- A Media Analysis Battery
Sean Cavazos-Kottke/Language Arts, Gifted/Talented Specialist/Tomball High
A battery is a set of questions that you
have to answer to accomplish some task, like getting into a secret clubhouse
or winning a scholarship for college. Below is the Media Analysis Battery, a
series of questions to think about when you are confronted with a media
product, like a movie, TV show or advertisement. Always begin by asking
yourself "What is my first response to this work?" First
impressions are always strong and rarely off-base. Then, ask yourself the
series of questions that are presented below. They will challenge you to look
carefully into the work to discover what it is that caused your initial
response. Your task this year will be to take this series of questions and
write short (1-2 page) critiques of a variety of media products, using your
answers to these questions as raw materials for creating your answer. Let's
look closer at the Media Analysis Battery and use the movie The Breakfast
Club as an example.
Identify the product -
What is it?
The first stage in applying the MAB to a
media product is to identify it. Give as much information as you can to
identify what the product is. Some sample questions, with answers for our
example product, are given below to get you started.
· What is the product's official name? (The Breakfast Club)
· What is its medium? (movie)
· What is its genre? (teen comedy/drama)
· When did it come out? (1985)
· What's it about? (When five students are thrown together by Saturday morning
detention, each begins to see the others apart from their stereotypes.
Andrew, the jock; Brian, the geek; John, the wastoid; Claire, the popular
Prom Queen; and Allison, the psycho girl; each finds qualities about the
others that make the Saturday morning change their lives.)
Determine the target
audience - Who was it made for and why?
The second stage of analyzing a media
product involves determining the target audience for the product. To whom is
this product directed, and how do you know? Then ask yourself why - what
reasons do you think the creators had for making this product and gearing it
toward that particular audience? Give as many details as you can here.
· Who is the intended audience for this product? (suburban teenagers, both
boys and girls, probably white, middle class)
· How do you know? What characteristics of the product appeal to (or
attempt to appeal to) the target audience? (The characters are all from that
group; they talk about home and school situations that would be familiar to
that group, such as trying to be popular, peer pressure and parental pressure
to get good grades & fit in; the movie is set in a high school, and it
also uses popular music that would appeal to teenagers.)
· What messages, ideas or themes does the product seem to convey to its
target audience? (The movie doesn't have a lot of product placement, so it
doesn't seem geared to selling any particular products to teenagers; it does
try to convey the message that "you can't judge a book by its
cover," which would be a helpful message for teenagers to live by,
especially after Columbine, when teens were killed just for belonging to
particular groups, not for anything specific that they did to the
Examine the origin - Who made it?
stage involves delving below the surface to examine the people and
institutions responsible for producing the work. Giving a little history
behind the people involved and what kinds of products you would expect them
to create is also good to include at this stage.