Television and Radio Criticism

"'It's just a movie': Why you should analyze film and television" by Smith - Brenda

In this week’s reading the author, Smith, talks about how nothing we see in film and television is left by chance. He makes it clear in his chapter that anything we see can leave meaning and something for us to interpret; no matter if it’s considered unsophisticated. He tries to answer the question, “why are we spending so much time finding new meanings in something as insignificant as a movie or a TV show? Aren’t we just reading into it?” This is a question I feel many people (including myself) have but it’s never fully answered. Smith not only gives one answer, because it’s not just a straightforward question. He considers multiple ideas of how we watch entertainment and how nothing is too insignificant to be worth exploring.
In Nothing left to chance he challenges the idea that everything is done by accident. In school, particularly in English class, we’re told to mark every detail we read to find hidden meanings. When a character is wearing a blue shirt [depending on the context of the book] it can be assumed that the character is sad or melancholy. Little details like that can have a whole meaning that we don’t realize right away, and film and television are no different. Smith writes that films and network television are highly scrutinized, carefully constructed, and least random works imaginable. One reason we don’t look for hidden meanings or the media-makers agenda in film and television is because we are encouraged to forget the collective labor that goes into visual entertainment. All we really do is follow the story being unfolded for us without thinking about the effort it took to make the world we’re watching before us. Everything we see is there for us because the media-makers have spent so much time and dedication into going over every detail, from what the character would wear, the environment the plot is set in, and the seemingly random events going on around the characters are all planned out. What we see is a result of this careful planning and detail. However, sometimes raw moments, like improvised work from the actors can make it onto film. But like any planned footage it is treated with the same scrutiny and the media-maker and editor go over all of the footage to assemble it into the final cut. It is a conscious decision to use something that was unplanned or done in a different manner than originally directed/scripted.
A movie is not a telegram talks about how after something is made and the details are set how can we really understand what the media-maker is trying to convey with their work. The S-M-R model (sender, message, receiver) is supposed is supposedly as simple as moving from point A to point B then C. When something is put out there for everyone to see there’s usually an intention on what the message is trying to say but it can sometimes be made unclear when it’s received. The purpose of watching film, television, readings books, or watching plays is not just about watching or reading a plot. They don’t just come out with a message it’s trying to convey. It’s more than just an S-M-R model. There can always be more than one message conveyed, because it’s not just about what the author (whether it’s the director, actor, script writer, etc.) is doing to give us the message, it’s also up to the viewer and how they react to it. Whatever is released to the viewer isn’t just what the author puts out, it’s what our experiences or our ways of thinking that can alter our perception of the film or television show and give us a message the author probably hadn’t even thought of touching.
“Reading into”, just a, ruining a movie all talk about how the idea analyzing film and television can seem tedious or unnecessary. Most films or television shows can just be made for viewing pleasure and don’t need an underlying meaning. It may be true that what we watch can just be for your enjoyment, but in the end nothing can really be done or seen without having some sort of meaning whether we notice it or not.  

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