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Stuart Hall- Preferred Reading Theory

Old view- we understand representations after we have experienced them, there is only one fixed set of meanings. New view- we can question messages in media and interpret the message differently, we as an audience investigate representations from within.  'The question of power can never be bracketed out of representation'- Stuart Hall The institution consciously or unconsciously encodes with meaning, which can get lost and the audience consciously or unconsciously decode with meaning. There are three ways of decoding:   Dominant reading is where the reader or audience fully accepts the texts message or code and reproduces the preferred reading, which is a reading that may not have been a result of conscious intention on the part of the author. The code is natural and believable. For example in this CCTV on drink aware the message is only drink responsibly.   The negotiated reading is where the reader shares the text's message party and accepts vaguely the preferred reading but sometimes resists the message and modifies it slightly to relate to their own position or experiences and interests. For example the negotiated reading for this advert would be I want to carry on drinking but not too much.  The oppositional reading, where the reader opposes the dominant reading due to the fact of their social position. The reader understands the preferred reading but does not share the text's codes and rejects the reading. For example in the drink aware advert the reader can think I can drink as much as I want, responsibly or not, it doesn't matter. 

THE MALE GAZE- LAURA MULVEY Mulvey has described this as what she sees from a male point of view adopted by the camera for the benefit of an assumed male audience. She argued that the men are central active characters in films and that the male audiences identifies with them in there viewing of the passive females. In addition to this she had also argued that the camera lingering on a woman's body was evidence that women were being viewed as sex objects for the men’s pleasure. The narrative to see the world through male’s eyes to identify with the male gaze positions women. The women are broken down into a part, which disempowers the female, to look ecstatically pleasing and attractive, men have a lot more substance. An example of the male gaze would be "Sexy Back' by Justin Timberlake. These images show women being objectified, which could make them look weak and vulnerable but sexy which will . The second image shows a woman with empowerment, as the woman is on a high horse and looks very superior. The third image shows a male being objectified, he has been left naked on a balcony for all the public to see, this makes the man look weak and stupid. However this may give the female audience pleasure but not the sexual pleasure a funny pleasure to see a man be humiliated for his actions.


Stuart Hall, Laura Mulvey and Andrew Goodwin