Television and New Media Audiences

Television and New Media Audiences

Television and New Media Audiences

Television and New Media Audiences


Why is talk about television forbidden at certain schools? Why does a mother feel guilty about watching Star Trek in front of her four-year-old child? Why would retired men turn to daytime soap operas for entertainment? Cliches about television mask the complexity of our relationship to media technologies. Through case studies, the author explains what audience research tells us about the uses of technologies in the domestic sphere and the classroom, the relationship between gender and genre, and the varied interpretation of media technologies and media forms. Television and New Media Audiences reviews the most important research on television audiences and recommends the use of ethnographic, longitudinal methods for the study of media consumption and computer use at home as well as in the workplace. The book discusses reactions of audiences to many internationally known television programmes including The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Street Fighter, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, X-Men, Sesame Street, Dallas, Star Trek, The Cosby Show, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, National Geographic, etc.


The scene is a classroom of four-year olds at an upper-middle-class nursery school in a US Midwestern suburb. About twenty children are present, fifteen of them boys. Two teachers are present, one is a woman in her late fifties, the other is a student teacher in her early twenties. It is late morning clean-up time, when the teachers attempt to secure the children's efforts to tidy up the classroom before the children go to the outdoor playground for recess.

Two boys are playing in a corner of the room with tiny toy cars. One is a slender, white, extremely talkative boy named Ian. The other is a small, Chinese-American boy named Wu. Bedlam is all around them.

A third boy, larger and older than Ian and Wu, approaches. His name is Michael. 'Can I play with you?' he asks.

'Sorry, but me and Wu are playing', Ian replies.

A few minutes later, a fourth boy, Casey, who is even larger than Michael and very rambunctious, joins them in play without asking permission.

While Casey plays with the cars and blocks he sings, 'Flintstones, meet the Flintstones have a yabba dabba doo time . . .'

Ian and Wu are silent. After a pause in the singing, Ian strikes up some conversation:

IAN: Guess what? You know I heard that the Flintstones are going to see the Jetsons.

CASEY: You mean on the cartoons?

IAN: No, the show.

CASEY: On the Flintstones show they're going over to see the Jetsons.

The conversation fades out here and the boys continue playing until the student teacher approaches. She asks, 'What are you doing?' in an accusatory way that implies that they should be putting the toys away rather than playing with them.

In high-pitched, joking voices, the boys reply, 'We're trying to sort these [the blocks] out.' Lingering for a moment to check up on them, the teacher observes them hiding the tiny cars behind the blocks as they clean up. Clearly irritated with them for breaking a frequently repeated rule about returning toys to their rightful storage containers, the teacher switches to a commanding tone: 'I want Casey to put the cars away, Wu to put the big blocks away, and Ian to put the small blocks away.'

As she walks away, the boys erupt in laughter, exhilarated by their naughtiness and the discovery of their crime. Casey begins to sing again, and the other boys join in, singing loudly: 'Flintstones, meet the Flintstones.' As they . . .

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