Consider the ways in which even the news media can be described as an example of hyper-reality and blurring the boundaries between a media constructed reality and the real life..
Is it possible that we know far more about the media, celebrity news & popular culture than we did about significant events and people in the ‘real’ world.
It is important to consider news values and understand how some important pieces of news are pushed off the news agenda because they don’t fulfill the editorial agenda and so the news we do consume is highly selected. This selection is often about what will make a popular / entertaining story rather than reporting other bigger world events but ones that are more remote, ‘foreign’ and ones for which they don’t have pictures.
Finally, the news is packaged up into easily understandable narratives, indeed news items have narrative structure, ‘characters’ cast into simple types & roles and there is often highly emotive use of language and symbolic imagery in order to represent the events / people in a particular way.
Here is a really funny and insightful video from TV critic Charlie Brooker, who incidentally wrote one of our key texts Black Mirror. Here he is talking about the formulaic structure of a TV news item and how they are neatly packaged up for consumption.
Take a look at the Guernsey Evening Press – hegenomy at work even in a small, backwater like Guernsey.
And finally – this is controversial but it is an episode of Russell Brand’s The Trews where he criticises the ‘propaganda’ surrounding terrorist attacks and how the story that the government delivers, feeds us through the media, has a purpose of keeping us on their side and not encourage us to question our own foreign policy and actions abroad. He is loud and outspoken but many of his The Trews discuss modern media and in particular Fox News who represent the multi-national corporate dominance of the world. You will either love him or hate him but what he says does give food for thought and ideas for discussion.
We will be looking in detail at a more recent episode of Black Mirror as our detailed case study later in the term. In the meantime, this episode from the previous series, called Nosedive, really spotlights the world that we live in: the simulacra, the hypereality and the consumer culture that surrounds us.
Listen to the above analysis of the episode and watch it in class with your teacher.
Now you can get ‘reality on demand’ for just £3.99 a month! Really? Reality on demand? Or constructed reality on demand – that’s more like it! What would Baudrillard think of the new channel where you can see all the reality TV you want on demand? He would be horrified. A whole new world, where constructed reality, hypereality becomes the norm.
In case TOWIE turns your stomach….you could choose to talk about MiC instead. Just a posher version of TOWIE – that’s all.
Above is a really good blog post on hypereality and Made in Chelsea.
Made in Chelsea paints a very vivid picture of the rich and elite in London. From an outsider looking in, it suggests to a large extent that all ‘English’ people live this way. I have friends from different countries who have said to me ‘Is that what England is like?’ (referring to the show) …well quite simply no. London is very diverse and has many different cultures, yet Made in Chelsea does not have one ethnic person in the show. Whilst it is true that Chelsea is very elite, not everyone who lives there is white (believe it or not). Yet the programme tells another story.
This show definitely blurs the distinction between fiction and documentary and soap opera. The cast are exposed by producers in a certain way to show them off as distinct characters that the audience can relate to for entertainment purposes. Spencer is shown as the ‘villain’ of the show, Jamie, Proudlock and Francis are shown as the ‘laddish’ bachelors and the girls Lucy, Rosie and Louise etc. are the upper class women, who are obsessed with material possessions and their taste in fashion is nothing less than a six figure digit. The whole aesthetic of the programme is to exude wealth, high society members and their lavish lifestyles, which is somewhat a fantasy for many of the viewers.
Consumer Culture – features all the right brands: Harrods, Dorchester Hotel, Sloane Square etc. The programme is even sponsored by Rimmel – Get the London Look. You too could be this gorgeous!
Hegemony – capitalist, bourgeois, conservative view on life. Work hard and you too could be like this. The fact that most of the characters are wealthy by inheritance and none of them seem to do a day’s work between them is irrelevant. Capitalism pays off and MiC is evidence of this (the fact that it is completely constructed and contrived should not deter you from aspiring to this lifestyle). This is quite a good powerpoint on examples of ‘hegemony’ in action – it is very USA based but you will get the idea of how the messages of what is right, expected and wrong are constantly reinforced from ‘up above’ or ‘elsewhere’ although there are some steps to counteract this mindset, as you will see at the end of the presentation.
Hypereality – the blurring between the real people and their on screen characters is blurred. This is endorsed by them tweeting when it is unclear as to whether they are ‘in character’ or as themselves. We talk about them as though they are real.
Simulacra – the original becomes irrelevant. We believe the simulated world. This is how it is. We value the simulated world more than we do the ‘real’ world.
Watch any of the other ‘scripted reality’ TV shows – The Real Housewives series, Geordie Shore, The Only Way is Essex and you will see exactly the same elements that indicate they are part of this type of postmodern phenomena.
The other TV shows – so called ‘reality fly on the wall’ shows – that are less scripted i.e. KUWTK, Dance Moms, Teen Mom are still no less constructed. See an extract below from an article that outlines how the new series of Teen Mom will now be produced without the 4th wall.
Are you happy this season breaks the fourth wall and shows production?
Maci: I love it. Before, such a huge part of our life was hidden and it was hard to be 100 percent real because we’re pretending we’re not on TV or that we don’t have a million followers on Twitter. Also, there are many situations in the past when we’re filming a scene and we’re aggravated and all of our anger is escalated because there are people in your house, audio, lights, cameras and then you have a kid running around who can’t get up because [production] doesn’t want to mess up the scene, so on top of the aggravation from what’s really going on, you have all this other sh–. It’ll really show how overwhelming being on a TV show is.
This is evidence that the TV show was completely constructed – think about it – the baby is crying but the camera crew is not ready so you can’t pick up the baby to comfort it. How ‘managed’ ‘unreal’ the footage must have been.
These shows created a ‘preferred reality’ as it has more drama, tension and clashes. When Big Brother started out, they made the fatal mistake of not choosing characters that were interesting enough to sustain an audience. Now, they deliberately choose participants who will create drama and increase viewing figures.
But what is it about our voyeuristic tendencies? Even in Roman times we loved seeing people fight to the death in the arena, Have we really not come that far from that kind of barbarity? Think of all the ‘pranked’ videos you watch online – enjoying laughing at people’s misfortune.
Perhaps we have not evolved as far as we had hoped in terms of being civilised. It makes an uncomfortable thought.
Gogglebox is a ‘reality’ TV show (although in my opinion no reality TV is actually proper reality, but that’s another blog post altogether!) in which participants sit at home and watch TV, commenting on it all the while for our entertainment. Gogglebox celebrates the world of television and invites us to critically watch what’s on TV through the eyes of other people, so in a sense we are analysing TV through a TV show. We are being invited to watch a TV show about TV shows, it’s a TV show about its own medium that invites people, both participants and the viewers at home, to mock, laugh at and celebrate everything that comes to our screens at home. Gogglebox sounds like a bizarre TV show, watching people watch TV, but is actually strangely entertaining! And what is perhaps most ironic is that the armchair critics that participate in the show have gone on to become minor celebrities and the show itself is winning Television awards. Totally, self-referential – self-reflexivity at its very best!
Over the next few weeks you need to make a point of listening to three Podcasts on The Film Industry. These podcast contain interviews, discussions and issues about all the areas of the film industry that we are studying. They are called:
Development Hell – This episode is all about how a film gets the green light for production and about how script are drafted and redrafted and how stars are cast.
Getting to the Screen – This episode is all about marketing and distribution and discusses the ways in which films get the attention of the audience.
The Business of Showing – All about the many different ways films are watched by audiences from Imax to Phones and everything in between. Over the next few weeks you should listen and make notes on each part of the documentary.
Here is a three part document, that includes questions for each part. The questions are in chronological order, so listen carefully and you’ll hear the answers in the order they are written.
Date of the exam is 18th May 2018.
We will be running a specific session before Easter and several after Easter but start now. Don’t wait. Read through the resources and start practising TV drama note writing and start learning some case studies for Film Industry.
A recent mini series on BBC 3 highlights the absurdity of the Vloggers we are all so involved in on youtube. Using mockumentary (bricolage of documentary and parody) it highlights how the industry works. Lots of self-reflexivity as it shows that it is making a documentary on Vloggers but also shows how highly self-reflexive Vloggers are (shows the sound boom, shows the camera, includes the outtakes and how they bend, play with representation through editing, post production and distort time and space etc). It is subtle because you have to be in it, to get it i.e. culturally competent to get the nuance references and jokes.
A postmodern take on a postmodern phenomena! Great example of how postmodern media plays with time, space and the audience.
Have a look at it – it made me laugh, especially Episode on Health and Beauty.
If you understand how Unilever have marketed Marmite over the last few years, you will begin to understand the basics of what constitutes a piece of media being classes as ‘postmodern’.
Have a look at these slides and discuss how Marmite has been sold – what hooks, enablers, slogans have they used to attract our attention and to communicate the message that Marmite should at least be tried.
A really interesting analysis of The Lego Movie and why it is a postmodern film.
Try and find your own examples from your own film and TV consumption. There are loads of examples out there and the more you can evidence your ideas in the exam with up to date examples to illustrate your debate, the better your mark will be.
1975 are prone to making fun of themselves, being self-reflexive and making a comment on pop music and its predictability. Do you remember at the 2017 Brit Awards they gave a performance that many thought had been ‘hacked’ on TV as irreverent, critical, social media type warrior key board comments appeared as if ‘trolls’ had taken over.
This music video is self-reflexive. Draws attention to itself in a shameless way. Pokes a finger up at celebrity culture – he ‘ribs’ himself about his celebrity lifestyle. Read this Article for more background.
The more up to date you can be with your POMO case studies the better. The more you can talk about POMO media in your lives, the better. The American elections are clearly current so you could mention the tendency to parody Donald Trump is a great example of parody and intertextuality.