MDSB61H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1-4: Auteur Theory, Low Culture, Media Consumption
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Chapter 1 – Introduction
What are Digital Media?
Using exclusively technical criteria, one could say digital media are anything that uses a digital
mode of communication – including, television, computers, cellphones and video games.
The key issues is not that they are new media forms in some dramatic break from the past, but
rather they are new ways of configuring issues of production, consumption and distribution of
The four relationships can be characterized as sharing, socializing, communicating and
Sharing The notion of sharing refers to the ways in which digital media have transformed how
people share the products of their (media) labor
Socializing the way through which culture is enacted and community constructed. Digital
media function is to create ne ways for people to socialize.
Communicating At the heart of all human experiences (belongs to the field of mass
Culture is only understood through acts of communication and communication is only possible
through cultural means
Communicating is now being reworked through the idea of mobility
Interacting The idea of engaging with one another – interacting in a world is a central part of
What’s important in digital media is he relationship of the viewer to the media in form itself
Digital media view interacting as one of the most important elements on media consumption
Why Learn Media Criticism?
Learning media criticism is like learning a new language
What media criticism does is provide you with a formal language that allows for an
understanding of the cultural role and placement of such narratives
Media Surrounds Us
Media is everywhere! Doing media is now second nature
It is much like the water we dink, the air we breath, and the apartment we live in it is with us
at all times, it belongs to us
We utilize media everyday w/o even acknowledging it.
Media Affect Us
Media affects us and the way we think
It shapes us, our feelings, our thoughts, our general understanding and perspective
Media criticism allows for a systematic engagement for the effects of living in a media-saturated
world – The complex of ways it affects who we are often who we become and who we wanna be.
Media tells our stories
Our relationship to television and film is one directional
The media speaks and we listen and negotiate, accept or reject its messages
Media tells our story for us, and to us
Today participating in media is unavoidable and open to everyone: not just reporters
What Is Media Criticism
Media criticism is fundamentally constituted by its institution allegiance – it is a scholarly
Its important to point this out as a foundational principle in all that follows, for there is much that
may pass for media criticism that is not
Media criticism is not: a popular journalistic accounting of programming or content on media
What distinguishes media criticism from all f the above is audience – media criticism is written
for and by scholars and students of media
First, media critic is centrally involved in a wider societal conversation about media culture
Historically, this conversation was anchored in ideas about what constitutes high and low culture
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High culture was the realm of theater, art, and drama
Low culture; the stuff of folk song, popular rhyme, and dance
Later, film joined the pantheon of high culture, with television occupying low culture
Approaches that focus on how a television show is put together are often call industry criticism
were the show is experienced.
Approaches that focus on how a text itself is constituted – its genre for example – use an
understanding of its internal and discursive elements to engage with how such texts can be
Such approaches are usually referred to as cultural criticism
Media criticism is anchored in a specific mode of scholarly accounting – making wider conceptual
use and understanding of its internal and discursive elements to engage with how such texts can
Guiding Principles for Digital
There are four important principles for digital media criticism.
Foreground emergence Digital media are in their infancy. While there is now an extended
history of media criticism for film and television paralleling the development, growth and change
for each genre, there is no such tradition for the digital world
Using the focus is on understanding the shifts and patterns of media use without assuming a
Historicize while it is important to engage with digital media on its own terms, it is equally
important to ask the historical question – what does this video or text message or video game
command resemble from older histories of media? As its often noted, nothing’s ever truly really
new, it just looks that way
Hybridity Hybridity refers to the notion of combination, a mix of different elements to create
something new. The genres of television often advance or change through hybridity, taking,
elements of drama and elements of sit-com to create a dramedy
This is especially important principle for issues of mixing, re-mixing and the kinds of cross-
platform combinations that are staple of culture online.
Use The role of digital media, whether it is the internet or video games or cell phones, is
strongly determined by how it is used
Digital media whether it is the Internet or video games or cell phones is strongly determined by
how it is used
Chapter 2 – Methods
Key Methods of Media Criticism
Genre is a French word, meaning genous or family
Genre are associated most generally wit a form of classification literature, film or television
Genre criticism is centered on identifying and thinking through the implications of the narrative
conventions that structure media programing.
The important genres in film include romantic comedy, horror, disaster, westerns and science
The most popular television genres include news, drama, situation-comedy, drama reality shows,
soap-operas, medical dramas, detective shows, melodramas and docudramas
Auteur is a French term for author, and is usually used in the context of the personal vision of a
film’s director and a television show’s producer
A media critic using auteur criticism must be conversant in the other methods of criticism
discussed here (genere, culture, and ethnographic)
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