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February 1996, Week 4


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Jerry Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 27 Feb 1996 12:50:37 -0600
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Mikel J. Koven states:
>Film studies may be a much stronger discipline if theoretical concepts
>were applied to actual filmgoing experiences.
I agree completely.  There seems to be a large gap in film scholarship
between the filmmaker's intentions and the audience's reading.  The viewer
as active participant is too often ignored.
Right now I'm doing a study of how children engage the film texts offered
to them.  I'm receiving some very interesting feedback.  For instance, many
adults believe most Disney animated features to be very reactionary in that
the conflicts are always resolved with the re-establishment of the
patriarchal, heterosexual order.  But I recently asked two 8-year-old girls
what they thought of "Beauty and the Beast," and they both said they were
very dissapointed that the beast changed into a man at the end because he
was "boring" now.  This Disney text led them to conclude that the
traditional heterosexual couple (at least in this specific instance) is
unsatisfying!  Now I'm not claiming "Beauty and the Beast" is a subversive
film, but these two girls gave something of a subversive reading to it.  In
all the criticism I have read on the film, such a possibility has never
been considered.
Check out the film criticism of Robin Wood for a smart scholar who takes
into consideration the active interpretation of the audience.
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