Robert Scholes on Video Text's - Comparison

Topics: Television advertisement, Black people, Car and Driver Ten Best Pages: 6 (2413 words) Published: February 27, 2005
According to Robert Scholes, author of On Reading a Video Text, commercials aired on television hold a dynamic power over human beings on a subconscious level. He believes that through the use of specific tools, commercials can hold the minds of an audience captive, and can control their abilities to think rationally. Visual fascination, one of the tools Scholes believes captures the minds of viewers, can take a simple video, and through the use of editing and special effects, turn it into a powerful scene which one simply cannot take his or her eyes from. Narrativity is yet another way Scholes feels commercials can take control of the thoughts of a person sitting in front of the television. Through the use of specific words, sounds, accompanying statements and or music, a television commercial can hold a viewer's mind within its grasp, just long enough to confuse someone into buying a product for the wrong reason. The most significant power over the population held by television commercials is that of cultural reinforcement, as Scholes calls it. By offering a human relation throughout itself, a commercial can link with the masses as though it's speaking to the individual viewer on an equal level. A commercial In his essay, Scholes analyzes a Budweiser commercial in an effort to prove his statements about the aforementioned tools. The commercial described in Scholes composition is a "well-known Budweiser commercial which tells…the life story of a black man pursuing a career as a baseball umpire" (Scholes, p. 620). Scholes feels that this commercial elegantly proves his theory that video texts can hold a viewer captive and control his thought pattern through the use of visual effects, narrativity, and of course, cultural reinforcement. The commercial itself tells the story of a young black man, working as an umpire in the minor baseball leagues, risen from the provinces, having overcome great racial tension throughout his life, who "makes it" as he is accepted by a white manager after making a close call during a game. Scholes analysis of this video text references his tools of "power and pleasure" (Scholes, p. 619) many times. Throughout the commercial visual effects are placed in order to capture the audience as we are offered an "enhancement of our vision" (Scholes, p. 619) by them, according to Scholes. A key feature of the commercial, the slow motion video of the play in question allowing us to see what the right call truly is, is not only important to the story, it's important as it allows us to see something we cannot without the use of special effects. We are simply awestruck by seeing something we cannot on our own. The Budweiser commercial in question uses narrativity throughout itself to not only tell the story of the umpire, but to tell the story of America, to tell the story of our national pastime, to tell the story of the young black man who has worked ever so hard to make it, when he finally does. While watching the young umpire working a game, we hear the narrator's voice, "In the minors you got to make all the calls, and then one day you get the call" (Scholes, p. 620), Budweiser uses this catchy phrase in order to grab our attention, to focus us on the commercial in order to look for the blossoming story. This slight play on words has a great effect on a viewer due to the fact that our minds think about the statement, and by the time we realize what is actually happening, the commercial has shown us that the black umpire has just gotten his "call." Later in the commercial, after the game has obviously ended, we see the umpire sitting in the same bar as the manager who confronted him about his "bad" call during the game. The old white manager with "the history of [baseball] written on [his face]" (Scholes, p. 621) holds up his bottle of Budweiser to the young black umpire, and toasts him with it. All the while a chorus plays in the background, singing "You keep America working. This...
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