Robert Scholes’s essay “On Reading a Video Text”, from the work Protocols of Reading argues that today’s video texts should be considered part of contemporary American culture. Scholes explains that, by watching a video which presents a glimpse of the American ideology, lifestyle and values, the viewer is able to identify as a member of the culture community in which the video was produced. Sholes argues that, in order to understand great works of art, the audience must have had experience reading and understanding today’s media texts.
Perhaps the most interesting two paragraphs in the essay are comprised of Scholes’ analysis of the source used to support his argument. The author uses an example from the media, a commercial to Budweiser beer to support his claim. The author uses the example to portray the way in which the audience’s knowledge of their culture’s myths, stereotypes and values is used in order to construct a narrative by using only a few narrative fragments. Therefore, the author uses his own knowledge on the topic, and his critical analysis skills to interpret the commercial and allow us to understand the importance of possessing the critical analysis skills. The section of the text in which the author analyzes the commercial is persuasive because the author shows how each fragment of the commercial’s narrative are used to construct the American myth.
However, even though it might be true that video texts may represent important cultural artifacts, it is equally true that others do the opposite. Thus, media video texts such as commercial are able not only to reflect culture, but also to create cultural trends, by influencing the audience’s tastes, opinions and even values. For example, a commercial that shows young teenagers in highly sexualized poses in order to target the teenager segment also may have an effect on culture by influencing teenage girls’ behavior, therefore being culturally relevant, because it helps creating a cultural trend at the same time as it mirrors it.