The Impact of the Film Notting Hill to Young Adults
The concept of living happily ever after a tragic or miserable event has been a popular belief of the people around the world. The story of Cinderella and her prince charming has been an inspiration of people in the aspect of love. Most individuals believe that someone is already destined for a certain person and they would meet on the right time and in the right place. However, people get disappointed a lot of times in dealing with the real situation which is exactly different to what they have seen on movies and television shows.
Mass media has been continuously showing new love stories on television and movie houses and every story leaves a mark to the viewers. Being the the most influential, mass media can create new stories that most of the time win the heart of TV and movie fanatics. Basically, the concept of true love is learned by way media portray the love stories in films and TV shows.
Hence, through the Agenda Setting Theory, this research aims to assess the way media portray love in motion pictures and evaluate the influence of romantic films to the viewers, particularly the young audience.
Description of Selected Theory
Agenda setting theory was developed by Prof. Maxwell McCombs and Prof. Donald Shaw (1972). The theory suggests that media highlights certain issues for public opinion. In agenda setting theory, McCombs and Shaw (1972) discussed the powerful influence of media. They explained how media affects the way of thinking of the people towards an issue. That is, the media agenda (policy rankings by importance in the media) influences both the public agenda (rankings in opinion surveys) and the policy agenda (rankings in legislative bodies) (Garson, 2006).
Media gives more attention to issues which they perceived as more salient. They would exert significant influence to a certain issue until they capture the attention of the viewers. McCombs and Shaw tested this theory by investigating presidential campaigns. Both theorists focused on only two elements: awareness and information. In the article of McCombs and Reynolds (2002), they stated that most of the researches reveal that media viewers not only learn factual information, but they also come to understand the importance of issues exposed by the mass media based on how they highlighted them. McCombs and Reynolds (2002) provided a summary of how McCombs and Shaw conducted their research:
To test the hypothesis that the media agenda can set the public agenda, McCombs and Shaw conducted a survey among a sample of randomly selected undecided voters in Chapel Hill North Carolina. Concurrent with this survey of voters, the nine major news sources used by these voters—five local and national newspapers, two television networks, and two newsmagazines—were collected and content analyzed. The rank order of the issues on the media agenda was determined by the number of news stories devoted to each issue (pp. 2-3).
To easily understand the agenda setting, the theorists explained some important concepts. Salience transfer refers to the capacity of the media to influence the relative importance individuals attach to policy issues. On the other hand, gatekeeping determines the content of salience transfer. Media has the ability to control the issues to be transferred to the audience. When an important issue was shown by the mass media, viewer would perceive such topic depending on how the media transfer the information. If a certain issue was described by the media as “tragic,” people would conform to the idea given by them. That refers to framing which also constitute to the priming. Where framing centers on the presentation of news, priming refers on how people would view a certain issue. In priming, viewers would give attention to that certain topic regardless to their perception prior to the exposure of media. (Garson, 2006)
In addition to this, Bernard Cohen (1963) stated: “The press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about” (cited in Garson, 2006, n.p.). This explains that the mass media affects the people in choosing what issues to be concerned about. Hence, agenda setting theory attempts explain how powerful mass media is in telling people what to think about. This theory suggests that what media shows is what people think more worthy of their attention.
However, the need for orientation is needed based on the level of knowledge and experience of the viewer. A certain issue might affect differently to people based on their knowledge about the topic. Issues can be arrayed along a continuum ranging from obtrusive (i.e., the issues that we experience personally) to unobtrusive (i.e., those issues that we know about only through media) (McCombs & Reynolds, 2002).
In the agenda setting role of the media, the relevance of the issue to an individual still has to be considered. It means if the person already knows what a certain issue is all about, then the need for orientation is low (obtrusive). On the other hand, the issue that has never been encountered or rarely encountered and only seen through media is considered as unobtrusive.
Description of Selected Artifact
One of the most popular motion pictures released in nineteenth century is Notting Hill. Aside from having Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in cast members, the story made this film blockbuster in cinema houses. Julia Roberts played the role of Anna, a very famous personality who fell in love with William, played by Hugh Grant. It was a funny and romantic story of two individuals with different social status, one being the famous and the other one being an ordinary person.
William Thacker (Hugh Grant) was recently divorced to his first wife when he accidentally met the American actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts). It was an unforgettable day for William seeing a prominent person in his bookshop, the day when Anna waltzes inside his store. The love story of William and Anna began when William spilled an orange juice on her and invited her to his house to clean up. Since then, the two started to see each other more often.
Just like fairy tale stories, the two have encountered many trials before they had a happy ending. This film was shown in countries around the world and it is still listed on one of the most favorite films of the public.
Analysis of Artifact
Numerous movies with the same plot as Notting Hill had been shown and most of them have succeed and gained high profit in the movie houses. This motion picture earned positive feedbacks from the viewers and film critics. Moreover, the story of William and Anna become an inspiration for those who dream of meeting somebody by accident and beginning a love story with that person. Apparently, these kinds of movie have a strong impact on how people perceive love and relationship.
Young adults are said to be the most exposed cluster in media. This cluster are most of the time the target market not only of consumer goods manufacturers but also of films with different plots and themes. Oftentimes, young adults watch films because of two main factors: casts and story.
Unconsciously, these viewers get affected by the way media highlight the issues of love in every film. Many of the young adults today believe that having a relationship with someone whom they hardly know is part of their destiny. Even though the viewers are aware that what they see on screen is not realistic and merely a product of imagination, they would still expect and demand the background to be realistic in order to fit with the criteria of what the society is considered as reality. Oftentimes, the viewers acquire an idea on how to deal with a certain situation or accept that a scene in the movie or even the movie itself is realistic regardless of their awareness that it was just a product of fiction. This belief leads to the impressions about life and the world.
Because the news media have neither the capacity to gather all information nor the capacity to inform the audience about every single occurrence, they rely on a traditional set of professional norms to guide their daily sampling of environment, something like the highly limited view of the outside world available through a small window. (p.6)
Notting Hill may be just a story on big screen but the perceived “facts” that the viewers have gained from them are strong enough to make them believe in the possibility that the story may happen in real life.
However, according to the theory, media may is not only the source of information of the public. The audience may perceive a salient issue based on their experience, but they may also rely on the information given by the media for some issues they have no idea about. Those viewers who are not heavily exposed on media but were able to watch Notting Hill might think that the story was merely a fiction. Therefore, the impact is light and the perception toward reality is not totally affected. However, those viewers who are really exposed to media, and have watched a lot of movies before Notting Hill may have a strong belief that the story of William and Anna may happen in real life. The theory suggests that the effect of information from media is based on the exposure of the viewers.
The level of awareness of the society on a salient issue always affect their way of perceiving that certain topic. In the case of watching film like Notting Hill, viewers may have had a different reaction toward it. While some keep on believing that that kind of story may happen in real life, some viewers take that movie for entertainment purposes only.
The writer and the director of the film did not command the viewers to perceive the story of the film as “fact”, however, because the viewers believe in what media show them, they would voluntarily keep in mind that such story may also happen in reality.
Apparently, mass media has manipulated the minds of the public in the concept of true love through the information they bring to the public. Young adults, most of the time are the affected group in this kind of film because of the level of awareness they have in all media sources. Notting Hill made a history in entertainment industry and leave an inspiration to the viewers at the same time. Through this kind of film, young adults may have had an idea that the plot of the film may also be the plot of their real life story.
Notting Hill may seem a modern fairy tale story for the young adults who just got tired of watching Cinderella and Snow White. It became a phenomenon hit in theaters and their story had been the talk of the town. Indeed, this film is a remarkable one because of its funny and romantic story but it may also be a model of fact and real world for some.
Garson, D. (2006). Agenda setting theory. College of Humanities and Social Sciences
(CHASS), NC State University. Retrieved November 5, 2008, from http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/garson/PA765/agendasetting.htm
McCombs, M. & Reynolds, A. (2002). News influence on our pictures of the world. In J.
Bryant and D. Zillman (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in Theory and Research (pp. 1-18). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
The Internet Movie Datebase. (2008). Notting Hill. Retrieved November 5, 2008 from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0125439/
Media Tenor. (2008). The Agenda Setting Approach. Retrieved November 5, 2008 from
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The Impact of the Film Notting Hill to Young Adults. (2016, Sep 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-impact-of-the-film-notting-hill-to-young-adults/