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Audience Theory

What do you think the following terms mean in relation to audiences...?

Passive Active
Want someone else’s views/ opinions Want to get their own opinion

Tutor Definition
Passive Active
Does not question the messages in the text Can question the messages and meanings in
the text

(Developed in the 1920s to 1930s) It suggests that audiences are a mass that behave the
same way in response to a text. The idea is that the media injects ideas into the minds of the
assumed passive audience.

What are the flaws with the hypodermic needle theory?

It assumes that all of the audience is passive and won’t question the messages that the
specific company/group/etc. will put forward. Assume that there is no active audience,
(Linear communication theory).

Opinion leader theory

We all like to think that we’re independent and make our own decisions about things.
However most of us listen to opinion leaders concerning our thoughts about media
Sometimes the audience may not have even seen the text but may be influenced by opinion
leaders. This can be seen on posters that feature quotes from critics, this can also lead to
people believing incorrect facts.
Make a list of people whose opinion you trust to inform you of how you should respond to
or think of a text.

Chilled Chaos, GaLm, Cartoonz – Youtubers



Read the articles on the following pages and consider how the hypodermic needle, opinion
leader and two step flow theory have affected events. Once you’ve read through the article
write up your thoughts in the provided box.


Game blamed for hammer murder

The parents of a boy who
was murdered with a claw
hammer by a friend have
blamed a violent video
game which the teenage
killer was "obsessed" with.

Warren Leblanc, 17,

repeatedly stabbed 14-year-
old Stefan Pakeerah after Stefan was repeatedly battered and stabbed by his
luring him to a Leicester park older friend
to steal from him on 27 February.

He pleaded guilty to murder at Leicester Crown Court on


Stefan's mother described Leblanc, who confessed to police

moments after the assault, as "inherently evil".

Video game 'obsession'

Stefan's mother, Giselle, a research nurse, had to leave court

when the evidence in the case became too harrowing.

Following the hearing she said her son's killer had mimicked
a game called Manhunt, developed by Edinburgh-based
Rockstar North, in which the players score points for violent

Manhunt was banned six

months ago in New Zealand
by censorship officials.

Mrs Pakeerah said: "I heard

some of Warren's friends say
that he was obsessed by this

"To quote from the website

that promotes it, it calls it a
psychological experience, not
a game, and it encourages Leblanc armed himself with a claw hammer and a
brutal killing.

"If he was obsessed by it, it could well be that the boundaries

for him became quite hazy."
Mrs Pakeerah, 36, called for violent video games to be

Covered in blood

She said: "I can't believe that this sort of material is allowed
in a society where anarchy is not that far removed.

"It should not be available and it should not be available to

young people."

Leblanc, of Braunstone Frith,

Leicester, persuaded his
victim to go to nearby Stoke
Woods Park, known locally as
The Dumps - to meet two

The court heard how he

armed himself with a knife
and claw hammer to carry out I don't play these games but if they
the attack. are influencing kids to go out and kill
people then you don't want them on the
He confessed to the killing
moments later when he was
Patrick Pakeerah, victim's father
found covered in blood by two
police officers.

Outside court Stefan's father, Patrick, said: "They were

playing a game called Manhunt.

"The way Warren committed the murder is how the game is

set out - killing people using weapons like hammers and

"There is some connection between the game and what he

has done."

Game ban

Echoing his former partner, the civil servant said: "I don't
play these games but if they are influencing kids to go out
and kill people then you don't want them on the shelves."

When police discovered Stefan, they found he had sustained

horrific and fatal injuries.
The boy had been hit so hard
with the hammer he had
suffered deep cuts to his head
and neck. His head had been
fractured in several places.

He had multiple stab wounds,

with the knife being plunged
so deep that it had caused
serious injuries to his kidney Giselle Pakeerah has called for a ban on violent
and liver. video games

A spokesman for the Entertainment and Leisure Software

Publishers' Association said: "We sympathise enormously
with the family and parents of Stefan Pakeerah.

"However, we reject any suggestion or association between

the tragic events and the sale of the video game Manhunt.

"The game in question is classified 18 by the British Board of

Film Classification and therefore should not be in the
possession of a juvenile.

"Simply being in someone's possession does not and should

not lead to the conclusion that a game is responsible for
these tragic events."

Judge Michael Stokes QC said Leblanc had carried out "a

brutal, cold-blooded murder" and could expect a life

Sentencing was adjourned for reports.

Police reject game link to murder

Detectives investigating the murder of a

14-year-old boy in a Leicester park have
rejected any link with a violent computer

Stefan Pakeerah was beaten and stabbed to

death by Warren Leblanc, 17, but the motive,
say police, was robbery.

Leicestershire police have confirmed a copy of the game was found, but in
Stefan's' bedroom and not with Leblanc.

Stefan's parents blamed the game, which was withdrawn by some high
street retailers, following the court case.

A Leicestershire constabulary spokesperson Leblanc is responsible

said: "Police investigations did not uncover any for what Leblanc did and
connections to the computer game. what he did was horrible

"The motive for the incident was robbery." Giselle Pakeerah

They added: "We can confirm the game was not found in Warren
Leblanc's room, it was found in Stefan Pakeerah's room."

In the wake of Leblanc's guilty plea, several stores withdrew Manhunt

from sale.

But sales at HMV, which has continued to sell the game, have reportedly

Violent films

Stefan's mother, Giselle, who called for violent computer games to be

banned, claimed her son only had the game because it had been lent to
him by Leblanc.

"Warren Leblanc gave Stefan the game just two days before he killed
him," she said.
"Leblanc is responsible for what Leblanc did and what he did was

Mrs Pakeerah added: "He liked violent films and games and particularly
liked Manhunt.

"There are obvious similarities between the game and how Stefan died."

'Misleading reporting'

For its part, the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers'

Association (Elspa), the industry body for the video game industry, has
written to Home Secretary David Blunkett about the media coverage of
the case.

"We have been very concerned recently about the misleading and
disingenuous reporting about the effects of playing interactive games
software," said Elspa.

"As you will know, despite many research projects into the effects of
screen violence, some of which have been undertaken by eminent
academics in their field, no link with violent behaviour has been found."

Elspa said its members took their responsibilities extremely seriously and
that they conformed with both the letter and spirit of the law and the
strict Codes of Practice.

There are likely to be people who just believe what the article states as many people are already
against violent videogames due to previous articles about violent videogames. With certain
news websites/etc. more people may believe what they read as they are influenced by these
opinion leading sites, without making their own opinion on the events that occurred.

This theory was developed in response to other outdated theories. It was the first theory to
suggest that audiences were not passive and that they seek out different texts to satisfy
different needs or gain certain pleasures.
What are the four divisions of the Uses and Gratification Theory?
1. Entertainment and Diversion – audiences consume some texts in order to escape
from the mundanity and pressures of everyday life. This suggests that audiences can
become equally involved in a story world as much as a literal world. This relies on the
story world being believably fantastical and offering escapism.

2. Information and Education (Surveillance) – Some texts are consumed as audience

wants to know what is going on in the world. News and magazine programs,
websites and magazines are all ways of keeping an audience informed.

3. Social Interaction – Some texts are “of the moment” and are discussed by the
audience as they happen. Audiences may use text so that can use the experiences to
talk to others.

4. Personal Identity – This is the idea that audiences gain pleasure from media texts
because they are able to compare theirs lives and experiences with those featured
the text.

Make a list of different interactive products you consume that you can apply
Uses and Gratification divisions to. You may find you can apply more than one.
Books and games – Entertainment and Diversion

YouTube videos, gaming websites – Information and Education

Twitch/ livestreams – Social Interaction

Videogames - Personal Identity

Reception Theory
It is concerned with how texts are read by audiences and how meaning is created through
that experience. An important concept of reception theory is that the media text has no
inherent meaning in and of itself. Instead, meaning is created in the interaction between
spectator and text. It argues that contextual factors, more than textual ones, influences the
wat the spectator experiences the text. Contextual factors include elements of the viewer’s
identity as well as circumstances of exhibition, the spectator’s preconceived notions
concerning the genre and even broad social, historical, and political issues.
It places the viewer in context, taking into account all of the various factors that might
influence how she or he will read and create meaning from the text.
What factors of a viewer’s identity may influence how they respond to a text in regards to
reception theory?

Personal interests, experiences and opinions, age and gender, religious beliefs, upbringing,
political views, moral views, nationality, geographic location

Considering the factors you have written above, think what type of response
different groups would have to these products…
Film Preferred Oppositional Negotiated
GTA V Teens, streamers Parents, religious ?
Super Mario Children, teens, ? ?
Odyssey adults (families)

Pokémon Children, parents ? ?

COD: WW2 Streamers, Parents, Pacifists ?

Burnout Teens, young adults ? ?