Emily Barrett 12.5 – Media – Mr Dunford TV Drama NotesTextual Analysis and Representation Key WordsRepresentation is related to regulation, economicforces and technology (as audience is able to Textual Analysis – anwatch series in a staggered fashion or all at once advanced form of mediaor with a range of interactive features) literacy.A basic level of media literacy means that a Representation – a culturalperson is able to look at a television drama and force as it relates to tastes,understand the narrative as well as make a identity and interests that arecritical response in comparison to other shaped by the culture weprogrammes (E.g. is it realistic?) inhibit.An advanced level of media analysis enables an Ideology – world view,individual to be able to ‘deconstruct’ a television common sense.drama (understand what was done in order toput it together)Working at a micro level is pulling apart the detailed aspects of a frame andanalyzing it for camera angles and movement, use of point of view, specificedits and transitions, visual effects, dialogue, music and sound effects,lighting choices, props and costume.This then leads you onto macro analysis where you begin to makeconclusions such as how the sequence has represented particular people,events, places from all the things you found out from your micro analysis.Three Stage Process 1. Analyse the micro elements of the text 2. Conclude from the micro elements a range of macro representations 3. Consider how different people might respond differently to these representations.RepresentationConnotations – Something that in itself makes no difference but carriescultural meaning (e.g. a tie is just a piece of material and shouldn’t reallyhave any meaning but in society a tie is a symbol of showing formality.)
Emily Barrett 12.5 – Media – Mr DunfordMetaphorsMetaphors play an important role in media in a way that when we seesomething, we resemble it with something in particular to get a sense of whatthis thing is actually like without being told so (e.g. a tie).VerisimilitudeVerisimilitude – the construction, in a text, of a plausible, believable world.When we look at media, we usually look at how difference elements orrepresented (e.g. gender, age, ethnicity, themes, places), this all worktogether to form verisimilitude where such worlds have different logic toothers, for example, in ‘Doctor Who’ time travel exists where as in a soapopera such as ‘Eastenders’ it relies on a sense of reality in order to engagethe audience. To explore representation in TV/radio drama, these questions are important to ask: What kind of realism is being attempted by the programme? Who is being represented in the drama (who is present), and how? Who is not being represented in the drama (who is absent), and why? Can we identify any characters that are stereotypical representations? Is there a dominant view of the world represented in the drama, or are there several different views to choose from? What different responses might audience member make to these representations?Representational Codes‘Life of Mars is an example of a drama that contains lots of representationalcodes. It relies on a sense of ‘authenticity’ (the clothes, props, settings andmusic and most importantly dialogue). The dialogue represents NorthernEngland in the 1970’s in a way that is familiar and nostalgic.
Emily Barrett 12.5 – Media – Mr DunfordCrucially, entire drama depends on juxtaposition of the characters view ofthe world and the policing methods and dominant ideology of the 1970’scharacters.If an audience can’t understand this particular contrast, then the text ismeaningless.Representation in crisisAs digital technology becomes quicker, easier and cheaper for people tocreate and upload videos to the internet, then is it the case that therepresentation of people by the media is increasingly replaced by peoplerepresenting themselves?For example, the research of Gonzalez, Martinez and Fernandez (2007) foundthat secondary school students would frequently produce and uploadvideo’s to YouTube of what they thought of one another’s work. It appearedthat three groups had emerged from this, 1. A group that uploaded video’s for only each other to see 2. Another group that were uploading their video’s for a potential audience to see but weren’t concerned about the impact either way. 3. And finally the group that uploaded their video’s in the hope that they would gain a broader audience by actively pursuing a critical audience online.Television DramaBritish television drama still attracts huge viewing audiences. Many of theseshows are watched collectively as one-off peak time broadcasts and thismay provide some evidence that we are not yet consuming all of our media,creating our own viewing schedules or turning to YouTube and other aspectsof the web for all of our media.Despite the large numbers of viewings for programmes such as ‘Doctor Who’or ‘Coronation Street’, the figures do show a large downward trend inaudience ratings for British TV Drama and with the addition of less investmentand more competition has led to some critics worrying for the future.
Emily Barrett 12.5 – Media – Mr Dunford Technical and symbolic elements the are important and need to know: Camera shots: establishing shot, master shot, close-up< mid- shot, long shot, wide shot, two-shot, aerial shot, POV shot, over the shoulder shot. Camera angles: high angle, low angle, canted angle. Camera movement: pan, tilt, track, dolly, crane, steadicam, hand-held, zoom, reverse zoom. Editing: transition of image and sound, continuity and non- continuity systems, cutting, shot/reverse shot, eyeline match, graphic match, action match, jump cut, crosscutting, parallel editing, cutaway, insert, dissolve, fade- in, fade-out, wipe, superimposition, long take, short take, slow motion, ellipses and expansion of time, post- production, visual effects. Sound: diegetic, non-diegetic, sound effects, sound motif, sound bridge, dialogue, voiceover, mode of address/direct address, sound mixing, sound perspective, soundtrack, score, incidental music, themes and stings, ambient sound. Mise-en-Scene: production design, location, studio, set design, costume and make-up, properties, lighting, colour design.Background to TV DramaIn order to analyse a short sequence of media it is easier to be aware ofcontextual detail rather than things such as breadth, history, funding orcritical reception.When learning about TV drama, it is expected that a good understanding ofhow serious fictional television engages it’s viewers by representing real worldevents, themes, people and places through a variation of symbolic andtechnical devices. There are, however, a set of sub-genres or dramatic typesthat have different conventions: Teen dramas (depend entirely on the target audience empathizing with a range of authentic characters and age-specific situations and anxieties)
Emily Barrett 12.5 – Media – Mr Dunford Soap operas (which never end, convey a sense of real time and depend entirely on us accepting them as ‘socially realist’) Costume dramas (are often intertextually linked to ‘classic’ novels or plays and offer a set of pleasures that are very different to dramas set in our own world contexts and times) Medical/hospital dramas (interplay our vicarious pleasure at witnessing trauma and suffering on the part of patients and relatives with a set of staff narratives that deploy soap opera conventions) Police/crime dramas which work in the same way as medical/hospital dramas but we can substitute the health context to representation of criminals and victims) Docu-dramas (are set apart from the other by their attempts to dramatise significant real events which usually either human interest celebrity focus or political significance).Teen DramasTeen dramas are concerned with creating a entertaining balance betweensocial issues that are of concern to the target age group (such as socialpregnancy, date rape, alcohol and drug abuse, sexuality, youth crime andrelationships) and portraying an attractive, representational range ofrecognisable character types. Whilst analysing them, it’s helpful to considerhow they serve to represent teenagers to the adult culture as well asthemselves.‘Hollyoaks’ while less ‘shocking’ than other teen dramas also represents arange of ‘real life’ social issues pertinent to the teenage audience. Becauseof this sensitivity of many of the storylines, and the youthful nature of theaudience, a full time researcher is employed for the programme, who acts asa mediator between the scriptwriting team and the audience duringproduction.With teen dramas such a ‘Grange Hill’ there is still the controversial questionon whether the drama should illustrate a sense of ‘reality’ that is alreadythere, in this case ‘the way kids are’ in inner city comprehensive schools.Alternatively, the producers also have the responsibility for promoting apositive view, or the other way should the programme makers worry aboutkids that watch the programme be influenced by the badly behavedcharacters.‘Grange Hill’, like all long running TV dramas, can be viewed as a ‘socialdocument’, representing a range of social changes.
Emily Barrett 12.5 – Media – Mr DunfordSoap OperasThe soap opera genre can be an area of study in its own right, and onceagain the important interplay between the micro and macro elements oftextual analysis. Soap opera has a range of conventions that make it distinctfrom other forms of television drama, these conventions add up to an overallrepresentation of domestic ‘real life’ that tries to be both recognisable to thepublic as ‘everyday’ and at the same time melodramatic and exciting. Distinctive conventions found in soap opera: the constant illusion of real time precise continuity tease devices and cliff hangers combinations of action (information for the viewer) and enigma (questions raised for the viewer) the dominance of two-shots and over-the- shoulder shots of conversations establishing shots (of locations) and tableaux (groups of people composed dramatically) coverage of current issues meeting places that allow for gossip to circulate narrative flow and nostalgic and perhaps outdates depictions of community interweaving storylines in each episode partial closure of story lines music used as motif (e.g. drums at the end of ‘Eastenders’ the dominance of diegetic sound (with the exception of ‘Holloaks’ highly symbolic costumes and set designs a ‘kitchen sink’ mise en scene (naturalistic, domestic, personal)
Emily Barrett 12.5 – Media – Mr DunfordHow this balance of drama and realism is struck is the focus of our analysis. Key questions to ask of soap opera extracts: How is the representation of particular group of people within the broader focus on ordinary communities and families mediated through the specific televisual language of this kind of text in comparison to other form of television drama? How does the verisimilitude achieved by the ‘illusion of ongoing real time’ established a greater sense of realism than other texts? In what ways are soap topical and sometimes controversial in their treatments of current affairs/social issues? Related to this, what is the responsibility of a soap opera producer? Is it to reflect society’ as it is or as it should be? What is the balance of realism and drama particular soaps? This balance is very important to the remit of a soap opera – it must cling to a very specific verisimilitude which may be outdates, or at least nostalgic and romantic, at the same time as competing for ratings with other soaps through the development of the exciting, ongoing and climaxing storylines.The representation of family life in soaps is often to topic of debate. Researchexplains that children are encouraged by soaps to believe that familybreakdown is the norm and that soaps fail to promote moral values. Howeverit was also discovered by research that the plot of soap operas were regularlydiscussed by parents to their children.Soap operas tend to rely on intertextual and/or extratextual meanings moreso than other television dramas. Tabloid newspapers commonly confuseactor with characters and drama with reality which ultimately creates andsecond-hand representations. Furthermore, soap opera trailers are becomingmore sophisticated due to the use of thriller and film noir conventions in theirpromotional campaigns which offer and range of additional meanings forthe audience. In terms of popularity, it is important to consider whether thepleasure of the soap opera is to do with to recognition of the everyday in
Emily Barrett 12.5 – Media – Mr Dunfordthese programmes, or are they ‘just’ good drama? And ultimately, is itpossible to learn about the history from old episodes of soaps, or are theseprogrammes a form of addictive and distracting entertainment to keep ‘themasses’ happy.Period DramasNot all period dramas are literary adaptations, but these account for asubstantial part of the sub-genre and for many audience members, a keypleasure is to e gained from this way of consuming ‘classic’ fiction. Somewriting is more cultural value than other fiction. Period drama is famouslyexpensive to produce given the demand for authenticity and high feesearned by the kinds of acting personnel expected by the audience.Due to their relatively high production values, we can say that period dramasrend to be more ‘filmic’ in quality. An interesting thing about this sub-genre isits ‘intermedial’ dimension – how the television interpretation offers a different‘spin’ on the representational devices. In some cases the time period contextmight be shifted or some of the characters might be changed to give adifference set of potential meanings.The individual viewer’s perspective of social, cultural, political beliefs and lifeexperiences will play an important role in how they interpret the differencesthey will see in period dramas and how they live and perceive life in this dayand age. So it is important that when you analyse any sequence from aperiod drama, you should deconstruct not only the representations on screenbut going further to consider how these representations might be of interestto viewers when interpreted from a contemporary point of view.Carter (2005) argues that period drama needs to have a ‘contemporaryimpact’. Carter believes that there are a range of approaches which allowthis impact to be made: One is to go back to themes that have been dramatised and produce new connections to fit with modern times. Another is to foreground a writer’s specific, individual interpretation of a historical period. Another approach is to appeal to an international market.Hospital DramasSimilarly to crime dramas, hospital dramas balance two different narrativethemes, public health and the treatment of illness on the one hand, and the
Emily Barrett 12.5 – Media – Mr Dunfordworkplace interactions and relationships on the other. The second point usessome of the same conventions as a soap opera.Hospital dramas usually contain characters that are very stereotypical andoften portray the idea of what the public is like. Programmes in this genre canbe made to be comedic (Green Wing) or can be made to be more realistic(No Angels). Even though a hospital drama may be less comedic than theother, the characters still show an inconsistency in the drive for their career.Instead, the practice of nursing acts as a backdrop for a drama aboutcontemporary female identity and relationships.Crime DramasThere are two types of crime drama which have important distinctionsbetween the two.One-off crime dramas: focus on the types of crimes that create the mostanxiety amongst an audience. They are distinguished by which aspects oflaw enforcement they focus on (e.g. police inspector, psychologist, andlawyer)Long-running crime dramas: have a variety of sub plots over time that helpbuild up a more sustained audience interest in the relationships betweencharacters.Each crime drama will have its own unique representational aspects that arenot directly related to crime being investigated. Dunne (2006) suggests that media representations of crime normally set up five key binaries Crime/the police Criminals/the criminal justice system Lawyers versus court Social workers versus the police Victims versus the publicEach programme can be analysed using this system of oppositions and wecan this get a sense of how each programme represents crime and law andorder differently. Dunne suggests that this is changing and that therepresentation of crime is never neutral.
Emily Barrett 12.5 – Media – Mr DunfordShared Conventions Conventions that all these forms share: Characters who offer ‘shorthand’ representations of real types of people (or stereotypes). Narrative which is visually presented and demands high levels of active audience understanding (of what is assumed to happen in between edits – the difference between plot and story). Mise en scene (costume, props, lighting, locations, elements of performance – these thing add up to and instantly recognisable atmosphere which is ‘authentic’ for the events, themes and people that are being represented in the drama). Camerawork that ensures continuity and creates drama through visual conventions. Dialogue, sound and music which create and balance between verisimilitude (the believable logic of the text’s world which appears real)and drama (dialogue which might be less ‘polished’ in the real world, music which tells the audience that we should feel scared, happy, tense, romantic, sad or amused). Questions that will allow it to become a bit easier to analyse TV drama: Which sub-genre does it represent? How is its narrative structure typical of this sub-genre? How does the mise en scene create verisimilitude? What visual codes are used as representational devices? How do sound, dialogue and music help balance realism with drama? Does the programme/series employ intermedial references? Overall, who and what are represented and how? What ranges of audience responses are possible?