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Postmodern media manipulates time and space

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  • 1. Sian Lynes“Postmodern media manipulates time and space.” To what extent does this definition apply totexts you have studied.Postmodern media rejects the traditional movement of modernism, a movement that occurredin the late 19thcentury which associated itself with nature replicating reality and utopianidealistic visions of human life. Often modernism used traditional “grand narratives” thatconcerned itself with totalising forms of narrative such as religion, politics, war and love; usedto understand the basis of ‘reality’ itself. Postmodernism emerged post World War II, inresponse to modernism, it did this by rejecting western moralistic narratives. By extension, issubverted these idealistic approaches to create a deliberate distortion of reality, manipulatingtime and space to create a simulation of reality that is different to the audience’s own.This can primarily be seen in the US television sitcom ‘Family Guy’, a show whichcontinuously manipulates a linear narrative to create a self-reflexive humour. This can be seenin the episode special ‘Blue Harvest’ in which the episode is an entire parody of the 1977 ‘StarWars IV: A New Hope’, another text in itself which manipulates time and space. This entireimplicit commentary on the Star Wars franchise is compliant with Genette’s theory ofmetatextuality. The manipulation of time and space is evident within the introductory title of“A long time ago, but somehow in the future”, a reference to the renowned opening credits ofthe Star Wars film itself. This title suggests that the narrative can go in any direction and isunpredictable, favouring Lyotard’s suggestion of a ‘micro-narrative’. This also supportsLyotard’s rejection of modernist narratives that as history moves forward in time so doeshumanity. This manipulation of time and space is evident through the continuous use of anon-linear narrative, a key feature within the sitcom to create a self-mocking humour. Forexample, Luke Skywalker played by the character Chris interrupts to narrative to introducethe London Symphony Orchestra and composer John Williams. This strikes the audience asabrupt, especially as the scene plays no significance to the progression of the narrative,creating a distinct hyper reality. Therefore the manipulation of time through self-reflexivity bybreaking ‘the fourth wall’ is a vital element in order to create humour and for the audience todecode texts.This definition is also applicable to postmodern films, which can be seen in the film “Drive”directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. The film is characterised through its evident applicant of ahyper reality, as theorised by Baudrillard. This is exemplified through the use of mise-en-sceneto manipulate the audience’s perception of time. This can be seen in the contrasting use ofretro cars in the garage opposed to the modern day race cars driven on the track, as well as thealmost simplistic use of costume. Fiske’s development of Barthes’ semic code can be appliedhere as the audience can only base their previous knowledge of other texts to indicate the timeperiod; in this case the opposing mise-en-scene does not provide a specific indication.Resultantly, the audience’s ‘decoding system’ becomes confused as to the time period. Thisambiguity creates a parallel universe that is not in line with humanity itself.Another film which exemplifies that postmodern media often distorts both time and space canbe seen in the film “Scott Pilgrim versus The World”, directed by Edgar Wright. Here, thebasis of the text defies the laws of physic by using bricolage through the use of addition inwhich the ‘laws’ of video game apply. This form of intertextuality through the use of bricolage,
  • 2. Sian Lynescomplying with Levi-Strauss’ theory, is completely unrealistic and reinforces to the audiencethat it is entirely fictional. The protagonist, Scott, must battle the ‘seven evil exes’ of RomonaFlowers in order to date her, a proposition that is completely hyper real. The confrontationswith her exes are staged like the rounds of the video ‘Mortal Kombat’ in which foes arevanquished and are turned into coins of their point value. This therefore defies the space ofreality in which the audience are familiar.