I found the idea of the dual texts that Jane Feuer alleges that Sirk films (and by extension, the kind of hour long serials that Feuer is talking about) possess to be most interesting in the articles. The primary text (narrative level), intended for the mass audience to simply entertain and delight; “the melodrama, pure and simple” (Feuer, date: 6). As well as the secondary text, which seeks to complicate and subvert the conservative dominant ideology that these serials appear to espouse both through Brechtian distancing techniques inherent in the form and at the level of the narrative.
This is particularly interesting to me because the clear bias (that at least Feuer alludes to) toward the informed and knowing audience rather than the mass audience, the pure fans of these television shows, seems simultaneously counterintuitive and increasingly obvious to me. Counterintuitive because the producers of these kinds of television programs are not only aiming “above” their loyal fan base to a “knowing” target audience, but the loyal fans in question are only receiving half of the intended message of these programs and the producers of them are fully aware and complicit in this gap of knowledge. Not to harp on my fascination with the “rupture”, but it greatly interests me that these programs knowingly propagating contradictory messages (based on the existing biases held by different audience members). Obvious, when one considers the Brechtian techniques utilized by these programs and the magnified, bordering on the absurd, stylization of these programs.
I think that the efficacy of these techniques and the “winking” attitude that the creators of these programs possess is most visible when screening an episode of Dynasty to a room full of Masters and Ph.D. level television academics and writers. I think that a certain amount of enjoyment from the part of the “knowing, informed” audience comes from the absurdity of the text, for example when the two matriarch characters (I’m not going to learn their names) fight in slow motion the pool for two full minutes before storming off, with the camera fixed on each of their asses, we know not to take the drama of the scene seriously which allows us to forgive the flaws of the show and “enjoy” the primary text in all its absurdity.
It’s actually kind of brilliant of the producers of Dynasty. They elicit attention from both the “mass audience” who regard the drama in all its seriousness and elicit attention from the “knowing” audience who regard the dramatic tension with a ridiculing gaze.
My supervisor in undergrad wrote about this stuff a lot. Dr. Alexia Smit… Look her up, ya’ll.