Monday, 19 May 2014

Applying Audience Theory to 'Mad Men'

Applying Theory: Guidance 

  • Developing your ability to apply theory in responses to exam questions is a key skill that needs to be developed in preparation for the exam. 
  • Below are sample paragraphs of A and D grade responses to a Television/Audience question from a previous paper. 
  • These highlight the contrasts in content, detail and discussion that is required to get the highest grade possible. 
  • Strengthening your exam skills and technique to create better responses is not difficult if you can recognise your weaknesses and change your approach to answering questions from a more critical perspective rather than largely descriptive. 

(Section B)
Explore the different ways in which your chosen texts attract their audiences. 

'D' grade response

My second text is Mad Men, this show is aired on a cable channel AMC in America. So it is not as mainstream as programmes shown on BBC or ITV channels and therefore more niche in target audience. The target audience is males and females but may be tipped slightly more aimed at males but they didn't want to eliminate the female population, people in their late 20s to a much older generation due to the complex script involved. Mad Men is a long running narrative that invests in characters so will attract viewers that are less passive and will invest more time and thought into the series. There are scenes of promiscuity in the text I have looked at that shows the audience they want to attract is an adult audience and also implies that it is a male audience they are targeting the show at also. The series is set in the 1960s so will attract predominantly viewers that understand this decade, it uses many conventions like colour connotations and mise-en-scene to show the genre and era of this show.

Lacks detail - has a tendency to generalise - lacks confident use of audience terminology - does not relate a scene in the text to how an audience will be attracted

'A' grade response

In 'The Other Woman' episode of Mad Men Season 5, Don and his male team members are trying to strike a big deal with Jaguar. Herb, a Jaguar boss, explains to Pete how he would like to spend a night with Joan- a beautiful redhead, who has the perfect curvy figure of the 1960's.
  A younger audience – 16-25 – may find the setting and situation lacks entertainment in terms of the Uses & Gratifications theory. They may find the topic only provides them with information about the sexual politics of the 1960's workplace. As the narrative develops and we see Joan basically prostitute herself to gain a 5% stake in the business it may also fail to relate to their own interests, therefore it would provide no gratification and have no use for them as viewers or their peers. In this case no social interaction would take place in discussion with the issues that occur in the episode. A younger audience would be more used to fast paced editing and simple narratives concerning gossip and relationships, such as TOWIE or Made In Chelsea, as they can personally identify with such issues or aspire to their ideals.  It is therefore clear that the target audience for Mad Men is a middle class male demographic. The highbrow nature of the show lends itself to a middle class audience, as it is often reviewed in newspapers like 'The Guardian’. 

Includes detail - does not generalise - uses appropriate audience theory/terminology - relates theory directly to the text - is confident

Strong Exam Responses:
  • Include detail 
  • Don't generalise 
  • Use Media language 
  • Apply appropriate theory 
  • Are written with confidence 
  • See the interaction between text and audience as a complex relationship

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