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Essay on Richard Dyer, Terry Lovell, and Jean McCrindle - Soap Opera and Women

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Dyer, Lovell, and McCrindle (1977) take up the matter of women's viewing of--and representation in--the soap opera, a popular form of entertainment. They make the case that genres specially addressed to a female audience--such as the soap opera--should be examined critically. Their paper has inspired many researchers to study the soap opera as well as female genres more generally and the female audience (quoted in Gray and McGuigan, 1993, p. 2).

SOAP OPERA AND WOMEN

1. Introduction

Critics do not yet believe that the world of women is as important as the world of men, never mind think that the separation of these two worlds ought to be challenged. Until that time, women will have to produce polemical papers about women (p. 35).

2. Our Study

We focus on the only form of television drama that has been defined as drama for women about women and watched by women. We are interested in how this output especially on television defines the experience that it offers its female audience. From a critical feminist perspective, we ask: What are the limits and the possibilities of this dramatic form? We analyze the ways in which representations of women in soap opera reproduce/reinforce the subordination of women in contemporary society. We explore possible strategies for those women directors and women writers who struggle against the prevailing sexism of the media.

Coronation Street has become Granada's nostalgic look at the 1950s; the programme depicts a working-class world characterized by the values of togetherness, community, i.e., before affluence and consumerism corrupted it. Clearly, middle-class television directors, script writers, and producers find it easier to identify with a supposedly sympathetic working-class ...


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...hat is wanted by the consumer, as opposed to the use-value (ideology) that is needed by capitalism. These two obligations may--but need not--overlap. They may--and probably will--come to contradict each other. Characteristically, it may be precisely when capital and the accumulation of capital become the dynamic of cultural production that the ideological functions secured by that production escape social control and become problematic. In conclusion, we can expect greater possibilities within commercial television than within state-controlled television: the BBC.

References

Dyer, Richard, Terry Lovell, and Jean McCrindle. 1977. "Soap Opera and Women. From Edinburgh International Television Festival 1977. Official Programme. Edinburgh: Broadcast.

Gray, Ann, and Jim McGuigan. 1997. Studying Culture: An Introductory Reader. 2nd edn. London: Arnold, pp. 35-41.


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