Comparing Newcomb's Encoding And Decoding

Decent Essays
As a polysemic text, television has the power to inspire a range of interpretations according to the denotation or encoding of the producers and the connotation or decoding of the televisual consumer. As first described by Stuart Hall in Encoding/Decoding, and then by Horace Newcomb and Paul Hirsch in Television as a Cultural Forum there exist three basic categories of potential readings of a singular text within the broad range of potential interpretations: dominant or preferred, negotiated, and oppositional, each of which depends on the ideological, political, and social position of the interpreter, as well as their experiences, making them, according to Newcomb and Hirsch cultural interpreters, or cultural bricoleur. As a parody, a genre…show more content…
Hall suggests that meaning making in television requires a means, meaning the production materials, and a set of social, economic, political and ideological relations and structures of understanding that shape the production’s reception at the end of its encoding and decoding circuit (166). Further admitting that, as a result, encoding and decoding are not symmetrical because they depend on degrees of asymmetry between encoder-producer and decoder-receiver. Newcomb and Hirsch also suggest that the variety of readings of a singular text are the result of the ideological, political, cultural, and social positions and experiences of each individual cultural bricoleur, leading to three potential readings, dominant, negotiated, and oppositional. In the specific case of “Gentle and Soft” the most significant position and experience of the bricoleur is in their familiarity with the…show more content…
Thus, in the dominant reading of “Gentle and Soft” the viewer would understand the program as parody based on their cultural knowledge of, and previous experience with, its intertextual referent The History of the Eagles and other music documentaries, as well as with the soft rock of the 1970s, the other televisual and parodic work of the creators, and even their musical backgrounds and skills. A viewer with a dominant reading would understand the humorous references made by the program and understand that it is a lighthearted joke with good intentions and made with the respect the creators, who are also musicians and soft rock fans. There are no misunderstandings of the texts, which Hall credits as the reason for negotiated and oppositional readings and the viewer finds humor in the parodic lampooning of popular cultural products: soft rock and soft rock bands, music documentaries, and even musical figures like Irving
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