Writing About Media—Advertisements, Film/Television, and Music (73)
The form for essays that analyze these types of media is much like that of essays analyzing literature—see “Writing About Literature (71a and 71b). However, the approach, terminology, and information can be very different. The purpose of this tutorial is to give you some points to consider when writing about media.
How are the images of any or all of these groups presented?
What does their presence or absence say about the advertisement?
What do the words say or not say? What is missing from the ad?
What do colors and other facts say?
Questions you should ask about advertisements:
Who is the audience? How can you tell? What assumptions do the advertisers make about the audience?
Is this a populist or elitist advertisement? How can you tell? What tradition or standards does it rely upon to be understood in these terms?
What is your prior knowledge of the product? How does this help you understand the ad’s meaning? How might other readers respond? How does personal experience affect interpretation?
In what ways is the ad designed to manipulate you into buying the product? What emotions and desires does it play upon?
What unstated messages does the ad convey? What themes does it employ? What does the ad tell us about culture?
Writing About Film/Television To effectively write about these types of media, you must make the distinction between two terms used by critics: elements and criteria.
The element is the aspect of a film or television show being analyzed.
The criteria are the standards by which that element will be evaluated.
Film and television analyses use many of the same terms and approaches as does literary analysis. Therefore, you can write about these types of media discussing theme, plot, or characterization in the same way as you would literature.
Other elements and criteria that you can use to write about film and television are acting, cinematography, and soundtracks.
Questions for a Film or Television Review
Have you somewhere clearly indicated your judgment of the quality?
Have you provided a brief plot synopsis while avoiding plot summary?
Have you mentioned specific elements of the film which support your judgment? Have you described these quickly and vividly, using concrete language and metaphors?
Have you qualified your judgment by balancing positive and negative aspects?
Have you begun the review with an attention-grabbing opening? Have you concluded with a striking sentence?
Did you write in literary present?
Questions for an Analytical Essay
Do you have a clearly stated thesis?
Do you have a series of reasons supporting the thesis? Are these arranged in a logical and convincing order (with the strongest reason coming last)?
Are your supporting reasons backed up? Do you provide specific evidence and examples from the film or television show for each reason you offer?
Does your beginning orient your reader to the direction of your argument? Does your concluding paragraph reiterate your thesis and provide a vivid ending?