Section 1b of the exam question: • How was media language used in your production? • Again question 1b is asking you to only talk about one of the things you have made from AS to A2
What is media language? • Media language is one of the Key terms that might be used in the exam. • Media language is an umbrella term to describe the way media audiences read media texts through understanding formal and conventions structures. • Media literacy describes our ability to read and write in this extended language
What is media literacy • If you read the A2 book you will see the importance of media literacy enough to have an A-level in it, but you will also be able to create media products based on conventions, from your research you will produce a mode of address suitable for your audience. And be able to theorise your own creativity and support this will academic theorise such as postmodernism, representation etc. • So deconstructing i.e. taking apart how you have created your product using • to the examiners. That they want to see at A2 you • Media literacy then is linked to media language because you can
Media Language • Is one of the key concepts they might ask you to write about for question 1b, where they ask you to pick and write about one of your productions. In this case I have selected for you to write about your trailer, as this will help you to also create your trailer as you are considering how you are going to make it. • Other concepts they might ask you about are: Genre , Narrative , Representation, Audience • Media language is a big concept as it covers a bit of all of these
Semiotics • In order to analyse how we have used media language to create meaning we have to analyse the micro elements of how we have encoded out media products to create meaning. • Remember last lesson we mentioned audience theory, semiotics is based on encoding and decoding, i.e. how the audience interprets what they read.
Stuart Hall 1980 encoding and decoding. • Stuart Hall is a cultural theorists and one of the key theorists of reception theory. • He put forward the idea in 1980 of Encoding and Decoding, he said that media producer encode media products with a preferred reading, but he argued that audience would often decode this in other ways i.e. negotiation and be oppositional.
The preferred reading • The preferred reading also known as the dominant hegemonic reading (Marxist perspective) where the audience accepts the meaning created by a producer. It is called a hegemonic meaning as hegemonic is the dominant viewpoint produced by the ideology of society, here dominant viewpoint is male, white, elite and well educated. • One theory of the way a media text is understood by the audience is called the preferred meaning. In this model, the meaning which is created through encoding by the codes and conventions is accepted by the audience and they interpret the meaning the producer enclosed.
Negotiated • The negotiated or negotiated hegemonic position is established when the audience member negotiates with the media text i.e. You agree with aspects of the production, but disagree with other. In this model you understand the preferred reading, but rather than be passive, you negotiate and adapt the preferred meaning. This model places emphasis on the audience in the process of constructing a meaning i.e. You are asked to sympathise with a character in that film, which you dislike, but you enjoy the film. You are negotiating your own understanding this is an active response.
Oppositional meaning • The oppositional hegemonic position is established when the audience member understands the preferred meaning, but disagrees with it due to their own set of attitudes and beliefs. For instance this could be seen where a Palestinian watches the American news, they have a conflict with the text itself due to their beliefs or experiences of the trouble. • This theory is important as it can challenge the effects model and the hypodermic needle model because it challenges that all the audiences are the same, and that they will have the same experience from a text.
What’s this all got to do with semiotics • Well semiotics is the study of signs and codes to create meaning and you might have to explain how you have encoded your trailer to create meaning, which audiences will decode; you hope they decode the preferred reading.
Semiotics • Is form of media language it is the studying of signs and meaning. There are different types of signs Semiotics is a way of explaining how we make meaning. Semiotics recognises that all meaning is encoded in things that create meaning. When we see objects and images or hear / read words we cannot perceive more than an idea. This idea is what we call “meaning”. We have learned to decode this meaning as we grow up and are educated. The important realisation is that such meaning is not our own idea but someone else’s. For example, if you read the word “coward” you decode it by referring to values that our culture relates both to cowardice and its binary opposite term, heroism. In semiotics, a sign is the smallest single unit of meaning we can decode and which contributes to overall meaning, e.g. your clothes are a group of ‘fashion signs’ and might have been ‘encoded’ by you – consciously or otherwise – to create the meaning of ‘coolness’; the ‘FCUK’ on your T-shirt, for example, is a group of signs that create a code of, perhaps, youthful rebelliousness. Simplistically speaking, meaning exists at two “levels”: a sign always acts at a basic level – called its denotation; this is a literal meaning; but, when it occurs in certain contexts, a group of signs – a code – can also suggest or connote extra meaning, e.g. a rose denotes a kind of flower; but when handed to a girl by a boy, it also acts to connote romance (and, importantly, in a media text, this would also act to reinforce ways of thinking about how romance ‘should’ ideally be conducted – one of our society’s • dominant ideologies)
Semiotic signs • In semiotics, a code is any group of signs that seem to “fit” together ‘naturally’ to create an overall unit of meaning (e.g. the rose is a sign which when added to the signs of a girl and a boy creates the ‘romance cultural code’. • Filmic codes are a form of technical code because filmic equipment is needed to create them, e.g. cameras, microphones, lighting, etc. In semiotics there are three basic types of sign and code need to know about: Iconic signs and codes are created to appear exactly like the thing itself, e.g. an image of a cowboy looks like – signifies – a cowboy. But… importantly, iconic codes always act to represent more than the thing itself, e.g. when we see an image of a cowboy, our culture associates ideas of toughness and action with this particular iconic code (which also acts to reinforce what masculinity ‘means’ in our culture – an ideological meaning). • Indexical signs show a connection between things they are a pointer rather than representing what they act as ‘cues’ to existing knowledge, e.g. smoke signifies fire, sweating suggests hotness or exercise. These codes are a kind of media shorthand. They are very common and useful to media producers. • Symbolic codes act as signifiers of meaning totally disconnected from what they denote, e.g. a red heart shape acts only to symbolise love; a white dove symbolises peace; red symbolises danger, power or sexuality, white symbolises innocence, etc.
Indexical • What indexical signs have you used?
symbolic • What symbolic signs have you used?
Iconic signs • What iconic signs have you used?
Semiotics creating meaning • An important realisation is that the meaning a code communicates is always culturally determined, i.e. We learn the meaning as we grow up in a particular group, society or culture, e.g. the national flag means much more than its denotation of a piece of coloured cloth; it also acts to connote patriotism and pride. An important filmic and media code is the enigma code which work by creating an intriguing ‘question’ that the media text will go on to answer. Cinema trailers and posters use enigma codes to tempt the viewers. The term convention is important; it refers to an established way of doing something; we are so used to conventional ways that fail to account for their effect and often see them as somehow ‘natural’ – yet are anything but. So: women in Westerns are conventionally either ‘very good’ (the ‘Madonna’) or ‘very bad’ (the ‘whore’), and this seems entirely ‘normal’ within this film genre; equally, the wheels of a car always screech; a guns always kills outright; a punch always knocks a person out cold. Genre and narrative are important media conventions (see later), as are editing techniques and the use of certain shot types (such as an establishing shot sequence or montage – see below).
Genre • What is genre? • How do you recognise genre? • Using the following PowerPoint this will not only prepare you for question 1b key concepts, but also use this to help you with question 1a, using evidence from genre for your key concepts section.
Theorists you may use • GENRE • Daniel Chandler (2001) – genre is a French work meaning ‘type’, ‘kind’ or ‘class’. • Barry Keith Grant (1995) – all genres have sub-genres that have familiar and recognisable • characteristics. • David Buckingham (1993), Steve Neale (1995) – genres evolve and change over time; they are • dynamic. They are a process of ‘systemisation’ and therefore naturally change over time. • Christian Metz (1974) – genres go through a life cycle over time – experimental, classic, parody, deconstruction. • Jason Mittell (2001) genres surpass cultural boundaries; they are used by institutions to sell products as they as they include familiar codes and conventions and cultural references. • Rick Altman (1999) – genre offers audiences a set of pleasures; visceral, emotional, intellectual. • David Bordwell (1989) – any theme may appear in any genre.
What Is Genre? • ‘Genre’ is a critical tool that helps us study texts and audience responses to texts by dividing them into categories based on common elements. • Daniel Chandler (2001) - the word genre comes from the French (and originally Latin) word for ‘type'. The term is widely used in literary theory, media theory to refer to a distinctive type of ‘text’.
Genre • The Main Genres Action / Adventure What defines a film's genre? Comedy Characters Crime/gangster Mise-en-scene Drama NarrativeFamily Music Historical / Epic EditingHorror • Musical • Science Fiction • War • WesternsBut remember: Genre is not 'set' - it is fluid, as it is defined by the audience. Genres have changed over time they have become parodied, hybrid and subverted
Guess the genre • Task watch the following clips and write down what you notice about the following: • Characters • Mise-en-scene • Narrative • Music • editing
(Barry Keith Grant, 1995) All genres have sub genres (genre within a genre). •This means that they are divided up into more specific categories that allow audiences to identify them specifically by their familiar and what become recognisable characteristics Contrasting view held by Neal •However, Steve Neale (1995) stresses that “genres are not ‘systems’ they are processes of systematization” – i.e. They are dynamic and evolve over time Neale’s view means genres are not fixed but can change do you agree? Task 2: How is your trailer identifiable, do you agree with Grant’s view or do you agree with Neale or both? You can use these quotes in your evaluation.
Genre • When a range of media texts, whether in print, film , music, or TV they share similar forms and conventions the audience have certain expectations this is called genre. Genre is the kind of narrative being told, e.g. detective, Western. It defines a text by its similarities to other texts. Watching a film, we have many pre-existing memories and expectations regarding characters, settings and events: it is this that helps us enjoy predicting what might happen next and working out where events will lead. Genre allows a director to create seeming realism because we fail to see that what we see is not reality but a media convention. So… in the gangster genre, we don’t mind the owner of a casino being horribly killed because we see him, within this genre, as belonging to the side of the ‘villain’. • .
The great debate In film theory, genre refers to the method of film categorization based on similarities in the narrative elements from which films are constructed. Most theories of film genre are borrowed from literary genre criticism. As with genre in literary context, there is a great deal of debate over how to define or categorize genre. Besides the basic distinction in genre between fiction and documentary, film genres can be categorized in several ways. Fictional films are usually categorized according to their setting, theme topic mood, or format. The setting is the environment where the story and action takes place. The theme or topic refers to the issues or concepts that the film revolves around. The mood is the emotional tone of the film. Format refers to the way the film was shot, eg widescreen or the manner of presentation eg 35mm 16mm or 8mm. An additional way of categorizing film genres is by the target audience. Some film theorists argue that neither format nor target audience are film genres. Film genres often branch out in subgenres, as in the case of the courtroom and trial focused subgenre of drama known as legal drama. They can be combined to form hybrid genres, such as the melding of horror and science fiction in the Aliens films.
Generic features • Genre share the same elements of paradigms with others in the same category, this makes them recognisable to the producers who create them and the audience. Audiences recognise these patterns and things brings about a certain expectations i.e. horror films the isolated house, the final girl etc. • (Analyse what paradigms your trailer contains see next slide?)
Generic Characteristics across all texts share similar elements and can be identified by these elements. These elements can be referred to as paradigms meaning patters, and audience have certain expectations, what they expect to see. As Neale (1980) suggests “Genre is a set of expectations”. Think about it from an institutions context why is it certain genres get made more than others, why are certain actors association with certain genres? Think about the success of Twilight, or the bond franchise? Paradigms: 1. Typical Mise-en-scène/Visual style (iconography, props, set design, lighting, temporal and geographic location, costume, shot types, camera angles, special effects). 2. Typical types of Narrative (plots, historical setting, set pieces). (For section B of the exam notice although genre is a concept it is also linked to narrative) 3. Generic Types, i.e. typical characters (do typical male/female roles exist, archetypes?).
Typical studios/production companies… 4. Typical Personnel (directors, producers, actors, stars, auteurs etc.). 5. Typical Sound Design (sound design, dialogue, music, sound effects). 6. Typical Editing Style. How does this apply to your film trailer’s genre, how have you created it based on these elements in this paradigm?
All Genres have Subgenres • Genre is a type, but these types can be divided and sub divided into specific categories that allow audiences to identify allow the audience to recognised the, specifically by their familiar and what become recognisable characteristics. •Steve Neale (1995) stresses that “genres are not systems they are processes” – they are dynamic and evolve over time.
Jason Mittell (2001) argues that genres are cultural categories that surpass the boundaries of media texts and operate within industry, audience, and cultural practices as well. This means that genres change over time, i.e from horror we now have subgenres like slasher, zombie etc. In short, industries use genre to sell products to audiences. Media producers use familiar codes and conventions that often make cultural references to their audience’s knowledge of society + other texts. Genre allows audiences to make choices about what products they want to consume through acceptance in order to fulfil a particular pleasure.
Pleasure of genre for audiences • Rick Altman (1999) argues that genre offers audiences ‘a set of pleasures’. Emotional Pleasures: The emotional pleasures offered to audiences of genre films are particularly significant when they generate a strong audience response. Visceral Pleasures: Visceral pleasures are ‘gut’ responses and are defined by how the film’s stylistic construction elicits a physical effect upon its audience. This can be a feeling of revulsion, kinetic speed, or a ‘roller coaster ride’. Intellectual Puzzles: Certain film genres such as the thriller or the ‘whodunit’ offer the pleasure in trying to unravel a mystery or a puzzle. Pleasure is derived from deciphering the plot and forecasting the end or the being surprised by the unexpected.
The Strengths Of Genre Theory The main strength of genre theory is that everybody uses it and understands it – media experts use it to study media texts, the media industry uses it to develop and market texts and audiences use it to decide what texts to consume. The potential for the same concept to be understood by producers, audiences and scholars makes genre a useful critical tool. Its accessibility as a concept also means that it can be applied across a wide range of texts.
Genre Development and Transformation • Over the years genres develop and change as the wider society that produce them also changes, a process that is known as generic transformation. • Metz (1974) argued that genres go through a cycle of changes during their lifetime. • Experimental Stage- • Classic Stage • Parody Stage • Deconstruction Stage
Nicholas Abercrombie (1996) suggests that 'the boundaries between genres are shifting and becoming more permeable' Abercrombie is concerned with modern television, which he suggests seems to be engaged in 'a steady dismantling of genre’
Genres are not fixed. They constantly change and evolve over time. David Buckingham (1993) argues that 'genre is not... Simply "given" by the culture: rather, it is in a constant process of negotiation and change’. As postmodern theorist Jacques Derrida reminds us – ‘the law of the law of genre is a principle of contamination, a law of impurity’.
In terms of your coursework... • How we define a genre depends on our purposes (Chandler, 2001). • What was your purpose and the medium? • Your audience and the industry sector you were working within will have defined what you understood as the genre and sub-genre of the texts you created.
Genre point 1: • Film companies use genre both to sell and help make successful films: a popular genre creates a greater chance of commercial success, so genre is a cost efficient way of planning a film, making it cheaper to write new stories and reducing the need for entirely new sets; a negative aspect is that it being ‘safe’, it can also act to reduce choice and creativity.
Point 2 • There are three types of genres : Major, sub genre and hybrid. • Major genre: the main one i.e. horror, western, action etc • Sub genres i.eSlasher, Zombie,Vampires etc • (Which genre is your trailer, how does it fit with the paradigm analysis, is it unconventional) Consider feminist theory and what they say about your genre?
Genre point 3 • Genre is embedded into cultural it is what people expect. Genres also change over time, until the 1990s reality did not exist. Christian Metz (1974) said – genres go through a life cycle over time – • experimental • classic • parody • deconstruction
Analysing your horror trailer using genre theory For instance does your horror trailer challenge or following genre conventions? Use the writing frame below to focus your thought>.
Metz • Metz believed that genre develops through four stages: Experimental - Bulding blocks for future horrors to go by. Early stages of horror setting up the general codes and conventions of the horror genre. • Classic/Classical - Movies that have followed the general guidelines set out in the experimental stage. • Parody - Movies that mock the genre, usually turned into comedy. • Deconstruction - Movies that pick that take codes and conventions from the Horror and Thriller genre and combine them into one movie
Using Metz formula with films • Applying it to these horror films: • Seven • Frankenstein • Dracula • The Blair Witch Project • The Sixth Sense • Carry On Screaming • Nosferatu • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari • Scary Movie • Abbot + Costello Meet Frankenstein • Scream
Using Metz formual • Experimental: Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari • Classical: Dracula, Frankenstein • Parody:Carry On Screaming, Abbot + Costello, Meet Frankenstein • Deconstruction : Se7en, Scream, The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project
Homework “Media texts rely on audience knowledge of generic codes and conventions in order for them to create meaning”. Explain how you used or subverted generic conventions in one of your trailer. Remember Explanation, Analysis, Argument, Examples and terminology. Use Quotes and a structure format on the following pages: