Thursday, December 28, 2017

Summary: Prime Time Ideology / Gitlin

Gitlin, T. (1982) “Prime Time Ideology” in Newcomb, H. (ed) Television: The Critical View. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 426-454.

- Gitlin's article deals with what do (television) programs mean (with regard to their social, structural context)
- He mentions several intriguing questions such as; Why are radical ideas suppressed in schools?; why do workers oppose socialism?...The answer always given is cultural hegemony, but Gitlin says that this is not an answer…(he doesn’t go into his answer at this point)
- TV is the most pervasive (spread throughout) and familiar of our cultural sites.
- Commercial culture does not manufacture ideology but rather reproduces, repackages it.
- Everything including our leisure time has become industrialized and homogenized. TV has also. It is part of our life, now for those who can afford it, they can even get a VCR to watch the shows that they have missed.
- Commercials and adverbs which no producer would go without, led us to thinking in terms of a market as supposed to in terms of a public. As consumers rather than citizens.
- The TV show all in the family was innovative in that it brought social issues and conflicts on the show. Also (unlike previous shows where characters were static because its easier to produce and the average watcher wanted it that way) the character of the actors developed with time.
- he discusses different genre and how and why they developed (i.e. the growing black middle class led to black comedy…not black drama because that mey be to much for the majority white audience. Etc). Genre changes with culture.
- With TV sports we see how they don’t even trust us to watch the game. So there is an announcer. But the announcer not only describes the events, he interprets them (i.e. “isn’t it great to be here!”) Its like they took human qualities and put them into the product (i.e. ‘sexy perfume’)
- also in televised sports they feed us with unnecessary stats about the players and all that kind of stuff as to market the whole thing, because it serves to flatter those in the audience who knew that tidbit or fact, and it makes the person who knew that tidbit feel like he really knows something about the world.
- By making the game more amazing the channel hopes that you will stick around to watch the commercials (that cost millions)
- just like we discussed how genre changes and evolves, so does the settings and character types: while in the 50’s there were happy people with happy problems, the 70’s were more complex and saw unhappy people with unhappy problems
- Character types have also evolved because the structural changes in TV with advertisers: while in the 50’s the advertisers used to contract the show and therefore wanted a happy setting, the 60’s saw the producers taking (back) control from the advertisers and they were more intoned to the wants of the audiences. Also the 60’s saw the near universality of TV ownership thus opening it up to a larger range of audiences and thus a larger range of characters
- While there is a larger range of characters, network elites will still not allow a hero that challenges the values of a capitalistic society.
- He discusses that every show has a slant which pushes a certain public issue or position
- the hegemonic system is not ‘cut-and dried’. It constantly needs to be refurbished and reproduced with the ‘indigestible’ parts cast aside.
- There is much inner tension and contradictions in capitalist ideology (urges people t work but than says that leisure is where real satisfaction id found, etc) today the ultimate satisfaction is considered consumer satisfaction and that is how corporate domination over the economy is justified.

Gitlin – hegemonyl
→ US contemporary mass media as single cultural system promoting re-production
  1. hegemony + coercion : process by which ruling classes secure consent of dominated.
  2. took working class seriously enough – fear of revolution
-       high toned gossip – ask to be taken into spotlight with and in system they criticize
-       how does TV encourage viewers to see themselves as anti-political accumulating individuals?
→ commercial culture doesn’t manufacture ideology but rely, reproduces packages and focus ideology that arises from social elite and active groups.
“agenda setting fundtion
→ tv preffers hegemonic ideology, opposition brought in  domesticated.
  1. format and formula
-       changes seem to affirm sovereignty of audience while keeping deep alternatives off agenda
-       central operation of hegemonic capitalist society – assembly line leisure
-       industrialization of time – confined to those who cant afford their way out of standardized social reality
-        consequence : a. behave as market not public. B. colonize consciousness c. consenting to commercial dominance of public sphere
→ hegemonic ideology change in-order to remain hegemonic – populist?
→ majour social conflicts are transported into cultural system  where hegemonic process (form and content) into compatibility wit dominant system.

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