This chapter examines the different ways in which media audiences think about reality, particularly in postcolonial contexts. Using data and findings from three studies of Indian audiences, the reception of a popular Hindi movie (Hum Aapke Hain Koun), the reception of music television (mainly MTV and Channel V), and an ongoing study of the reception of the mythological genre (covering recent animation films as well as older Telugu black and white classics), the chapter shows how audience readings of important issues like family, nation, and religion may be underpinned by deeper assumptions about human nature and reality. Finally, it explores some of the ways in which audience investments in commonsense ideas about what is “real” may illuminate the politics and possibilities of media audiencehood in postcolonial modernity.
The primary aim of this chapter is to examine the ways in which media audiences conceive of and think about reality. In an age when media producers and programmers are claiming that they produce authentic forms of “reality,” whether it is the globally ubiquitous genre of reality television or the growth in publishing genres like memoir and non-fiction writing, the question of how audiences assume something to be “real” in the context of popular reception becomes an important and urgent project of inquiry for scholars in media studies. Such concerns have been addressed somewhat ...