Friday, 23 December 2011

The Death of Postmodernism and Beyond

Arguments Against Postmodernism

 Dr. Alan Kirby argues that postmodernism is no longer relevant;  he present an argument that "pseudo modernism" makes more sense for people born since 1980 than postmodernism. To understand what he means by pseudo modernism you will need to read Kirby's article from 2006.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Is "Desperate Scousewives" and its genre the choicest post modern TV of our age?

Desperate Scousewives' Amanda Harrington, et al

It's derivative, vacuous, and often unintentionally funny - possibly the TV series and genre of choice for students studying post modern TV in its latest post modern form.

Desperate Scousewives is positioned somewhere between soap opera and documentary; this TV series' "scripted reality" follows the same popular, hybrid genre as "The Only Way Is Essex" and "Made In Chelsea." The show's representation of  monied "reality" relies on this new format although it is filmed in the "real" city of Liverpool in locations instantly recognised by Liverpudlians. Alan Kirby's "digimodernism"  and the notion of the intersection of "time" and "space" is at work here: its "space" is recognisably Liverpool and it is edited as if it is in "real" time.

Have fun spotting its post modern features, including the playful irony of its derivative title, where unlike its US namesake, none of the female characters are even married! The programme's fakeness in its representation of reality is richly evident. its "constructedness" is ever-present: its stilted, self-conscious dialogue is amusing because it is so prefabricated;  every aspect of its "characters'" appearance, right down to its female players' eyelashes is false. The show's women look, and behave, like Barbi Dolls. Stereotyping between the sexes is extreme: the men "really" are from Mars and the women seemingly from Venus. Their "characters" are as stereotypical as those who used to feature in Striker, a comic strip on a promiscuous footballer from a well-known tabloid newspaper.

Striker used to feature in The Sun

Even though its scripted reality is unavoidably stilted the programme's best scenes take place when its "characters" vent "real" emotions; their dialogue suddenly seems spontaneous and spoken by "real people." Ironically, this then becomes what drama should be - a heightened representation of real life. In a recent episode a conversation between two married, gay characters about one of them adopting children while the other was not yet ready for it, seemed "real" as the felt truly emotional. But can these "real people", forget, even in their most emotional outbursts, that several cameras are recording their most intimate feelings which will later be edited for the pleasure of countless "voyeurs" on TV?

Audience reactions to the show have been strong and therefore interesting. Liverpudlians are often frightened that "it will make a show of them" rather like the stereotypes generated by Harry Enfield. Online many say that they are disgusted that "such rubbish" is broadcast and cannot make sense of the show, or think it doesn't compare with shows in this genre they have already watched.  But many of these would still watch its next episodes! While the Guardian's Euan Ferguson  thought "Desperate Scousewives was so bad it was brilliant" and added, "I think this will be the finest of the formats so far – I'm already hooked."

This was one viewer's reaction who must have a connection with Liverpool:
"EMBARRASSMENT TO LIVERPOOL These idiots DO NOT represent Liverpool. This is absolutely disgusting and should be axed before it is aired. Why do they always find the scummiest people to be on these ridiculous shows? There is no representation of real life. I'm sick of Liverpool getting bashed just because of the scum they drag out to be on television."

As for me, I saw most of an episode and realised it potential as a pomo "text" straightaway!

It seems the show has already created a new fashion trend in Britain - Scouse brows!

I'll post a chart soon to make it easier to compare the modern with the post modern. Remember, however, that post modern TV, films, adverts, etc. have evolved in their forms and features since post modernism began to take hold from the early 1980s. It would be a serious error to see post modernism in a static manner, as the ways of representing versions of "reality" in a world changed by digital technology is itself always changing.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Pearl and Dean - business entrance

Great for exhibition and marketing issues in case studies. This is an excellent site for gaining an overview of these areas, too. Explore "Audience," Planning and Buying," etc. and look over their graphics. You can also take advantage of the "Advanced Search" link to find information on audiences/demographics, etc. for past releases. Don't forget to tick the box for "include past releases."

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

When is a remake not a remake?

Dr. Kermode asks the pertinent questions of a range of films: "when is a remake not a remake but a re-interpretation of the original source material (the novel, etc.)

Monday, 10 October 2011

An AS Case Study on "Kick Ass"

Thanks to the young fellow who produced this case study and to Mr Smith to pointing me towards it. Scroll down to find Stephen's Prezis!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Katy Perry's "Hot and Cold" music video - a fun text to analyse for its post modern features

Find a decent check list on what makes a media text post modern and have fun!

Although the focus of the "analysis" below only touches on some of the video's post modern features, there are still some useful points to be discovered here:

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Has Post Modernism Been Killed by The Web?

A taste:

"This is the essence of postmodernism: the idea that there is no essence, that we're moving through a world of signs and wonders, where everything has been done before and is just lying around as cultural wreckage, waiting to be reused, combined in new and unusual ways. Nothing is direct, nothing is new. Everything is already mediated. The real, whatever that might be, is unavailable. It's an exhilarating world, but uncanny too. You look around at your beautiful house and your beautiful wife and you ask yourself, like the narrator of the Talking Heads song: 'Well, how did I get here?" After that, it's only a short step to deciding that this is not your beautiful house and your beautiful wife at all. The world of signs is fast, liquid, delirious, disposable. Clever people approach it with scepticism. Sincerity is out. Irony is in. And style. If modernism was about substance, about serious design solving serious problems, postmodernism was all manner and swagger and stance."

Saturday, 11 June 2011

What are the modernist and postmodern features of True Blood?

This is one of the posters for Series 4 being released this month.

The modernist features of True Blood are mainly related to its adherence to traditional generic conventions  
(1) The series’ form is closely related to the soap opera format of several story lines. For instance in Series 3 there were usually up to seven story lines at work within each episode. For example, Sookie is seeking the kidnapped Bill Compton; Tara Thornton is kidnapped by the psychopathic Franklin Mott; Jason wants to be a cop and gets romantically involved with young woman who is werepanther; Eric The Northman wants revenge against, Russell Edginton, the King of Mississippi; the bar owner and shape shifter, Sam Merlotte, meets the family who abandoned him; Lafeyette Reynolds meets a male witch who becomes his new love interest, etc. All of these story lines are present in the story arc for this series.
(2)  Soap-like melodrama is a key modernistic element in True Blood’s success. Melodrama, the nineteenth century fusion of drama with melody, that is, of music hall and opera, blossomed with the rise in modernism as a popular element in early cinema and television. The blond, independent Sookie Stackhouse, who is forever placing herself in harms way, is as much a modern heir of Pauline, from  The Perils of Pauline as she is a character in the American tradition of Southern Gothic

 Like many traditional (modernist) series from the past the show is built on sex and violence. The only difference is that these elements in True Blood are far more explicit and daring than in earlier shows. Some have suggested that True Blood is today what the US programmes Dallas and Dynasty were for the mass TV audiences in the 1980s.
(3) Cliff hangers have long been a regular convention of soaps and other modernist TV series and these are particularly important for True Blood as they keep audiences hooked for the next episodes; cliff hanging endings are even more effective for audiences watching the show on DVD box sets as it can lead to viewers compulsively watching the entire series in a just a couple of sittings!
How can one argue that True Blood is Post modern?
(1) Like any self-respecting post modern TV series, True Blood is a hybrid TV genre and it blurs, forges, extends and maintains its own genre conventions: the notion of vampires having to be invited to cross thresholds of homes is an extension of the vampire genre; the idea of vampires of being makers and having “progeny” is another and goes further than the old convention of vampires being able to make vampires out of their victims; the Vampire Rights Amendment is like a parable for similar “rights amendments” our times;  Audiences are expected to buy into the “reality” that vampires no longer need to drink human blood as they can survive on the newly invented, synthetic blood known as “Tru Blood”;  Conventions are blurred further with ”Vampire kings, a Queen, a Magister, The Vampire Authority, The V Feds and anything else the writers are free to dream up; all of which adds to the representation of reality as being hyper real. Audiences are expected to buy into it - and, if they do: after being immersed in the programme for several episodes, they accept its simulacra of our world as the hyper real world of the ironically named, Bon Temps.

(2) The programme is playful with its allegories on life and attitudes in America. Like all good fantasies True Blood can act as a cipher for attitudes to vampires with prejudices towards gays and race. “God hates fangs in the show’s opening credits is easily recognised by US viewers as a play on the homophobia of religious fundamentalists whose protests are often festooned with signs which state that  “God hates fags,’ etc. Fundamentalist arguments are played out on daytime TV between the Vampire spokeswoman, Nell Flannigan and the fundamentalist Reverend Newland Junior as they are in America’s “real” world on a range of left-right issues on US shouting match TV. A funny example of the show’s confidence in making points on “real life America" can be seen in the third episode of series three, “Night of The Sun”. (2010); Russell Edgington has killed the Magister, a vampire Spanish Inquisitor, and his Vampire gay lover,Talbot, is concerned about the consequences from the Vampire “Authority”:

Talbot: [to Russell, in a heated argument] You can't buy your way out of everything! 
Russell Edgington:  Of course I can. This is America!
True Blood’s playfulness is also evident in its false narratives in which characters have dreams but the audience is left unsure of the “reality” with which they are presented. In doing so, the “show runner” Alan Ball, loves toying with the audience in this way, in turn, surprising and then shocking them with the possible plot twists the show could take. The programme’s directors also love cross cutting between the show’s various story lines with parallel arguments and violence between characters. Another playful element is the show’s willingness to go back in time to any point in history to reveal how characters became vampires or their motives for carrying out acts of revenge. Eric Northman is shown with his family a thousand years earlier during the Viking age during which he loses his family to werewolves and Russell Edgington. Many post modern texts are comfortable delving into the past to aid the representation of the present. The boundaries between the past and present do not matter and in a remix culture they help create meaning!
(3) Sometimes there are intertextual references to other TV shows, etc. but they depend, as with other post modern texts, on the audiences' cultural understanding through age, gender and other cultural capital, etc. However,True Blood only lightly depends upon intertextuality for its post modern credentials.

(4) True Blood is one of the VERY FEW shows shown on US or British Television to represent people from a wide social range for gender, class and sexual preferences. This ethnic and sexual diversity is not the tokenism that evident in much of British TV; there are characters for various segments of audiences to relate to. For instance, most of the main characters are working class. Some of the decisions that they make are not always wise but they are multi-dimensional and these characters can be as wise and noble as they are sometimes foolish. 

The vast majority of television commissioned today is still traditional/modernist in style, genre and content. Mainstream TV channels and producers busily select and create make TV genre programmes around genres which they believe will satisfy audiences, build viewing figures and increase revenue from advertisers. Any subversion in its genre conventions is usually limited in scope as traditional narratives, hardly varying representation and lifeless, unintelligent dialogue is still considered mainstream fare - as that is what the majority of audiences seemingly want. After all, this is where the money is and most of us have to contend with the dynamics of the economic system we are living with: capitalism. Why take a chance on something really new when you take an old formula, give it a slight twist and make money and reputations from it? Such, it would seem, is the thinking behind ITV’s new cop drama, Scott and Bailey with its main twist, a couple of female detective “pals” but with the usual, stereotypical female problems, fits this formula. The trouble is the Americans thought up something similar, and better, in the 1980s with “Cagney and Lacey.”
It is therefore deeply ironic that the most creative and challenging TV series today have emerged from the centre of modern capitalism, the USA. The capitalistic element is still there as no one knows how the market TV programs better than they do. But some studios’ philosophy for making TV differs from the mainstream - to the point that they are creating not just successful progammes but some of the most confident, intelligent and daring television on the planet. 
HBO’s philosophy is “to be the preeminent source of entertainment experiences that change perspectives, defy expectations and challenge the status quo." And much of this is clearly evident in their hybrid genre series, True Blood. This TV series pushes and toys with genres of romance, vampire-horror, fantasy and thriller.  In doing so it lifts the bar for television several notches higher.

Two interesting Media Timelines

The first one is by the Bournemouth Media School and it is focussed mainly on the UK

Media Timeline for People, Technology and Institutions

The second timeline chronicles the growth of media technology over time and is US based.

Media History Project by the University of Minnesota

Sunday, 22 May 2011

"Feel The Force:" How is Volkswagon's new advert for the Passat postmodern?

"The new Volkswagen UK commercial features a pint-sized Darth Vader who uses the Force when he discovers the all-new 2012 Passat in the driveway. It leverages humor and the unforgettable Star Wars™ score to create an emotional commercial." (From the You Tube site). The ad has had well over 38 million hits on Youtube! The advertising agency, Deutch L.A. broadcast the advert during the US's Super Bowl final. The latter is quickly becoming a kind of Oscars for the best adverts.

How is this advert postmodern? What elements in it appear modern (traditional)? Debate between the two.
This brilliant TV advert suggests rather than states and it engages audiences playfully on several levels. Using your knowledge of postmodernism and the theory of the active audience, identify the features which makes this TV advert postmodern. Try also to apply a few theorists.

This the original US TV advert below. The kid thinks he starts the car with this one.

Here's a little help.  Nostalgia is a definitely at play, here. So, too, is intertextuality and the theory of Julia Kristeva. The colour coding is significant, as is the cultural and technological interplay between the generations. Also, with its remote start feature the car seems straight out of Star Wars. Yet there are elements in this advert which are definitely modern. Consider its setting, the gender roles of the characters, etc.

This is what one of the posters said about the US version of this advert from the Althouse Blog.

"E.M.  said...
It’s a car commercial…really must it become a Cultural Exposition? 
Because the commercial tells us literally nothing about the car. There's no inherent benefit to buying or owning a VW that's expressed in the ad. There's no differentiator (remote start? please), no unique selling proposition (or I've heard those things called.)

It's about the human experience, which we are supposed to connect to a brand, VW. It's horribly manipulative, but it's so well done that we don't mind the manipulation, because it comes from a place that seems honest and pure.

Need more inspiration?
This article from the website below is an excellent analysis of the VW Passat TV advert and compares it with modernist attitudes towards advertising.
Leveraging archetype to create meaning

Review in the Financial Times

Darth Vader from Star Wars film, "The Empire Strikes Back," tells Luke Skywalker "I am your father." The advert playfully reverses the roles in its intertextual reference from the film. There are also strains of "The Imperial March," part of John Williams's famous score from the movie.

The making of the advert with bloopers left in.

This TV ad. has already spawned many parodies; this one features a car from another manufacturer.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Case study exemplars: an AS case study blog by Eleanor Watson and a link to a teacher's blog

Eleanor's excellent blog on Institutions and Audiences is definitely worth reading before your exams. Have a look, too, at her other pages as she has covered key areas for the exam and looks well prepared.

Has she researched something that you did not?

BTW in the nick of time for the exam The King's Speech, has just been released on DVD! It can be had from Morrisons for only 9 quid. See your case study film as it deepens your understanding of your case study.

Here's a teacher's blog with all-in-one case studies for films. Very interesting work for revision and also a "must-see" before the exam. When you visit click on the blog headings to see the images full sized.

Best wishes for the exam.

A Prezi on Postmodernism

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Modernism Verses Postmodernism

The site below is great for understanding the differences between modernism and postmodernism and for identifying these differences in texts. This is just what students need to be able to argue for and against postmodernism. I've noticed that in "True Blood" modernist attitudes and feelings coexist with postmodern ones. In fact the modernists in "True Blood" are pretty extreme. For instance the Reverend Newland and his fundamentalist church in the first few episodes of season 1. Sookie and her Grandma are at the other extreme, in the live and let live category.

Monday, 4 April 2011

True Blood - The Making of the Opening Credits

The Making of True Blood

Christopher Lee as "Dracula" from 1958

The modernist conventions of "Dracula" from 1958 contrast with "True Blood's" Sookie Stackhouse rescuing Vampire Bill Compton from the "blood drainers," the Rattrays, in the TV show's pilot episode.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Postmodernism -popular culture is at the crossroads where capitalism and technology meet

The overwhelming immersive experience of various media in our lives actually creates what we think is "real" and therefore, our reality. If someone, idea, etc. is no longer in the media in any of its forms - that person or idea gradually ceases to exist in people's consciousness. What we have is a world in which the superficial is elevated above any deeper reality; a world in which relativism crowds out any single truth. Do you think that any of this is true? Or is it partly true?

Friday, 1 April 2011

Media Ownership - Conglomerates own almost everything we see, hear and read!

This is a repost - and one worth reposting periodically as this issue affects almost everything that we see, hear or read. Freepress has done a service to the world, here.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Best US TV Drama leaves British TV Drama looking quaint and dated

The British do costume dramas and eccentricity very well but that seems to be about it for their TV series. Life on Mars was the last truly imaginative offering by the BBC. The US has been making ground-breaking TV drama series since the turn of the century.  Think of The Sopranos, Deadwood, Mad Men, Six Feet Under, In Treatment, Breaking Bad,  Damages, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The West Wing, Dexter, House, True Blood to name just a few!

Stultified by middle and upper class uniformity in which, conventional narratives, cynicism and wooden speech supposedly represents "our speech and values," British TV drama is cliched, tired and unimaginative. It's enfeebled by a monied, class structure every bit as strong as India's cast system; however the latter is out in the open whereas ours is obscured by modern consumerism, a divided education system and a narrowly owned media which has rarely represented British people in a realistic manner.  Here's a timely article on the state of British TV drama  by The Guardian's Mark Lawson; he examines some issues but, alas, he does not dig for the root causes deeply enough.

A concept map for TV drama will appear on this blog soon.

Monday, 28 March 2011

POMO Study Links for True Blood

A great wiki with useful background information on this TV drama's characters, for instance, ages, progenies, etc. There's also a run-down of a myriad of terms explained which make up the programs cultural "reality."

HBO's website for True Blood

The "Original" Fansite - great links

Links to the "best True Blood websites."

True Blood's facebook page

Information Archive

Poster analysis

On HBO's viral advertising for the show

Writer, Alan Ball's script for the pilot episode

The controversial allusions in the show

There are several intelligent ones here, with comments from viewers

This one states that True Blood and Mad Men are both melodramas and similar to soap operas.

Interesting for the argument against reading this text as being post modern. The writer thinks True Blood is hypermodern and not post modern. Do you agree? Hypermodernity is also called "supermodernity."

Here's what hypermodernity means and how to apply it to texts.

The origins of the theory of hypermodernity

The revolutionary mobile ad campaign with a must-see video. This raised audience figures by 38%! Film marketing is following a similar route.

The show's opening credits were made specifically by Digital Kitchen. The You Tube video below also features the show's closing credits.

These two sites offer an analysis of the opening credits
An analysis of the opening sequence from (a student?) at Northallerton College:

This was taken from Wikipedia on the show's opening title sequence:

Title sequence

True Blood's Emmy-nominated title sequence was created by Digital Kitchen, a production studio that was also responsible for creating the title sequence of Six Feet Under and Showtime's Dexter. The sequence, which is primarily composed of portrayals of the show's Deep South setting, is played to "Bad Things" by Jace Everett.[13]

Digital Kitchen wished to explore themes of redemption and forgiveness in the opening title sequence.
Conceptually, Digital Kitchen elected to construct the sequence around the idea of "the whore in the house of prayer"[14] by intermingling contradictory images of sex, violence and religion and displaying them from the point of view of "a supernatural, predatory creature observing human beings from the shadows ..."[13] Digital Kitchen also wished to explore ideas of redemption and forgiveness, and thus arranged for the sequence to progress from morning to night and to culminate in a baptism.[14]
Most of the footage used in the sequence was filmed on location by Digital Kitchen. Crew members took a four-day trip to Louisiana to film and also shot at a Chicago church and on a stage and in a bar in Seattle.[14]Additionally, several Digital Kitchen crew members made cameo appearances in the sequence.
In editing the opening, Digital Kitchen wanted to express how "religious fanaticism" and "sexual energy" could corrupt humans and make them animalistic. Accordingly, several frames of some shots were cut to give movements a jittery feel, while other shots were simply played back very slowly. Individual frames were also splattered with drops of blood.[14] The sequence's transitions were constructed differently, though; they were made with a Polaroid transfer technique. The last frame of one shot and the first frame of another were taken as a single Polaroid photo, which was then divided between emulsion and backing. The emulsion was then filmed being further separated by chemicals and those shots of this separation were placed back into the final edit.[13]
Eight different typefaces, inspired by Southern road signage, were also created manually by Camm Rowland for cast and crew credits, as well as the show's title card.[14]
In a 2010 issue of TV Guide, the show's opening title sequence ranked #5 on a list of TV's top 10 credits sequences, as selected by readers.[15]

The Six Mini Episodes before Season 3
A recent innovation has been the mini episodes, made to create interest in new audiences and keep old ones satisfied before Season 3. There were six episodes of 3-5 minutes long; each one focusses on particular characters in the series. Some have adult content. Here's the final one featuring Jason Stackhouse, a character not known for his intellect.

In another mini episode Eric The Northman (the Sheriff of Louisiana) and his "progeny," Pam, look for a dancer for their nightclub, Fangtasia.

Channel4's Concept Map of Media Studies

This was produced by Channel4 for a television news programme, but it could equally be used to understand key concepts that affect institutions and audiences in the production and consumption of media products such as films and TV programmes. The map offers an interesting overview of the circular relationships between the producers and audiences. The centrality of technology is crucial as this is developing every year. This overview enables us the see implicit relationships between institutions and audiences in an explicit way.
Click on the image to enlarge

Monday, 21 March 2011

Disney's "Mars Needs Moms" - A flop so bad it could end the 3D boom!

For the Institutions and Audiences paper  a film's failure is sometimes more instructive than its being a success.  Disney's $175 million flop could spell the end of the current spate of 3D film making and end  expensive spending in CGI and other costly effects using digital technology. There's a recession on, you know. And it may be set to get much worse after the summer. The impact of this for big tent-pole and 3D films could be dramatic, especially when films like The King's Speech can be produced for less than $12 million dollars and win Oscars and Baftas.

This is an interesting read for its facts, statistics and arguments about the current state of films which are destined for US and UK audiences.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Institutions and Audiences - The 7 Key Concept Areas Listed and Explained

Section B: Institutions and Audiences
Candidates should be prepared to understand and discuss the processes of production, distribution, marketing and exchange as they relate to contemporary media institutions, as well as the nature of audience consumption and the relationships between audiences and institutions. In addition, candidates should be familiar with:

the issues raised by media ownership in contemporary media practice;
• the importance of cross media convergence and synergy in production, distribution and marketing;
• the technologies that have been introduced in recent years at the levels of production, distribution, marketing and exchange;
• the significance of proliferation in hardware and content for institutions and audiences;
• the importance of technological convergence for institutions and audiences;
• the issues raised in the targeting of national and local audiences (specifically, British) by international or global institutions;
• the ways in which the candidates’ own experiences of media consumption illustrate wider patterns and trends of audience behaviour.

This unit should be approached through contemporary examples in the form of case studies based upon one of the specified media areas.  See explanations below.

Section B: Institutions and Audiences.
The Exam Board will select one concept to devise a question for the exam.

Candidates should be prepared to understand and discuss the processes of production, distribution, marketing and exchange as they relate to contemporary media institutions, as well as the nature of audience consumption and the relationships between audiences and institutions. In addition, candidates should be familiar with:

the issues raised by media ownership in contemporary (current) media practice
The depth and range of ownership across a range of media and the consequences of this ownership for audiences in terms of the genres and budgets for films. How for instance, can Channel4's Film4 survive in the British market place against the high concept, big-budget films made by Newcorp's FOX, Warner Bros, Disney, Universal, etc.? What kinds of niche audiences are left for Film4 to attract? Are mass audiences out of reach given the genres of films Film4 have the budgets to make? How successful have they been in reaching mass audiences with their films? How healthy is it that just a few mega media groups can own such a range of media and can decide what the public may see, and, perhaps, shape audience's tastes?

• the importance of cross media convergence and synergy in production, distribution and marketing
 Digital technology is enabling various media to converge in hubs, platforms and devices. For instance, mobiles phones do a lot more than act as hand held telephones: you can download and watch films and TV programmes, use them as alarm clocks, watches, play music on them, take photos and short films, text, go online, use GPS functions, a range of apps, and a whole lot more. New HD TVs, Playstations, X-Boxes, I-Pads, Notebooks, MacBooks, etc. are also examples of hubs which in which a variety of media technologies can converge for convenience for users. Media convergence is having an enormous impact on the film industry because of the ways in which institutions can produce and market for audiences/users on a widening range of platforms, capable of receiving their films.

Synergies can come out of an organisation's size; smaller media organisations such as Channel4 can-cross promote their films, etc. but the scale of cross-media promotion is nowhere near as great as that which can be gained by massive media organisations. Film4 is therefore unable to promote their lower budget films on a level playing field.

• the technologies that have been introduced in recent years at the levels of production, distribution, marketing and exchange
The audience's ability to interact with films by, for instance, using digital technology to put extracts on You Tube and overlay new sound tracks on them, etc. and make answering videos has been greatly enhanced by Web 2.0; Film studios can make films using CGI, greenscreen and other special effects that were impossible to make only a few years ago. The ways of filming and editing films have changed, too, with the introduction of digital film and film cameras, editing software, laptops, digital projectors, etc. Distributors market films using the latest software for designing high-concept film posters and trailers. They can use phone apps., online marketing, Face Book, etc. File-sharing and piracy are growing issues because the software exists to take the protective encryption of DVDs, etc and WEB 2.0 enables people to make and share copies of films easily. One way in which film companies are trying to get around this is by releasing films soon after theatrical release by selling them on video-on-demand, premium TV channels and downloads. US and UK cinemas chains are not happy about this, especially after all the investment some have made on digital equipment, projectors, etc. which unfortunately quickly goes very quickly out of date!

• the significance of proliferation in hardware and content for institutions and audiences
This means the increase of something: i.e. digital cameras, software, CGI, 3D films, film genres, etc. which are part of current trends; how significant is this for See Saw Films or Film4? Or are they still able to be successful without it by making films with genres that do not need the latest breakthroughs in digital technology? Research the film company's use of cameras, special effects, software, posters, digital distribution of films, etc.

• the importance of technological convergence for institutions and audiences
This is a WEB 2.0 issue and how technology is coming together in hubs like laptops is one of the features of our age; the mobile phone in your pocket is a great example of technological convergence: it can do so much more than a simple phone call; think how this is affecting film making at the production, marketing and exhibition stages? The Internet is acting as a hub for many aspects of film: you will find film posters, You Tube videos on films, interviews, trailers, official film and blog websites, etc. on it.  Audiences can also remake their own films by creating extracts and running new scores over them and then posting them on You Tube. This often leads to answering videos, never mind the comments, etc. that people make  on such sites. The internet, film and videos games seems to be converging in so many ways. People can watch films in a range of ways, using an astonishing range of hardware and software. They can also find audiences of their own. This amounts to free publicity for film institutions for their films and "A Long Tail" sales into the future through endless exchange.

• the issues raised in the targeting of national and local audiences (specifically, British) by international or global institutions
"Slumdog Millionaire" was originally aimed at Asian audiences living in various parts of the UK and also at Danny Boyle fans. The film's unexpected success at film festivals and being nominated for the Oscars led to another theatrical release and a crossover from the "indy" art-house into the mainstream. British film makers often make social realism films and aim them at local and regional audiences whereas this would never be enough for the major media players who tend to make high budget, high concept films. They have boutique offshoots who make and often distribute lower budget films, aimed at more high brow audiences. Disney's Mirimax and Fox's Fox Searchlight are examples of such boutique, art-house film distribution.

• the ways in which the candidates’ own experiences of media consumption illustrate wider patterns and trends of audience behaviour
How you consume films whether it is as a social activity after visiting a shopping centre or on an MP4 player or Playstation, is what is at issue here. Visit Pearl and Dean to see how multiplex cinemas are adapting the experience of cinema-going to gain audiences. In an age of falling DVD sales, home cinema and an increase in downloading for both music and film audiences are changing in how they want to consume film. Identify trends and consider where the audience trends are going in the near future.

This unit should be approached through contemporary (up-to-date) examples in the form of case studies based upon one of the specified media areas. Our students are studying the British Film industry with See-Saw Films and Bedlam Productions' The King's Speech or Film4's Slumdog Millionaire; for comparative purposes they are also preparing a case study of US film production/distributor with an example film.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Intertextuality - how it can make texts richer in meaning

This is a great video for illustrating how meaning is enhanced for audiences from picking up intertextual references.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Modernism and Postmodernism compared - reposting link

This is a great page on postmodernism as it is defined and compared. Scroll down for the chart where modernism and postmodernism is compared.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Mark Kermode on "the F word " and how this affected the BBFC certificates for "The King's Speech" and "Made In Dagenham"

This is an interesting talk from Mark Kermode on the use of 'the F word" in two recent British films. He argues that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)  have been "classist" by giving  "Made In Dagenham" a certificate 15, whereas The King's Speech was given a 12. Such decisions affect teenage audiences who can see the film. In the USA "The King's Speech" was given an R rating for the number of its Fs! That will also restrict the age-range of who can see it in cinemas.

The Road To Coronation Street - Updated Resource for G325 post modern media: television drama

I've updated the study resources in this link for G325 Post Modern Media: TV Drama. The whole of The Road To Coronation Street is now there alongside the original scene from the Coronation Street's first episode from 1960 in which Elsie Tanner (played by Pat Pheonix) challenges her son, Dennis, over two shillings missing from her purse. The scene is  pastiched in The Road To Coronation Street where Pat Phoenix is auditioned for the role of Elsie Tanner by production staff from Granada Television.

The Road To Coronation Street Study Resources

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Assassin's Creed: the franchise explores later historical periods

The later games are described here with their postmodern, historical "environment'.

The level of detail and space in this trailer for "Assassin's Creed" for 1503 is astonishing. With its camera shots, style and mise-en-scene, genre boundaries are blurred - it's more like a film than a game.

Player skills, challenges and competing against the world all contribute towards players pleasure from FLOW.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Assassin's Creed and Enae Volare by Era: postmodern blurring of genre boundaries in "historical" video games

The use of space and reality in this example of "trailer-like" exchange are worth considering for identifying and evaluating the post modern player experience. Certainly the genre boundaries between cinema and videogames are being blurred in this game - and this is an increasing feature of films and videogames these days. With this piece of exchange uploaded on You Tube this also becomes a music video. Even the song-track by ERA is not real Latin but a pseudo mix of old Occitan (from where the Cathars used to live in sourthern France and Latin.) A pretty good mix for a hyperreal and immersive playing experience.  By the way, Era's song was the on the ending credits for "Les Visiteurs" in 1993 in which a postmodern medieval film in which knight and his servant gets transported into our age and how he deals with our modernity. The  ambiguous setting for Assassin's Creed appears to be in "The Holy Land" and in one of the Christian Kingdoms before "the fall of Jerusalem" in 1187 to Saladin and during the Crusades. Historical settings are often favoured in post modern texts as they involve copying, pastiching, parodying and remodelling the past.

On a macro level the blurring is across several media genres. On a micro level the blurring is in the contours of the city, its grey ambiguity, as an undefined place, and especially in the "hoody" character whose face and thus identity is never fully seen. The player mode can be sandbox and thus can form a narrative that pleases the player.

Check out Ben Medler's great-looking analysis on why "Assassin's Creed" is a post modern game. He compares this game to "Mirror's Edge," a game which he considers modernist. It is a must read!

Here is also an academic player's view of the game for space and increasingly diverse and complex player-skills.

What follows is a good all-round review of this relatively new game and how it appropriates history Very useful for understanding the postmodern plundering of history as historical fiction. Later versions of the game on the same theme have since been released. Tarentino's ambiguously spelled, "Inglourious Basterds" follows along similar lines.
"What’s interesting about the series is its successful use history as a game mechanic, and its ability to construct realistic environments around the largely fantastical story. The evocations of cities such as Jerusalem and Rome, while not always painstakingly accurate, have a sense of place and life that is almost unique in the video game sector."

Another academic and challenging article on the game by G. Christopher Williams in which he argues that that this game is "a meta fictive frame tale."

What is controversial about this game?
"In the Simulation, Nothing is True, and Everything is Permitted
While I had heard prior to its release that some game journalists were concerned that Assassin’s Creed could be controversial given that its protagonist is an Arab assassin, I was, nevertheless, both surprised and intrigued as the game loaded up that I was met with a rather unusual disclaimer for a video game: “This work of fiction was designed, developed, and produced by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs.”"
for more

Monday, 31 January 2011

Case Study Links for "The Kings Speech"

The King's Speech as a British Film aimed primarily at UK and US audiences. Several KEY areas for case studies are in capitals and in bold.  (Even though this post is an example of exchange using Web 2.0,  other examples of Exchange will be added later.)

What makes a film British?
The UK Parliament's view from 2003 on what is a British fllm - see page 6 of the report for definitions  Have things changed somewhat since then?


EXHIBITION ISSUES and reviews: the film's reception (Awards - The Oscars. It is nominated for 12!)  (Nominated for 14 Baftas!)
Colin Firth on CBS talks about his role as King George VI with original footage of The King Stammering over his words

Critical Reviews of the Film (Christopher Hitchens is critical about some aspects of the film's historical accuracy and how this may wrongly influence the movie-going audiences.)

You Tube Reviews (Web 2.0 and EXCHANGE) ( The Americans seem somewhat ahead of us here. Audiences include your friends, too! We should really be aiming at UK audiences but these reviews also help out with the film's reception here and in the US.)  ( check out posters comments, too, as these review are interractive. Some newspaper reviews also allow Web 2.0 comments too.)
How about making your own review and publishing it on YouTube? You could canvass your friends' opinions about the film first before you produce it!

The Film's facebook page

The film's PRODUCTION notes

The Film's origins and how it became a co-production  ( The producers had to post the script through Geoffrey Rush's letter box - and received an angry reply from his agent!)  (A key article) ( the film began as a play!)

The Finance
The UK Film council contributed towards the financial backing for the film alongside Prescience films, a  UK Film finance company. Harvey Weinstein in the USA also had a share.

The King's Speech is a joint production so synergies would have arisen out of the two companies working together.

The PRODUCTION Companies ( the institutions which made the film) (Helpful for understanding several production issues.)

DISTRIBUTION, Marketing and The Value Chain
Momentum Pictures ,  the film's British DISTRIBUTOR  (This institution created the film's marketing plan and  marketed the film to UK audiences) (Useful for the film's posters)

The original speech given by King George VI on September 3rd 1939.