Popularity of soap operas Essay
Popularity of soap operas
By introducing dramatic, sometimes extreme story lines, the producer can capture the attention of the viewer. The typical melodramatic characteristic of ever soap is the notorious cliff hanger. I have lost count how many times I have heard people swear and scream at their TV sets because the producer has ended the episode at the pinnacle of the dramatic tention e. g. the vision of Ian Beale lying on the floor after he had been shot by his wife Cindy. However this is a media technique that makes the viewer determined to watch the next episode.
Melodramatic scenes are predominantly evident in the extended episodes of soaps. The most resent example of this is the Mel Owen Kidnap when she is help hostage by Dan. The use of melodrama in this episode created tension and also resulted in more than half of the population perching on the ends of their sofas in anticipation for the outcome. The use of melodrama is also evident when soap narratives have become increasingly dry. The British are a fickle bunch and are often allured back to a soap in the if they are promised a good old punch up, murder or a jilted marriage.
Another contributing factor to soap popularity which we have lightly touched on is the representation of characters within them. They are all realistically dressed and do not suggest that they have been groomed into their appearance. The males within the soaps are often portrayed as soft and companionate for example Ashley in corrie and Ashley the vicar in Emerdale. Research suggests that this provides comfort to women who’s role in the home are often publicly silenced by there partners. Each character in the soap has been labelled by the soap producer so that the audience can have something to associate them with.
An example of this is Mark Fowlers HIV disease, Bernice the vicars adulterous wife and Sanita the girl who rebelled against her family and religion. It is through the use of such identifying factors that viewers become emotionally involved with the characters and is why they tune in on every episode in order to track their progress. The moral stance and informative nature or soap storylines means that some viewers are attracted due to their realistic and educational insights. It is evident that soaps often focus on issues that are socially shunned and unless introduced in such a way on soaps would not be discussed.
David Morley carried out research into 18 south London families and attempted too identify the soap viewing habits of each family member. He found that mothers like to use the soaps to discuss the issues that are represented, whereas in contrast, fathers like to watch the soaps alone in an intense manner. My interpretation of this is that men are reluctant and embarrassed to tackle issues such as under age sex, drug abuse etc whereas mothers take the view that it is essential for there children to be aware of the issues.
It is therefore fair to say that mothers like there children to watch soaps so that they can then create discussion from there events which may mean that the father and children are less reluctant to discuss it. The government also use soaps such as Eastenders to educate children on issues such as sex education. Sarah Platt is a typical example of a of what happens if you have unprotected underage sex and as her story line progresses children who are watching the soap become aware of the burden of babies.
After talking to a primary school teacher in m area, I have also learnt that some schools promote soap viewing to children as it provides them with a realistic insight into adult life. My views contradict this as if this is true, we must look forward to our future generations being composed of tarts, murderers, adulteresses, bank robbers and more, or do we already live like this?? Outside the soap broadcasts them selves, the introduction of different mediums related to them has contributed dramatically to their popularity in the last two to three years.
You only have to enter a newsagent or supermarket now and you are attacked by magazines, books memorabilia, ‘best of’ videos and competitions to meet the actors themselves. The emergence of soap internet sites and guided tours of the sets has also created a British culture that can not be avoided. It is because of this type of information that people now believe that they are specialists in the area of soap. There are social divides between the people who watch soaps and those who do not. People feel intimidated by people who have more inside knowledge than them. Universities now even offer courses in ‘brutish Soap Studies’.
Most recently, they have created a sub soap programme called ‘soap stars’ which tracks the selection process of a new soap family. By doing such things ratings for the soaps themselves are bound to increase. Is our world becoming insane?? Or is the world of soap becoming the norm in our lives?? The televising companies themselves, rely heavily on the revenue generated from soap Operas. This is why they allocate a vast amount of their resources into the advertising of them. The most influential in my mind was the Eastenders advertising strategy during the ‘who shot Phil?
‘ episodes. They used shots of the soap characters asking rhetorical questions to the audience which increased their longing to watch the next episode. The use of advertising is crucial as it constantly reminds people that they wanted to watch the next episode. They even advertise on nights that the soap isn’t broadcasting to ensure that the soap, is in the mind of its viewers every day. The duration of my presentation thus far has focused on other peoples assumption of why soaps are so popular. However, it is in my view that soap operas are indeed multi generic.
They combine an array of aspects from other TV genres such as chat shows, drama and film and is the reason why the soap genre has been described as ‘the most popular form of television in the world’. To conclude, it is evident that the appeal of soap opera has been created via the psychological manipulation of soap viewers. Putting this aside, its main appeal is its ability to appeal to an large audience span that can not be achieved by any other TV genre in this way. It is obvious that Soaps have become a part of the British culture and now they act as educators, inspirers and sources of escape for many.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 10 September 2017
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