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Law and Order SVU: Taboo

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on 10 April 2014

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Transcript of Law and Order SVU: Taboo

A theoretical approach of how media messages are produced, disseminated, and interpreted.

From this theoretical perspective, there are three positions shown in this episode that occur in the encoding/decoding process.

The Dominant Position is how consumers take the actual meaning. In this episode, the part that consumers would interpret is the relationship that goes on between Ella and her father. Many would interpret this sexual relationship as wrong and immoral, which shows how strong our preferred meaning stands in the resistance theory.

The Negotiated Position are ways we acknowledge the message and reject or accept it, Some viewers acknowledge the message at hand, but are not fully able to accept that instability in child's life through adulthood can cause relationship issues inside the family household which would explain the relational issues between Ella and her father that led to the birth of their two children.

The Oppositional Position is how we may understand the literal meaning, but our different backgrounds effect the way we decode the message and that we tend to form our own interpretations.

Resistance; Encoding/Decoding
Expectancy Violation Theory


"What we expect to hear or see will affect our perception, interpretation, and response during an interaction"

Expectancy Violation Theory
is an interpersonal communication theory that explains, how people will react to individual situations.

Judee Burgoon
insists that as individuals we will process each situation by:
Cultural norms
Relationship factors:
Similarity, familiarity, liking or relative status
Communicator characteristics:
Age, sex, gender or demographics

Violation valence:
Is the positive or negative value we place on the unexpected behavior we may encounter
Not all violations are bad

Communicator Reward Valence:
How we sum up our own gains and losses after someone violates our expectations. Individuals tend to avoid personal let downs, we don't want to be let down.

Cultural Forum
By: C. Freeman, P.Cooley, A.Jones, K.Lucas, A.Williams, S. McPherson & K. Simms
Law and Order SVU: Taboo
The theory that television is suppose to serve as a town hall where important cultural issues can be debated.
The Three Cultural Issues
1. Discarded babies
a. U.S. vs China
2. Incest/sexual relationships between parent and child
a. "An age-old taboo"
3. Postpartum Psychosis
a. A rare illness that effect women after child birth.

"All in the Family" vs "Law & Order SVU"
Subculture is a cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture.
Incest subculture vs. Mormon Polygamy
Depicted in recent shows like American Horror Story, Game of Thrones and the movie
Old Boy.
"They maintain a degree of separation and isolation from mainstream society. The incest subculture is no more non-traditional in its socialization methods and isolation than other successful subcultures, including the Amish, Mormons practicing polygamy, and religious or lifestyle cults in general."
Semiotics, or semiology, is the study of signs, symbols, and signification. It is the study of how meaning is created, not what it is.

Baggy Clothing, Weight Gain, Missing clip from the coffee bag, and The T-shirt.
Cute, Crying, Playful etc.

Denotation is when you mean what you say, literally. Connotation is created when you mean something else, something that might be initially hidden. The connotative meaning of a word is based on implication, or shared emotional association with a word.
Resistance Theory: What ways do you encode/decode the message sent through this episode and does different personal beliefs and backgrounds cause the receiver to interpret a different message?

Semiotics: Does semiotics help you understand what signs took place and did you find anything that had an alternative meaning in the episode?

Uses and Gratifications: Although drama-filled media can fulfill needs for gratification, do you think it can have a negative impact on people? Is it destructive to constantly fill our minds with violence and conflict?

Social Judgement Theory: Do you think the extent of social judgement is the three zones (Latitude of Rejection, Latitude of Acceptance, Latitude of Non-Commitment)? Or, do you think it is more complicated?

Subculture: Would you consider a "Incest" subculture plausible? As Hebdige would suggest, could this episode be considered a means of "recuperation" against incest. Maybe to reiterate the fact that a relationship like this is not normal in our mainstream society.

Cultural Forum: What other shows are there that can serve as a modern examples of cultural forum and are there any shows out there that can do a better job of addressing cultural issues.

Expectancy Violations: Did you notice any other expectant violations other than the ones covered?
Uses & Gratifications

We consume media messages because of our need for gratification.

Media affects different people in different ways.

8 motivations:
Passing Time


Social Interaction

Theory does not offer practical utility to reinforce concerns about negative media effects.

Assumes that one sees or hears a message, then using your own cognitive map, you accept the statement or reject it.

Latitude of Acceptance Zone
: where one places what you believe is completely acceptable

Latitude of Rejection Zone
: where one places what you believe is completely unacceptable.

Latitude of Non-Commitment
: where one places what they find neither acceptable or reject-able.

Main ideas judged
Throwing away babies in trash cans
Serial baby killing

Social Judgement Theory
analyzes the characters acceptance, rejection, and non-commitment zones, with each character judging the main ideas differently.

Social Judgement Theory
Full transcript