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.