Chambers standard Dictionary

How far do you agree with this statement? Introduction: In order to analysis the statement ‘The cinema spectator gazes, the TV viewer glances’ first you must understand the terms ‘gaze’ and ‘glance’. According to Chambers standard Dictionary (1972: 540, 552) a:  Gaze: A fixed look, to look in wonder or admiration.  Glance: A quick momentary view, to look with a sudden rapid cast of the eye. These definitions do give some indication of how viewers react to the cinema and TV. To say that you look in wonder or admiration in the cinema environment is true for reasons that will become apparent further into this essay.

The same can be said for the definition of glance. These definitions also seem to referrer to the importance of the medium in question. Is TV a ‘throw away ‘medium that is a mundane experience compared to the cinema which is something of a special event? If so, are there definite reasons for this? There are many different elements to be considered such as the context in which cinema and TV is presented and the form they follow. Context: TV vs. Cinema. Although they are both showing moving images the contexts in which they are presented are completely different.

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The cinema is a public place where people attend screenings of films; this is the only reason why a cinema is built. Occasionally there are other attractions such as shops or bars but its primary role is the screening of new movies. Because of this it is seen as an event to visit a cinema, the excitement of seeing a movie for the first time. The cinema is designed with no distractions, prior to the film being shown the audience is shown a brief advert inadvertently asking them not talk during the film, to switch off mobile phones in order that them do not disturb other members of the audience while they are concentrating on the main feature.

In this sense the audience are already gazing at the screen, the cinema is in darkness so there is nothing else to distract them. The screen, the sound system and the picture quality are all larger than life, when a movie begins, particularly an action movie, the audience is encouraged to watch intently. Because of the size of the screen, the quality and volume of the sound all the senses are focus on one thing, the ‘Big’ screen. Finally, because the cinema is a public place, social convention dictates certain behaviour.

Certain noise such as laughter in a comedy is accepted however the reason why viewers go to a cinema is to watch the film they have chosen to pay to see. TV is viewed in private homes; it is an accessory as opposed to the main focus of domestic life. It is viewed everyday which can make it become a rather mundane activity, with repeats of programmes already viewed, older films and soap operas. The majority of TV viewers do not watch TV in the dark because of the context in which it is seen. At home there are many distractions which would make this impractical.

Because the TV is usually found in the main living area of the home it is not practical to view it in the dark. The average TV set is small in comparison with a cinema screen; it therefore is easier to be distracted from what is being shown. This element coupled with domestic life and what that involves it is a fair assumption to make that TV is harder to concentrate on than cinema. But are these the only differences between the two mediums which mean viewers pay more attention in a cinema setting? The Form of TV and Cinema: TV is presented on average in 30 minute segments which involve ether fragments of narratives or multiple narratives.

Although they are consistent, in the example of soap operas they are ongoing narratives in order to keep the viewers watching over long periods of time. With cinema, a whole narrative is shown, a story from beginning to end. Though, in the case of sequels there may be a continuation of the primary narrative the film itself is a single narrative in its own right. TV also has to cater for a general audience, meaning there are points of interest for everyone who may be watching, cinema and films are there purely for the viewers who want to watch.

Attending the showing of a film is a conscious decision as apposed to watch TV which is a convenient distraction. Going to the cinema is an event; it is not something that is done everyday which is the case for TV. When going to the cinema, you are making a decision to pay to watch a film that you ‘want’ to see. The desire to see something that you are interested in and the expectation of what you are going to see is what motivates you to leave the safe viewing space of your home to watch a film, hopefully with like minded people in a public place.

It can be an intense experience, particularly in the case of a film which has been anticipated some time, to be transported to a fantasy world, to watch characters you identify with in surroundings that are unfamiliar. The actors/characters on the screen are larger than life in both senses, they are untouchable stars who are not part of everyday life while at the same time they appear ten feet tall in stereo sound, and they are quite literally looked up to. TV revolves around ‘personalities’, the stars of the small screen, and for the most part they are everyday, down to earth people.


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