Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Music in the Online Age

First of all, we'll start a new clean blog for this year but I'll use this one for now.

Everything you really need to know is to be read in this great ebook:


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Home Study / Exam Preparation over half-term

Practise, practise, practise. Go over the questions you've already done; even better redraft / add / improve using the advice and comments. I'll scan and email you the annotated ones you have just handed in.

NEXT TASK:PRODUCE 2 PPT / ZOHO / PREZI, one for each product, summing up all the key points in relation to all the concepts. Look at the one below as an example (the title page is inaccurate though):

I am still waiting for redrafted collective identity essays. Please send them to me for marking / feedback.
Do look at The Sex and the City article further down on this page and the blog on Beyonce as some of the ideas expressed there can be applied to Lady Gaga and other artists...

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Collective Id. Beyonce's Who runs the world? as case study

Have just put together a few resources here in case you'd like to use this song / video as an example for your essay.
At the end of the page, I have embedded this little student video which I think you will find very helpful (which is why I am putting this here as well)!
Have you been following the Slut Walk? Is this real female empowerment? It certainly sounds like it! Read something about it here:

Because we've had enough
This is how it all started:
"On January 24th, 2011, a representative of the Toronto Police gave shocking insight into the Force’s view of sexual assault by stating: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.
As the city’s major protective service, the Toronto Police have perpetuated the myth and stereotype of ‘the slut’, and in doing so have failed us. With sexual assault already a significantly under-reported crime, survivors have now been given even less of a reason to go to the Police, for fear that they could be blamed. Being assaulted isn’t about what you wear; it’s not even about sex; but using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an environment in which it’s okay to blame the victim.
Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation. Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.
We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault."

Read the rest by following the link.

Finally, follow this week's posts on Pete Fraser's Blog - exam tips for A2.

FINAL EXAM: 16th June (pm)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Collective Id. Good resource

Dan Laughey is a leading voice in Media Studies. Click on his Lecture called Feminisms. It's a short and straightforward PPT which will give you some ready-made points to make about ways of reading some of the examples you use in your essay.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Genre - Some of the slides from the lessons... including Theory

Some of the slides seem to have gone funny when I removed the background and uploaded...
Thriller and Genre Inc Genre Theory Blog Version

Reception Theory (preferred, negotiated, oppositional readings...)

Reception Theory - an outline

Extend your knowledge - Richard Dyer's Introduction to representation

Introduction to Representation - Richard Dyer

Uses and Gratifications

Uses and Gratifications

Monday, 2 May 2011

Essential Reading: Representation in Sex and The City

Following on from last lesson, here is an interesting article which will really help you write about representation of women in Sex and the City, and will complement the other reading material I distributed in class. It is a useful example to use in your essays.

Sex, the City and the American Dream

‘Two-point-four children,’ ‘white picket fence,’ ‘the ‘burbs.’ All familiar images in contemporary society: we all know what they mean, but more importantly, what they represent. These features are in fact often used as a common representation of the American Dream. One show which dares to both embrace and challenge elements of the often archaic American Dream is Sex and the City.

Sex and the City is a popular American TV show based on the book of the same name by Candace Bushnell and centred around the ‘sexploits’ of four friends living in New York City. A hybrid of genres, the show was primarily classed as a sitcom, but encompasses elements of soap opera and romantic drama. Often dealing with relevant social issues, it could be argued that Sex and the City has changed the way many of its viewers think about sex, gender and marriage.

The show stars Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw. The main narrator and protagonist, and a closet romantic, she is a sex columnist for fictional newspaper the Daily Star. Also starring are Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbs, a corporate lawyer with a cynical outlook on life; Kristen Davis as Charlotte York, a WASP obsessed with the idea of love and marriage; and Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones, a charismatic PR rep. who always gets what she wants in the workplace and the bedroom. The four women are all in their thirties and looking for love as well as balancing their careers and sparkling social lives.

Sex and the City came out of the Home Box Office channel, creator of many successful American imports: shows such as The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and most recently Entourage have all heralded success and made a name for themselves on this side of the pond as well as in America. Channel 4, renowned for being less mainstream than other terrestrial channels, was the first to bring many of these shows to the forefront of popular culture. All of these programmes are aimed at a higher socio-economic group of twenty-somethings who are educated and aware of current events and media trends; the buzz generated by such shows exemplifies the Uses and Gratification theory that ‘everyone is talking about it.’ All of these shows have brought something fresh and unique to the TV schedules, boasting an original setting or theme which has never been explored before in mainstream viewing. Sex and the City has arguably liberated modern working women in their twenties and thirties by showing them a world which is believable and sympatheticially realised, yet still has an aesthetic to which they can – and do! – aspire. Other shows such as Entourage do a similar job, but this time for the men. In a world where reality TV is king, the smart drama series can sometimes seem a rare commodity.

A feminist text?

Throughout the course of the show’s six-year run, one of the key underlying themes has been feminism and gender roles in a contemporary society. In the show all four women are trying to survive and prosper in a patriarchal society and looking for equal opportunities in the workplace. The women are independent, earn their own money and look after themselves; this aspiration to be the best and to achieve financial security could be said to be a core aspect of the American Dream, and to follow its capitalist ideals.

However, in opposition to this, the women live unconventional lives in terms of the expectations of The American Dream. The show is set in the fast-paced city of New York, where the women are looking for men but are not willing to settle. They apparently pity friends who have married and moved to the suburbs – although ultimately they admit that this is what they really crave. The show has been criticized for taking a step back from the Women’s Movement; feminist critics have argued that it is wrong to portray these smart, single women as just wanting to get married. As Miranda says:

How is it that four such smart women have nothing to talk about other than boyfriends?

This ambivalence is part of the show’s appeal.

All four protagonists are strong, confident, independent career women; they make their own money and don’t need a man: they just want one. Arguably, it is a new variation on feminism: the fact that the women still want to fall in love and get married shouldn’t mean they are undermining the women’s movement, and they shouldn’t have to apologise for it.

Material girls – elitism or realism?

All four main protagonists in Sex and the City are in prestigious career positions in the upper groupings of the socio-economic scale, with large amounts of disposable income which keeps them kitted out in the latest designer clothes and Manolo Blahnik shoes. As unattainable as their lifestyles may seem, it is the aspiration to be like them which makes the show so popular. The aesthetically pleasing settings and iconography make for a pleasurable viewing experience. But at what cost? The show glorifies the materialistic, does this excessive spending on material items present a bad set of values or is it simply a true representation of the lives of modern working women?

I like my money right where I can see it; hanging in my closet – Carrie (‘To Market, To Market’, Season 6, Episode 1)

In the episode ‘A Woman’s Right to Shoes’ (6.9) Carrie is ‘shoe shamed’ by a friend who thinks that spending $485 on a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes is ‘insane’. She claims ‘Chuck and I have responsibilities now; kids, houses!’ This ideological view that your life is somehow more complete when you are married and have children is closely related to the American Dream. It is an aspiration to reach this type of happiness that is instilled in society as a whole.

Is it bad that my life is filled with shoes and not children? – Carrie

There is a divide between material possessions and family life; the aspiration is to be able to have both. But do material possessions fill a gap only until a family does eventually come along? Maybe there is a new type of American Dream which follows the same capitalist ideals but says you don’t need another person to feel complete, and that you aren’t a failure if you don’t have a family.

This ideology is what Sex and the City is all about. Its ‘new’ ideals address the single thirty-something woman who wants to be reassured that she is not alone; and indeed this type of situation is much more prevalent in today’s society where people are getting married and having children later and later.

21st-century fairytales?

The basic narrative of the show follows a modern day fairy tale format similar to the theories of Propp. All four women are looking for love and, as Charlotte says in the episode ‘Where There’s Smoke...’ (3.1) ‘Women really just want to be rescued’. These women don’t want to admit that they need a man or that they want to be rescued; but actually this ambivalence forms the basis for the entire show. Their unwillingness to admit to their true motives is a subversion of the dream to which, as single women, they are expected to adhere: an emotionally and financially secure marriage.

Throughout its six seasons the four women have been represented as damsels in distress when faced with various relationship situations. But they have also turned the tables on traditional gender roles as they are in essence the heroes battling the day-to-day dramas of careers, men, sex, relationships, and gender inequality. At times they are the embodiment of the ‘anti-damsel-in-distress’, a kind of modern day heroine who is independent and self-motivated.

All the women in a sense play up to the idea of the American Dream, all strive for success and want to beat the competition both in life and love. Whether consciously or unconsciously, they are following the ideals and beliefs of the American Dream. The elitist, capitalist lifestyle that it preaches supports the ideology and shows contemporary audiences that the American Dream is still relevant to today’s society, very much followed, and inspiration for a great many Americans. However, it is an unconventional view of the American Dream which is represented in Sex and the City; there is no white picket fence or house in the suburbs. The main protagonists mock this type of conventional conformity; instead they talk about ‘having it all’ which includes the perfect job, a perfect apartment, and the perfect man. This is their view of ‘The Dream’. They are popularising a new American Dream, an adaptation of the old form, which encompasses the needs, and desires of a new generation of Americans. The new dream embraces the single lifestyle, accepts the unconventional family and champions working women who make their own money and live on their own terms – be that with or without a man.

Cait McNamee is now studying Media and Cultural Studies at Lancaster University.

from MediaMagazine 22, December 2008.

Online Age AND representation of women! Great Media mag article on Goody and Boyle

Goody and Boyle: a tale of two (real) women

During 2009, tabloid press coverage has been dominated by the stories of two contrasting reality show contestants and the involvement of both old and new media in their rise and fall. Steph Hendry explores the central and ambivalent role of audiences in the lives of Jade Goody and Susan Boyle.

It’s been an odd year in the world of ‘reality’ television. Big Brother’s 2009 broadcast was less than enthusiastically received with declining viewing figures suggesting the country’s love-affair with BB and its tabloid spin-offs is at an end. This was confirmed by C4’s recent announcement that they will no longer broadcast the show after 2010. On the other hand, reality TV’s dominance in mainstream culture seems to have hit maximum capacity several times this year. Two events dominated the world of reality TV in the first half of 2009: the death of Jade Goody and the rise of Susan Boyle. Coming within a month of each other in March and April, the public and media responses to these two stories can be seen to represent the changing nature of modern media as we enter the second decade of the century. There is a decrease in ‘old media’s’ dominance in leading the way celebrity events are mediated and the phenomenon of Jade Goody was largely driven by ‘old media’ such as television broadcasting, tabloid newspapers and magazines. The Susan Boyle story symbolises the start of ‘new media’s’ power in disseminating information and allowing audiences to be part of the construction of a story; at the same time it highlights the rise in influence of new technologies such as YouTube and Twitter.

Jade Goody

The story of Jade Goody is a tragic one. The death of any 27-year-old mother of two is sad, but in itself not particularly newsworthy; however this event was the resolution of the tumultuous narrative the media and Jade herself had presented of Jade’s life. As a Big Brother contestant in 2002, Jade was vilified by the tabloid press and despised for being ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ and ‘thick’. Despite not winning Big Brother, she went on to be the most successful ex-housemate in terms of her public profile and earnings. She became a regular fixture in magazines such as heat, OK! and Now! and was the subject of fly-on-the-wall documentaries which consolidated her fame. At the height of this time of positive representations she followed the lead of other celebrity ‘brands’ and a perfume was released under her name. Her popularity was hit when she was accused of racist and bullying behaviour whilst taking part in 2007’s Celebrity Big Brother and, until her illness, this scandal damaged her earning potential and her media presence dwindled. Jade was in the process of rebuilding her career when, on India’s version of Big Brother (Big Boss), she was given the news that she had cervical cancer. From this time on, her media saleability increased as her illness, her treatments and ultimately her death were all reported in a range of media forms. Towards the end of her life she was being filmed by Living TV and the image of her physical deterioration was used in tabloid newspapers and in gossip magazines along with a range of stories following her and her family’s responses to the illness.

Jade’s story was that of an underdog making good. She was an ordinary girl, who escaped from the mundanity of everyday life and found herself in the privileged world of celebrity. Not possessing a saleable talent, Jade’s unique selling point was her ordinariness and the fact that she represented a belief that ordinary people, with limited talent, little education and from poor and troubled backgrounds could experience a life of wealth and fame. Her illness and death became public property and it was recognised that this trying time in her life could financially benefit her, her family and a range of media outlets. She epitomised a relatively new media phenomenon, that of the celebrity who lives their life on camera – she has subsequently been replaced by ‘Peter and Katie’ (and now ‘Peter’ and ‘Katie’ separately, of course) and Kerry Katona, who have film crews documenting the day-to-day details of their lives as well as the more glamorous activities they undertake. All of these celebrities turn the events of everyday life – children’s illnesses, marital disputes, bad moods and tantrums – into dramatic conflicts for their televised or reported narratives. Peter and Katie’s recent split and Kerry’s bipolar disorder, cocaine habit and assorted problems have become threads in the ‘soap operas’ provided for their audiences. At times it seems as if these lives are being presented to us as a way to make us feel good about our own lives as the audience is shown the downsides of celebrity life and we are often positioned to sit in judgement as celebrity marriages fray, careers take downturns and we see the human weaknesses behind the ‘public face’. Of course what we are shown is not their private life at all; the public watch lives that are carefully edited and constructed into stories. The audience gratifications received whilst watching such programmes or following tabloid reporting are complex: the aspirational desire for the lifestyles we see, combined with the pleasure we take in seeing these figures suffering, has been described as the modern equivalent of the medieval practice of public punishment. However, Jade’s illness took these ‘pleasures’ to another level as her ‘punishment’ didn’t fit her ‘crimes’: she died the way she lived, with the public watching.

Whilst the web is part of the communication of these stories, celebrity exposés and the ongoing reporting of these reality stars’ lives suits the tabloid format well. Tabloid newspapers like The Sun, The Star and The Mirror are constantly searching for front page stories/images that will persuade readers to buy their publications. One of the conventions of the tabloid is that they tend to use emotive stories to engage their audience – the emotion itself isn’t all that important: shock, outrage, anger, pity, sadness or joy all work well. The reporting of Jade’s illness saw several narrative devices being employed as she was transformed from a figure of hatred and mockery into a tragic hero the audience could identify with due to her ‘ordinariness’, and admire due to her courage and strength in adversity. Her whole family were recast into roles that supported this view (both her husband, Jack Tweedy, and her mother, Jackiey Budden, had received almost exclusively negative press before news of Jade’s illness broke) and the emotional story of Jade’s illness and subsequent death were used to sell newspapers. Tabloid/gossip magazines also contributed to the dominance of this story with their weekly or monthly front covers being devoted to the ‘next instalment’ of the story of her illness. OK! even went as far as to print a special memorial edition before Goody died (including the claim that the magazine contained her ‘last words’). Although the magazine was dated March 24th 2009, it was, in fact, on sale from the 17th March – five days before Jade’s death on the 22nd. The magazine claimed that this was following the family’s wishes but, given the practicalities involved in printing and getting a magazine to the newsstands, it’s as likely that this was a cynical move by an organisation who knew Jade had very little time left and was determined to beat the competition in getting the ‘memorial’ edition to the public.

Susan Boyle

Where Big Brother’s ratings have been on a steady decline, the TV talent show has really hit its stride in 2009. One of the biggest stories of the year came out of reality television: the story of Susan Boyle who rose to national prominence when she took to the stage for Britain’s Got Talent in April 2009. The original broadcast of her performance was swiftly uploaded to YouTube and, thanks to Twitter, word rapidly spread about the ‘shock’ performance on the show. Hollywood stars, politicians and the news media quickly got involved in discussions about Boyle and the discussions included comment on the relatively new phenomena that has been developing over the last few years: the power of e-media technologies to spread information quickly and across national borders. Within days, Boyle’s’ performance was the ‘most watched’ video on YouTube and the singer had achieved international fame by the end of the week. This was, of course, just the start of the Susan Boyle narrative which continued for several weeks and had several threads: her past was scrutinised and judged; her next appearance on Britain’s Got Talent was eagerly anticipated; the impact of the sudden fame on a ‘simple woman from Scotland’ was discussed and her physical appearance and its changes became a story in itself. The story built to the climax that was the TV programme’s final. This climax became more of an anti-climax though, as Boyle came second to a dance troupe and the excessive media interest in her seemed to have tarnished her talent in the eyes of the voting audience – perhaps a victim of media saturation.
After losing the competition, Boyle had a stint in ‘rehab’ and ironically the media that couldn’t get enough of the Boyle story began to blame the producers of the television programme for not protecting her from the pressures of stardom – perhaps that should have been the pressures of media attention? A subsequent tour had Boyle pull out of a number of performances and she has, until recently, been off the media radar as she is working on the recording of an album.

Now the hype has died down it’s worth considering what the story was really about. ‘Woman can sing’ is hardly news even if ‘contestant in TV talent show can sing’ is slightly more unexpected. Boyle appeared to be newsworthy in the first instance, not because she could sing but because of the way she looked. Susan Boyle surprised people because she does not meet audience expectations: she is a middle-aged, plump woman who has talent. Any exploration of the news values of the Boyle story has to explore the idea of the representation of women, given that the most common positive representations of women, in today’s media are as being thin, young and attractive. Despite the recent ‘Size 0’ debates, the idealised physical image of women is still very narrow and often a woman’s accomplishments are secondary to her physical appearance. Myleene Klass for example is a classically trained pianist. This fact has been played on in recent Pantene ads but the main point of the campaign has been that Myleene has great hair.

The surprise that was created by Boyle, is evident in the video of the original performance where the cuts focus us on the responses of the judging panel and the audience which were clearly based on her appearance. What is clearly visible in people’s faces is mockery and disdain because Boyle did not present the image expected of women singers. She was immediately judged on her appearance and seen to be ‘other’, an outsider in a culture that favours physical perfection, grooming and youth. Piers Morgan reacted with disgust when Boyle, responding to a question about her age, challenged the preconception of her by saying that being 47 was ‘just one side of me’ while gyrating her hips. Morgan reflected the contemporary focus on youth culture by being revolted at the idea that an older woman could be sexual – until she started to sing. Boyle’s voice created an unexpected juxtaposition to the expectations created by her physicality and shone a light on some naturalised contemporary values, forcing people to re-examine them.

However, as the story progressed, Boyle’s emotional breakdowns became the focus of the story and reporting began to consolidate the ideas her performance had originally challenged. Her lack of urban sophistication and what was seen as her sheltered existence reinforced the notion that she is different – ‘not one of us’. The fact that she found the media attention difficult to handle reinforced the view that she was an anomaly, suggesting our initial surprise was, perhaps, the right response as she clearly was not cut out for the glamorous and exciting world of media celebrity. Boyle underwent a makeover and began to look more polished but nothing could alter the fact that she is a plump, middle-aged spinster from the country – not the usual candidate for tabloid attention.
The original performance created a mini-narrative in itself where an unlikely hero rose against the problems and conflicts in front of her to reach her goal. As the story developed further conflicts came to light and the heroic victory Boyle initially achieved on the Britain’s Got Talent stage began to diminish. It is still not clear how this story will resolve.

The role of e-media in the Boyle phenomenon is also significant. The speed with which her story spread, not only across the UK but also across the globe, makes this a unique news phenomenon. Twitter comments and the accessibility of the YouTube video ensured that within 24 hours those who had not seen the original broadcast were aware of it and had access to it. The fact that celebrity support was given to Ms Boyle, notably from Demi Moore, added to the story’s newsworthiness and as more traditional news outlets picked up on the story its impact increased. At the time of writing, the original YouTube video has had over 79 million views (and there are several other versions of the same clip).

Some conclusions

Both of these stories identify the importance of the audience in today’s media landscape. In Boyle’s case, the audience response turned a non-newsworthy event into something that kept the world’s press busy for several weeks. The real story here was about the audience, not Boyle. The fact that millions of people found her performance noteworthy and, perhaps, felt guilty about their initial response to her appearance, was central to the media’s response. Similarly, the media’s focus on Jade’s illness and death was also a response to audience interest. If reality shows did not attract viewers and reality-show-led front page headlines did not enhance newspaper and magazine sales, it’s safe to say the story would not have dominated in the way it did. Given that these two events were followed by another celebrity media frenzy after the death of Michael Jackson (announced on a gossip website and passed round and commentated on via Twitter), it seems the modern audience may have been turned off by Big Brother of late, but the lives and deaths of celebrities big and small capture the public’s interest. New media are playing a major role in spreading the word and enabling audiences to be part of the story.

Steph Hendry teaches Media at Runshaw College and is an examiner for AQA.

This article first appeared in MediaMagazine 30, December 2009.

Women and Film - Research findings from a past OCR student

Women and Film (From Media Magazine archive)
In MediaMagazine 14 former A2 student Chloe White showed how she investigated and refined her title for the OCR ‘Women and Film’ topic. Here we include research findings, as submitted to OCR.

Why women are less successful than men at the box office with special reference to Jane Campion.

The Box Office Guru website told me that out of the 50 highest grossing films of all time, none were directed by women. One reason could because there are so few. Only 7% of directors are women according to the ‘Birds-Eye-View’ website and thus making them less known; in a survey I carried out, only 1% of the public could name three female directors whereas 99% could name three male directors. So in a time when females are increasingly powerful in every other workforce, why are women so absent from the film-directing industry?

In an article from (‘A highly acclaimed Internet information source that provides crucial facts and passionate opinions’) named ‘The Celluloid Ceiling’, female director Ephron (female director of Sleepless in Seattle) says the reason lies behind the audience:
the movies that make the most money are aimed at a subliterate market, by which I mean not just teenage boys, but the entire third world – the films need to have little dialogue and lots of action.

The evidence for this can be seen in the box-office statistics for Independence Day directed by Roland Emmerich, the action movie made a huge $306,169,255 dollars worldwide. However, Martha Coolidge, president of the Directors Guild of America said in the ‘Celluloid Ceiling’ article that women are not often given the chance to do action movies:

Many times I’ve gone to producers with the idea of doing a movie that I’m passionate about and found that they can’t conceive of a woman doing material that is not completely chick centric.

When I interviewed the director Coky Giedroyc (Women Talking Dirty) she said that she is more interested in making films about issues not widely explored, for example ‘the workings of the female mind’. Coky Giedroyc admitted that women are often confined by the ‘chick-flick’ genre: romantic comedies mainly. ‘Chick-flicks’ do prove popular in the box office; in my survey I found that 80% of the females I asked would rather see a ‘chick-flick’. Bridget Jones, a typical ‘chick-flick’ directed by female director Sharon Maguire made $71,409,079 dollars worldwide in the box office whereas another ‘chick-flick’ My Big Fat Greek Wedding from male director Joel Zwick made a lot more: $241, 438, 208. My Big Fat Greek Wedding. So why did the ‘chick flick’ directed by a man make so much more money? A number of reasons including publicity and case are involved. Perhaps the fact that Bridget Jones is set in England could have affected its US box office takings. Or, perhaps men are simply better than women at directing? This could explain only three women have ever been nominated for the Best Director Category at Oscars (n woman has ever won). It could also explain why, in The Times in an article stating the ‘top 40 best directors’ none were women or why in the same article in the ‘top 100 films you must see before you die’, there were no films directed by women. However, I believe the reasons go deeper than this. Cherry Potter, former head of screenwriting at the National Film and Television School in London, thinks it is a catch 22 situation. She said in an article in the Guardian:
the greater the commercial pressures the more scared the studio chiefs become of taking risks – women are seen as a risk because they lack experience which prevents them gaining experience

This is similar to what Coky Giedroyc said: ‘you’re only as good as the last film you directed’. Christina Choy, lecturer at New York Film School said in The Celluloid Ceiling article that women lose confidence at film school because the male lecturers give negative feedback to the female students work because they ‘can’t relate to it’. Some, including journalist Andy White from The Creative Week and actress Naomie Harris (in a Guardian website) believes it is about ‘who you know’ and women don’t belong to the ‘old boys network’ that is so influential in the film industry. Producer, Polly Ley, said in a recent article in The Guardian that the problem lies in the fact that there are no role models:
the Australian film industry has an unusually high percentage of female film directors. I once asked one why they thought this was and she cited Jane Campion as the person who made it all possible.

Director Jane Campion was the second woman nominated for an Oscar in 1993 for The Piano and was the first woman to win the ‘Palme D’or’ at the Cannes Film Festival. The Piano did fairly well in the Box Office considering it is not an action movie, earning up to $40, 132, 527, however her most recent film In the Cut did less well, earning $4, 750 602. Perhaps the speculation concerning it’s Oscar nomination boosted the audience numbers for The Piano. Campion is often said to be a ‘feminist director’, maybe this is why she is less successful in the box office; because her films are less attractive to males who can’t relate to them. In a survey I carried out, 30% said that out of the options they would like to see a film about feminist/feminine film, however, they were all women. Her films have been described as a ‘vehicle for feminist or post-feminist enquiry’ and Grahame Fuller has cited her as having a ‘career long examination of female masochism’ in Sight and Sound magazine. However, in the Jane Campion book, it says that in an interview, when asked about being labelled a ‘feminist director’ she said:

Even if my representation of female characters has a feminist structure, this is nevertheless only one aspect of my approach.

Campion believes that feminist culture ‘arose as a reaction to stereotypical representations to male-dominated perspectives’. To conclude, however, Campion says she no longer knows what a feminist director ‘means or expresses’. However, through studying the films myself I can see she is certainly interested in the female mind. Many of her films seem to explore the theme of imprisonment and freedom: Ada (Holly Hunter) in The Piano is trapped in an arranged marriage, Ruth (Kate Winslet) in Holy Smoke is trapped in a house in a desert and Frannie (Meg Ryan) in ‘In the Cut’ has her freedom imposed on as there is a murderer in her area. In The Piano Cook and Dodd of Women and Film noted that Campion, like other female directors Sally Potter (Orlando) and Julie Dask (Daughters of the Dusk) rewrites its national history from the perspective of the women caught up in it. In The Piano we see a suppressed Victorian woman. Her imprisonment within her oppressive society is shown in the opening image which appears to be bars, however, soon we realise it is a woman signifying her own state of imprisonment as the bars are her fingers held in front of her eyes. Cook and Dodd also observe that Ada is restricted by her clothes that pull her down in various points in the film. In the end, Ada earns her freedom back and finds her voice, but in the process she has lost her finger, her piano and her passion. The Boston Review described The Piano as a ‘culmination of sado- masochistic screenplay’ which, ‘explores Freudian erotics and archetypal symbols to explore a woman’s imprisonment and freedom’. In the Cut (2003) appears slightly less feminine than The Piano perhaps showing Campion’s attempt to gain more at the box office. Jane Grahame of Total Film magazine describes the film as being a ‘graceful, sinewy thriller’, however in an interview by the BBC, Campion said she wanted it to be a ‘relationship story first’. Campion said she believes women are trapped in their desire to be in a relationship:

women often postpone their lives, thinking that if they’re not with a partner than it doesn’t really count. They’re still searching for their prince’.

Although in this film, as Grahame Fuller writes in his review: ‘undercuts notions of femininity’ (Sight and Sound magazine), there are strong feminist undertones. This can be shown as Ryan’s character Frannie becomes the more masculine character; Frannie ties up the police inspector Malloy (Mark Ruffalo) in an act of sexual dominations, Malloy says: ‘I’m starting to feel like a chick’.
It seems to have dawned on the nation suddenly the fact there are an extreme lack of female directors who remain very absent from the box office and the need for women directors to have their films equally publicised. Anthony Minghella (director of The English Patient) said in an article in The Guardian

It matters in every possible way who is making the films. That perspective and that purpose is determined by the personality of the director…you wouldn’t want all the information to come from one distorted perspective.

‘The Birds Eye View’ Film Festival was recently launched and Amma Asante won a BAFTA for ‘Best Newcomer’ for her film A Way of Life, which indeed focuses on a female mind. In the interview, Coky Giedroyc said that times are definitely changing: in films she has directed she’s started to notice a huge rise in women in more ‘masculine’ areas such as lighting, camera operating and editing, perhaps from these positions they can work their way up to directing more easily.

To conclude, the film industry has been slow to progress explaining why there are so few female directors and therefore so few in the box office. It seems that female directors such as Jane Campion wants to make films about issues not explored by the huge numbers of male directors such as feminism and women’s roles through society, however this isolates a male audience who can’t related and also a third world audience who may not understand. Because women have been less successful because of their ‘feminine’ films, they are not given the chance to do more action-based films. However, I feel that if female directors become more predominant within the industry, as they slowly are, women’s choice of films to direct will vary and they will be given more of a chance by studios and producers.

Chloe White

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Media Mag - Post Feminism in Film PLUS revision for Section A

This is a great and concise little article for you. The first page clarifies what we mean by feminism / post-feminism succintly. The other 2 pages apply that to James Bond through the years, perfect to consolidate the work you have already done there.

Post Feminism in Film

Please use the link on the left to help you revise the big media concepts in preparation for Section A of the exam. Alternatively, click here: Revision - G325 - Section A (from Long Road)

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Media Mag article on Creativity - Preparation for Exam Section 1 question b.

Remember that we have a subscription (see your log-in details)!There are lots of great articles in the archive and you can also read the latest numbers of The Media Mag online.
technology change tv industry

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Work from Ms Lyall to be completed on Thursday 7th April

Year 13 Media (N10 and Media Pod) Periods 4 and 5

• First task this afternoon is to produce a factsheet that provides a history of Google. Be imaginative about the way you present it and ensure that you give a thorough overview from its beginnings to the present. Media in the Online Age must by necessity reference Google!
• Your second task is to look at our third Media area for your exam response: Television. Divide yourselves into 3 groups and focus on the past/present/future with a focus on consumption and audience behaviour. Remember that this is Media in the Online Age and the present group needs to pay particular attention to the concept of the mini-series that can only be watched online. There are a number of them. A fourth group should focus on iPlayer giving a history and present statistics. These presentations will be given on the first Thursday back after Easter. Four groups – four presentations.
• Easter home-study. Please complete the following essay question: What difference has web 2.0 made to the two media areas you have studied? And are the bold claims that ‘everything has changed’ accurate in both cases?

Good Luck 


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Home learning and independent study

1. Look at the post below and make a point of reading the materials linked there. You might want to draw a few key points out of the article on Representations of Women on Television (this looks at adverts and TV drama / soaps).

2. Watch an episode of Ugly Betty, preferably from series 1 or 2, and make some notes on Betty's Character. End with a reflective response to:
You can work in pairs here but please post your notes individually.