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Media: A Case Study

According to Tom Ryall, "what are known as 'British Films' are invariably films which have been produced in England rather than Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and by and large, films produced in one quite distinctive region of England-London and its outer suburbs." (Ryall, 1990) Connected to this view are issues of British film and nationality, and if it is possible to define film in terms of nationality. For the British Film institute, "it is extremely difficult to pin down what exactly invests a film with a sense of Britishness and definitions remain vague and open to interpretation." (BFI, 2002) They argue that much of the funding for 'British' films come from US sources, and that "it is rare for a film to have a 100% British cast and crew." (BFI, 2002)

Past criticism of British films has centred on the tendency to demonstrate only a small minority of the nation, in both geographical terms and in terms of the portrayal of characters. For John Russell Taylor, a key signifier of a British film is a film "which reflects the British scene and seems vitally connected with observation of the British way of life." (Taylor, 1974) Box office successes such as Bend it like Beckham and The Full Monty demonstrate that there is a market for British films. However, for Derek Malcolm, president of the International Film Critics Association, the problem with British film is "whether we are indeed part of Europe as far as film is concerned or a somewhat poor relation of America." Malcolm believes that as British film has to compete with Hollywood, the challenge is to engage audiences with high impact, real stories, rather than high budget action thrillers, to which British film cannot compete.

However, for Gauntlett, "despite many decades of research and hundreds of studies, the connections between people's consumption of the mass media and their subsequent behaviour have remained persistently elusive." (Gauntlett, 1998) Gauntlett believes that the direct effect of the media on audiences has yet to be proven, and that there is a possibility that the wrong approach has been taken to the theory of media effects. For Gauntlett, studies regarding violence and negative behaviour taken from media influences, "consistently turn for explanations not to the mass media, but to social factors such as poverty, unemployment, housing, and the behaviour of family and peers." (Gauntlett, 1998)

To conclude, I feel that the media effects theory is useful in examining audiences, however its effects are not totally proven and therefore more exploration is needed to determine a final outcome.

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