Sunday, 16 June 2013

Frameworks of Interpretation: The Relationship between Audiences and Films Part 3

Part of the theory of active spectatorship is that the audience is made up of individuals who all read and interpret films differently from each other. What makes us individuals are a range of things and these could be considered our frameworks of interpretation. For example I am a (vaguely) young white British man who has been through higher education and is (probably considered) middle class. All these factors such as my age, my class, my ethnicity, my education and even my past experiences will all have some bearing on the way I read and interpret a film. Though I might agree with many other people, there could also be differences. For example my interpretation of a film might be very different to an old African lady. Though the film may have a preferred reading, there may be some differences in the way people interpret it due to their differing frameworks of interpretation.

Examples of this can be found everywhere. Where I found Avatar to be about a so-called ‘primitive’ species of aliens that taught a human that he should be more respectful of his surroundings and nature and the environment, others criticised it for portraying the aliens as savages and for the use of African-American and Native American actors in the roles of the aliens. I interpreted it as James Cameron suggesting that the ‘primitive’ cultures were honourable, noble and cared for the planet, whereas the humans (often played by Americans and Europeans) had basically destroyed Earth through carelessness and greedy consumption of natural resources. However others consider it a patronising view of non-white cultures and criticised it for having a white hero who has to save the savages. Perhaps some critics with different frameworks of interpretation to my own were more sensitive to these issues than I was.

Did you miss...?
Part 2 on the pleasures of film watching

Read more:
Part 5 on the effects of films.

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