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Media and Society

MCOM 100-01

Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016

Dr. Tom Grier

Tonight In Class


Motion Pictures
The experience of watching a movie uninterrupted in
a darkened theater has moved people since the
earliest days of the medium. Movies have a special
power among the mass media.
Suspension of disbelief: The willingness of a
reader or viewer to accept the premises of a work of
fiction, no matter how fantastic or impossible. The
audience may accept limitations and sacrifice
realism and logic, for the purposes of enjoying the
work as entertainment.

Characteristics of Film
More intense than any other medium when
watched as intended in a theater.
Its not the movie itself its the exclusion
of the outside world, concentrated attention
on the film in front of the audience.
A measure of sensory deprivation.
Movies create an impression of reality that
most often is not at all real.

Cultural Influence of Film

Incredible societal influence historically.
Sociologist Norman Denzin says movies
romanticized drinking in the early years.
People think society is more violent than it is
because of movie portrayals. True?
Movies corrupt the morals of the young and
glamorize deviant behavior. True?
There is a clear influence between movies and
changes in our society and its people. True?

Film Technology
Movies are based on the same technology as
photography: Edisons movies, Eastmans film.
1727: Light causes silver nitrate to darken.
Persistence of vision: This has NOTHING to do
with hypnosis or darkened theaters or motion.
It has to do with physiology: The human eye
retains an image for a fraction of a second so it
sees individual frames as being continuous

Some Magic Numbers

1877: Eadweard Muybridge demonstrated
with 24 cameras and trip-wires that a horse
did, indeed, have all feet off the ground at
times when galloping. When flipping those
photos, you had motion pictures.
4,000 drive-in theaters at their peak.
20,000 theaters in the early 1940s.

1888: William Dickson of Thomas Edisons labs
figured out how to get a camera to capture 16
images per second. Still photography moved to
motion photography motion pictures.
Edisons movies were viewed by looking into a
box a peep show.
The Lumire brothers in France invented the
projection of motion pictures the first movie
house in 1895.

Old-Time Movies

Digital Cinema
The next step? Digital development of
pictures and then the digital projection of
those movies is replacing the literal
films of today.
Movie attendance is dramatically falling
especially among young men.
DVDs and video games are replacing
theater movie attendance significantly in
recent years.

The Movie Industry

Three main components:
- Production: 90% of U.S. movie revenue comes
from six major studios: Columbia, Paramount, 20th
Century Fox, Universal, Disney and Warner.
- Distribution: Mostly by the big studios, this
involves booking movies into theaters.
- Exhibition: Revenues are box office, shared
between exhibitor and distributor. The distributor
often gets up to 90% of revenues after the first

Why does popcorn cost so much?

(and soda, candy, etc.)
Concessions are a major source of movie
revenue for the exhibitor.
They share ticket revenue with film-makers
and distributors.
They get to keep most or all concessions $.

About Exhibitors
Multiplex theaters have replaced
individual movie houses and palaces.
Its cheaper to have many screens but only
one ticket seller, refreshment stand,
heating/ventilation system, parking lot:
economy of scale.
Multiplex theaters were first established
in Europe, but are the rule in the U.S.

Movie Economics
Six companies dominate the industry, but pick up
projects from independent producers and
capitalize on other enterprises.
Major studios finance some movies and use the
money they make to produce more.
Investor groups and banks are becoming more
prevalent, however. This involves risk sharing.
Independent producers, e.g. Mel Gibsons
Passion of the Christ, go around big studios.

Movie Economics, contd

After-markets are an important source of
movie revenue HBO/Showtime buy films
to show on cable, foreign release, home
video and DVD market.
Auxiliary enterprises: use of character,
themes Star Wars toys, Burger King toys,
music soundtracks, product placement and
the new one, product integration.

Product Placement
A promotional tactic: a real product is placed in
the media in exchange for some value
Relatively new, since 1980s
1982: E.T. The Extraterrestrial and Reese's
Pieces - Spielberg originally wanted M & Ms
- Reese's Pieces sales went up 65-80%

Cars in action films, Gatorade in sports films

Now in TV shows, live sports, video games, CDs

The Decline
Movie ticket sales peaked at 90 million a week in
1946 when the population was half what it is now.
TV cut into movies. people could stay at home and
see the world for free after the cost of the set.
Movies tried things TV couldnt: color
spectaculars with huge casts, 3-D, Smell-o-Vision,
special effects, controversial subjects, sex, etc.
1985: shift toward younger people. Today movies
are made primarily for those 12-24. Blockbusters
have to attract much larger age groups.

The Decline cont

The most profitable movies today are
primarily animated children go with
parents... multiple times.
Today, only about 16 million people go to the
movies each week despite having a
population nearly twice that of 1946 a
350% decline.

Important note: TV moved to catch up

with what movies could do with
controversial subjects, language, sex.
Then movies upped the ante again.
TV responded.
A cycle of escalation of the populist at the
expense of the elitist with dramatic effect
on society and values. The content
competition continues

Melding Media
To help counter the box office slide, studios
shifted their production from movies to
TV. Today, studios make $54 billion a year
in producing programs for TV.
The majority of studio production today is for
television fare.

Movies and Morality

Ongoing concern throughout the history of film.
The Hays Commission: guaranteed standards
of content that protected the movie industry
from these concerns for decades. This was an
effort BY THE MOVIE INDUSTRY to fend off
censorship by the government.
The movie rating code system is another effort
BY THE INDUSTRY to appear to be doing
something to control who sees what in the
movies. It has failed miserably as you know.

Evaluating Movies
Box office success doesnt necessarily equate to
critical success. Titanic had wonderful special
effects; critics thought the films story trite.
Reviews can be helpful to the consumer.
Shop for reviewers free of bias; today, that is
Be an informed consumer of films and
understand their profound effect on you, our
society and, in the relatively near future, the next
generation for which you will be parents.

No medium in America has had a more
powerful effect on society than television*. It is
our constant companion and not necessarily a
positive influence.
*Until The Internet ?

Cumulative Effects Theory

Exposure to messages and images over
and over again, has a profound influence
on how we see the world. This influence
is not immediate; it is incremental and
it is powerful.

Influence of Television
Cultural impact: TV is on an average of 7
hours a day in each U.S. household.
TV draws people from other activities:
reading, recreation, sports, hobbies, family,
social groups and studying?
When people had only one TV per household,
the family got together to watch just as
they had done earlier to listen to the one radio
in the parlor.

Influence of Television
As televisions proliferated, it took family
members away from each other as they
watched different programs.
Now, 25 years later, research is just
becoming available on the possible child
developmental damage done by
educational TV programs like Sesame

Influence of Television
Economic: Nearly 25 percent of all advertising is
spent on TV.
TV has influenced other media: books,
newspapers and magazines have been abandoned
to a great extent to TV viewing.
Recordings: could not be successful without the
music video today.
Movies: the arms race continues over content
Radio: programs all shifted to TV and radio was
left with music and talk.

TV Technology
In the 1920s, farm boy Philo
Farnsworth came up with the
idea of electronic scanning.
This is a diagram he did while
in high school.
At age 21, he showed the first images
in 1927 via a tube he called the image
dissector to pick up images and
display them electronically on a
screen, line after line.

Television Technology
Competitor, RCAs Vladimir
Zworykin came up with the
Iconoscope, said he invented
TV. Farnsworth wins a lawsuit
to claim of being first.
Zworykin had visited
Farnsworth's lab in the 1920s
and could easily have seen his
earlier work

So, How Does it Work?

Camera picks up light reflected off a moving
subject and converts the light to electrons.
Electrons zapped one at a time across stacked
horizontal lines on a screen.
The electrons follow each other back and forth so
fast viewers dont notice it and perceive it as a
continuous picture in motion.
(Persistence of vision)

Television Technology
FCC standardized TV
technology in 1952.
In 1997, finally, decided
on digital and HDTV,
years after Japan and
Europe had analog HDTV.

Television Timeline
1927: Farnsworth's first with television
1939: RCA shows TV at Worlds Fair
1941: FCC adopts 525-scan lines, Europe is 625
1951: "I Love Lucy" uses film
1952: FCC adopts U.S. standards
1975: Gerald Levin invents HBO
1986: Rupert Murdoch creates Fox
1991: Japanese introduce 1,100 lines
1996: FCC adopts digital standards
2009: FCC requires digital TV transmission

Delivery of TV
Over-air: leaders of early
TV-- mostly former radio
execs-- thought "radio with
It would have been easier/cheaper to have started
with (coaxial) cable at the beginning of TV.
It wasnt until the 1970s that cable became
generally available.
1994: Direct broadcast satellite TV by Stan
Hubbard, Minneapolis; Murdochs king today.

Structure of TV
Dual national system: FCC used radio as a
guide. Localism rules. Federal regulation &
corporate, for-profit corporations.
Affiliates and networks: just as with radio,
networks developed and locals became affiliates.
Three networks: CBS, NBC, ABC dominated
until the 1980s; then came Fox, UPN and WB
(now CW: CBS Corp & Warner Bros.).
Cable: changed everything in the 1970s.

Early TV execs,
with a background in
radio, thought in terms
of broadcast towers and
reception by antenna.
Millions, outside the range of the tower, could
not get TV. Cable solved that starting in the
1970s with CATV entrepreneurs.


Gerald Levin: HBO went

from pay-per-view to payper-month in 1975.
Turner takes WTBC to a super-station
nationwide via satellite. Cable grabbed it.
Cable goes after advertisers.

Video versions of
popular radio programs
of the past, mostly
live comedy & variety
1951: I Love Lucy. Hollywood goes TV with
the filming of shows. Filming, editing made reruns possible and Lucy and Desi rich.

TV News
From the iconic Dave
Garroway on the first
Today Show, to Katie
Couric at CBS News, a
transition from news to
Infotainment, magazines
and 24-hour news with Fox
driving content and style.

The Future?
TV on your computer,
PDA, cellphone
72-inch pictures or
1.75-inch screens of live
TV or podcast playback?
The issue of media melding
will become even more
important in the years ahead.
Some wont survive.

"Media Impact"
2004 -- 28 minutes

Quiz #5 is Next...

To ensure access to LDB-D2L:


Laptops with LDB only
No notes, No books, No post-its
No cell phones, texting
No headphones
No talking
Progress at your own pace
Save often, Save and Submit,
before you leave the room

Next Class: Wednesday, Feb. 24



Thanks for your attention

See you next week !