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MS1 Textual Analysis

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  • 1. 1 Number 034www.curriculum-press.co.uk How to Approach AS Unseen Analysis M tudiesSedia Introduction You will be asked a number of questions based on a previously unseen media text. The questions asked can vary but the approach to the exam should be the same as the exam requires students to apply their knowledge and understanding of the media concepts in order to analyse and evaluate a media text. The aims of this factsheet are: • To focus on the identification of media concepts and how to use them to respond to the unseen analysis question. • To consider the relationships between media concepts • To offer a method of ‘questioning’ any media text which will raise issues that can be used to evaluate the given text What are the examiners looking for? • Analysis and evaluation skills (NOT description) - your ability to evaluate reasons for or the effects of the media language choices made in the construction of the text • An engagement on the issues raised in the text (via media concepts) • Understanding of the appropriate media concepts and their application to the media text • Justified and validated responses (NOT just personal opinion) using specific textual references • Critical autonomy • Clear and fluent communication Media Concepts The ‘tools’ needed to help you undertake an analysis are the media concepts. In the exam the questions will focus on particular issues raised by specific concepts. What can you expect in the exam? The questions in the unseen analysis section of the same are always roughly the same and you will be expected to use media concepts analyse the text provided. The texts could be any mass media production: ••••• Moving Image: e.g. o Cinema Trailer o News broadcast o Extract from fictional text (film or broadcast fiction) o Advertising o Documentary o Extract from any form of entertainment programming ••••• Paper Based: e.g. o Advertising o Magazines o Newspapers (local or national) ••••• E-media: e.g. o An extract from a web site o Screen shots or sequences from a game o A pod-cast Activity 1 There are seven media concepts. Name them and provide a basic definition for each one. Complete the table by noting down any specific terms you have learnt related to these concepts. M I G R A I N Key Terms Crop, Pan, Anchorage, Headline… Stereotype, mediation… Binary Opposition, Enigma Code… Your definition Institution: The business issues influencing a text’s construction. Ideology: The ideas and values contained within a media text
  • 2. 2 034. How toApproachAS UnseenAnalysis Media Studies www.curriculum-press.co.uk Many students ‘know’ their media concepts but don’t show how they are related to each other in an exam response. Higher grades are possible when links between media concepts are shown in an exam response. Usually when analysing a text the first place we start is considering the media language but have you considered that… • Institutional factors such as the budget available will affect ML choices? • Certain genres have codes that need to be replicated and so ML choices are limited? • Representations are an outcome of ML choices? • Narrative information is given via ML? • Often the target audience influences ML choices? • Ideologies are created through the way ML choices are used? AQA/WJEC/OCR? Each awarding body has an unseen analysis assessment in the exam. However, the questions in the exam will be focussed on specific aspects of the texts provided and named media concepts. Always ensure you read the questions carefully and respond to what is being asked but consider how the media concepts relate to one another in your answer. Exam Hint:- In the WJEC specimen paper there is a question which asks you to consider the target audience for a magazine based on its front cover. A detailed answer to this question would consider how the media language creates representations and values which are attempting to appeal to particular people. In addition, the magazine will be following recognisable genre codes and creating narrative enigmas which will appeal and attract the target audience – fulfilling expectations and offering new experiences. Activity 2 This is one of the promotional posters for Spiderman 3 (2007: dir. S. Raimi) http://www.criticsrant.com/Images/criticsrant_com/DVD_Spider-Man%203/ spiderman3poster.jpg The Spiderman on the left is wearing his recognisable red and blue suit. However, on the right Spiderman wears a black suit with silver-grey detail. The sky in the background is golden. Note down the media language choices made in the construction of this poster. Media language choices made? If we accept that all media language choices have been made on purpose, then you need to consider WHY they have been made. Considering WHY is the most important part of analysing any text… • WHY have those words been used and not others? • WHY have those colours been chosen? • WHY has the layout been presented this way? • WHY has this information been provided? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Complete the following table for some of your observations The answer to WHY is always a media concept issue (or several) For Example: One image of Spiderman shows him in the traditional red and blue suit. Why? Media Language Observation ? Spiderman’s suit is red and blue Institution This acts as a brand signifier Genre This is the expected look for Spiderman within these films Rep The colours are positive – they also reflect the American flag Audience Audiences will feel reassurance as this is what they expect Ideology The idea of ‘hero’ and America is bought together Narrative This identifies him as the ‘hero’
  • 3. 3 034. How toApproachAS UnseenAnalysis Media Studies www.curriculum-press.co.uk Activity 3 1. Make a table based on the one above and try to make a number of different media concepts points about 5 or 6 of your observations on the poster. You may not necessarily be able to complete each row but you should aim to get at least 3 or 4 media concepts comments per observation. 2. Put these answers in the table matching up with an appropriate aspect of the media language chosen. These statements answer the question ‘why’ for various media language choices – some for more than one. ••••• ?…creates the idea of conflict within the narrative ••••• ?…helps identify the film as being within the superhero genre ••••• ?…creates a sense of anticipation for the audience ••••• ?…links the hero with being American ••••• ?…provides a geographical marker identifying New York as the setting for the film ••••• ?…informs the audience of the nature of the conflict within the film ••••• ?…represents the tone of the film as being ominous ••••• ?…is used as it is assumed the audience is familiar with the series of films ••••• ?…connotes sunset and reinforces the representation of the film as being dark ••••• ?…connotes a familiar urban location The Function of the Text Another important way to consider what a text is doing is to work out what it is trying to achieve and to then identify how it is trying to meet its function. Media language choices are always made to attempt to meet the perceived functions of any media text so, the simple answer to the question, ‘Why are the media language choices made this way?’ is ‘to meet the text’s functions’. Media texts have many functions. Even something as basic as a shampoo advert is trying to achieve a number of things. • To create recognition • To make the shampoo appealing to the target audience • To create a positive image for the brand • To create a unique selling point that makes the brand different to all the other shampoos available • To show the actucal benefits of the product • To imply benefits that go beyond what the product can actually do • To offer the brand as part of a lifestyl Whilst both of these brands offer the same products – shampoos and conditioners – their media language choices are very different. Each one is attempting to create a specific image for the brand and is trying to meet all the functions above in different ways.This is crucial with an ‘everyday’ product like shampoo as each brand is competing against the others for customers and each brand offers the same basic benefit – clean hair. Back to Spiderman – The Functions of the Spiderman 3 poster There are just some of the functions of the Spiderman poster. • To encourage existing fans and new audiences to want to see the new film • To reinforce the genre of the film • To give an indication of the narrative of the new film • To create the right audience expectations of the film so audiences are not disappointed • To identify the themes of the new film to show how it is different to the previous ones • To show how the film is similar to the previous ones http://images.google.co.uk/imgres http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://bp1.blogger.com
  • 4. 4 034. How toApproachAS UnseenAnalysis Media Studies www.curriculum-press.co.uk Activity 4 Complete these sentences: 1. In order to attract existing fans to go to see the film the producers of the poster have…. 2. Audiences are aware of the genre of the film because the producers of the poster have … 3. The audience’s expectations of this film are created by the use of…. 4. The themes of the film are identified by the use of… 5. The hero and the villain of the film are clearly identified in the poster because the producers have … 6. The audience know this is a Hollywood Blockbuster because the poster includes … 7. Spiderman is represented as being… 8. The audience understand the conflict Spiderman will face in the film because the producers of the poster have… All media language choices are made consciously and with a purpose. To do well in this type of assessment you need to show the examiner you understand the thought process behind the text’s construction. The skills required are the same for moving image and paper based texts – the only differences are the types of media language choices available to the producer. Once you are clear on these issues you should be able to identify the reasons for the media language choices made in the text you are presented with. Exam Hints:- As you begin your note taking for the unseen analysis you need to ascertain the following for the text you are presented with: it would be a good idea to learn these questions before the exam! 1. What are the functions of the text? 2. What type of text is it? 3. Who is the text aimed at? 4. How does the text attempt to fulfill its functions? 5. How does the text attempt to attract and please the target audience? Preparing for an Unseen Analysis If there is no way of knowing what the text will be in the unseen, the common misconception is that there is no way to prepare for it. **Wrong!** Analysis is a skill and, therefore, good analysis comes with practice Analysis in media studies needs to use the ‘conceptual framework’ – that framework is the application of media concepts. This means two things need to be done in preparation • The media concepts need to be revised and understood fully – try to learn the terminology that goes with each concept • You will need to do lots of practice analysing a broad range of media texts, both moving image and paper based, using media concepts. Don’t just analyse what you would choose to read or watch -it is very likely the text in the exam won’t be for a teenage audience. More Exam Hints:- • When you begin to make notes on and write your analysis, consider all seven media concepts and think about the implications of the representations, narrative techniques, institutional context and genre codes for every media language observation you make. Why have these choices been made? Do not just describe what is there. • Link the media concepts together in order to create a reading of the text – don’t list and deal with each one separately – this will lead to shallow analysis and repetition e.g. o how the representations help identify the target audience and can provide an ideological reading – perhaps because of characters’ narrative roles o how the media language creates narrative markers which provide a particular set of audience pleasures o how the genre codes frame audience expectations – perhaps ideological ones o how the institutional context may lead to audience expectations and/or have particular ideological perspectives etc. • Use technical terms for media language and give concrete examples from the text • Use specialist terminology for your media concept discussion to show you have studied the subject and are not just applying your general knowledge and/or common sense • Don’t panic if you are given a text you are unfamiliar with – it shouldn’t matter if you have prepared a broad range of texts... your media concept knowledge and analysis skills should be transferable to any media form or genre. Acknowledgements: This Media Studies Factsheet was researched and written by Steph Hendry Curriculum Press. Bank House, 105 King Street, Wellington, TF1 1NU. Media Factsheets may be copied free of charge by teaching staff or students, provided that their school is a registered subscriber. No part of these Factsheets may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any other form or by any other means, without the prior permission of the publisher. ISSN 1351-5136