Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nothing But An Escape

Romance novels have never been my idea of "good literature." Even though I have very limited experiences with romantic novels, I have always thought them to be a little too superficial and unrealistic. To me, romance novels seemed to simply be an extension of society's flawed notion of romance and the relationships between men and women. I just didn't see the point of reading romance novels. Janice Radway's piece definitely gave me a slightly different perspective on the issue of romance novels and media consumption in general.

Before reading this piece, I had never even considered the idea of using romance novels as a form of escape from the realities of life. It had never occurred to me that the seemingly cliché characters and predictable story lines could actually serve as a way in which to immerse one’s self in an idealized fantasy world. Radway’s study of Dot’s clientele was very interesting to me because it gave the female readers of romance novels a chance to express themselves and to explain their love (or obsession?) with these novels. Although I do not plan to go out and start reading as many romance novels as I can get my hands on, I did begin to identify with the women on their use of this media as an escape from real life. For instance, I am an avid viewer of MTV’s Jersey Shore. As a fairly educated young woman, I am fully aware that the show’s portrayal of women isn’t the most favorable. However, I watch it because it provides a break from the stresses of college life. Once a week, I can watch other people party it up and momentarily forget about the giant assignment I have to finish.

The chapter in Gill concerning audience consumption was also very striking to me in the manner in which it analyzes different kinds of media consumption studies from different points of view. I was struck by the fact that things like differences in location could have such a profound effect in the consumption of media and the manner in which it is interpreted. As a very large consumer of media (especially electronic media), I was pleased to see that research was being conducted from the point of view of the audience; as opposed to the research done by academics without any consideration of the average audience.

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