COMMON USES OF NARRATIVE:
Perhaps it is because
stories are so commonplace and everyday, so deeply engrained within our
lives and culture and of our ways of learning and telling about our lives,
that we fail to recognise how
they are - and what persuasive power they offer to media producers.
Mass media institutions
recognised the power of narrative early in their history. For example, going to
didn't take off until film producers began to construct films
that used the form and structure of narrative. And when they did, audiences
began to pack into the
cinemas and have never stopped doing so. Narratives captured and
enthralled audiences like never before and... made money.
Never slow to recognise a goldmine when they see one, the
media soon transferred the idea of narrative from cinema to all kinds of
media texts: the news, advertising, songs... today narratives pervade media
texts of all kinds. But narratives offered the media much
more than a means of making profit, they hold immense
ideological power, too.
- Narrative offers
media producers just what they need: a compelling, trusted, comforting and persuasive
device that engages
an audience in ways that little else can achieve so easily.
- It seems we never
tire of reading, hearing and telling stories - and the level
of trust we place in a storyteller is easily achieved and can be quite extraordinary.
- Stories we grow up with - narratives - help
form our views of the ways things 'ought' to be. They 'tell' us
about personal relationships, romance, love and family life, about
dangers, about heroes and villains, about success and failure and so
on. It's as if they tell us about the way things should be in the
best of all possible worlds - and against which we measure
our own existence.
- If our experience disappoints us in some way,
as it so often must, it is often because it is not living up to our
view of how existence ought to be - as 'told' to us in a
- The 'romance narrative' will help you
understand this. The romance narrative is a way of thinking we learn
from ancient stories that show us how men and women fall in love.
But in such narratives, the man, the woman and the romance are
always perfect - a kind of 'hero meets princess' type story where
the hero wins his 'reward' of the princess.
- If only life were like stories - but somehow
we often find ourselves deeply believing that it ought to be so.