We all, more than likely, watch a lot of film and TV. How much do we carefully think about what we watch? What are ways of analyzing, critiquing and better understanding these texts? One means of analyzing a film or TV program is to do an ideological critique of it.
What is ideological criticism? How do you do an ideological critique of a film or television series?
For our purposes here, ideological criticism is a particular type of rhetorical criticism.
Previously, we've gotten an idea of what rhetorical criticism is. So, what is ideological criticism? What is an ideology?
- “A system of shared meaning that represents the world for us; it gives us a common picture of of reality” (p. 296).
- “A pattern or set of ideas, assumptions, beliefs, values, or interpretations of the world by which a culture or group operates” (Foss, p. 291).
So, an ideology shapes the way we see the world, what we pay attention to and what we do not.
What purpose does an ideology serve? Where does an ideology come from?
And now to some related terms.
- “the process by which a social order remains stable by generating consent to its parameters through the production and distribution of ideological texts that define social reality for the majority of the people.” (from Rybacki & Rybacki, Oprah article)
So, these media texts develop in us an ideological perspective? They tell us how we should think? How we should view the world?
2. False consciousness:
- “a failure to recognize the instruments of one's oppression or exploitation as one's own creation, as when members of an oppressed class unwittingly adopt views of the oppressor class” (American Heritage Dictionary).
So, we can live in a dominant ideology and be blind to other ways of seeing?
With these above concepts in mind, let's look at ideological criticism. Ideological criticism is a means of bringing often overlooked ideologies out into the light for all to see.
The Basic Argument of Ideological Criticism
- “When an ideology becomes hegemonic in a culture, certain interests or groups are served by it more than others – it represents the perspective of some groups more than others” (Foss, p. 294).
- “When an ideology becomes hegemonic through a process of accord and consent, it accumulates ‘the symbolic power to map or classify the world for others…’ It invites ‘us to understand the world in certain ways, but not in others’” (Foss, p. 295).
- “To maintain a position of dominance, a hegemonic ideology must be constructed, renewed, reinforced, and defended continually through the use of rhetorical strategies and practices” (Foss, p. 295).
What film or television series would you do an ideological critique of and why?
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