One can view ‘understanding’ media similarly to one’s understanding of a language. This understanding is described by Meyrowitz in his article as media literacy. In attempt to better analyze and define different concepts of media and it’s use of expression through different mediums, Meyrowitz separates media literacy into three parts, media grammar literacy, media content literacy, media medium literacy. Meyrowitz approaches media grammar through “focusing on the unique grammar of each medium and the ways in which the production variables of each medium interact with content elements.” But this is a complex technique and can be difficult to define due to the influence of different production variables. In order to successfully interpret media grammar, according to Meyrowitz one must understand “the standard range of production variables within each medium, as well as recognizing the ways in which variables are typically used to attempt to shape perception and response to mediated communications”. This shows the significance of being able to dissect media beyond its content. This forms the idea of media literacy, to observe the impact of using different medium, how it shapes audience perception and response, the message being delivered and the audience interaction.
Meyrowitz states that in order to understand media grammar literacy, it demands that we “have some understanding of specific workings of individual media”. The importance of media grammar literacy’s ability to manipulate an element in a unique manner that shapes people’s perception of something/someone or themselves. To demonstrate this using the example of the music video of “Elastic Heart” by Sia famously portraying Shia LaBeouf and Maddie Zieglar. The stars are seen dancing in the a cage in a sort of bewilderment and very little clothing. The video raised many eyebrows and confusion. Some responses to this video thought this was a love story between an older man and young girl (accusations of pedophile were raised) while others felt weird and uncomfortable with the performances of the dancers who were said to look possessed. Yet this video also allowed Sia to receive enormous praise for her artistry and described this video as allowing Sia to express herself in an artistic manner. To really understand the media grammar in this video, one must strip down any bias or prejudice and seek to see it from the artist’s perspective. According to Maddie Zieglar in an interview, she describes what many thought to be a creepy “love-ish” scene, the dance was really a battle between the two actors. The video was supposed to be portray the animosity of the dancers where Maddie Zieglar’s character is supposed to try to kill Shia LaBeouf’s character. Sia described the video as her way of expressing emotional content… Maddie plays a were wolf and the cage is symbolic for her mind/skull. This example shows the complexity of attempting to understanding media grammar sometimes, in this particular case two people in nude suits (16 years apart) making strange expressions and clawing at each other can suggest many awkward or even disturbing interpretations of the video… even diverting the meaning or lyrics of the song which unlike it might appear…is a song about perseverance and an emotional battle within oneself.