Audiences can respond in many different ways to a text and as quoted by Stewart Hall’s encoding and decoding theory, all texts are ‘Polysemic’, meaning they have many meanings; this can applied to my Television texts.
The Wire is a stereotypical police drama set in Baltimore, which follows the story of detective Jimmy McNultys case to find the murder of Snotboogie, which is of course D’angelo Barksdale, a local drug dealer and convict. Episode one offers a meta-narrative within it as it does not focus on the hero or anti-hero, making it a diverse multi layered narrative making the reader active. The narrative links in with Barthe’s theory of Erotics of textual criticism and can be seen to be a text that is hard for audiences to watch passively as it focuses on a community of characters who’s narratives are intertwined, showing a multi-perspective narrative. This allows the viewer to respond in many ways as it shows the point of view of many characters.
According to Stewart Hall’s encoding and decoding theory the preferred response of the audience is that they enjoy the program and understand its situation, the negotiated response would be that they would not particularly enjoy the text however they would understand most aspects and also the oppositional reading would be the idea that the audience would not like or understand the text at all. Nevertheless, HBO or Home box office has a reputation for producing high quality TV, mainly drama and experimental TV which allows for the culturally elite and intellectuals to be engaged. Therefore, due to it targeting the ABC1 audience that audience may respond to the text in a much more acceptable and welcoming way than a lower class uneducated audience as the narrative structure may be too complex for them. This can however then lead to the uses and gratifications theory, which was created by Blumber and Katz as it could be read by an audience and they may respond to it in the terms of it being diversion and escapism as a way of seeing it as being a world better than their own which would not apply due to the fact it is in a run down part of Baltimore where it overall represents and gives the audience the interpretations that the USA is corrupt. However, users/audiences may respond via social interactions as it allows them to engage in a conversation for example “did you see the wire last night?” and also could allow them to respond in the terms that it gives a new way of presenting or viewing the world e.g. ruins the American dream and makes America seem like a bad place. The audience may respond to this text in a way of which they find it unacceptable and offensive due to negative representations of America and Abusive language, however OFCOM would reject these complaints as they say offense is permissible to a certain extent and it must be ‘justified by the context’ which it is as it’s modern day America and is exhibited at 12 so is shown where it lessens offense.
The X factor is Europe’s largest talent competition as it brings in 14.1 million viewers and took over from Pop Idol as Britain’s search for the new star of tomorrow. It is shown on ITV at prime time and is classed as a family show which can be discussed via social networking sites, which is a classic example of second screen viewing. Audiences may respond to it in the terms of Stewart Halls encoding and decoding theory. It’s preferred reading would be that it will lead to commercial success and consequently the Christmas number 1. Its negotiated reading would be that people watch it however find it offensive due to its degree of harm and offense on over ambitious contestants who are humiliated by coming onto the TV when they are bad singers, however, this can be justified by OFCOM who say offense has to be justified by context and can include violation of human dignity. However this allows us to question the motives of ITV and if it’s allowed to do this purely for people’s entertainment and profit perspective.
The oppositional reading would be that the reader does not like the text and may find it extremely offensive. This can be discussed in the terms of Christina Aguilera’s performance where it was broadcast in December 2010 and 1 million children were watching it featured inappropriate dancing and revealing clothing and audiences may respond saying its too explicit for a child to be able to watch it raised 200 complaints however the images in the paper were more revealing than that of the show. There were two issues child protection and offence. OFCOM said there was no nudity or inappropriate behavior and the show edited stuff out but as a pre-watershed show it needs to be acceptable by children so OFCOM had to balance two principles – freedom of expression and audience protection. Freedom of expression won as they are a liberal company and so the show was able to be seen, due to audience dismay.
Moreover, FOX news has a primary audience of us citizens and I am referring to Glen Becks friends or foes piece from may 3rd 2011 which asked ‘what is the correct state of the world?’
The audience may respond to this text in the terms of the hypodermic needle model, which is the idea that an opinion leader injects opinion into the media and a passive audience will take it and accept it as their own. This is the preferred reading (Stewart Hall) of the show as FOX are trying to get people to agree with Glen overall so that the views are marketed correctly. Moreover, the idea of the two step (flow) model the idea that active audiences discuss texts and take the ideas of the leader if they’re passive can be a negotiated reading as some readers may respond with due impartiality and may just use the social interaction scale of Blumber and Katz’s theory, however an oppositional reading would be that people find his terms offensive. It is broadcast in the UK by BSkyB package however, some of his comments as the audience will feel go against OFCOM’s code of violence section 2.3 harm and offense as his neo-conservatism views are not justified by any context and are merely just states of narrow minded opinions.
Overall, I feel the audiences can respond to any text in a variety of different ways and as the uses and gratifications theory and the reflection theory suggest, no text has one single meaning and it is decoded by people in different ways.