Media Language – Background and Theory

In part, Media Studies is the study of ‘media language’.

Any given media text (form) is a series of codes or signs which communicate meaning.

A sign, according to media language theory, is made up of two parts:

  1. A signifier. That is, ‘Something in a media text which carries meaning’.
  2. The signified. That is, ‘The meaning carried by that something’.

Your job as a media student it to identify the signifiers and analyse / argue what they signify.

Here’s Mr G explaining:

Here is slideshow which tries to explain – the last few slides give you an approach to your text.


Complete a detailed media language analysis of one of your media products.

You should use this document to help you cover the key ideas.


Here is an example essay

Final Advice for PM + Stranger Things

If you watch this, then there might be something in this article that you might want to include in a postmodern essay.  Remember, it is classed as TV so you would have to other media in the essay to talk about too.  Article attached.

Also, remember The Simpsons may be a little overused and dated, if you can, try and find a more relevant example of challenging grand narratives/absolute truths etc. to illustrate Lyotard’s ideas.

Quotes, buzz phrases are always good so listen to the videos we have uploaded, borrow some ideas from Brand, Curtis, Brooker etc.

Finally, always bring in the higher order ideas about postmodernism into whatever question you do and in particular the ‘General, what is PM question’. So try and weave in how it blurs reality and representation, how it challenges the conventional text and audience relationship and how it distorts time and space and is considered controversial.



Narrative Essay (Timed)

Hand write this essay in times conditions (30 minutes or 37.5 minutes)

‘Describe how you used and applied conventional or experimental narrative theories in one of your products’. 

Narrative Essay Structure suggestion

You can choose your music video if it has a suitable narrative or your thriller, which might be easier to dissect.

Link to exemplar answer by a candidate on narrative in their music video.

Example Essays

It would be best to handwrite it in timed conditions but you can type it and submit it too, so that you can redraft it more easily.  Again, try and type it though in 30 minutes after 5 minutes planning.

Mrs Cobb would prefer typed ones submitted through the classroom post.

Good Luck.

Conventions – Skills -LAST SKILLS ESSAY

Explain how far your understanding of the conventions of existing media influenced the way you created your own media products. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how this understanding developed over time. (25 marks).’

As Conventions is a fairly odd ‘skill’, the way we suggest you tackle this is slightly different to the other Skills. As the conventions for the different projects are all different, it might be easier to analyse how your development of skills in using conventions is documented in terms of how you learnt to USE, DEVELOP AND CHALLENGE THEM.

In other words trace your journey from knowing nothing of the importance or use of conventions to your knowledge and understanding of conventions at the end of the course, when you understood the importance of conventions but also had the ability to challenge and subvert them for creative purposes.

So we recommend you tackle this CHRONOLOGICALLY, from Product to Product.

You also need to remember some specific real professional texts that you can cite as inspiration and vehicles that inspired your understanding of conventions and specifically how they IMPACTED/INFLUENCED  YOUR PRODUCTS.

Fill in your Skills Template with some Conventions stories – you will need to add Thriller as it is missing.

You should also review your Conventions evaluation questions on the blog for the Thriller and Music Video/Digipak to refresh your memory on how you used, developed, challenged conventions.



You will be completing this in timed conditions on Friday so get prepping.


POMO – Finstagram – where you can just be yourself? or how about an App that allows you to communicate with the dead?

Really – aren’t all photos representations and never able to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

An interview with a teenager who has a fake account: Why?

What about this though – even scarier – an app where you can take selfies with the dead? Sounds so unlikely but it is happening. Just as Brooker predicted in his first series of Black Mirror it is all becoming scarily real.

William Wordsworth spoke many a true word – even before POSTMODERN MEDIA was in existence.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

 Getting and spending we lay waste our powers;

  Little we see in Nature that is ours;

 We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!…

For this, for everything, we are out of tune

POMO – A4 flyer case studies

Please see classroom for your allocated text.

Whilst you are researching, designing and completing your A4 flyer, your teacher will go through your POMO essay.

There is another one coming at the end of the week to make sure your desk is clear for that – it will be a tricky question.

La La Land

Your second detailed case study is the film La La Land.  In order to ‘get it’ you first need to understand how the original movie musicals were designed and constructed.

Here are some short videos on how and what inspired La La Land.


POMO – against the big idea and WHAT NEXT? Easter Essay advice

Your Easter Postmodern essay is in classroom. You will have the rest of the lessons to plan, prepared and research the case studies you want to use in it.  All the resources are in the classroom post.

It is essential that you try not to make the essay purely a list of examples.  You should endeavour to open up the debate, criticise and analyse.  Have some fun with the essay. You should also try and consider the past, present and future of POMO. Here are some ideas that you could develop as to how POMO might develop in the future.  Use some of the buzz phrases you have heard in the example critiques and reviews.  But do remember this is a MEDIA essay – not an historical or political one – bring these elements in but the Media text has to be the focus.

Good luck.

Counter arguments to Postmodernism

  • As soon as something is in the media it is mediated (selected, presented, changed, simplified…) by someone and by definition becomes a representation of reality. Baudrillard is therefore railing against the human impulse to tell stories and to explain the world.
  • Postmodernism mocks. It’s easier to mock than to try to be innovative. Postmodernism takes the easy option.
  • Are there any new stories or are we just telling the same story from our own unique point in history, just as generations before us have done and will continue to do. So Jameson bemoaning the lack of originality is a specious argument.
  • What’s wrong with big ideas that give us a sense of who we are, how we should behave, that give us a sense of identity & purpose? If all grand narratives are nonsense then everything is relative to the individual experience and we have no society / community, humanity becomes just a bunch of self absorbed relativists.

Some might argue that the world needs to change – as everything is being corrupted or has been corrupted, perhaps we all need a new direction?  ‘Do not – focus on the shadows on the wall but on the light source itself’.

Could this mean civilisation, needs to redefine itself?  Will the freedom of the internet eventually bring about our disintegration? Do we need Big Brother to come in and censor our lives? Are they spiralling out of control and is POMO media feeding that descent?

In fact, do we need a BRAND NEW GRAND NARRATIVE?

POMO – Geordie Shore – very funny article from Charlie Brooker – use a quote from it!



Thanks to Rosie for pointing us in the direction of this article. Charlie Brooker takes his usual side swipe at modern media and hits the nail right on the head. Focus on the last couple of paragraphs where it is clear their ‘creation’ is all part of consumer culture. Elements of ‘scopophilia’ are involved in wanting to watch and hate them and not wanting to watch and kind of liking them all at the same time.  ‘Hyperreality’ is involved too in their caricaturing personas but the most interesting idea could fit with Lyotard’s ideas on the destruction of the ‘grand narrative’.

The current state of society is fractured, pluralist and perhaps lost its way with the destruction of those absolute truths. We need somewhere to channel our fears, our angst, our distaste, our pent up anxiety and loss of direction – and what better way than taking it all out on a bunch of wannabe celebrity Z listers, who are just dying to be noticed? They really are noble types.


POMO – more examples

Taylor Swift – Look What you Made me Do.  Packed full of intertextual references – cultural competence required. Jameson would hate it.  Baudrillard would say it is a sympton of consumer culture.  Lyotard would like the fact that she is pointing the finger at the press who has defined her as having a ‘victim’ complex – she is being ironic and has her finger firmly in her cheek – parody of their representation of her.

All the references explained:


TOIWE – does Shakespeare. The blurring of lines between low art and high art?  Would Lyotard like this? I think so. Whereas Jameson would think it was cheap and nasty and distorts history.


POMO – Hegemony, Grand Narratives – we think we’re free? Cambridge Analytica

A story broke this week that has been investigated for over a year now by the Guardian newspaper. It basically exposes Facebook for the monster it has become and all of us as unwittingly playing into the hands of the ruling classes – we have been moulded and monstrously manipulated by those who can – governments, politicians, corporations.

Watch the entire video below to fully understand the enormity of how Media has played right into the hands of those who have sort to ‘manage’ society.

Baudrillard would say – well, what more could we expect from a society that is managed through the media. We were bound to be fed and fall for falsehoods.

Lyotard – would he be saddened by the fact that even though we think we’re free to question, look beyond, beneath and behind in this pluralistic society, are we in actual fact, free at all? Just like the prisoners in Platos cave – have we actually come much further?  However, he would applaud the idea that the grand narrative of unbiased, investigative journalism is able to blow the ‘pretence’ apart and that what we are seeing has to be questioned, deconstructed, disseminated.

This is a really current case study that would sit well in any Level 4 essay on postmodernism

POMO – Lisa The Iconoclast

Not only does The Simpsons challenge figures of authority and the grand narratives they embody the show also uses one particular character to represent the voice of resistance, rebellion and pluralism.

Lisa Simpson embodies the show’s anti-establishment tendencies with her unceasing onslaught on the totalizing systems (meta narratives) abundant in Springfield. Throughout the series, Lisa’s innate critical disposition has exposed many of the wrongdoings committed by authorities in The Simpsons.

Lisa The Challenger of Meta Narratives

Lisa combats brainwashing powers in Springfield by criticizing the blind faith which people are wont to have towards myths. Despite Lisa’s valiant efforts, her voice is never heard because her community puts all its trust in authority. This is the kind of system that Lyotard describes and opposes in “The Postmodern Condition”.


POMO – Baudrillard – BLACK MIRROR – Nosedive

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.

Here is an interesting review on it.

And another one.

Analysis in table form of Nosedive


POMO – reality TV on demand – hypereality is the norm!

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.



POMO – Gogglebox


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!


Link to article in Media Magazine: Page 34 – 40

Notes from the article

Postmodern TV Shows