Familiarity enhancing immersion.
I have only turned the television set on a couple of times during the last year. One time I turned it on and watched a little of ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’. Ridge was in a wood paneled room engaged in an intense relationship discussion with Taylor. I tuned in again about three months later, and there they were again, in the same room, engaged in virtually the same discussion, this time punctuated by Ridge gazing off at some indeterminable horizon, with a kind of thinking but not thinking expression on his face. At this rate their imaginary television life could last for a duration of at least 11,000 years.
One point covered in the module is the use of sterotypes. As an aspiring writer I often come across the concept of stereotyping in a negative context, as if we were expected to invent an entirely new type of person each time we write a story. The opposite is closer to the truth. In soap operas and sitcoms stereotypes perform the function of presenting believable characters that we can relate to and see develop over time. There was once and extremely dumbass sitcom where people had been replaced by dinosaurs in a household suburban setting. Any initial chuckle at the concept was quickly overpowered by a lack of rapport or empathy with the characters, who had immovable dinosaur facial expressions, and lousy scripts.
I don’t fully agree with Dr Arnolds suggestion that audience relies more on situation than individual characters, especially using 90210 as her example. When the ‘difficult’ Brenda was dropped the whole show quickly went down the chute. Brenda was obviously a drawcard for the demographic audience. Some actors have charisma and star quality, even without great acting ability; take Elvis for example, and the enduring popularity of his movies, synonymous with bad acting and throwaway musical ditties.
Soapies rely on the ‘what happens next’ principle. I loathe this format, doubly so when it is introduced into sitcoms. It is the grown ups version of enticing small children with pieces of candy. The old fashioned ’stand alone’ episode style holds much more credibility and opportunity for genuine expression of television as an art form. Something may be popular, or financially rewarding, but still be artistically shallow, and even demeaning to the poor soul addicted to watching on a nightly basis. The only thing worse than soapies is canned laughter, especially in tandem with sitcom. Unforgivable.
One other thing that drives me batty are those ‘broadcast live to a studio audience’ shows, where many audience members go whoooo! Whoooo! It happens during sitcoms, sporting events, and even chat shows. Whoooo! was once the domain of grommet surfers riding their first barrel, but now we hear it along with every golf putt, tennis point, celebrity interview, entry of Kramer, etc. Enough of the Whoooo! already.
Do you notice how Americans in the audience jump up and wave their arms around if a talk show host mentions the name of their city or home state. I have a theory that this is why the Americans lost the Vietnam war. The Viet Kong, in convenient seclusion, simply called out, “New York..Chicago..Indiana,” and the American soldiers would jump up and wave their arms around, screaming Whoooo! at the top of their lungs. It was a no contest.