I’ve been doing some research for my upcoming panels, and in particular learning more about reader-response criticism, which my school largely skipped. This has led me to thinking about the contention I occasionally encounter that bronies are “ruining” the show by trying to make it “for them,” and whether there’s any truth to it. (Spoiler: Not so far, and it will continue to be untrue as long as the showrunner continues not to take fangst remotely seriously.)
So, who exactly is the show “for”? That’s pretty close to the concept of “implied reader” in media theory, or in this case I suppose “implied viewer.”
Basically, the implied viewer is the person (or group of people, or type of people) that the show seems to be assuming the viewer to be. There are many, many ways to make implications about the viewer. The way the camera moves, how it frames shots, can function as a “gaze” for the viewer, and thus imply what it is the viewer finds interesting. Allusions and references can imply that the user is supposed to “get” those references. A work can signal in a multitude of ways how intelligent it thinks its audience is, or how easily bored. (Because I’m apparently hating on TV news this week, watch a few minutes of any 24-hour cable news network. Doesn’t matter which one, they all find a myriad of ways to make clear that they think you are extremely stupid and have the attention span of a gnat.)
Since I’m in a teacherly mode at the moment, working on the slides for my Analyzing Anime 201 panel, I’ll stop here and toss it out to you in the comments. In what ways does Friendship Is Magic imply a particular audience? Does it imply one particular type of viewer, or several? Is the brony viewer in any way implied, or are bronies a case of appropriating someone else’s show?
By the time you see this, I’ll have already written my answers and put it in the queue, but I’m curious to see what the rest of you think.