Category Archives: Feedback Group 1D

Both group and individual work from the first term of the first year.

Week Eight. Individual Task 23/11/09

1) Look at three different media objects: one print-based, two television/film/web-based and with a mixture of factual and fictional. Examine them to see how far Todorov’s linear narrative structure and Propp’s notion of character functions and narrative units apply to the different texts.

Look magazine

In a magazine, it is extremely difficult to find any evidence of Todorov or Propp. I don’t think there would be in any print-based media; with perhaps the exception of print adverts. There isn’t really any Propp in ‘Look’, but maybe Todorov’s theory could be applied to the main story on Cheryl Cole, and the letters that people write to the magazine. In both there is a slight sense of equilibrium, dis-equilibrium, recognition, attempt and new equilibrium.

I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!

There is a sense of Todorov’s theory in ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!’ because, at the beginning of the show they show everyone in camp (equilibrium) and re-cap who has been chosen for the trial (dis-equilibrium) then they all accept that that particular person has been chosen (recognition), then the person does the trial (attempt) and finally, the food is brought to camp (new equilibrium). Propp’s theory could also be applied in regards to the celebrities in the camp, all of them play different roles within the dynamics of the camp, so Propp’s theory could apply there.

Waterloo Road

It is much easier to apply theory to ‘Waterloo Road’ as it is a fictional series. Todorov’s theory can be applied to every episode; things are normal in the school, something happens, it takes a while for the teachers to realise and when they do they try to resolve it and finally things are resolved. Propp’s theory can also be applied as his characters are also present in every episode.

 2) Write a brief description of how each of these character functions and narrative units move the narrative forward through the different stages. Can you isolate other character functions and/or narrative stages in your media objects that Todorov and Propp did not isolate?

In ‘Look’ magazine they keep you reading through the article and through the magazine. In ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!’ they keep you watching and they make the programme more entertaining and give it structure- you know what will happeb every episode. ‘Waterloo Road’ is the same as ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!’, it keeps you watching and makes it entertaining.

3) See if you can find a media object that does not conform to Todorov’s linear narrative structure and/or does not contain Propp’s narrative functions. If so, is that related to their form (for example, that it is a web-based, more interactive media object)? In what way is it different and why? What are the possible effects on the audience’s reading of the object: does it make the meaning clear?

 ‘Top Gear’ doesn’t have Todorov’s narrative structure; except for maybe the challenge section; but it certainly doesn’t have Propp’s theory. This isn’t related to their form, as it isn’t an interactive or web-based media object. The audience can understand and read the object as well as they would any other media text.


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Week Seven. Individual Tasks 17/11/09

I found this week’s task a really difficult one to start off with. I found it difficult to find one genre that I liked across more than one type of media. I tend to like one or two genres for one type of media, and another genre for a different type of media. But, after thinking for quite a while, I realised that the crime genre was the genre that I could find different media objects within it that I liked.

These are the ones I selected from the crime/detective genre:


Trial & Retribution


Life On Mars

Ashes To Ashes

  • I really could go on!
  • Although, I must say that I am not a fan of american crime television- it is far too polished, dramatic and over-rated possibly with the execption of CSI- the original not the spin-offs.
  • Film:

    Public Enemies

    From Hell



    Sherlock Holmes- The Speckled Band

    Sherlock Holmes- The Man With The Twisted Lip

    Catch Me If You Can –

    • I read Sherlock Holmes for coursework in school, but I actually really enjoyed them.


     Part One

    1. What elements of each of the objects seem to be the same?

    All the objects I have chosen share similar conventions of the crime genre. All have an ensemble cast and the books also have the popular convention of detective/sidekick. ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes’ take this one step further in the fact that they have a maverick cop and conventional cop- which create binary opposition. A common convention of the crime genre that is evident in these texts the representation of women (with the exception of ‘Domino’) – women are portrayed as “sex objects”, the femme fetale being evident in ‘Ashes to Ashes’, ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘From Hell’ especially. Another conventional representation in these objects is the lack of characters from ethnic backgrounds. Both representations could suggest hegemony- that there is an ideology in the crime genre that the white man has the dominant values. Another convention of the crime genre that is shown in these media texts (with the exception of the books- although I am sure they would use the conventions in any adaptations) is the use of lighting. The lighting depicts the good/bad characters, the light/dark binary opposition is hilights the good/bad characters. The use of colour is also a convention of these media objects (again with the exception of the books- although I am sure they would use the conventions in any adaptations). Colours are conventionally used in the crime genre to express feelings/characters/moods; for example in ‘Ashes to Ashes’ the red dress and red lipstick on the character of Alex and the character of Stacie in ‘Hustle’ displays the convention of the femme fetale. The character of Mickey in ‘Hustle’ and Gene in ‘Ashes to Ashes’ often wear blue shirts, showing the cool and calm nature of their characters. The way the narratives are constructed are also similar, the narrative of the crime genre is one of it’s conventions. The narrative includes a “red herring”- this is particularly evident in ‘Sherlock Holmes’ -there are also often flashbacks- particularly in ‘Hustle’ – and often the narrative is inter-polated, different stories or events inter-woven and only at the end do they come together. They are all also filmed in a similar sharp style. Another convention is the flaw in one of the main cops/detectives; Gent Hunt (Life on Mars & Ashes to Ashes) drinks too much and is violent, Satchell (Trial and Retribution) smokes too much, Danny(Hustle) is sometimes over-keen, Inspector Abberline (From Hell) is a regular drug user, Sherlock Holmes is also a drug user- he is addicted to opium- and Frank (Catch Me If You Can) tries to push himself and better himself too much. Finally, they all have iconography in them – guns, money, alcohol, smoking.

    2. What elements mark each object out as being different from the rest that you have chosen?

    ‘Trial and Retribution’ is different from the other objects as the female character in it is not a femme fetale, Roisin is a strong woman. It also is different as it uses split screens extensively. ‘Hustle’ is different mainly because it isn’t a traditional detective narrative, it is about con artists and moreover, the narrative is told from their point of view and the audience want them to “get away” with the con ‘Hustle’ goes even further in that the detective is represented as harsh and ruthless and even slightly corrupt- putting the audience on the con artists “side” even more. Also ‘Hustle’ is different in it’s representations as it has a character from a black background. In addition, ‘Hustle’ uses flashbacks extensively and it uses freeze frames a lot too – making it different. ‘Life on Mars’ is extremely conventional, but the main way in which it stands out, is the fact that it has a sci-fi/fantasy element to it as it is set in the 1970’s, about a detective that goes back in time. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ also is about a detective that goes back in time, but this time to the 1980’s, making it different as it is set in the past. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is also different as the femme fetale is a femme fetale, but she is also a strong woman who us successful in her career who has power in her job. ‘Public Enemies’ is different as it is set in the 1930’s and it is based on a true story. ‘From Hell’ is different because the main detective dies at the end and the mystery is never solved. ‘Domino’ is different because the main character is a strong woman and it is based on a true story. ‘The Speckled Band’ is different as it is told from the sidekick’s point of view, meaning that the reader doesn’t understand the narrative the same as the sidekick until the end. ‘The Man With the Twisted Lip’ stands out because it includes a representation of a character with a disability- despite the fact that it is a red herring. ‘Catch Me If You Can’ is different as it is based solely on a true story.

    3. How might the audience understand the object?

    An active audience would understand the objects for what they are- media constructions for entertainment. A passive audience may fall subject to hegemony (as discussed before) and accept the dominant ideologies that white males are prodominant in the policing/detective job sector.

    4. What kinds of pleasure might the audience get from each object?

    The main audience gratification is entertainment. Also possibly social integration- they may talk about the programmes/films/books with peers. Definitely not information thought. Audiences may also get personal development from the texts; they may look to the strong females in an aspirational way.

    Part Two

    Find and interview at least one person a) who shares your love of the genre and b) who really dislikes the genre. What does person (a) really like and is there anything they don’t like? Why does person (b) dislike it so much and is there anything they do like?

    a) Why they like the genre- The crime genre is interesting and they give you something to think about sometimes. It isn’t just run-of-the-mill stuff. If it’s really good it makes you think. They’re usually well written stories that keep you interested.”

    Something they don’t like about the genre- “Sometimes it’s repetitive and if a crime book that’s not written as well as television or films usually are; then it can get a bit confusing with all the different characters, evidence, red herrings and different points of view. Also, if television or films aren’t well produced then it makes what might’ve been a good story difficult to follow.”

    b) Why they dislike the genre- “It scares me and makes me paranoid about crime!”

    Something they do like about it- “Sometimes the criminals are good looking!

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    “Jukebox FM” Advert Theory

    Audience- our target audience would be teens and early 20’s that are finding their identities. It would be targeted at those who aren’t mainstream, who like more alternative music. Students of both gender would be the main target audience, as they are finding or already know what genre of music they are into. The demographics of the audience would be students (Band E); so low or no income; teenagers or early 20’s, both genders, predominantly white but there is nothing to suggest exclusion.

    Institution- Our advert could be shown on sky, freeview and similar channels that broadcast programmes of a similar genre/target audience. It wouldn’t be shown on the main five channels, maybe with the exception of channel 4, as they don’t show programmes aimed at the same audience. Also, if it were a real radio station, it would be an independent one with not a large budget for advertising and marketing.

    Representation- we used stereotypical representations of those who like alternative music; the ”indie”, ”alternative”, ”geek” and ”goth”. We felt a teenage audience could identify with these stereotypes as they are typical fazes of character/dress that teens go through when into alternative music. The ”characters” are also matched to a beat/rhythm that stereotypically fitted that representation. For example the goth matched the sombre sounds in the track.  

    Narrative- we weren’t telling a story so there isn’t really any evidence of Todorov’s equilibrium narrative theory, or Propp’s character theory. However, there is evidence of  Levi-Strauss’s binary opposition- the contrast between the ”geek” and the ”indie” and the contrast between the dark of the subway and the light of the library. The main narrative we had was that the ”characters” appeared on the screen at the time of their assigned beat/rhythm.

    Audience (again) – I think that the uses and gratifications of our advert would be to entertain but mainly to inform of the new radio station. A passive audience would see it as simply an advert for a new radio station, but an active audience would recognise the stereotypes and the reasons why the narrative is constructed in the way that it is- the ”characters” fitting certain beats/rhythms in the track.

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    Week Six. 72 Hour Challenge – finished piece

    Here is our advert for ”Jukebox FM” radio station:

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    Week Five. Seminar 5/11/09

    In the seminar today, we talked about the effects and possible negative effects a media text could have on an audience. We discussed Shaun of the Dead, rap videos and violent video games and how audiences are becoming densensitised to the content. We discussed in the end though how the hypodermic needle model does not apply, as the audience does not do everything they see, a text does not necessarily have a negative effect on an audience. We decided that how an audience reacts to a media text depends on the person themself, the upbringing they have had, their culture and lifestyle; that all individuals recieve texts differently. We discussed how media is a form of escapism rather than a place to get ”ideas” on how to behave, that playing violent games or watching violent films could be seen as a release for anger.

    We also discussed how the hypodermic needle is pretty much out-dated, as we now are a much more active audience. We discussed how audience gratification theory and Shannon & Weaver’s theory are more revlevant theories, but don’t completely explain audience. We suggested that maybe those two theories, possibly even the three, could perhaps run together to explain audience. The theories are becoming outdated with the rise of new media. And we were asked the question; How is new media different to old media and how are the the same? New media is the same as old media, except for the fact that Shannon and Weaver’s idea of the encoder and decoder is changing,. New media, such as social networking sites, mean that the audience who encodes the text and the audience that decodes the text are often the same. This blurs the ideas in Shannon and Weaver’s model, making new media different to old media. However, it is still similar because it still has an encoder and decoder and intended meaning.

    We also were then asked; Are there any more modern audience theories? Of which we were sent away to discover for ourselves. This pretty much says what we discussed: I have also found this site: which suggests the concept of the ‘Ethnographic Model’. This model is done by a researcher who enters the culture of the group and interviews and questions them to try and get their perspective of looking at media texts. It suggests that the following affect how we view a media text: the focus on the domestic context of reception of media texts- the engagement with the media is structured by the audience’s domestic environment. The home is not a free place where the audience can consume media when and wherever, they have to purchase media, gain control of the remote and fit media consumption around relationships. So suggesting that media watching is not a ‘concentrated, analytical business that some theorists suggest’.  The element of cultural competence- the expectations the audience have of the text affects the way they read it. The audience are becoming competent in the way texts are structured; narrative character etc; so they can predict what is going to happen. This suggests that how competent an audience is effects the way they read a media text. Technologies- this is about the way an audience views their media text, the technology they have to do so. This suggests that there will be a male/female divide (”boys toys”) and a information rich/information poor divide, as some will not be able to afford the technology. It suggests that educational/school programmes should therefore show less stereotypical representations to try and combat the male/female divide. It concludes that there has been a shift from mass to individual audience, from passive to active audience and that the level of activity depends on; uses and gratifications, cultural competence, situation and technology for the particular audience.

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    Week Five. Group Task.

    After we’d all completed the individual tasks we got together as a group to discuss our thoughts. Me and Sam both did objects from our cabinets with a similar audience, and we both came up with similar negative effects; that our objects could make a vulnerable audience think and do things they wouldn’t normally and didn’t want to, because of the aspirational celebrities contained in the objects. The lads also chose media objects with similar audiences and came up with similar negative effects on a vulnerbale audience. Like us, they also thought their objects might lead an audience to do things they wouldn’t normally do, however theirs were more serious effects as they included violent crime. This also would have a greater effect on society in general than our effects.

    However, despite these things, we came to the conclusion that it is individual audience members that create these negative effects, as everyone reacts to a media object differently. We said that the audience in general is no longer a passive audience, the hypodermic needle model does no longer apply, as there is no longer a passive, mass audience. We said that now the audience is more active, the two-step flow theory applies. The audience is also influenced by other things than just the media text itself, there are other factors that blur the meaning of the text and the effect it has upon an audience member. We said that the effects of a media text is down to an individual and the way they choose to let it affect them. Also, we conlcuded that there will always be extreme exceptions to the rule, the people who do what they see.

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    Week Five. Individual Task

    For this week’s individual task I have chosen Look magazine from my cabinet of curiosities.

    1. Look is a fashion and celebrity magazine and includes aspirational celbrities and lifestyles. My media object could influence the minds of a vulnerable audience by making the audience believe they need the clothes/shoes/handbags- any of the items featured- else they will not be fashionable or up-to-date with their peers. A vulnerable audience could feel they need the items featured, or the same items as the celebrities in the magazine; this could lead them into purchasing things they don’t need and possibly even cannot afford.

    2. The possible negative effects my media object could have on the audience and society is basically an audience with members who are all in debt.

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    Week Four. Group work 26/10/09

    We decided as a group that the media object we “hated” was ‘Eastenders’. We chose to make a group on Facebook and invite everyone we know to join if they agree. We have asked them to leave their details to enable us to analyse our results.

    Currently we have 322 members. Only a few of these posted their stats unfortunately, but here are some pie charts to illustrate our findings:

    (Click images to enlarge)

    We decided that on average the audience members who joined our group were students; from group E. However, we thought this was more than likely because we invited our facebook friends and most of our friends are people from the same age group/students.

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    Week Four. Individual Task

    The categories of a target audience or social economic groups are as follows:

    (i) A/Bs – Top management, bankers, lawyers, doctors and other professionals. Also Middle management, teachers, many ‘creatives’ eg graphic designers etc.

    (ii) C1/C2s –  Office supervisors, junior managers, nurses, specialist clerical staff etc. And Skilled workers, tradespersons (white collar)

    (iii) D/Es –  Semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers (blue collar). And Unemployed, students, pensioners, casual workers.

    I also found these statistics of how the population is made up of these groups:

    For each of the items in my Cabinet of Curiosities I have selected a group I think they target:

    The Inbetweeners – I think that this would be targeted at group E and possibly group D. This is because of the genre and content; it is set in a school, which some of group E can relate to and also some of group D may not long be out of school, would be able to relate to it. The type of comedy also suggests groups E and D as the comedy is typical schoolboy humour. Also, as it is on Channel 4.

    Look magazine – I think this would appeal to groups D and E on the basis that the magazine contains aspirational people and lifestlye. It would also appeal to group C1 and possibly even B, as it is a fashion magazine and these are people with more disposable income.

    Grease (the musical) – Honestly, I believe this would apply to all groups. Possibly more to C1 and B, but really to all. As most people can get to the theatre and the musical is about going along to have a good time, which appeals to everyone. Also, most people have seen the film version.

    Cutting It – I think this is targeted at groups C1 and B, as it is escapism and because it is on the BBC. Also maybe group E, as the strong female characters might be aspirational.

    The Wire – I think this is targeted at A, B and C1. It is complex in narrative, character and structure. Other groups may lose interest because not much happens and the narrative is not resolved in one episode. There are also no particulalr aspirational characters.

    Lord of the Rings – I think this is targeted at groups C1 to E. It is escapism as it is a fantasy film and I think that appeals to groups C1, C2, D and E.

    Closer magazine – I think this appeals to groups D, E and possibly C2. This is because it is mainly a gossip and celebrity magazine. The celebrities are aspirational to those groups and they enjoy the gossip and real life stories.

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    Week Three. Group discussion after 19/10/09 lecture

    We discussed the questions as a group and this is what we came up with:

    Question 1: Given how the company make their money, how does this affect what they do? Is anyone overseeing what they do? How effective is the control?

    We found the film and music companies are not under any particular control, apart from the obvious rules and regulations (particularly on films). One of the companies that produced my chosen film was owned by one of the other producing companies, but it wasn’t apparent that any control was exerted over them, just that MGM was the parent company of UA. The record label was previously part of another company but that has since collapsed.

    The BBC however is under a great amount of control. As a public service broadcaster and sole benificiary of the licence fee; the BBC has a great deal of constrictions. The BBC is also headed by chairman Sir Michael Lyons who overseas what the BBC produce.

    Despite there being a difference in how the film and music companies and the television companies are controlled; all have a high turnover and distributed worldwide and provide a global service.

    Question 2: What do/might the three ways of looking at media institutions outlined in the lecture – political economy, organisational study and workplace ethnography – explain how the media objects that you looked at function?

    Firstly we discussed the record label and simply we concluded that a record label is obviously about making money, but also about artist expression and fun. So not much accent is put on political economy. In regards to workplace ethnography; not much thought would go into what background/ethnicity/class the people working there were from, just that they were there to express themselves and make music.

    The film companies are much the same as the record label in regards to political economy- they wouldn’t have much to do with it. However, political references may be made in independent films.  The BBC on the other hand has a strong role in the polictical economy of Britian. Near every election there are party polictical broadcasts shown, or interviews with party members. There is also BBC news 24 that polictical parties would want to get on. The BBC is thought to be the most popular broadcasting service on British tv so polictical parties like to be on the good side.

    Organisational sutdy- The BBC and the film production companies have similar structures to the companies. A chairman or executive and other staff working underneath. It is similar for the record label too, more so now the company has become worldwide.

    Workplace ethnography- the film companies and BBC are similar in the fact that they accept all ethnic backgrounds and classes; especially as they are global companies. The higher staff are more educated and more likely now that all the staff have degrees or equivalent. The BBC,  in the previous century was more creative as the company would produce its own shows, but now most show’s are produced by independent companies and sold to the BBC for broadcasting. So creatively, the BBC isn’t as good as it once way, however the BBC do make shows (cheaply) and sell them on. In the early days of the film production companies it was actors/actresses who set up one of the companies, and back in the early 20th century it wouldn’t highly educated people or higher classes working for them because they would think it was ”above them”.
    Creatively, the companies between them produced major and independent films, televsion and music so a wide range of creativity going on there.

    Question 3: Do any of these models fully explain contemporary media? What failings do they have to explain ‘new media’?

    The models don’t explain contemporary media, but each has something to do with it.
    The failings for the BBC against new media is that at one time it was the only place to broadcast. Now with modern technology people can broadcast their work alot easier. Also the amount of TV channels you can have these days. At one point it was BBC 1 and 2 and that was it. It is losing control. And once apon a time it was just BBC1.

    People can get their work ”out there” it is much easier now, like we discussed last week-  if you have the technology to make something you can get it round the world now.

    In relation to the creativity side of things- because people can broadcast their work a lot easier, there are a lot more channels and ways to get people to watch your media, so less people watch itv, c4, c5, so less advertising money for them= bad quality and less creativity = cheap tv

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