Active Audience

Essay by babo9999 November 2007

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Active Audience means that the audience is intelligent, autonomous (not fully) with diverse cultural tools (tools are not uniform). The theory of active audience "argues that media cannot tell people what to think or how to behave in any direct way because people are not nearly as stupid, gullible, or easy to dominate as the media indoctrination perspective would have us believe" (Croteau & Hoynes 266). The active audience is intelligent in our engagement such that the people are savvy on how the media works. People know that the media industry has tricks to portray a more realistic program. For example, an active audience will know that the blood is not real in movies. Encoding/decoding is a model that can be related to active audience. Encoding/decoding is a "method that highlights both messages and their interpretation by audiences" (Croteau & Hoynes 275). The model states that the producers implement codes in media such as television, newspaper, and magazines and the people are interpreting the messages without knowing it.

Active audiences are claimed to be active because they decode the messages. Audiences decode messages by preferred, negotiated, or oppositional readings. An example of preferred reading is people accepting messages that are encoded in the romance novels to help them escape the real world. Negotiated reading is accepting the media message through exchange of pleasure. For example, a viewer of the Cosby Show can argue that it shows misrepresentation of African Americans and be against the show. However, the viewer still decides to watch the show because he wants to see an attractive actor in the show. As a result, the exchange of a good for a bad aspect is referred to negotiated reading. Oppositional reading is where the audience is against the media message and looks for every single fault...