Minutia reception analysis

Methods for understanding the moment-by-moment reception of interactive media Oftentimes in media studies that focus on understanding media reception by the audience or the user, there is a focus on reception writ large and post-hoc. That is, there is a tendency to consider the reactions to a media product by the audience/user after the engagement has occurred and as an aggregate of engagements instead of … Continue reading Minutia reception analysis

Playing Digital Games as Scaffolding

[This is a research proposal from 2005 on how a child’s cognitive developmental level could interact with digital games’ formal features.  The entire proposal, with references, can be found here.] Introduction The history of the mass media has born witness to a chief concern: how will interacting with this or that medium and/or its content impact our children?  So it was with film, comic books, … Continue reading Playing Digital Games as Scaffolding

Raging Bull: Sounds of Obsession

The academic society calls cinema a visual art because it captures moving some slice of reality and from it creates a piece of art through manipulations of time and space.  Rarely is cinema referred to as an auditory art because the main focus in experiencing a movie is commonly in watching how the film represents reality.  The sound of a “talkie” is therefore regarded as a tagalong, an expected companion to the reality as it is seen.  One would expect a car crash in real-life to produce some type of sound, and the same expectation is applied to the big screen.

However, sound can play an important part in helping express the narrative of the film by creating a pathway through which the viewer experiences the film’s reality.  Sound can direct attention, establish mood, and even distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys.  Sound can be an expected partner to the visual, but it can also be unexpected (ex., two cars crashing together sounding like a quacking duck.)  The unexpected sound can change the viewer’s experience of the narrative.

Such is the case in Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull where through unexpected and unusual sound the narration is spun.  Certain repetitions and parallels of different sounds through the progress of the plot give the viewer the omniscient ability to glimpse the workings of the main character’s head and thus allow the viewer to experience the story on a more subjective level.  The viewer witnesses Jake La Motta’s life from his point of view and learns why his life deteriorated into violence  because of an obsession with a woman.

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So, Why Did the Media Fail You?

[This post comes from a 2005 research proposal studying how the media was perceived as hindering people.  The entire proposal, with full citations and references, can be found here.]

Broadcasting or traditional media have been studied by the uses and gratifications perspective (UGP) to uncover the reasons people use traditional media (television, radio, newspapers, even film), and as a means of understanding how the gratification of the need can result in the media affecting the user.  The perspective is concerned with how an individual’s motives generate expectations of the media, which leads to certain types of media use in the hope of gratifying the initial need, while at the same time possibly resulting in other consequences.  UGP is essentially an umbrella, describing a research interest, and by itself does not theorize the why’s and how’s of the relationship between the need, the user and the media.  It has instead served as the paradigmatic foundation from which various media choice, use and attributes theories have sprung.  While UGP has focused on creating typologies of gratifications sought and obtained, there has been less research in the paradigm as to how traditional media fails to gratify the user or the context from which the motivations to use the media arise.

The purpose of this study was to investigate what led media users to be dissatisfied with their interaction with the media.  Possible reasons may be found in the characteristics of the medium, its message, the situation, the situation-specific needs of the user, or some combination thereof.  As this study focused on the content analysis of an already completed qualitative/quantitative interview, the main goal was to understand the perceived characteristics the users saw as the cause of their dissatisfaction.  This goal was chosen to empirically and theoretically illuminate certain aspects at the core of UGP that have remained in the dark, as well as providing insight into the practical application of the mass media in everyday life.

What UGP tells us, and what it doesn’t

While UGP has been criticized for being atheoretical, the perspective has generated a number of theories designed to explain the relationship between an individual’s needs, their media use and the effects of this use on themselves and subsequent media interactions.

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Ugetsu, Intertextuality, and the Western Spectator

I want to start off by taking what may be a radical position on how I am conceptualizing film or really any media text.  I’m going to take the position of stripping these texts of their accoutrements, designer labels like “entertainment” versus “new” or “high culture” versus “low culture,” and instead I am going to focus on an underlying genetic structure: the text as an information source, whereby the information could be put to any use the user requires of it.  With that being said (and understanding I may have to defend, amend, and possibly sublate my position), I am interested in how the user of the text (in this case, the spectator of the film) understands and uses the text.

I state all of this in order to interrogate how the Western spectator may understand the information presented in a text like Ugetsu, which relies on Japanese conventions and intertexuality in creating the narrative and the structure of the portrayal.

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Buffy and Public Discourse on Women’s Health

After Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended it’s television run, Joss Whedon inked a deal with Dark Horse Comics to continue the storyline in comic form.  What started with “Season 8” in 2007 has since become “Season 9”.  The current season finds Buffy in a world without magic, balancing living as a young, working gal in San Francisco with being a slayer of the vampyres. This balancing act, … Continue reading Buffy and Public Discourse on Women’s Health