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Task one

Hypodermic Needle

This theory is the idea that the mass media injects thoughts, beliefs and
values into the audience, influencing the audience with the hope to
changing their opinions on topics or events. This suggests that the media
is very powerful and controlling. It works by targeting passive audiences
as they are easily swayed to believing information handed to them.
The term, passive audience as well as the idea of the hypodermic needle
theory was developed in the 1920s and 1930s and came from media
theorists who were looking at propaganda during WW1, where either side
would create posters and videos showing the other side to be monsters or
evil, this can be seen in the American poster below. This poster portrays
the Germans as being animal like, with shape teeth and generally showing
them to be of a lesser species. These posters persuaded people to join
the army to save lives; such has the girl in the poster. This carried on into
the Second World War with the Nazis making posters demonizing the Jews
and give them the appearance of being untrusting and evil.

In more recent years this theory can still be seen, granted more subtly,
but still with the same intent, to change or influence peoples perception
on something. An example of a company using this idea of presenting an
audience with a simple idea or product in a way which would entice them
to change, is in fragrance industry, in this very crowded industry it is not
enough to have a brilliant product, it is vital to have an appealing
advertising campaign to attract potential customers, this can be seen in
Lynx advert, Fallen angels, in this advert a man sprays himself with the
product and beautiful angels begin to fall from the heavens, making their
way towards him. It is not clear what product is being advertised as it is
not shown until the end, this is because showing the product comes
second to showing the models as the target for this product is young adult
men so focusing on the angels was a good way of grabbing the target
audiences attention. This video created the misconception that using this
product will make you more attractive and result in beautiful women
swanning over you.

This theory can be used to understand certain crimes, for example if this
theory is to be believed then watching violent films will eventually
desensitise the audience to violence and change their view on what is
acceptable in real life, this can be seen by rises in violence at school or
The film Twilight is a film which changed children change their behaviour
to fit or resemble the characters, this can be seen after a 13-year-old girl
was bitten by a male classmate, a vice principal at their school
investigated and learned that the boy had bitten 10 others in one month.
When contacted, the boy's father said that it was his son's love of the
"Twilight" film that made him bite his fellow students, according to the Des
Moines Register. The Register said the boy was referred to juvenile
Uses and gratifications theory

This theory looks at the audience as an active audience, this is different

from other theories likes the hypodermic needle theory which viewed the
audience as a passive audience, meaning that they accepted every bit of
information presented to them and didnt question anything. Uses and
gratification theory views the audience in a very different way, they see
the audience as active, a word meaning the audience is not accepting all
the information, and instead is paying attention to what is being said and
questions if it is right or wrong.

Uses and gratification theory believes the audience watches the media for
one of five reasons. For information and education, this could be BBC
news for example where the viewer will be learning from the media, this
could also be from documentaries where the audience will be learning
about a topic like nature (Planet earth).
However people also watch the media for entertainment, to either laugh,
cry or think for example.
The third reason is for personal identity, this is when people watch
programs or videos, any form of media, was they identify with the
characters, this could be that a teenager watches Hollyoaks as he
identitys with the gay characters, this works by the audience seeing the
characters as a sort of role model, it is accepted by psychologies that
people mimic behaviour, so viewing relatable characteristics from
characters, such has homosexuality or money problems and observing
how they fix or live their lives with these characteristics may help the
audience change or accept these traits.
This idea of copying someones identity from the media has been seen to
have a negative and positive effects, with some people seeing it as an
ability which can improve a person, by increasing confidence or
acceptance, others see as something which has potential to lead to crime.
With children able to watch adult films (18+) people are worried that they
will begin to pick up some of the more violent characters traits, like anger
and aggression, as well as the younger audiences becoming desensitized
by the violence and seeing it as an acceptable thing to do. An example of
these films is The Dark Knight Rises, in 2012 the 24 year old began
shooting people in a theatre, when arrested he said I am the Joker. This
shows the negative effects of relating to characters.
The fourth reason is integration and social interaction, this is the idea that
people watch something in the media and then discuss it with others; it is
similar to reception theory. Within this section comes the idea that whilst
someone is watching a piece of media, someone else is as well, this gives
people a sense of community. Reality TV shows try to play on this reason
by using votes to highlight the fact that loads of people are watching it at
the same time, giving people the idea that the program is popular and
therefore important in their social lives.
The final reason is escapism, this works on the idea that a film can allow
people to escape into a new world where nothing bad happens, this
provides people with the belief that watching/ playing these games/ film
will allow them to escape their original lives and become someone new,
this can be stress relieving as well as enjoyable but can lead to addiction
and self-loathing as they have created a better world then the real world.

Reception study

Stewart Hall developed reception theory; he suggested that media texts

were in coded by the creators and decoded by the audience. This theory
works on the premise that the viewers are active instead of passive and
therefore are able to decode text instead of accepting what they hear,
making this theory different from the Hypodermic needle theory.

This theory suggests that the audience can decode a message in one of
three ways, either dominant, which is the intended meaning, for example
there could be an advert on TV with a man saying that France is a great
place to go on holiday, the dominate response would be accepting of this
fact, so people would agree with the statement. A negotiated response
would be that the audience might agree but think that Germany is also
nice, and finally an oppositional response would be if the audience had a
negative reaction to the advert.
It is suggested that the way the audience reacts could depend on their
cultural background, for example the oppositional audience might have
been told by their parents that France is a bad place to go. With this
theory the audience is understood more acknowledge for having more
than one few as a whole, with some people liking an advert and others
hating it.
From the survey I sent out I found that players prefer games which are fun
and exciting, these traits can be found in games with an age rating of
18+, this is because there is more creative freedom in these games, with
the sense of not knowing if the their character is going to survive, which
just isnt available in lower aged games. I would also like to highlight the
section in this question which shows that no one which responded plays
18+ games for educational reasons.
I then asked these gamers if, after playing these games did they feel
violent and why if they did or didnt. 100% of people responded with they
didnt feel violent after playing the game. One went on to explain they
didnt feel violent because they dont like hurting people (because I dont
like to hurt people). Another explained that they can tell the difference
between virtual reality and reality and knows not to use violence in the
real world (because its not real)

Finally, I asked the participants if a less violent version of their favourite

game came out would they prefer it to the original. 75% said that they
wouldnt by the less violent version, and the remaining 25% highlighted
that many 18+ games do not contain that much gore/ blood so the
resulting game would not be so different from the original it depends on
how violent the game is, Assasins Creed isnt that bad but I have seen
other games that have sencless violence. That is the only thing that i dont
like - plus if its gross and graphic.

From my research I can conclude that from simply looking at case studies
it seems that video games can course violence in people, however from a
random survey people believe that video games have little effect on
peoples violence levels and instead must conclude that violent out bursts
from people are caused by other variables instead of from video games.

Hypodermic needle


Uses and gratification

Reception theory