Define postmodern media

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Define postmodern media

  1. 1. Define postmodern media, with examples.Postmodern media rejects the traditional movement of modernism, a movement that occurredin the late 19thcentury; driven by utopian ideal visions of human life as the basis. Postmodernmedia often opposes the traditional “grand narratives” that associated itself with totalisingforms such as love, politics and religion used to ‘understand’ reality. Instead, postmodernmedia often subverts and disregards conventions such as time, space and narrative to create adeliberate distortion of reality to create a ‘hyper reality’. Rather, it adopts referentialtechniques such as bricolage and pastiche with the intention of being read by a literateaudience.Quentin Tarantino’s war film ‘Inglorious Basterds’ exemplifies this rejection, creating adistorted reality that challenges modernist utopias through manipulating the audience’sperception of war. The film immediately creates a disjunctive style seen through the use ofvisible Chapters, a convention associated with the medium of literature texts. A distinct hyperreality is therefore created as the self-conscious form of pastiche addresses to the audiencethat it is a non-linear narrative, a stylist technique associated with postmodernism. This isreinforced through the introductory title of “Once upon a time in Nazi-Occupied France…”,again a direct reference to the fairy tale genre. This complies with Levi-Strauss’ theory ofaddition within the concept of bricolage as Tarantino has taken socially recognisable ‘debris’from the fairy tale genre and combined it with the war film. This also adheres to Genette’stheory of hypotextuality as Tarantino has modified the hypotext of ‘fairy tales’ and applied itto the audience’s preconceived idea of expected violence, challenging modernist utopianvisions and disregarding the boundaries of the war genre. Structuralist thinking is challengedagain through the use of yellow text for subtitles and titles, indicating Tarantino’s signaturepostmodernist style by distancing himself from the conventional white text choice. Thissupports theorists such as Strinati that define postmodernism as ‘style over content’ as itstrikes the literate audience as unusual and breaks the rules of the war genre.Postmodern media often associates itself with the concept of ‘self-reflexivity’ byacknowledging that it is in fact a constructed text. This is primarily evident throughTarantino’s use of a bird’s eye view during Shoshanna’s preparation for the Nazi film premiereof ‘Nation’s Pride’. The camera follows Shoshanna as she makes her way across the halls,exposing the construction of the walls and layouts of the rooms as a film set. This directdeconstruction of the film set reinforces to the audience that the war film is entirely fictionaland in no way does it represent the ‘reality’ with that they are familiar. Baudrillard’s developedidea of hyper reality is a significant feature within this scene as the audience, as well as thecharacters, are aware they are experiencing a prepared reality as chosen by the director ofwhich they are conscious of. This acknowledgement of the film set’s façade is a feature whichdefines postmodernist texts as it subverts the unconscious principles which is often associatedwith modernist texts.Additionally, postmodern media, as previously seen, adopts various ‘debris’ from other mediato create a distinct mixture of genres, often challenging these, to create a completely new text.“Drive” directed by Nicolas Winding Refn is a prime example as the film’s narrative is a directreference to Grimm’s Fairy Tales. This can be seen within the structure of the character, “The
  2. 2. Kid”, being the protagonist and supposed “hero” with his love interest Irene being the “damselin distress”. Genette’s theory of hypotextuality is applicable here as the utopian vision of afairy tale, of which modernist texts are the basis for, challenges the disequilibrium “The Kid”faces throughout the film as he is revealed to have a disjunctive violent persona. The rejectionof western moralistic narratives, as suggested by Lyotard, where the hero ‘gets’ the girl isevident here. “The Kid”, during the finale of the film shows that he has been stabbed but adrive into L.A’s polluted streets once more, rejecting utopian conclusions of films as he doesnot ‘win’ Irene. Instead, Baudrillard’s circular referentiality is compliant with this sequence asit can be argued that The Kid is experiencing the same disequilibrium as he was at thebeginning of the film, unable to escape his violent past. Therefore the audience can recognisethe breaking of modernist principles as the unusual representation of no ‘happy ending’ can bedefined a postmodern.Postmodern media within television is a popular form, which can be seen in the US sitcom‘Family Guy’, renowned for being controversial and highlighting the lack of morality. Anexample of this can be seen within the episode “Blue Harvest” which was an implicit parodyingof the 1977 film “Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”. This is compliant with Genette’s theoryof metatextuality as the entire text is an implicit commentary on the Star Wars franchise,however modifying the original narrative to a continuous self-reflexive one. The film’s title “Along time ago but somehow in the future” rejects traditional grand narrative, as it suggeststhat the episode has not progressed in time nor moved backwards. This suggests that thenarrative can go in any direction and is unpredictable, favouring Lyotard’s idea of a ‘micro-narrative’. Therefore this can be defined as postmodern as modernist texts often associateditself with the progressive linear narrative, whereas this text clearly rejects this idea. This non-linear narrative is highlighted when Luke Skywalker, played by the character Chris, breaks the‘fourth wall’ and introduced the London Symphony Orchestra and composer John Williams.This form of self-reflexivity creates a distinct hyper reality through its disjunctive style,especially as it provides completely irrelevant information that will have no effect on theprogress of the narrative; therefore no following conventional modernist narratives.Postmodern music, like both film and TV, is irrespective of boundaries and often divulges intoother genres whilst being heavily referential which is reliant on the audience’s semicknowledge to decode this. The artist ‘Lady Gaga’ demonstrates this idea through her featureson the American TV show “The Simpsons”. Here, she sings a song called “Superstar” with thecharacter Lisa Simpson, conforming to the media’s representation of her as ‘weird’ to create aself-mocking humour. This supports theorists such as Fiske’s semic code as it is reliant on theaudience’s cultural knowledge of herself in order for it to be understood. Additionally, thissupports Kramer’s definition of postmodern music that it is, on some level and in some way,ironic. This challenges modernist texts as often they would avoid self-conscious recognition asit would be no longer replicate the ‘reality’ the audience understand.Overall postmodern media often rejects traditional ideas of art replicating nature and reality,often defying this by placing a huge emphasis on construction fiction rather than reality.Therefore it can be defined as an entirely new simulation of reality, and arguably that modernliterate audiences prefer.

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