The Apparatus Theory and Modern Media Consumption

The modern media does play a central role in the public’s orientation towards society considering that everyday life changes in the same fashion as media. The cinematic apparatus theory comes into context in this instance in relation to the function of media and the impact that it has on the audience. The cinematic apparatus is defined as the conjunction of traditional medial elements such as movie theatre, projector as well as the desiring spectator configured within the relation of desire and ideology. However, within the modern context, film viewing has shifted from the traditional forms owing to the transformation of digital media to feature personal network devices such as phones, television as well as computers. Film presence and consumption are important components of modern culture. It is through cinema that one gets the important ideas of how uncomfortable people are with their reality hence seeking an escape from this reality through cinematic fiction. The apparatus theory maintains its relevance in the modern age since it draws its ideas from the Marxist film theory in addition to psychoanalysis. The manifestation of the theory revolves around the connectivity between cinema and the audience conveying how film audiences digest and react to the events and the images that are presented to them by the camera and the narratives that a film possesses. The theory presents the conclusion that owing to the nature of mechanics found in cinema and that films are created to be representations of reality, film is ideological. The apparatus theory can still offer insights into how media is consumed and experienced today in reflecting on the relationship between film, the spectator, and ideology in addition to explaining the reasons why audiences engage with media.


The Apparatus theory

The theory developed by Jean Louis Baudry and Christian Metz examines the interrelated structures of the cinematic space as well as the frame of psychoanalysis that is connected to it. The theory suggests that the cinema audience experiences a form of immobility which makes the experience of watching a film more of a dream-like situation. In this instance, the meaning of the film is primed on the delivery of a composition that is realistic and simple which is the process that involves the mechanics of filmmaking that creates a representation where the subject is close to reality irrespective of how the frames are put together. The theory suggests that the camera, which is the apparatus placed before the eyes of the viewer sounds, and realistic images but technology hides how reality is delivered. This means the meaning of the film that one is watching and the means through which one experiences the film is subject to the mechanics and construction of the process of filmmaking that includes production and editing. The result of this becomes ideological since the work that is created is reproduced reality which the viewer experiences at a deeper level. Within this, the relationship between film and audience is presented as the theory details the reaction of a spectator in how they take in the events. The idea presented by the theory is that film is created to be observe oriented as the main issue in contention lies in how the film is interpreted and how the audience reacts to the realism that is entailed in the delivery of the images and events.

The theory places its focus on the connection between film and the spectator. The main purpose of this theory is the explanation the relationship between cinema and how it serves its function as a medium of absolute imagination and how a viewer who experiences the film reacts to it. This is based on the idea that cinema has to fulfill some parts of the real-world experience which in turn occurs through perception. The viewer sees the visual image of a film in a specific way or point of view. The image is driven to the mind of the subject as shots and angles of the camera where the perception created is that of the narration point of the characters (Klein Shagrir). The cinematic environment is destined to be a medium for the narrative where the audio-visual story is experienced. The theory underlines the human desire to entertain fantasy through sound and images as the ambiguity that is created through film presents an impression of reality that leads to the lack of awareness in the viewer in addition to the confusion surrounding its origins. Film thereby captures the sentiments and fantasies of the audience which strengthens the bond between the spectators and cinema through the bridge of the camera (Carroll). Cinema is an absolute imagination of art form which requires the act of perception that originates from the point of view of the spectators. In explaining the relationship between the spectator and the film, the theory takes into account the significance of the environment in creating the spectacle that harbors ideology. It is under these convections that the theory maintains its relevance in explaining how media is consumed and experienced in the modern age.

Film and Ideology

The apparatus theory offers insights into how media are consumed and experienced today by underlining the fact that film is ideological. Ideology refers to the body of ideas that are a reflection of the social needs of a class, group, or even culture. It is a systematic view that offers a definition of the concepts of self in addition to the relation of self and any other form of collectivism such as the state. It refers to the belief systems and the principles of these systems (Hess). Every film offers the viewer ways of behaving and thinking both positive and negative which underlines an implied ideology or morality. The apparatus theory presents the argument that cinema is primed on ideology since it works towards the reproduction of reality. Ideology in this instance is not imposed on cinema but rather part of its nature as it becomes part of how the viewer thinks (Ye Qijun). The ideas that are created on a film are an illustration of the ideas that carry meaning including the decision for editing and the camera work involved.  Consideration has to be made to the fact that each film has a form of slant that is based on the sense of right and wrong of the director (Baudry). This is an ideological perspective of society that is reflected in the work of the director. At the same time, films are products that are marketed to the public and they may include the disposition that the audience may respond to in either identical or parallel ways. For instance, cowboy films of the past envisioned the ideology of the Wild West to which the public became attached.

The apparatus theory explains that media is consumed and experienced in the modern age as a form of ideology since the film is a result of the material product of society. Every film contains a message that is consumed by the audience since the nature of the cinema is to turn the film into an instrument of ideology. The evidence of this is how the director of any film works towards the depiction of reality. The apparatus of filmmaking has not changed hence filmmakers use ideology in making their films through a similar process such as stage production, subjects, and styles that ensure the viewer is processing the information that is presented to them. Media, therefore, is consumed depending on the ideology it represents or presents to the viewers (Baudry). For instance, the success of the film franchise Rocky is based on the ideology that America is a superpower that is capable of beating its rival nation Russia even in sporting events. Cinema tries to explain the ideological position of the director through the use of characteristic narrative forms as well as rhetorical devices. The ideological forms in this instance become a product of the reflection of man within a given society or environment. For example, the film The Wolf of Wall Street presents the ideology that people working on the stock exchange conduct illegal operations. The narrative that is presented in this film is meant to reflect the social practices, values, ideals, morals, and laws of contemporary society. This explains film viewership on such material in that the experience of such films is defined by how well the audience relates to the subliminal message in the narrative concerning the social issues.

The apparatus theory explains how media is consumed and experienced by underlining the behavior of the audience about the content that they are exposed to. For example, the streaming site, Netflix presented the television show titled Narcos taking advantage of the fact that it also was presented in Latin America. With this, the creators of the show were able to take on actors from Colombia as well as the United States hence these actors were able to speak their language. The television show took on a documentary style as a measure that would enable it to come off as realistic in addition to the fact that the language spoken was a mix of English and Spanish (Sharma). The apparatus theory comes to explain the decisions taken by the creators of the television show who noted that the consumption of their content relied on the ideology presented in the narrative (DeLauretis and Heath). The film is set in a public setting where the audience is watching the film with other members of the audience. The audience according to the apparatus theory is stuck for a specific amount of time while watching the screen. The environment in which the film is watched creates a condition in which the ideology that is presented in the film is absorbed. The filmmaker in this instance has power over the camera which makes it hard for the apparatus to remain objective (Rose). In presenting the show, the filmmaker presents his ideas to the audience who absorb this information at face value. This in turn creates the determination of how content is created in light of the ideas of the director while the viewer remains to be immobilized by the reality that is created in the images they are seeing.

The apparatus theory denotes that media is consumed depending on the imaginary relationship that is created between the content in the film and its ideology and the real conditions of existence. The screen defines how the real conditions of existence are represented in the cinema (Rose). For instance, when watching a film, the audience does not simply watch it. They see themselves in the film and imagine being a character or part of it. Media is consumed based on how people relate their realities with the fictional reality that is presented on screen. Even though the audience knows that the show is staged and that it is largely fiction, it remains fascinating hence the theory explains the fundamental logic of the film. Cinema presents to the spectator an illusionary sense of control over the ideas that are presented in the film. For instance, the popularity of the James Bond film series lies in the belief that there exists a special branch that works within the government. The theory explains the ideological transference between the film as a spectacle and the spectator as the locus of consciousness allowing the audience to take in the effect created. A Film acts as an absolute imagination while the audience who experiences this consumes the content to fulfill part of their real-world experience (Jeong). Films are no longer viewed in a theatrical manner as technology has advanced allowing for a more intimate setting in terms of viewing, but the relationship between the spectator and the spectacle remains the same (Elsaesser). In the creation of modern films and shows, consideration is made towards the theory in determining how the audience thinks and how they experience media today.

Audience Engagement

The apparatus theory offers insights into how media is consumed and experienced in the modern day by examining the phenomenon of audience engagement. Cinema is defined as a prerecorded view of the object which contains parts that are absent from reality. There is a basic condition that is required to be fulfilled by cinema thus the theory creates an understanding that the spectator has the capability to engage with the content through perception. The audience engagement with a media text occurs on different levels depending on the context, ideology as well as the situation. According to the engagement theory, the audience engages the media in three modes of consumption (Steensen et al). These include primary where the audience pays close attention to the text presented and become immersed in the narrative. The secondary engagement entails the audience consuming the text but not at the same intensity as they are concentrating on something else. Tertiary engagement features the audience failing to pay much attention to the media text though it is present. According to the apparatus theory, the media and the environment have a profound impact on the audience. For instance, if one were listening to an audiobook when they are running, they would not be receiving the message in the book (Elsaesser). The apparatus theory in explaining the relationship between the spectator and the spectacle offers an understanding of the role that the audience plays in the production of media in how they engage in it. Spectatorship when it comes to cinema is voyeuristic as it is a result of the valuation of the role that audience engagement plays that determines their response to the information that they are presented with.

The apparatus theory argues that the audience within their environment is passive as they are likely to accept the message and ideology that is encoded in the film without presenting a challenge to it. This means they are likely to be affected by the message that the filmmaker has crafted (Broersma). The apparatus theory thereby links with the audience engagement theory in denoting the responses that the audience may have towards the film or media that they are watching. The response in this instance may be preferred as the audience would respond to the ideas in the way the director would want them to respond. For instance, when an audience is watching America’s Got Talent show, the scale of their engagement with the content would be noted by the voting that takes place in addition to the purchasing of the songs created by the winner of the show. The same idea is noted when it comes to a negotiated response where the audience would respond by rejecting or accepting some of the elements that are presented in the film. This engagement would be measured through the feedback that is presented to the show via social media platforms (Broersma). The audience engagement may as well be oppositional in the sense that they would have an understanding of the media text but decide on being opposed to it. The apparatus theory underlines the idea that each film offers the viewer with information that is implied or even ideology based on the director’s sense of what is right and wrong. Some of these films are marketed without any form of disposition thereby allowing the audience to engage with them in any way they see fit.

The apparatus theory offers insight into how media is consumed by addressing the response of the audience in offering a different perspective on the uses and gratification theory. According to Thomas Ruggiero (2000), the audience uses media to gratify their specific wants and needs. This aligns with the premise of the apparatus theory that notes that media users are passive and have control over the media that they consume. This means the audience does have a particular reason for consuming media which may be for entertainment and diversion. The consumption of media text as presented by the apparatus theory related to the need for the spectator to consume ideology as a means of escaping their everyday lives. The entire situation can be referred to as film experiencing as it describes the process in which the audience absorbs the film text and in turn collaborates in the creation of the film experience (Ruggiero). It is on this premise that the audience selects an entertaining text that encourages them to divert their attention from reality. For instance, an individual would opt to watch films such as The Matrix or Star Wars owing to their fantasy-like work that takes one away from the ideas of reality.  According to Reich and Richmond (2014), cinema becomes a playground where the audience can play around with different ideologies. Furthermore, audiences interact with cinema as media as a means of creating a personal identity with it. The spectator watches a film since they can compare their experiences with those that are represented in the film. The film experience in this instance is drawn from the identification and empathizing with the content or characters that are represented in them thereby offering some form of entertainment.

The cinema apparatus theory can still offer insight into how media are consumed and experienced today by presenting the relationship between cinema and ideology in addition to explaining the audience engagement with media. The theory presents the idea that film has to be seen as a set of processes and also as a series of relational processes that comprise the psychology of the audience and artist. While the filmmaker presents subtle ideologies to the image that they project to the screen, the viewer absorbs them at face value since they desire these ideologies as a means of escaping their reality in addition to creating a personal identity with the information presented. The viewer is passive or rather immobilized and cannot test out the reality that is presented with these images hence they tend to have limited ideological autonomy. The theory explains that media is consumed according to the needs of the audience even though they realize it is fiction or rather not free from ideological influence. To the viewer, the message is recognized within the confines of the film but outside of their thoughts, they are capable of reclaiming the ability to reject or accept them. The application of the apparatus theory in film can help in the identification of the point of view of the audience thereby determining their preferences toward certain films. Modern films feature state-of-the-art cameras and editing that aid in disguising the ideas of the real world and that of fiction. To the theory, there is an affinity between the film audiences and the image that is presented by the camera as the audience identifies themselves and their passions within the films they are watching hence they engage with the ideology that is presented in it.