How audiences relate to different films

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DIFFERENT types of film are designed to have different effects on the target audiences. The most common types of film specifically designed to have a direct entertaining effect on viewers today are adverts, cartoons, talk shows and situational comedies. Here are some examples of how our minds respond to these forms of entertainment. (a) Adverts We see many adverts on the screen every day, but we don’t think of them as a form of entertainment. But that is what they basically are. Adverts are designed to make viewers want to possess the commodities being advertised immediately. They whet our appetite for food, and make us feel inadequate without the advertised. 1. THINGS GO BETTER WITH COCA- COLA! BETTER WITH BIG COKE! • (a) Who doesn’t want things to go better for him? • (b) Although the contents are the same as for other drinks, the Coca-Cola bottle still looks bigger, doesn’t it? 2. FANTA ORRANGE FRESHIVATES! IT TASTES SO GOOD THAT IT’S FUN TO BE THIRSTY! • (a) Whatever freshivating is, it sounds good. I want it to happen to me now. • (b) I had never thought of thirst as fun until now. Thank you Fanta. 3. MAKE FRIENDS WITH CHIBUKU, THE BEER OF GOOD CHEER! • (a) I like friends. • (b) And friends like to have good cheer. 4. MACDONALD’S, THE HOME OF GOOD FOOD! BE THERE! • (a) What a good home! • (b) I’ll certainly be there, every meal time. Cartoons Cartoons have been used from the time before film was invented to make people laugh by misrepresenting the reality of things. The first cartoons were hand-drawn in newspapers, magazines and on graffiti walls. The invention of film at the turn of the nineteenth century made them one of the most popular forms of entertainment. The following are some examples of cartoons: • 1. John Bull was a popular cartoon in England. He represented aspects of anti-social behaviour which were discouraged. • 2. Jim Crow in the United States represented the Negro slaves who were too eager to please their white masters. • 3. In Zimbabwe the popular cartoon Magaisa entertained African readers with his shrewd comments on white people’s racism and black people’s cultural prostitution. • 4. Today electronic media have taken over the cartoon world with the introduction of video and computer games. These come in various forms, and today’s youth enjoys them greatly. Some adults also visit public game-rooms to ‘watch’ the young having a good time. (b) Talk shows (like Mai Chisamba Show) Talk shows have lately become a major attraction. A talk-show is a programme featuring a popular personality interacting with her or his clients on the screen. Some of these shows are hilarious, while others are so serious that clients fight in front of the world. The subjects of talk shows range from religious healing to interviewing prostitutes. What they all have in common is that they create a captive audience. (c) Situational comedies (like- Mukadota, Gringo etc.) Situational comedies are a series of episodes centred around a main actor. The actor has characteristics which are of interest to viewers; and much fun is generated when these characteristics are exposed in various situations. Bill Cosby, acting as himself, entertains children by pretending to be a grown-up child. In Zimbabwe Safirio Madzikatire, acting as ‘Mukadota’, became a household name around 1980 through his situational comedies which depicted the double standards of some ‘been-tos’ Comics and cartoons make people laugh by deliberately distorting reality. For example, when animals are given human attributes like dress, speech and mannerisms, viewers tend to laugh. This also applies when human beings are given tails, horns and other animal characteristics. The distortion of reality becomes especially comic where it satirises the weaknesses of prominent people, usually political leaders in a given society. How can anyone help laughing at situations like the following: • (a) A woman boasts her beautiful hair, but a strong wind comes and blows off the expensive wig she was wearing, revealing a very ordinarily-shaped head which is in great need of grooming. • (b) A man in a popular tale declares how much he hates crocodiles before he turns into one himself. • (c) In a cartoon, a frog is made to imitate the dress and mannerisms of an unpopular Head of State. While some of this misrepresentation is not designed to go further than inducing laughter, some is intended to convey serious political messages. The film ‘Ethnic Notions’, for example, is based on cartoons that depicted all Negroes (African Americans) in negative stereotypes in the mid-19th century. African Americans were portrayed as water melon eaters with hog-like snouts for lips, and lacking in common sense. But is this interesting? Yes, to the target viewers of the cartoons, poor white people who were scared of competing for jobs with the newly freed slaves. These racists laughed their lungs out when they saw these cartoons, of course, but that was not all. They also derived a lot of spiritual satisfaction from the dehumanisation of blacks. It made them feel that they themselves were better humans even when they were poor.

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