Author Archives: philpott24

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory

 

‘The Big Bang Theory’ is a popular comedy show shot in America, evolving over 7 seasons since 2007.  The show focuses on a group of highly intelligent friends and their troubles as they go through life.  The tag line ‘smart is the new sexy’ changes the view on ‘nerds’ making them the people you wouldn’t mind hanging out with.

 

There’s a saying that every story can be summed up as ‘a stranger comes to town’, this is also true for the series.  The original concept was as simple as two geeky guys suddenly find they have a new sexy neighbor.  The main characters being highly intelligent requires the language they use and their actions to reflect this.  One episode requires the group to dress up so Sheldon wears a striped suit mimicking the Doppler effect, some members of the audience may understand what this is and actually understand the physics of it and so appeals to their understanding.  However for those that don’t understand what is going on Penny acts as the audience’s voice asking what the striped suit represents.  The jokes are then fed into the way Sheldon explains the science behind it as though it were common knowledge.  This then includes the audience with the scientific side to the show making them feel intelligent for then understanding.  The language and tone of the show is family orientated keeping the rating a 12 in the UK, innuendoes are used but in a subtle way as not to be rude.  The characters within the show all have different qualities and attract different audiences for that reason, similarly to the content mixing comedy with education.  Viewers of television shows tend to have a majority of people with similar attributes to the characters so some may watch to see Penny’s view on the ‘geeks’ she hangs out with finding their antics amusing.  Alternatively people may view to follow the ‘geeks’ and see what they get up to out of enjoyment for their activities.  The characters are based around stereotypes, which usually have a negative view on the individual, however the show has embraced these qualities and used them to show a different society.  Instead of finishing work and heading out to the bar the group of scientists will meet up at a comic book store to spend their time there before playing videogames as their social activity.  This would be looked on as a dull way to spend an evening however this is the element where the characters become the alpha males.  These activities also tie in with the audience relating to their personal interests, the majority of viewers are aged 18 – 29 making them student age or recently left education.  The scientists work at the university and experience similar situations to those found in reality.  Cultivation theory suggests that those that watch television programmes for an extended period of time often find themselves coming across situations like those in their favorite show because it has shaped their perception on life.  This is not always negative as the show promotes working hard to achieve and so seeing characters you enjoy watching in a similar environment it can often inspire despite the fact its not real.  Students are the primary market for video games where comic books may be a little less common.  Recently Marvel have released a chain of superhero films brining these characters into the public eye in a popular way, The Big Bang Theory characters discuss the heroes in their comic books but now the general audience can understand more about them as they can relate it to the films making the ‘geeks’ less geeky for liking the characters.  This once again refers to the shows tag line ‘Smart is the new sexy’.  That being said the scientists are still seen as the nerds that enjoy subjects not associated with being ‘cool’ and the Penny characters is seen to be the pretty, dumb blond.  This stereotype of Penny is furthered in an episode when she needs to erect a TV stand and seduces the guys to help her out, as she doesn’t know what she’s doing.  To mix up the characters social groups female scientist characters are introduced, the idea that ‘nerds’ struggle to talk to women and find it awkward is then put into play.  Raj is a character that suffers from select mutism and physically can’t speak to women.  Other issues like social anxiety and autism are also dealt with in the show tastefully adding humor to the situations they face.  Other common issues do to with relationships between friends, spouses and parents also arise.  There have been a few episodes based around dating, the group test bizarre theories for dating hoping to succeed, but often don’t.  This appeals to the audience as they can relate to the situation in some way, research suggests that people imagine what they would do in that situation should it be real responding to the content on screen.  Relating back to cultivation theory some may believe that these pick-up lines may work in real life as they did for the characters and so copy what they saw.

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Does Violent Media Content Cause A Violent Society?

I conducted some research to find out how students behaviour may have been impacted by media and more closely by violent content.  The research found online suggests that violent media has a greater impact on males and coincidentally the random group selected to fill out the questionnaire included more males.  All students that took the questionnaire watch or play violent content, and over half said they do copy actions seen within the content.  These actions refer to uses and gratification, people copying content seen, this time not in a positive way.  The survey disproved cultivation theory; some have found similar situations to the media they watch but the majority don’t come across them stating that the fictitious world remains exactly that, fictitious.  The content of the media products is seen to be subjective where the students have questioned what is happening and relating it to their own lives with the majority opting for a violent approach should the situation be real in their own lives.

The questionnaire response from students that watch or play violent media content provides evidence supporting the theory that violent media content can affect violence in society!


Results From the Student Questionnaire – Does Violent Media Content Cause A Violent Society?

Watch/Play Violent Content Examples of situations similar to films or games
Gender Hollyoaks student behave like real college students
Male 10 Robbing a bank
Female 5 Abuse
Watch/Play Violent Content Stealing a car/hit and run
Yes 15
No 0
Copy Elements Seen?
Yes 8
No 7
Find Situations Similar to Content?
Yes 4
No 11
Act Aggressively Similar to Content?
Yes 7
No 8
Think What You Would Do in Similar Situation
Yes 12
No 3
If Yes – What would you do?
Fight 6
Flight 4
Depends 2

Violence Within Society, Does it Link to Gaming?

To find out a little more about the way media may affect young people I have created a short survey, I have kept it anonymous and easy to answer as talking about violent behaviour can be something people try to hide, as they feel ashamed.  This is to determine a little more information about violence and society and see whether the secondary research supports this or if another avenue to debate will arise.

 

Below is the questionnaire that will be handed out to collect data:

Violence Within Society, Does it Link to Gaming?

 

Gender                                     Male                                                 Female

 

Do you watch films or play games with violent content?

 

 

Yes

 

No

 

Have you ever tried to copy something you’ve seen on television, in a film or in a game?

 

Yes

 

No

 

Do you ever find yourself coming across situations similar to those you watch on films or TV?

 

Yes – (Please give an example)

 

 

 

No

 

 

Have you ever been in a fight or acted aggressively towards someone in a similar way to the aggressive/violent content you watch?

 

Yes

 

No

 

 

When watching or playing action/violent content do you ever think about what you would do in the real life situation?

 

 

Yes

 

NO

 

 

–       If you answered yes, was your response a FIGHT or FLIGHT response?

 

FIGHT

 

FLIGHT


If Games Were Real – Violence

This is a video I found when looking through some debates about violence in reality and the connection to games.  The style of the video is not important here, but you will notice with most of their game examples violence or extreme panic is used, being incorporated into the elements of the game changing the way we then look on society.


Do Video Games Influence Real Life Violence?

 

Debates into whether video games affect behaviour and violence in society have been around for a while.  There appears to be more than just games affecting people’s attitudes but it is implied that games do have a lot to do with it.  Cultivation theory states that when an audience spends a lot of time immersed in a media product they begin to believe that it is a true reflection on the world.  When the first episode of the popular US series ‘Friends’ was broadcast many woman began to copy Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyle.  This copycat behaviour could also be applied to violent games, copying the action seen onscreen.  The game promotes violence by rewarding the player when they murder in the game by advancing them to the next level.  This is then seen as a good thing and being able to do it in a ‘cool’ way then may attract them to do it in real life and the real life consequences are never shown in the game and the reality of right and wrong have become clouded based on cultivation theory.  Some however argue that games are used a stress relief, as a means to do the things we never would or could in real life.

 

Studies have shown that after playing shooter games players become desensitised to violence and killing removing the emotional impact of brutal acts making violence more like a game to be achieved.  This fuels the mind and urges people to test their gamer skills on a bigger level, in real life.  The nature of the game also effects how people react with others, Call of Duty is a game based around war but more than that patriotism, serving and protecting your country.  GTA4 is about a foreigner coming to America and murdering people and stealing cars so way people interpret the games will also vary.  Games act like an experience so you can live out another life without actually doing those things.  Some argue that they teach teenagers about violence so they can see that it is a horrible thing when done in real life and can discourage people from doing it as they know the results of their actions.

 

Fifia is a game that allows the player to play as a professional footballer; those that play the game have an active interest in the sport and some play the game in reality.  This can be related to shooter/fighting games where players enjoy it so much they want to experience it in real life.  Being a creative outlet or stress reliever appears to be the common counter argument to these statements but still on either side of the argument video games alone don’t seem to affect people behaviour there must be another variable or even a few at work beyond the blame of games.


Do Video Games Influence Real Life Violence?

Dr. Patrick Markey is an associate professor at Villanova University in America studying psychology.  He has been asked to report on shootings to give an in depth focus as to why the individual did what they did.  Confirmation bias is when people take note and favour information that backs up their theory and put aside evidence that does not.  In the argument to whether video games influence violent behaviour different people have their own bias opinions.  Audiences don’t just passively take in media they watch on television, they will take it in differently questioning how the information being displayed affects them.  When watching the news relaying a story of a bomb attack in America some may react to the terrible loss of life meaninglessly others may see it as a message that those behind it with extremist views can strike anywhere.  This is one story being told to the audience but depending on the individual’s point of view they will take different thoughts away from it.  Media isn’t necessarily objective but subjective based on the individual.  Confirmation bias works in a similar way, when a violent shooting takes place the news may report that the individual played violent war games and so that must mean that violent games do encourage real life harm as there is now an example.  That individual believing this may then ignore the statistics that 1 in every 4 gamers play violent war games but there are not a quarter of all gamers out on a murderous rampage.

 

Dr. Patrick Markey looked at the way research was done to suggest video games do promote violence.  One group will play violent games for 15 minutes and the other group non-violent games.  They individuals would then fill out a questionnaire to do with the length of hypothetical jail sentences and pranks on people.  The argument states that these hypothetical questions don’t prove if people actions towards others would bring them to violence plus the fact that the questions weren’t directly about the individual being violent.  To counter this if the majority of results from the violent video game group involved being nastier with pranks etc. than the non violent games group then there would be a noticeable difference in the psychological thought process about actions towards others.

 

Studies cannot directly measure the correlation between violent video games and violent people; there are many other factors that come into making someone violent towards others.  The family environment, social attitudes, income, availability and easiness of violence are just a few factors that link into this debate.  Some argue that violence is not encouraged from video games, although it may only be true that games are not solely responsible.  The environment around the individual can influence their decisions but videogames could be a considerable factor, the virtual experience of anarchy and violence may only assure them that violent behaviour is the answer.  Many people play violent videogames and when that is mixed with other situations can result in violent behaviour but then even this can’t be accurately proved.  It’s like saying that eating cereal predict violent behaviour as that morning it’s likely the individual eat cereal for breakfast however this doesn’t prove cereal is a catalyst for violent behaviour in a similar way that videogames don’t.

 


Iron Man 3 Trailer – Focus Group Screening

This is the video of the focus group viewing the trailer.  This is done to see how the audience reacts to footage as it’s being played.

Noticeable qualities:

–       0:26 – yawn

–       0:50 – all eyes focused

–       1:38 – audience members being distracted easily

–       1:46 – all eyes focused again as music speed increases


Audience Profile – Iron Man 3

Audience Profile – Iron Man 3

 

Following the research into the audience for Iron Man 3, an audience profile can be created giving an idea of what the fans enjoy.  First hand and secondary research enforce each other generating the content required.  The focus group viewing the trailer was small and even with different ages, gender and likes amongst the group there wasn’t enough diversity to make an accurate decision.  So basing the data from the focus group and that found online a pattern of audiences likes appeared.

 

 

The majority audience age range is from 18 – 34; the younger members of this group enjoy the powerful music and fight scenes.  Where the older audience may enjoy these elements too many fans grew up with the comics and cartoons and so they can experience the film in a different way having already established the characters.

 

Those that enjoy the film have hobbies that relate into the film – creative projects (photography/art etc.) and watching TV and films.  The film uses similar themes seen in other hero films, which the audiences tend to watch as well.  There are more male fans of the film than female, roughly a ratio of 4:1. Women within the film are not a specific desire being portrayed as objects, but would like them to have a more personal role within the story. The elements within the trailer have to reflect what the audience wants from the film, the audience don’t stick to one specific genre of film but have around 3 genres they would class as their ‘favorite’.  Comedy, horror and action were popular choices which ties into the trailer showing dark scenes for the terrorists with scary voice-overs, action explosions and fight scenes and then the end is light hearted when a ton of Iron Man suits arriving to save the day.

 


Violence in the Media – Does it Create Violence in Society

Violence in the Media – Does it Create Violence in Society

Some can argue violence amongst people can originate anywhere; I’m interested in how media can have an affect on people’s behavior and the theories behind this.

 

Uses and gratification theory aims to understand why people choose to surround themselves with specific media products to satisfy their desires.  There are many reasons why you watch what you do or play the games you enjoy, it could be for several reasons, relaxation, escape, diversion, social interaction or companionship.  It relieves you into the elements you enjoy.

 

GTA4 is a popular game in which the user controls the main character completing violent missions involving bombs, guns and fighting.  It diverts the user away from their usual life to indulge in behavior they wouldn’t normally do, it feeds the violent side of the player without them actually causing harm.  The series ‘Misfits’ (S2E4) based an episode around the idea that violence in video games would be extremely dangerous if it were real.  This plays into the copycat theory, that people will be influenced and copy what they see.  Debates about people surrounding themselves with violent games and television programmes have risen.  Media exposure of violence is increasing and has reduced its ‘shock’ factor; the news broadcasts dangerous situations, which grab our attention, as instinctively we want to be aware of the dangers surrounding us.

 

The news shows bomb attacks when they take place and they send a strong message around the world.  This sends messages to the passive audience taking in the information that violence can achieve a result.  The television show ‘24’ features agents (the good guys) torturing terrorists for information, this once again is stating a message that violence gets results.  The show has the heroes performing these horrible acts which also says it must be an ok thing to do for a good cause.  The audience passively takes the message in; the next step is violent video games like GTA4, which encourage violence to further the characters story.  The player will be consciously choosing to cause this fantasy violence. Active consumption of media is when the message donates a response from the audience.  With the news broadcasting terror events copycat criminals have followed most recently with the Boston Bombings.  It was reported that the two brothers involved had been following extremist groups online, viewing the videos they post.  Even the execution of the terror threat was something similar to a Bond film, dropping the bag and disappearing into the crowd.  Being undetected and achieving their end result is what is then broadcast.  Fear that this attack could be copied in the UK, security was heightened for the marathon.  This feeling of being unstoppable is similar to the latest Iron Man film with the terrorists sending a message “you’ll never see me coming”.  This also relates to video games as you can restart or add cheat codes to be invincible and some say this is giving a very negative thought process not only to those the game is aimed at, but youngsters growing up surrounded by violence achieving results.  This can promote unhealthy ways for children to be brought up, being influenced on social situations by violent media.  That being said many teenagers play and watch fantasy violence and it serves well as a talking subject bringing social groups together with similar interests.

 

The hypodermic needle model suggests that media messages are being directly injected into the passive audience, which incidentally will be influenced by it.  When surrounding yourself with images, sounds and colours that represent success your more likely to be successful, seeing these positive things will subconsciously put you in a better mood.  Some say this is similar with violent media, seeing it all the time will put you in a subconscious state of mind that this is the way to act in certain situations.  How people interpret actions seen within media products can also affect the desired outcome.  GTA4, some could say that it allows players to act in ways they would never want to in reality, feeding the need for excitement in the game.  Other say it is setting an example for people to follow about the way the world works, thinking that violence will always get you the desired results.  Reception theory expands on this discussing how people evaluate what they see and read.  Basing a film or text on your social surroundings and environment different people will interpret things differently.  The original message therefore can have mixed interpretations as to what it means, in depth readings into the type of language used and others taking it at face value.  Poetry often has this type of effect where the poem may mean one thing at face value but another when broken down and analysed.  The poem ‘Nothings Changed’ by Tatamkhulu Afrika.  Cultivation theory examines the effects of watching television over a long period of time and becoming immersed in the fictional world.  People model their clothing and hair cuts on those they admire on screen and so copying elements from the shows incorporating it into their own lives.  GTA4 covers many different types of criminal activities within the game but shows them in a positive light which copycats may be inclined to repeat.

 

An online poll showed that 20% of people believe media is to blame for violence in society and 80% say it’s not. (http://www.debate.org/opinions/does-the-media-cause-violence)

 

In the 1960sProfessor Leonard Eron began a study following 856 third-grade children in America.  This study lasted for 22 years and concluded that males brought up watching violence on the television were more likely to commit crimes as teenagers or adults.  An American news paper also reported on the subject on the topic of video games, discussing how they promote killing and violent behavior as that is the task required to reach the next stage – rewarding the player for that behavior.  Films and television shows show off violent behavior as the necessary action however many have reported about the fact the consequences for brutal actions are rarely shown.  These media products remove the reality from violent actions and brutal behavior making them less significant to the individual in the real world.

 

On the other hand it’s argued that media is blamed for violence in society, television news simply report on the actions that will generate viewers and that can’t be blamed for encouraging others.  Media products simply reflect or report on violence and not influence the original act.  This is not to say that media as a whole has no influence over audiences, advertisements tend to generate more business for a company hence the continuing growth in the industry.  Purchasing a different drink at lunchtime is only a minor alteration however violence is caused from a change in emotion and attitude, which media alone can’t create.

 

Some say that games, films and books take the user away from reality to experience a world different to our own.  We all live to experience, or we are just surviving.  These media aspects provide this different experience and admittedly people have used similar methods seen or followed extremist videos as inspiration however these were not necessarily the influence but could be seen as a provoker.