When analysing debates surrounding the media, it is important to consider the validity of each argument with regards to the audience. Whilst this sounds like an incredibly obvious thing to do, the audience reception of a media text is most often where arguments are their weakest. My point is it is nearly impossible to conclusively argue that by consuming a certain media text, an audience member was made to do, think, feel or believe something. This theory is called the media effects model and it essentially sees the relationship between the media and the audience as a hypodermic needle. That is, the media sends a message through the body of the needle which is injected directly into the minds of the audience.
The major flaw in this model is that is does not allow for the impact of context nor pre-existing discourse within the audience’s environment. It is unlikely that an axe murderer becomes violent simply after watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is most likely that that individual has come from a violent or disruptive upbringing or perhaps has experience some discourse within his life that has influenced him so. Additionally, the model does not allow for a mass audience. There are thousands of people who play violent video games, such as Grand Theft Auto for instance; however not every individual who has played those games have then continued on to hijack another citizen’s car. If the message was so convincing that it caused one person to act in a certain way, should that not impact on the rest of the audience consuming the text as well?
However I do not relieve the media of all responsibility for their texts. I believe that the media does indeed influence individuals, although not on as severe amount as the media effects model may believe. After spending a day watching American tween programs such as Hannah Montana with my 8-year-old niece, I noticed that prolonged exposure to the American accent induced an American accent in my niece. This was entirely unintentional by Madison although she was a little please once I had pointed out. Additionally, she proceeded to question me about my prom, which I had to explain was an American tradition. This brief case study shows that there media texts can illicit effects within an audience of which the media must be aware of when constructing those texts.
Lumby, C & Funnel, N 2011, ‘Between Heat and Light: The Opportunity in Moral Panics’, Crime Media Culture, vol. 7, no. 3, pp 277-291.