2. Kevin Sandler, “Modern Family: Product Placement”, 253-261
    3. Daniel Marcus, “The Wonder Years: Televised Nostalgia,” 223-231