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Seeing Tv Essay, Research Paper

I have watched television on many occasions throughout my life. When I was growing up I watched TV to pass the time on days when I could not go outside, and the whole day I would complain to my parents that, “there is never anything fun to do in the house.” As a child I would sit down in the family TV room watching, what I now consider, mindless shows for hours upon end. I did that to relieve the current state of boredom that I was in. Little did I know that those wasted hours I spent in front of a box would shape some of my outlooks on people and life for the future. I did not come upon this realization until I started attending classes in the beginning of this semester. Through the readings, movies, lectures, and this project I came to realize that I was and am just as impressionable as the next person is when it comes to TV. Between counting the technical events that occur in a TV program and watching programs without turning on the sound I came to the realization that all things portrayed on TV are seen as entertaining. If everything is entertaining it becomes harder to decipher which aspects are real, if any.

To watch a television show and attempt to count the technical events is not an easy task. I say attempt because it is difficult to catch all of the technical changes. If your attention is averted for a second it is likely that you will miss an event. While doing this I watched a sitcom and for the ten minutes that I paid attention to strictly technical events I could not follow what was occurring in the show. I counted a total of two hundred and seventy five events in a ten-minute span of the show. That total is not including the commercials, which take up a majority of the half-hour time slot that the sitcom runs in. There are so many camera angles for a conversation between two people; it is amazing how often the camera

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zooms in and out. While concentrating on just technical changes there was no way that I could keep up with the story line. That might have been a problem if I was watching an ?Agatha Christie? or ?Sherlock Holmes? mystery but lucky for me I was not. After the ten minutes were up I continued watching and it took a matter of minutes for me to understand what was going on. The different camera angles, voice-over’s, fade ins and fade outs, and audience reactions, especially, are what make the shows interesting. If all this were cut out from the programs they would be very dull slow moving shows counting entirely on the story line. All this is just while focusing on a sitcom image, what happens when these events are taken out of commercials?

While observing commercials for a while I realized that they have even more technical events occurring than the shows do. Commercials use as many technical advantages as they can to sell their products. The time span of a commercial is shorter than that of a show so the advertisers need to grab your attention right from the start. I watched a few commercials just counting the technical events, and for the forty seconds that one ran it was just a variety of different technical events. Some have story lines others just have a bunch of unrelated scenes. I also realized that at different times of the day and during different programs, different types of commercials run. Throughout sporting events there are car, beer, and fast food commercials which all project a masculine image. The cars advertised are big trucks and sports utility vehicles that appear to go through the roughest terrain imaginable. We all know that you can find lots of mountains, forests, and ?off-roading? places in the cities. During news broadcasts commercials project happy families in phone ads, perfume ads, and grocery store advertisements. They also cater to the

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business viewers with ads about new online companies and insurance companies. With all the different types of television programs there are equal amounts of different commercials. The technical events within the ads prove that we need stimulation of the mind in order to give our attention to something. The majority of commercials that are played are nothing more than words and arrays of scenery being flashed before the consumers eyes. After observation it became evident that the news and other programs are not as different from commercials as we believe them to be.

I watched “Channel 5 News at 10:00″ without turning on sound and found that the news we watch, is not what is really going on in the world. In the beginning of the broadcast they will cover stories in which the main theme is violence. Watching this I was able to tell the main focus of the story from words that appeared and perhaps a little picture in the upper corner. The violence is put in the beginning segments to grab the attention of the viewers, which brings us to a disturbing realization. TV viewers enjoy watching deaths, beatings, and burglaries as a form of entertainment. It is not until after many commercial break’s that they move on to the more “fluff” stories on “Good Samaritan” types. Then they move onto segments about health issues. Thus just adds to the ideas that the world today is very concerned with beauty and beauty comes from your outward appearance. This is one of the points brought up in the film “The Ad and The Ego.” The world today bases what they should look and act like from the ads and shows they view on TV or see in magazines.

Watching the news without sound made it very hard to understand what was going on. There were a lot of changes from one shot to another shot, which would be completely different from the previous

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one. Many of the shots are just those, shots, of a scene and without sound there is no voice over of the reporters to be heard. I was unable to follow any of the stories. I got the main point of the piece when they introduced it, from the word blurb that was displayed on the screen describing the issue. The words did catch my attention because they were in big bold letters. I am unable, like many others, to read lips so this experiment was very frustrating for me. My sister came in the room while I was conducting the experiment and she thought I was crazy. My eyes were glued to a set that was not producing sound and obviously I had a confused look on my face. There were technical events in the program but there are not as many as in a sitcom or other TV programs. This absence of technical events might be a reason why not too many younger adults and children pay too much attention to the news. I realize that the news does not cover as many important issues as it should and, the corporations that own the TV stations filter what is covered. They are forming what we see as reality and what we try to make our own reality resemble. This is again referring back to the film “The Ad and The Ego”; many rely so much on TV that there is little distinction between what is real and what is presented as real. This theory is especially evident in watching the weeknight hour-long teenage soap operas, sitcoms, and shows on crime and drama.

I watched a weeknight sitcom for fifteen minutes without sound and again I became frustrated. I was not as frustrated as with the news because by looking at facial expressions I had some reaction as to what was going on. I was able to understand more of what was going on, than during the news, because the actors talked slower and I could sometimes read their lips. I caught myself trying to stay with the story line but it became increasingly difficult with the quick scene

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changes. The show I watched is normally a comedy and I did not laugh as much as I would of if I could have heard the studio audiences reactions and what was being said. Occasionally I chuckled at someone’s body language but not too often. I realized that all the characters on the show were skinny women with beautiful features and handsome men with muscular bodies. Sex appeal is a big thing in the media. This ties back to the idea that you are only funny, or popular, or important if you are beautiful, and have what is considered a perfect body. I say considered because the image of the perfect female body has changed over time. Marilyn Monroe, who was an icon, was a size fourteen. At the present time the super models and ?beautiful? people are size zero if not smaller.

The story line of this episode appeared to be very simple. I was not as into the story line as when I watch with sound, partly because I could not follow it well. I also found that I started to create my own story line. I had to when they would cut from scene to scene or person to person not showing who, if anybody, was talking. The combination of audio and visual in television are a necessity for viewers to get the full effect of the image being portrayed.

This experiment has opened my eyes to view television on a whole other level. I can make the distinction, most of the time, which others cannot do, between what is portrayed as reality and what is reality. I also understand that all of the subjects presented on TV are viewed as entertaining. This is not the proper image that should be available for millions of impressionable minds to watch. The television should be projecting interesting and stimulating matters not turning subjects like murder and violence into entertainment. I also agree with what was said in the film “Ways of Seeing”, that the camera

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changes the way we see things. All of the different technical events that occur in a program can change the light in which we look at the subject matter. If there is a lot of camera movement and scenery changing, that can make the dullest subject matter interesting. It can also have the effect of making bad images seem normal and even pleasurable. The way media works today it can accomplish many things. It can invent stories to create, what they think is reality, which leads to the destruction of people thinking for themselves. There was a good portrayal of this in a recent movie, “Wag the Dog”. In this movie the media created a war to divert the attention of the public away from a real life scandal. That made me think that I could fall victim to that now, and never know the difference between reality and “Tvland.”

What You See Is

NOT

What You Get!

Samantha Masterson


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