Pilot Survey: Media Influence on Romance in Everyday Life

My group assignment for BCM210 is about the influence of romance films on our expectations of romance and relationships. We’re focusing on three films, An Affair to Remember, Dirty Dancing and Friends With Benefits from the 50’s, 80’s and 00’s respectively. I recently drew up a brief survey to pilot on a friend to evaluate what worked, what didn’t and what we can perhaps change.


I surveyed my friend Chantelle who I assumed would be our prime target audience for our research topic.


1. What is your age?

18-24   25-30   31-40   41-50   51+

  1. Gender

Male   Female   Other

  1. Relationship Status

Single   In a relationship   In an open relationship   married   divorced   widowed   It’s complicated

  1. Circle the films below that you’ve seen

An Affair To Remember     Dirty Dancing     Friends With Benefits

  1. Have any of the previously mentioned films influenced your ideas on relationships/romance?

Yes/No/ Other- Not really, though Friends With Benefits is one of my favourite movies. Not personally but I can see how ‘friendly’ behaviour is deemed acceptable through this movie

  1. Have any other romance films influenced your ideas on relationships/romance?

Yes/No – they set a lot of high expectations and standards which I think can be realistic but especially being a girl, I think it’s easy to expect too much

  1. Name 3 romance films that you feel has the greatest impact on your personal perceptions of relationships/romance
    1. Couldn’t think of any notable films
  1. On a scale of 0-5 (0 being never and 5 being frequently), how often do you watch romance films?
    1. 4
  1. Do you think the media has an important role in shaping opinions on romance?
    1. 100%, romance films perpetuate the same idea of love and romance. Boy meets girl, boy chases girl, boy performs huge romantic gesture for girl, that’s a lot of pressure to live up to. 
  1. What film would you base your idea of an ideal relationship off of?

An Affair To Remember     Dirty Dancing     Friends With Benefits- the ending when they end up in a relationship



In this case, I think it’s easier to begin with what didn’t work. An issue was Chantelle hadn’t seen all of the movies we had been using in our research, which immediately limited the amount of information we could get and restricted any comparisons we could have potentially made. When asked to state the 3 most influential romantic films she has watched, she couldn’t really think of anything too prominent. Perhaps asking for 3 films is quite a lot, especially with no assistance or guidance from us in the form of suggestions. However suggestions would be quite leading so that’s something we’re going to have to look into further.


Perhaps some research methodologies we could do in the future would be to conduct a focus group where we show parts of the movies we selected and have a discussion about what we’re watching and how the audience feels. I feel this would be a more effective way of getting more detailed and insightful opinions. Whilst we were selecting the three movies we wished to use as case studies, we chose them based off of our our personal views of what was a romance film reflective of it’s time and maybe we need to revisit these and choose films which are more widely known and have been seen by a larger audience, for example, the Notebook, Titanic, Gone With the Wind.

Other than these revisions we should make, the majority of the questions worked well and were interpreted and answered well and without hassle.

This pilot survey has been very insightful in regards to the direction of our research and what steps should be taken next.

*Special thanks to Chantelle for participating and gossiping with me about our favourite films and our ideal man

Why 50 Shades of Grey Isn’t As Sexually Revolutionary As Everyone Thinks

50 Shades of Grey, the 2011 erotica trilogy that stormed our book shelves and was then turned into a soft porn film on Valentines Day in 2015. The film was received in one of three ways;

  1. I love it and it’s great for feminism, sexual expression and the modern relationship,
  2. I have no opinion because I don’t want to get involved, or
  3. This is twisted and a step back for feminism as it glorifies domestic and sexual violence and is disgraceful.

‘Suddenly, he sits up and tugs my panties off and throws them on the floor. Pulling off his boxer briefs, his erection springs free. Holy cow! … He kneels up and pulls a condom onto his considerable length. Oh no … Will it? How?’ – 50 Shades of Grey

Whatever your view of the phenomenon, what is quite surprising is that the whole concept of love, sex and desire is nothing new and has in fact been written about for hundreds of years.

Nearly 100 years ago, the world was having the same reaction to D.H Lawrence’s 1928 novel ‘Lady Chatterly’s Lover.’ The book tells the tale of Lady Chatterly (Constance) having a passionate affair with her gardener (Oliver) and emphasis is placed on Constance’s need for physical awakening. This book being released in a time where a flash of the knee was considered unacceptable was quite incredible. Extreme censorship and suppression of this book occurred due to worries that it would greatly impact society. Which is exactly what happened, contributing to the sexual revolution of the 1920’s.


‘His body was urgent against her, and she didn’t have the heart anymore to fight…She saw his eyes, tense and brilliant, fierce, not loving. But her will had left her. A strange weight was on her limbs. She was giving way. She was giving up…she had to lie down there under the boughs of the tree, like an animal, while he waited, standing there in his shirt and breeches, watching her with haunted eyes…He too had bared the front part of his body and she felt his naked flesh against her as he came into her.’ – Lady Chatterly’s Lover

It is personally surprising that an audience in the 21st Century was sent into such a state of shock when 50 Shades is nothing more than poorly written fan fiction based off of Twilight! Whilst their was definitely rejection occurring in the 1920’s to Miss Chatterly, it overall inspired a sexual revolution and contributed positively to women’s rights and sexual expression. Whereas I’m not too sure if 50 Shades of Grey made as big of a contribution to society.

This comparison demonstrates the direct effect that media and communications can have on society and even influence and promote change. It is this importance which allows us to acknowledge the immense power of the media and why we should be active in consuming it and why the study of the media should be continued.

Further Readings

50 Shades of Grey compared to Lady Chatterly’s Lover: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9453636/Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-It-wouldnt-make-Lady-Chatterley-blush.html


Garica, J. 2012, ‘Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review’, Review of general psychology : journal of Division 1, of the American Psychological Association16.2 (2012): 161–176. PMC, accessed 16 April 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3613286/

Ethics: the good, the bad and the ugly

The BBC defines ethics as ‘a system of moral principles, affecting how people make their decision and lead their lives,’ and put simply, the way in which we determine what is good and what is bad. Ethics are particularly relevant to the media, especially with journalists (professional, free-lance or amateur) being a prominent presence in areas of conflict. Ethics are important to ensure that we as a society understand what is acceptable and adhere to those standards to ensure peace and understanding. If only it were that simple.

If Dumbledore says it, it must be right
If Dumbledore says it, it must be right

A significant problem associated with ethics are their subjectivity. Standards of ethics depend on various different factors such as; ‘discipline, political system, legal system, religious/social system, research content, setting/institution and time in history’ (McCutcheon, 2015). Factoring in these aspects,  an act that appears ethical and good to one person, may be bad and unethical to another. A recent example of how media ethics are not universal and can be misunderstood is the imprisonment of Al Jazeera staff in December of 2013.

Greste, along with two other Al Jazeera staff, were arrested in Cairo, Egypt for ‘broadcasting news which was damaging to national security by meeting with recently declared terrorist group, The Muslim Brotherhood’ (BBC, 2013). To the Egyptian government, their work was completely unethical. Illegally meeting with a terrorist group which was interpreted as ‘damaging.’ Whereas the Al Jazeera staff were looking to uncover the truth in a conflict ridden area. A movement to free Peter Greste with the slogan ‘telling the truth is not terrorism,’ and the hashtag of FreeAJStaff went viral, however in this case the Egyptian court viewed the ‘truth’ as terrorism.

Free AJ staff

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance Journalist’ Code of Ethics states standards to do with accuracy and honesty to upkeep image and credibility. The first standard is ‘report and interpret honestly, do not suppress relevant available facts.’ This guideline can be interpreted in various ways such as; Peter Greste and the Al Jazeera staff were trying to uncover the truth and did nothing wrong, or, the facts and information were not readily available and breached this code of ethics, or violated the political ethics of their host country, Egypt and thus their imprisonment is justified.

A problem with media ethics is that there are no ‘fixed right answers’ (Gordon, 1996). For example, the code of ethics mentioned above are are similar yet different to the Al Jazeera code of ethics, which are different to the Telegraph’s code of conduct. With all these different ethical codes, how are we supposed to know what is right or wrong? Ethical or unethical?

We need ethics to get by in life as smoothly as possible, but we cannot impose our personal ethics on others and must understand that ethics are subjective from people, institutions and countries.

Further Information 

Controversies with journalism ethics can be seen in many media stories;

Julian Asange and WikiLeaks.


BBC, 2013 Egypt Crisis: Al Jazeera journalists arrested in Cairo, http://Http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25546389, accessed 29 March 2015

Gordon, D., Kittross, J.M., Reuss, C. & Merrill, J.C. 1996,Controversies in media ethics, Longman, White Plains, N.Y.

McCutcheon, M. 2015 Research Ethics, BCM210, University of Wollongong, accessed 29 March 2015

Ward, S.J.A. 2013, Global Media Ethics: Problems and Perspectives, Wiley-Blackwell, GB.

Researching Love and Romance in Films: Analysis of Text

‘From Love at First Sight to Soul Mate: The Influence of Romantic Ideals in Popular Films on Young People’s Beliefs about Relationships.’ – Veronica Hefner and Barbara J. Wilson.

I have chosen to analyse this research article because of it’s relevance to my own research task that I will be conducting in a group regarding; the influence of romantic films throughout time and how they’re shaped societies views on romance, using three popular films from their corresponding decade, An Affair To Remember (1950’s), Dirty Dancing (1980’s) and Friends With Benefits (2010’s).

Popular Romantic Comedy Films http://cdn29.elitedaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/51660bca20192.image_.jpg
Popular Romantic Comedy Films

This text aims to ‘investigate content of romantic comedy movies and the effects they may have on viewers and the consequences of holding romantic ideals.’ The authors of this research are Veronica Hefner and Barbara J. Wilson. Hefner is an associate professor from the department of communication studies at Chapman University, California. Wilson has a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a professor Professor of communications at the University of Illinois. ‘Her areas of expertise include the social and psychological effects of the media, particularly on youth.’ Together, Hefner and Wilson are experienced and experts in their field

Their intended audience appears to be youth who watch romantic comedies (primarily females) and I am most definitely included in their target audience. Being a hopeless romantic and having seen countless romantic comedies, I am perhaps someone who holds these unrealistic ideals.

As this text is a research based, the authors are quite objective which is crucial to unbiased and accurate results. Hefner and Wilson carried out content analysis of ‘the 52 highest grossing romantic comedies from 1998-2008’ (pg. 154). Content analysis is an easy methodology to use as it is ‘unobtrusive,’ ‘provides valuable historical or cultural insights’ (contentanalysis.org, 2015), and can address ideas not previously considered by researchers. However, content analysis can be extremely time consuming, with Hefner and Wilson analysing over 93 hours of film (pg. 157). They also surveyed 335 undergraduates (pg. 150),

In their introduction whilst Hefner and Wilson are explaining the importance of analysing films (pg. 152) and the idea that media can ‘cultivate unrealistic and idealistic expectations’ (pg. 151), they acknowledge dozens of previous surveys, interviews and research projects conducted by other scholars, yet also highlight the unique points of their research and its significance. In their discussion, they address that their research is the ‘first of its kind to investigate an association between movie exposure and romantic beliefs’ (pg. 171), which expands on Robin L. Nabi’s research on romantic influence on audience through television. There is also three pages of references neatly incorporated throughout their paper which supports their findings and conclusion (pg. 172-5).

By analysing Hefner and Wilson’s research paper, it has helped establish ideas and further research ideas I can use for my personal investigation.

Further Reading

Nabi’s Research:



Hefner, V. Wilson, B. J. 2011, From love at first sight to soul mate: Romantic ideals in popular films and their association with young people’s beliefs about relationships, ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, accessed 14th March 2015, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03637751.2013.776697

Hide and Seek: Media Research

“Chercher” the French word meaning ‘to seek’ or better well known by all university students across the globe as… research. That thing you do when you’re wanting to buy a new iPhone 6 only to find out that they bend. Or trying to plan your mid session break to Melbourne enticed by art and coffee to discover that there’s no cheap flights during that time. Or even trying to find out what sort of things your crush is into so you can casually bring them up in conversation. Whether it’s asking your friends or Google questions, if you’re trying to ‘find out more information’ (Berger, 2014) about something chances are you’re researching.

sourced from: http://meetville.com/images/quotes/Quotation-Zora-Neale-Hurston-curiosity-research-Meetville-Quotes-95733.jpg
sourced from: http://meetville.com/images/quotes/Quotation-Zora-Neale-Hurston-curiosity-research-Meetville-Quotes-95733.jpg

However, asking if your crush likes watching Walking Dead’ isn’t at all scholarly research.  Scholarly research is a very ‘systematic and objective’ type of poking and prying, which revolves around correctness and truthfulness’ (Berger, 2014). Ultimately uncovering the truth. Something we can hope to obtain through media research, which is all of the above, applied to aspects of the media, covering mass media, social media, print media, radio, cinema, comics etc, and research into these areas can help us identify links between media, culture, society and individuals.

As identified by Strasburger, there is currently not enough media research, meaning that the problem is ‘important enough to bother with’ (Berger, 2014) and with the ‘effects of the media on children and adolescents’ (Strasburger, 2013) more or less unknown, it provides a space where media research can help fill in the blanks and hopefully minimise risk to those who are vulnerable targets of the media.

Sourced from: http://www.uow.edu.au/research/priorities/index.html
Universities like the University of Wollongong put a lot of emphasis on research. Sourced from: http://www.uow.edu.au/research/priorities/index.html

Trying to decide on what area of media research I’d like to participate in is more difficult than deciding which Johnny Depp film is the best… basically impossible. The media broadcasts an amplitude of messages through diverse mediums, from individuals to multinational companies, reaching people and places across the globe and are uniquely interpreted.

I’m increasingly fascinated by social media and its power and influence on individuals. An area in which I’d like to explore further is the role of the media influencing personal relationships, for example meeting people on Tinder and the medium’s effect on the audience’s view of hook-up culture.

Sourced from: http://www.glasbergen.com/wp-content/gallery/marriage/mar82.gif
Sourced from: http://www.glasbergen.com/wp-content/gallery/marriage/mar82.gif

Something else that I am passionate about is equality and feminism. With the Emma Watson speech on feminism last year, it’s a hot topic which has swept the media and I would be interested exploring various aspects of how it’s influenced people. I believe that all of these fields have the potential to be explored on a deeper level because they are increasingly relevant to our society.

As you can see, I’m constantly engaged and interested by many aspects of the media, society, cultures and people. But before I can decide on a topic of interest, I must first do a hell of a lot of research.

xxx A


Berger, Arthur A. 2014, ‘What is research?’, in Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32

Strasburger, V.C. 2013, “Spinal Column: Why Isn’t There More Media Research?”, Clinical Pediatrics, vol. 52, no. 7, pp. 587-588