Teaching year 12 Media studies this year for the first time, and thus teaching audience reception for the first time got me thinking about how my own ‘viewing experience contributes to audience reading and appreciation of narrative texts’ and how this ‘viewing’ has changed over time.
As a young teenager, I remember visiting the video store with my dad on a Saturday night. Mum would never want to come, generally because it was too cold outside. This meant that the onus of choosing said video, would fall to my dad. Upon returning home, a brief argument would ensue between them, mum quizzing dad as to why he choose this one because it looked ‘awful’ and then the argument would end the same way it always did with Dad having the last word, ‘You go to the Video store then!’ Said video would then be played with all of us nestled into our own spots on the couch. As said video played, I would continually ask questions about said film, because I was too young to understand the narrative, Dad would fall asleep and Mum would switch the film off at the end, mumbling that she was right and that the film was ‘awful.’
As I got older, I was allowed to have my own TV in my bedroom, which meant that Saturday videos nights with Mum and Dad were over. But bring on Beverly Hills 90210, Dawson’s Creek and South Park. Although these shows were watched in my room on my own, I took solace in the fact that I knew that all my friends were tuning in at the same time. The following day there would be much talk of Dylan breaking up with Brenda, the constant debate that the title of Dawson’s Creek should be changed to Pays’ creek and there would be the one kid who would amaze us all by quoting Cartman verbatim from only watching the episode once. It was pretty much social suicide if you weren’t able to chime in on these debates or give an opinion on any of the weird and wonderful story arcs.
After moving out of home, I no longer did my TV watching in solidarity as the other three flatmates and I, all around the same age, would congregate in the lounge to watch TV together. I will never forget the phenomenon of Big Brother that descended not only on our house, but thousands of houses in Australia. On Sunday night, ‘Eviction Night’, not only would I be tuned in watching with my housemates, but all our friends would be over having dinner with a few drinks, watching to see who was next to be ousted from the Big Brother house. Big Brother was so popular, that pubs started cashing in on it by hosting Sunday ‘Eviction Night’ parties.
From here, I downsized to only one other flatemate. We share different tastes and due to this fact, the majority of my viewing takes place from the comfort of my bedroom once again. And what did I think of said video? I’m not sure, as just like my Dad, I fell asleep.