Do Romantic Comedies Indoctrinate?
The LA Times writes up some research (done by some UK researchers in the field of psychology) on the media effects of Hollywood romantic comedies. (Hat tip: Kevin Drum). Arguing that these films reinforce or contribute to romantic ideals in viewers.
Set aside the methodological difference between quantitative research and the qualitative, even belletristic, methods honed by humanities film studies. I'm wondering how seriously we should take the media effects position as a model for spectatorship. My gut instinct is to refuse it and to retreat back into a cultural studies model of spectatorial negotiation (and I still think that's especially important for feminized genres like the romantic comedy, where the scholar seems particularly eager to see the spectator as manipulable.). And maybe that's what we should do.
But does media effects have anything to tell us? If so, what? For the humanist film scholar, media effects is the ultimate heterodox approach - the thing that preceded our field and against so many of its interventions are defined. Yet we, too, make deterministic claims about ideology, and hedging the bet by refusing measurement or quantification does not change the underlying model.