You have 30 minutes to write your answer, so you should be aiming for at least 2 sides – perhaps an introduction and conclusion with four to five main body paragraphs
- Introduce the product you are going to write about
- Define/give some background context to the topic
Main body –
This answer is very theoretical and requires you to be able to frame your answer around these theories. Like the first answer, regardless of the topic, you should always be able to relate your answer back to ANGRILI – audience, narrative, genre, representation, institution, language, ideology – of course the primary focus is whatever the question is asking you about but be aware that it is impossible to write about one media area without at least referencing others.
Below are some of the theorists you might use (they are all on the PowerPoints which are on the blog):
Stuart Hall – encoding, decoding
Maslow – hierarchy of needs
Young and Rubicam – 4 cs
Vance Packard – 8 hidden needs
Roland Barthes – enigma and action codes
Todorov – equilibrium model
Propp – 8 spheres of action (fairy tales)
Levi Strauss – binary oppositions
Hartley – genre = ideological closure
Fowler – audiences have a pre-existing knowledge
Gledhill – shorthand
Dyer – escapist pleasures
Neale – repetition and difference
Fiske – preferred reading
Abercrombie – pleasure through manipulation
Stuart Hall – encoding, decoding, preferred reading
Roland Barthes – media myths
Stuart Hall – encoding and decoding – active audience, preferred reading, negotiated reading, oppositional reading
Stuart Pryce – dominant ideology
Richard Dyer – the ‘real’ – mediation
Tessa Perkins – stereotypes
Laura Mulvey – male gaze
Naomi Wolfe – iron maiden
Alison Bechdel – the Bechdel test
Zygmunt Bauman – liquid modernity and postmodern consumerism
Jean Baudrillard – hypereality
Theodor Adorno – the culture industry and commodity fetishism
STUDENT EXEMPLAR: 22/25
Entity’ is a paranormal horror shown entirely through the use of CCTV cameras. It is about a young female who was bullied at school and has returned seeking revenge. After studying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I established that when promoted with two films of the same genre, the one which was abstract is more likely to be chosen by an audience member. I constructed a trilogy of 3 short teaser trailers, each about 10 seconds long, through CCTV imagery. I chose to use CCTV footage because I felt it was easy to create realistically. We added night vision effects to the images, in shades of blues and greens. These were generic codes – connotating the poison and depression that the girl had felt before she died.
Our trailer uses a strong trait of Barthes’ enigma codes, as well as ideas from Richard Dyer’s typography. The first shot the audience sees is of a girl, outside at ‘night’. We used melodramatic ideas of pathetic fallacy to create mystery, with it stereotypically at night time. There is no dialogue in ‘Entity’ and all the shots are of high angles, facing downwards, belittling the girl, symbolically showing she is of no importance. Questions are raised instantly in the audience’s minds in relation to Dyer’s typography, for example who is she? And why is she there?
Each of the 3 trailers progress intension as they continue, with the sound (mainly ambience, with deep strings and loud bass) heightening in volume to build suspense. Each of our trailers abide by the first half of Todorov’s theory – each starts in equilibrium, which is disrupted by the girl of paranormal happenings – but equilibrium is never restored. This raises more questions in the audiences minds and promotes them to keep watching. In the second of the 3 trailers, the girl is seen to be an asylum- which is in fact a school.
We used the idea of Levi Strauss’ binary oppositions in the location itself – a school is seen to be a trusted, good place, but instead there are awful things happening there. Secondly, the girl is wearing a white, oversized hospital gown with bare feet. Her lack of shoes may show her childlike mental state, but particularly her white dress connotes innocence, purity – however she is the opposite. There is a myth with her costume since stereotypically hospital gowns would connote healing and well being, but this time the character is evil and deathly. This voices further questions in the audiences’ minds.
In the last trailer, the girl is seen to appear in the school toilets, perhaps insinuating that bad things happened there. She appears in the mirror – and a typical stereotype of the female population is to be seen vain, staring at themselves. However the girl does not look at herself, she makes eye contact with the camera, perhaps in a plea for help and to engage with the audience. This can be seen, as Tessa Perkins said, to oppose normal stereotypes, but in particular in Laura Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze.
Our character is represented as a hysterical desperate female – but she is obviously evil and is not sexualised in any way. This opposes the idea that men dominate society, and in ‘Entity’ in particular, the bad events are certainly female based. ‘Entity’ does not obey theories such as Propp’s character functions since she is the only character – a villain – and so the plot cannot be driven by a hero. There is a restricted narrative structure since we aimed for audience members to decode our piece in their own way.
Our whole teaser is an enigma code (one of Roland Barthes 5 codes) but we also use symbolic codes with deeper meanings to mirror the hard, tormented life of the girl. Richard Dyer’s typography paired with constant opposing conventions and justapositions (both Strauss and Neale’s ideas) very appealing to our target audience.