Category Archives: Key Concepts Work

Narrative

For this weeks task, I have chosen a book, Lord of the Flies, and the films Equilibrium and The Terminator.

Applying Todorovs Theory To LOTF:

Equilibrium: The boys are living happily on the island, fending for themselves and are friendly. The conch is the symbol of peace and order.
Disruption: The hunters kill the boar, which becomes the epynomously named Lord of the Flies. The boys social structure then falls into anarchy and chaos with no order. Simon is slaughtered, Piggy is murdered and the conch is destroyed.
Recognition: Ralph, alone and victimised, observes the rest of the boy’s decent into savagery.
Attempt: Ralph tries to make the boys see sense and stop their barbaric ways.
Enhanced Equilibrium: After the forest fire destroys most of the island (which alerts a ship), the boys are rescued. They turn back into boys and not savages and reflect upon their experience.

Propp’s Theory

Hero – Ralph
Villain – Jack
Despatcher – The plane that brought them to the island
False Hero – The metaphorical conception of the Lord of the Flies
Donor – n/a
Helper – Piggy
Princess – A metaphor representing the boys innocence
Father – The ideology of civilisation

Todorov – Equilibrium

Equilibrium: Everyone is content and happy.
Disruption: Protagonist sees ‘terrorists’ attacking this utopia.
Recognition: Protagonist understands how the institutions have being controlling everybody.
Attempt: He sets out to destroy the institution.
Enhanced Equilibrium: He succeeds in destroying the institution which releases everyone of a controlled state and frees them.

Terminator I felt did not strictly follow Todorov’s theory as it has flashbacks and interwoven narratives throughout. However if one looks at the film as a whole it does follow the theory to an extent, just not in the given order.


Genre

Genre types are vast and in the modern media making world, hybrid genres are being created as well as doing things in the media to confuse the genre identification. My group looked at genre in electronic games and also at the horror genre.

To count as a gaming piece of media in terms of genre, it has to follow certain conventions. For a start, it would be produced by a gaming institution, for example Nintendo or Treyarch. Secondly, it would be playable; a user can manipulate the actions of the text themselves, controlling what happens. It would also be entertaining.

Looking at a game in my cabinet, i evaluated what genre it is. I choose Goldeneye 007. I loved this game when I was younger. The first genre it falls into is video games – it is a piece of media a consumer can play with through an electronic platform. Secondly it is a movie-game; it was made based on, using characters and ideas from, and homage to a film. It is an action game, following the conventions of violence. It is a shoot-em-up; the action the player does is by shooting other characters. It is a FPS or First Person Shooter; the player IS the character they are controlling, seeing things from their viewpoint and manipulating them.

If I created a new media text based around genre, I would want to choose a genre type and break its conventions. Although different and a change to its audience may make them not want to consume it, I think they would be more engaging and exciting for an audience. For example, if I did a thriller piece, it would included all the normal mis-en-scene features of a thriller with typical stereotypes in it. However, I would break a convention of Thriller – perhaps making it into a comedy or maybe twisting the plot in that it is unpredictable.


Audience Classification In My CofC

My Cabinet of Curiosities consists of a number of media platforms and a varied collection of texts. I would just like to point out that if I included everything I wanted to, my Cabinet would be huuuge and therefore I was selective about what went in – I find it to be more of a taster.

Most of the television programmes I have listed are aimed at lower level audience classes, C1 and lower. For me, television is purely an entertainment product. I will watch educational programmes and the news for example but the things in my cabinet fit this class. When I watch news broadcasts, they tend to be BBC or ITV which firstly are subjected to certain suppression by government and power leaders (where as Sky News is free to say things without censorship) and therefore I am subjected to a certain way of thinking. This, in my opinion, makes the class for these broadcasts lower as we are given news in a certain manner and perspective and I don’t have to actively think about what this means, why it happened etc. Someone else is doing that and telling me what to think.
QI is in my cabinet – a program I passionately enjoy. As this programme is education and (despite being a comedy) talks about subjects on an intellectual level, I feel it’s target audience is higher, perhaps B1. On the other hand, the NRS social grade classes audiences purely based on income and positions of responsibility which renders levels of intellectual interaction irrelevant which it makes it harder to determine a text.

The music I listen to is extremely varied. Some have political messages, others are about nonsense. My point here is that, once again, the NRS scale can not be used to determine what audiences listen to music. Just because someone is the most highest earner in the world with ultimate power does not mean they dont, by their own choice, listen to a certain genre of music.

The film types I enjoy once again have me questioning that the NRS scale is irrelevant in determining which audiences consume which classes. I could practically repeat myself here with the same things I talked about in the TV section.


Youtube

My group looked at Youtube, the online video hosting site, as our institution of study.

This institution does not produce its own media texts and products but instead is a means for audiences to produce their own. Advertising can take place on Youtube, either commercial or private.

I think an important statement that can be said about Youtube is the fact that it is an institution however, it allows audiences to create media which is so easy due to technological advances. In this respect the audience has become empowered and instead of just consumers, they have become producers. This poses the question ‘who owns the media?’ A media theorist, Gauntlet, challenges this concept.


Active & Empowered Audience

  An Active or Empowered Audience is a concept that applies to an audience being in control of the media they consume. This can either be a good thing, as an audience can choose what they want and what is produced for them, or not, as they can be vulnerable as well as creating problems for media producers.

  There are a number of theories which support this concept; the first being the “Two-Step-Flow”. This deals with the idea that mass media is produced and consumed by opinion leaders. They in turn encourage the spread of the media product to other users. This then becomes a chain of one opinion leader spreading out to other users who then become an opinion leader and do the same. Another theory is the Hypodermic Syringe Theory. This works around the basis that audiences are ‘injected’ with ideologies and ways of perceiving the media. An idea is metaphorically inserted into an audience who then believe in that idea. Blumer and Katz also have a theory based on empowered audiences. This is the ‘Users and Gratification Theory’. Basically, user play and active role in choosing what media they use.

  Katz also worked with Larzersfield combining the Hypodermic Syringe theory and the two step flow which says that there are other layers in these theories which look at anyone influential to a user being an opinion leader. However, these can be interpersonal forms of communication.

  Work of Stuart Hall takes this active audience concept further looking at social groups and their contexts. This looks at an institution encoding a text which is then decoding by an audience which may not be the same ideology. This moves on to authorship and is an example of intended meaning. Authorship posts the question ‘who owns an idea?’ a very fair point due to the fact that you may have an idea that you give to someone else, but they may in turn create their own meaning on this idea. Therefore, the idea is not one unity. On the other hand, the meaning and idea could undergo misinterpretation where one is conveyed but another is understood.

  The issue of authorship is studied in ‘The Death of an Author’ by the theorist Roland Barthes. He looks at several issues which are presented with meaning and interpretation. The interpretation of signs and symbols and what they mean (semiotics) is different depending on who consumes the media they are in; this renders the notion of a single idea really existing void. Barthes also asks “how can an author have any power to oppositional readers?”  He makes the point the no matter what the author intended the text to be, it does not define the meaning.


The ABC Scale

The ABC Scale is a scale to highlight the audience within class groups. The categories the letters represent are:

A – Upper Middle Class (Higher managerial, administrative and professional, such as managers)

B – Middle Class (Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional, such as deputy secretary, or similar professions)

C1 – Lower Middle class (Supervisory or Clerical, junior managerial, administrative, such as a supervisor for a company)

C2 – Skilled working class (Skilled Manuel workers, such as mechanics, or entrepreneurs)

D – Lower working class (Semi and unskilled Manuel workers, such as mechanical trainees, or building labourers)

E – Lowest level of subsistence (state pensioners or widows, casual or lowest grade workers, such as students)

When looking at earnings within the bands, the estimate earnings a year are:

A – £50,000 and over

B – £35-50,000

C – £15,000 – 25,000

D – £7,000 – 15,000

E – £5,000-7,000


Vunerable Audiences

What is a vunerable audience? Simply, it is Children. Anyone under 18 (the law says) though by children (most influenced by the media I shall be talking about) I think under 12. A vunerable audience is an audience who could be influenced, scared, tormented, scarred for life by inappropriate media for their age. This sets of the debate of what is inappropriate to certain audiences. Which would then lead to looking at that one word I used to love but  now hate….DESENSITISATION!

There is sooo much work around that word, what it means and what it represents. People could spend their life writing one essay about it. But then you could also spend your life carrying out studies to see if people are becoming desensitised. Then you could look at whether it was a good thing or a bad thing, what it says about culture and society etc etc etc. I could go on for hours and hours just listing things one could write about under this topic heading.

But I will stay on task. Everyone in my group had to look at one thing in their Cabinet of Curiosities. Here is what my group chose:
Arlene – Cheap Clothes
Daniel – Spongebob Squarepants
Emily – Fashion
Gov – Cloverfield
Scott – Robin Williams
Vlad – Cartoon Network.

Apart from my travelling and experiences in the ATC, my whole cabinet consists of controversial and influential which needs a level of maturity and way of thinking before it can be consumed and understood. I started looking at games which I have done a fair bit of research on; films which I would never recommend to a child; and music which I listen to (well that’s in my cabinet, I do have an eclectic music taste). I will come back to these later. I did, on the spot, choose to look at war films and present this to the group.

Arlene – Cheap Clothes

I have not seen what Arlene looked at in this topic area as yet. But I feel I have a bit to say about it. At first I found myself questioning her choice as to what she had chosen. It is not something you could call a ‘media platform’. However, cheap clothes shops like Primark, New Look etc are actually institutions – which are powerful and influential in the media world. If a glossy magazine told people to go buy the latest ***** from Primark then…well you get my point.
In my opinion, parents never really spend that much money on children’s clothes. They grow out of them quickly, get a lot of wear and tear and clothes are not the focus of children (as opposed to say toys). This would force them, albeit subconsciously, to seek out cheaper clothes and deals these stores offer.
If we then look at the controversy around why cheap clothes shops are priced lowly – which is apparently extortion to horrific levels (child labour, forced labour, minimum pay etc) we can then challenge the decision of parents. They are, after all, influential to their children and they are the ones communicating the media to their children who may not quite understand themselves.
What ime trying to say is that the vunerable audience, children, are being exposed to these cheap clothes whilst being trained accidentally to overlook the issues surrounding the low pricing. I think Arlene could make a strong argument for this so long as she effectively explains how it relates to the media.

Daniel – Spongebob Squarepants

I was once again sceptical of the cards Daniel would play with this topic. Having never seen the show I could not comment on whether or not any of it’s content could be harmful to vunerable audiences. Daniel found something.
In his blog, he talks about the fact Spongebob is aimed at and broadcasted to children. He is therefore influential to them. Kids will pick up on his actions and the things he does. It would seem that as well as entertaining children, the programme aims to teach children moral values and ways of thinking positively.
However, Daniel also found discussions which were negative about the programme. This was church members (I believe in America) being disgusted by an image created when Spongebob’s eyes and nose are turned upside down. It supposedly looks like a man’s genitals and caused several people to be physically ill and mentally traumatised when exposed to it. Despite having opinions, I normally do not write them and sit on the fence. But for once I have to say I find that complete balderdash! I mean someone could be holding a banana and it could be seen as provocative. The 2012 Olympic Logo is popularly described on the web looking like ‘Lisa Simpson carrying out an act of felatio’ (note I am being polite!). But to see a cartoon characters facial features as being similar to some goolies, well that’s just ridiculous.
Back to the point. If Daniel argued that misinterpreted messages could be harmful to children I would agree. If he agreed to the comment just made I would argue the exact same thing back (thank God he did not!!!)

Emily – Fashion

Emily’s topic is one I actually have studied before. Without pretty much rewriting what she has talked about, her article is about Gok Wan trying to change the ways women think about their bodies.
When relating this to vunerable audiences, it is easily observed that young girls are particularly subjected to the concept of ‘looking good’. For this reason I feel Emily’s article is really really important in the issue of vunerable audiences. People aspire to look like the models and celebrities they see in the media. Most women are represented in the media as ‘THE PERFECT WOMAN!’. People then start thinking this is how people should look. Which makes people then think how you should not look is the opposite to ‘THE PERFECT WOMAN!’. Imperfections are seen ultimately negatively. This pressurising people – especially vunerable audiences!
I know he is not everyone’s cup of tea and can be an acquired taste, but I respect and admire the work and message Gok Wan is doing and giving out. He is using his celebrity status and media production to do some positive to our modern society. Go on Gok!

Gov – Cloverfield
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Scott – Robin Williams

To me there are two types of Robin Williams. Mainstream comedian and adult comedian. Some of his films are remarkable (Good Will Hunting is a particular favourite) but hold no real comedic value. Others use his comedy to soften the harsh reality of something (Good Morning Vietnam springs to mind). Scott is looking at the fact that some of his work appeals to children (VA) though others should only be viewed by adults.
My first encounter with Robin Williams was in Aladdin. A children’s film. It made him known to me. It still makes him known to younger children. But then look at his stand-up material. It can get quite offensive and he uses many profanities. The issues he talks about in his jokes are also very direct and sometimes he makes comedy from the ideas many people think but few are brave enough to say out loud. In this way he could potentially influence vunerable audiences into liking him and his material, from say Aladdin, and then following his ideas and ways of being in say his stand-ups or more serious movie work.
I absolutely love Mrs Doubtfire and I would like to point out that I think this film is his bridge between his younger audiences realising and being teased into his more adult orientated stuff.

Vlad – Cartoon Network

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My Choice – War Films

Ime not going to lie, I was brought up watching war films. From the old black and white features I watched in between daytime TV with my gran, to the horrific realistic gore of modern epics. I have always loved them. Although I believe they have in some way influenced me. A passion of mine is joining the Royal Air Force. As such I joined the ATC. Along with my dad’s encouragement (being in it himself) I feel my passion of war movies may have teased me into it as well.
My CofC is full of them. Although I favour the more modern ones. This is for two reasons. Firstly, like most people, the faced-paced action and dialogue is more entertaining (and me being honest) less boring than older pictures. Secondly films are now made to show emotion through experiences, characters and the occasional gore (which really shows the true nature of war). I am really interested in history of the First and Second World Wars, and other Western Wars since then. I even watch foreign movies and their outlooks on wars and crisis’. I could keep talking about this subject but I feel ime chuntering too much.
War films could be very damaging to vunerable audiences. Firstly they are graphic and gory. This is not something children should really see. It could be traumatising to them. It has been to me sometimes. Secondly they are above all, violent. They are about fighting and killing. Children shouldn’t have this forced fed to them. It is potentially harmful. Whether it makes them more violent or just desensitised I couldn’t say but it still cant be healthy for a child watching a soldier being blown apart and screaming in agony?