Wednesday, 27 March 2013

1b) Apply theories of narrative to one of your coursework productions. (25 marks)

I shall be discussing narrative theories in relation to my foundation portfolio, 'Mind Games' which was a thriller opening with a psychological sub-genre.

My group and I clearly knew the importance of expressing certain concepts to the audience in existing media texts. 'Mind Games' shows the life of a wanted mass murderer, hiding from authority. We paid homage to the movies, 'Seven', 'The Shining', 'Scarface' and 'Host'. Scarface influenced us into making the decision of putting the drugs on the table at the start, shown in a close up pan of cocaine and tobacco. We thought that this could be influential in conveying the narrative of our thriller opening as that audience from the start would analyse the mise-en-scene and come to the conclusion that the opening would have negative connotations. Reality is a key theme as the characters often attempt to determine what is real and what is not in the narrative. Homage was paid to 'The Shining' in the close up of the antagonist up against the door with the knife. We thought we would play with the classic door scene in 'The Shining' to help contribute to the narrative and the psychological sub-genre. Identity is another key theme in psychological thrillers, as the characters are often confused about who they are and reach out to discover their true identity or more hidden facts about themselves.

We used the theory of Propp and the seven character types fairly, with a villain who is the murderer in the beginning, the donor which would seem to be the police, sending the officer to a block of flats where they suspect the criminal is residing. It is not made clear whether the hero is the officer at the beginning as there is a cliffhanger left at the end with the knock, the black screen and the laugh of the villain. This could indicate that the officer had knocked on the door and then been murdered by the villain or that he did not knock on the right flat number, it is not clear. Todorov's theory of equilibrium as we provided a distinct story line for the audience to communicate and connect with. We made it clear for the audience to distinguish between the antagonist and the protagonist. The connection with the audience was taken to a higher level with the introduction of enigma codes and a cliffhanger at the end of the opening which showed a side shot of the officer at the front door knocking at the end of the opening. The enigma code is either that the officer has been killed or did not even intend to find the villain and was merely making a visit, or even he knocked on the wrong door altogether. We used the sound of a heartbeat to create tension with the quick cut shots of black screen to the villain, to the officer rapidly creating unease with the audience. The editing insinuates narrative expectations from the script previously such as the officer to be murdered or a sense of uncertainty and not knowing what might happen. It is also evident that my opening has a chronological narrative and the editing is a key component of building the narrative. With an involvement of cross cutting adding to the concept of showing both the villains view and the officers view, the audience are clear about what is happening with both simultaneously. The pans of the villains room add fear and tension into the audience as there is a negative aura surrounding him, guided by the darkness and the claustrophobia of the room. This adds to the expression of narrative in my opening.

Our target audience was 18-30 after much research into the BBFC and with the help of surveys in our sixth form and teachers. The main reason for our selected target audience was the clear representation of cocaine and the knife and the broadcast on the radio of murder. It is then clear to the audience that the film would include graphic and violent content, not suitable for those under the age of 18 who may find it too gory and savage. In the past, violence was one of the most problematic aspects when passing a film with an 18 certificate, whether it is sexualised or fantasized violence. Horror films were often the culprits for depicting graphic violence and this often results in a lot of grief to the examiners. The group of selected students found it creative and gripping and also found the enigma codes connecting with themselves. They claimed that due to the tension created by the heartbeat and the uncertainty created by the cross cutting, it allowed their minds to create question and left them wanting to know more. There were a lot of the same reactions as most of the participants stated they used it as an escape and felt safe with friends around them, as tension started to build.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Napster's Impact on the Music Industry

Napster was created by Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning and was launched in 1999. They were 17 and 18 respectively. Before Napster, getting music off the internet was extremely tricky and after the creation, it had 57 million users at its peak. Music was something that was bought after protracted debate with friends in aisles. Songs became accessible from home. They didn't cost anything. MP3 had become the dominant format for digital download in the mid 1990's. By October of the year of release it had 4 million songs in circulation and the Napster users consisted of 20 million people. The heads of major music labels gathered together to create a plan to eliminate Napster as they knew it was a threat.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Response to David Gauntlett - 'The Changing Place of Media in Everyday Life'

Media used to be only accessible to those who were involved in some form of media distribution. For example if you were part of a music company or label, then you were able to use media formats. If you were an average person then you would not be able to publish your craft and this created inequality. In the past technology was efficient but in comparison to now it was not. Cameras, sound equipment and other devices were large, expensive and caused inconvenience. Now laptops and phones can be used as platforms of media publishing. Media used to be 'Web 1.0' which was not what Tim Berners-Lee plan was when he created the internet. He wanted there to be a sense of equality between people from all over the world. This was called 'Web 2.0' where the world would connect on one level and people could share and interact efficiently, creating no barriers between them.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Fredric Wertham

Seduction of the Innocent described overt or covert depictions of violence, sex, drug use, and other adult fare within "crime comics"—a term Wertham used to describe not only the popular gangster/murder-oriented titles of the time but also  superhero and horror comics as well—and asserted, based largely on undocumented anecdotes, that reading this material encouraged similar behavior in children.
Comics, especially the crime/horror titles pioneered by EC Comics, were not lacking in gruesome images; Wertham reproduced these extensively, pointing out what he saw as recurring morbid themes such as "injury to the eye" (as depicted in Plastic Man creator Jack Cole's "Murder, Morphine and Me", which he illustrated and probably wrote for publisher Magazine Village's True Crime Comics Vol. 1, #2 (May 1947); it involved dope-dealing protagonist Mary Kennedy nearly getting stabbed in the eye "by a junkie with a hypothermic needle" in her dream sequence). Many of his other conjectures, particularly about hidden sexual themes (e.g. images of female nudity concealed in drawings of muscles and tree bark, or Batman and Robin as gay partners), were met with derision within the comics industry. (Wertham's claim that Wonder Woman had a bondage subtext was somewhat better documented, as her creator William Moulton Marston had admitted as much; however, Wertham also claimed that Wonder Woman's strength and independence made her a lesbian.)
Given the subsequent emergence of organized fandom for comic books among adults who grew up reading them during Comics' Golden Age, it is ironic Wertham at one point in Seduction (pp. 89–90) asserts "I have known many adults who have treasured throughout their lives some of the books they read as children. I have never come across any adult or adolescent who had outgrown comic-book reading who would ever dream of keeping any of these 'books' for any sentimental or other reason."
What is often overlooked in discussions of Seduction of the Innocent is Wertham's analysis of the advertisements that appeared in 1950s comic books and the commercial context in which these publications existed. Wertham objected to not only the violence in the stories but also the fact that air rifles and knives were advertised alongside them. Also rarely mentioned in summaries or reviews of Seduction of the Innocent are Wertham's claims that retailers who did not want to sell material with which they were uncomfortable, such as horror comics, were essentially held to ransom by the distributors. According to Wertham, news vendors were told by the distributors that if they did not sell the objectionable comic books, they would not be allowed to sell any of the other publications being distributed.
The splash made by this book and Wertham's previous credentials as an expert witness, made it inevitable that he would appear before the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency led by anti-crime crusader Estes Kefauver. In extensive testimony before the committee, Wertham restated arguments from his book and pointed to comics as a major cause of juvenile crime. Beaty notes "Wertham repeated his call ... [for] national legislation based on the public health ideal that would prohibit the circulation and display of comic books to children under the age of fifteen." The committee's questioning of their next witness, EC publisher William Gaines, focused on violent scenes of the type Wertham had decried. Though the committee's final report did not blame comics for crime, it recommended that the comics industry tone down its content voluntarily; possibly taking this as a veiled threat of potential censorship, publishers developed the Comics Code Authority to censor their own content. The Code banned not only violent images but also entire words and concepts (e.g. "terror" and "zombies") and dictated that criminals must always be punished—thus destroying most EC-style titles, and leaving a sanitized subset of superhero comics as the chief remaining genre. Wertham described the Comics Code as inadequate, while most in the industry found it draconian.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Investigation Into Media Effects Theory

What is Propaganda?

Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed towards influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument. Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the chosen result in audience attitudes.

This is one of the examples of propaganda, manipulating and influencing people to join the army. J. M. Flagg's 1917 poster, based on the original British Lord Kitchener poster of three years earlier, was used to recruit soldiers for both World War I and World War II. Flagg used a modified version of his own face for Uncle Sam, and veteran Walter Botts provided the pose.

What is the 'hypodermic theory'?

The Hypodermic Needle Model theory suggests that the media ‘injects’ ideas into a passive audience, like giving a patient a drug. The term 'hypodermic model' has been used to describe the process. The suggestion is that the media work very much like a hypodermic needle – the information they pump into the audience goes one way and has an effect. 

What is the 'cultivation theory'?

Cultivation theory is a social theory which examines the long-term effects of television. "The primary proposition of cultivation theory states that the more time people spend "living" in the television world, the more likely they are to believe social reality portrayed on television."

What is the 'two step flow theory'?

twostepflow.jpgThe two-step flow of communication or Multistep Flow Model, says that most people form their opinions under the influence of opinion leaders, that in turn are influenced by the mass media. So according to this model, ideas flow from mass media to opinion leaders, and from them to a wider population. This theory asserts that information from the media moves in two distinct stages. First, individuals (opinion leaders) who pay close attention to the mass media and its messages receive the information. Opinion leaders pass on their own interpretations in addition to the actual media content. The term ‘personal influence’ was coined to refer to the process intervening between the media’s direct message and the audience’s ultimate reaction to that message. Opinion leaders are quite influential in getting people to change their attitudes and behaviors and are quite similar to those they influence. The two-step flow theory has improved our understanding of how the mass media influence decision making. The theory refined the ability to predict the influence of media messages on audience behavior, and it helped explain why certain media campaigns may have failed to alter audience attitudes an behavior. The two-step flow theory gave way to the multi-step flow theory of mass communication or diffusion of innovation theory.

To what extent can media texts manipulate or influence behaviour?

Question 1a) Conventions

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Question 1a) Post Production

Many different elements were used to create our final product which included, texts, colour correction, the manipulation of speed. More of our production was created after our filming for A2 in our music video. In AS for 'Mindgames' i found myself not being able to use technology efficiently as i do now and the distinct transition of my skills can be seen through the difference in A2 music video compared to my thriller opening. With help of Live Text and and Final Cut, i was able to use many different things such as the colour corrector and the speed determinant to edit my thriller opening to the best of my ability. The difference in the clarity can be spotted as now i am more comfortable and am open to playing with different options and effects in order to make my music video as good as possible. Most of my text was created after production in terms of my music video and i found this more comfortable as i had more experience of the tools i was using from the previous year. AS included me using such tools but nowhere near were they used to same amount as used in A2.

We used Final Cut Express, Photoshop, Safari, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, iPhoto, Garageband, iMac. With the use of digital technology, our productions were almost highlighted and it made our productions evolve swiftly as we used such applications to help produce our videos. The iMac is the main contraption that i used as it hold all the necessary programs i needed to make both my thriller opening and my music video successful and creative. Final Cut was the main program used to cut and edit each video and my skills definitely improved throughout. Photoshop was used in A2 for my digipak and magazine advertisement and it was my first time using it. I was really poor at first but with help from some classmates and some people who had experience with Photoshop, i found it grew on me and was not as complicated as i once thought. Safari, the main source of Internet was used to help gain information, resources, promotion and many other things. Using Safari helped me use Youtube, to watch inspirational videos, guides on how to use programs effectively and to help advertise my production. I used Youtube as the broadcasting station for my videos so that people from around the world are able to view and give feedback to me and comment with others about my work. I also used Twitter and Facebook to help promote my work and see what my friends thought about it as they gave me feedback and critical responses. iPhoto was used mainly to export and just manage my photos for my digipak along with Garagebang which was used only in AS for Mindgames to create our soundtrack with the Piano application.

We used the original soundtrack for A2 and found this to be set out for us as we just used the song of our choice as the base or centre and worked around it. For Mindgames we used Garageband and conducted our own soundtrack with the Piano application to help complement our opening. AS and A2 were extremely different in that with A2 we have to cut specifically to our song and make sure it is sync, whereas in AS we had to create our own soundtrack which complemented our Thriller opening. There was a transition in my progress and learning in the way in which i had just used a soundtrack which complemented my thriller opening in AS but in A2 i used the soundtrack as the centre and found that everything I do must be in relation to the song which is the main focus. With this relationship religiously being recognised between everything I did, there is a clear understanding of my work in post production

We put across many messages in our AS production, such as the stereotypical male antagonist and protagonist as featured in many mainstream films which exemplifies patriarchy. Good vs. Evil is extremely evident with the distinct clothing of the police officer putting across the meaning of authority and how the state are there to protect and serve. Again conforming to patriarchy, a man officer is used to show more stature and power compared to a police woman. These are the keys meanings embedded throughout. For our A2 production the main messages were just fun and excitement and how happiness can come from what you love and your expression of your love. King of The Bongo really shows a character expressing his love for playing the Bongo and how he exposes this in a new city, which he is almost lost in but he feels that with his Bongo, he is never lost. This is the main meaning inserted in our A2 production.