This week in “Reading Television: Television as text and viewers as decoders”, by Katz and Liebes, I thought they made a very interesting point: that research before, instead of analyzing the effects a certain T.V. shows had on the community in a specific country, they just assumed everyone who saw the same program understood the message the producers were trying to transmit. This is a very naïve assumption. Knowing that people in a same country experience things differently, have different values and morals, and different ethnic backgrounds, how can we assume that people will react and understand the same thing? We cannot assume that people will react and interpret things in the same way, especially if it is a foreign product. For exam[le: American T.V. shows in foreign countries, we can’t expect them to react the same way American viewers react to the programs.
Katz and Liebes take as an example the show “Dallas”. Dallas was a combination of soap operas and prime time television. It was an international phenomenon! Dallas was seen in many countries including: Germany, Denmark, Algeria, and Israel to mention a few. Depending on the culture and values of each country, the viewers had different reasons of either relating to the show or simple watching it for fun. Some did not view the show as close to reality, because the further apart the viewing country is from the country that produced the show, in terms of culture, values, and traditions, the less a person sees it as a reality. Katz and Liebes tell us that domestic productions are subject to more criticism in terms of relating to the reality of the viewing community, because it should somewhat represent the country’s actual reality. On the other hand, foreign productions, although it may not be the true reality of the producing country, the fact that the program is from a foreign country it gives it an excuse to be less like reality.
Dallas had a hidden family drama in its text. Family dramas in general have been researched to see if the values the show presents affects family life of the people who view it. We can take examples like Full House and 7th Heaven that presented wholesome family values, unity, trust, and that family is the most important thing in life. On the contrary, shows lie Desperate Housewives present a world of betrayal, a dysfunctional family, adultery, and looking out for oneself. How do these T.V. shows affect or to what extent do they form our perception of right and wrong, good or bad? It has been said that exposure to negative situations like deaths, rapes, homicides for example on cop shows make us immune to the grotesque factor of it all. Since we see things like adultery, fights, people killing each other, betrayal, for some people it becomes something normal in life that just happens and it stops being unexpected.
I think T.V. shows influence do our lives, the characters become role models for the viewers. The effects differ in each country, the same show might not have the same reaction or interpretation in foreign countries as it does in the domestic one. The concept of reality is relative in a T.V. show and it depends on the viewer’s perception according to their own values, morals, and culture.