Post 4: Critical Approaches to Media Texts
Chapter 4 of Teaching Media Literacy by Richard Beach touched on various critical approaches to media texts. The main focus of this chapter was to illustrate the different approaches and ideologies that the media can take to â€śhelp students adopt a critical stance in responding to media textsâ€? (Beach 33). I especially like the educational philosophy of this chapter, stating that â€śstudents must reach beyond their own initial engagement responses of simple likes or dislikes if they are to critically analyze media textsâ€? (Beach 33). Although the media is often portrayed as containing inappropriate messages, I do think there is a lot of beneficial media to help educate the youth of today.
The first approach the book talks about is the audience analysis or rhetorical approach to media which examines how media texts use â€ślanguage, signs, and images to position audiences to adopt certain desired responses, beliefs, or practicesâ€? (34). I thought this approach was similar to that of the psychoanalytical, whereas the media is attempting to get in the head of the audience by using images and sounds to excite certain areas of the brain. I think you see this a lot in television and magazine ads. For example, I just recently saw an ad in a magazine for a car company showing a half naked woman wrestling another woman in a bikini. Honestly, what does this have to do with automobiles? The only reason the women were placed in that ad was to get in the mind of the audience to think that maybe having this car will get you attention from beautiful women.
The next approach talks about the semiotic analysis, which focuses on the social and cultural meaning of signs and codes and the narrative approach, which looks at structures or patterns. I found this article interesting in describing how red does not mean stop in all countries. I think the media seems to take an American approach to advertising and very often, do not have sensitivity to others. I also found the narrative part interesting in how genre can influence the interpretation of a theme.
The third critical approach is the poststructuralist approach, which examines â€śhow language categories in media texts themselves influence character and audienceâ€™s perceptionsâ€? (37). This approach seems to me, to focus a lot on the themes of messages, like good versus evil or right versus wrong. I think this approach could be a very powerful approach in advertising to young audiences. Many children are told what right and wrong is, however, are not often â€śshownâ€? what the difference is. The media could utilize their range to show young people what is right or wrong.
The fourth approach dealt with critical discourse analysis which looks at media through different lenses or languages. For example, how we view the current political ads will be considerably different if you are a democrat or a republican. The view would be completely different.
The fifth approach the text mentioned was the psychoanalytical approach, whereas the meaning of the text or media is shaped by â€śsubconscious desires, needs and fearsâ€? (34) of the individual. I found this article very interesting, especially in regards to the â€śmale gazeâ€? concept. As you watch television shows, ads, and commercials, you can see how advertisers use this as a spin, constantly bombarding young males with images of half nude women and provocative content. It bothers me that the media claims that these images donâ€™t have an impact on young men. This is the approach I chose to be become an â€śexpertâ€? on. After researching the topic, I found it very troubling, although not to surprising, that many people have actually recorded â€śtraumaâ€? from viewing to graphic or explicit media. There have been reports that media imagery of sexual content has inadvertently lead to adultery and the breakdown of interpersonal relationships. O course, the media denies such claims, stating that different viewers perceive imagery differently. Exactly! How an image of a â€śdesperate housewifeâ€? is perceived by me is completely different than someone else. I find it absolutely repulsive that the media is allowed to have such shows and even more disturbing that they say there is not that much of an effect on society. In my opinion, the media is the main source of the breakdown of society and the increase of negative social norms and incidences.
The next approach looks at the feminists analysis of the media, which I also chose as a topic of â€śexpertise.â€? Before I went into the teaching program, I worked in a Womenâ€™s Safehouse, known as the Hope Center. My job title was Domestic Violence Child Expert and my job was to work with children on issues of violence and bullying. One of the videos we often showed to young audiences was the same book mentioned in the book, Killing US Softly 3, a phenomenal video showing the impact of media on women and the effect on both women and men. One on the interesting topics in the video deals with the image of the female and male in the media. For example, even childrenâ€™s action figures have changed drastically over the year, with the male figure increasing in muscular size by at least six fold, stressing the need for power and reinforcing the idea of control and dominance. And who do you think these young men are dominating? Women! Women on the other hand are show much more petite and disproportioned in the bust and hip area. The idea that a good percent of women shown in the media are digitally enhanced is disturbing, considering so many young women strive to match this â€śunrealisticâ€? look.
The seventh approaches deal with postmodern approaches, whereas the approach looks at the ideas of â€śprogressâ€?, â€śhuman improvementâ€?, â€śenriching technology.â€? This approach looks at an ideal of becoming better, which certainly has its benefits, however, it also stereotypes an egotistical image of â€śbetterâ€?, primarily alluding to western culture ideals.
The last approach is the postcolonial analysis, which examines ways in which â€ścolonial or imperialist conceptions of the world are portrayed in literature and media textsâ€? (42). This approach deals with looking at the rest of the world as more of a â€śthird worldâ€? or as very â€śdifferentâ€? from the norm. This approach, I believe, is a very dangerous approach because it isolates the western culture from the rest of the world, a concept far from the idea of uniting the world.