While most of us agree that people are not always completely passive consumers of media and are at least partially active in some areas of media consumption, a whole different perspective is offered by the concept of uses and gratifications. I am sure everyone can think of instances when they are more passively receiving media messages, like when the TV is on in the background while you’re doing work, and instances when they are more actively seeking something from the media, such as hunting down an entertainment story on the internet to see if the gossip you heard is true. This distinction raises questions about what dictates someone’s level of active consumption (simultaneous activities, level of interest, etc.) as well as what this level of participation means for the message the viewer takes away. As the textbook says, “We each construct our own meaning of content, and that meaning ultimately influences what we think and do” (Baran & Davis 241). Therefore, in order to understand the greater concept of influence, it is important to understand the meaning someone is looking for when consuming media.
The theory of uses and gratifications is related to movies in an online college newspaper:
As the professor cited in the article states, one reason people see movies is to be distracted, as McQuail’s non-social/ escapist function points out. If this function includes “in addition to flight from reality, such factors as relaxation, passing time, identification and contact with people on the screen,” then the function can be applied to children as well (McQuail 362). Another one of the functions mentioned in the article is the “social function” and the potential of media to “provide topics of conversation” (McQuail 359). The article highlights the fact that a movie like Slumdog Millionaire, that won eight Oscars and has gotten tons of public attention would likely be a topic of discussion in a social setting, another pressing reason to see the movie yourself. Finally, the article draws attention to the fact that people use movies to relate to the characters, or so that “one can identify with and obtain an almost real contact with people on television” (McQuail 359).
I feel like it is human nature to, for example, watch a movie and attempt to relate it to their own life. I know that I saw He’s Just Not That Into You and pretty much related every character and situation in the movie to my life in some way. Has anyone had a similar experience? Does this mean that it’s true that “people actively impose meaning on content and construct new meaning that serves their purposes better than any meaning that might have been intended by the message producer or distributor” (Baran & Davis 239)? Do you see any truth in these arguments that people look to specific media outlets, film for example, to fulfill something within themselves?