chapter  8
The mass media of the moving image: television and film
Pages 18

For many people to talk of external images and their influence on us is to discuss mass-media communication as represented in television and film. Television and film are now such an important dimension of our cultural life that it is hard to envisage the effect early film had on early twentieth-century society. Stories of people rushing from the cinema when experiencing for the first time animals rushing towards them on the big screen have become part of the folklore which underpins contemporary fantasies about our present-day technical sophistication. Likewise, when television first became a mass-market commodity watching itself was a highly formalised activity, with pre¬ prescribed times of transmission, elaborate social codes and conventions for viewing – typically the father censoring what was permissible viewing material – and where presenters themselves envisaged the advent of TV in the home as a special and wholly new form of intrusion. This is evidenced in the observation that presenters on early BBC television would appear dressed in full formal evening wear. Having moving images of complete strangers in your front room was clearly perceived as potentially problematic, and codes and conventions for the successful introduction of the ‘television intruder’ built upon appropriate cultural practices of social interaction.