GCSE Media Studies 2011 Action Adventure Film Exam Monday 13th June
Codes & Conventions of the Genre – AKA ‘Key Ingredients’ Chase scene(s) – on foot or in vehicles CGI/pyrotechnics (special visual effects) Fight scenes Characters: Hero/villain/love interest for hero/sidekick for hero (usually loveable/funny) (Propp) Stereotypical gender representations – men are ‘butch’, women are ‘eye candy’ (Mulvey) Stunts & Daring saves at the last minute Simple, closed narratives (Todorov) – easy to follow Hero usually on a Quest Heavily reliant on binary oppositions (Good vs Evil, Right vs Wrong, Hero vs Villain) Snappy dialogue & catch phrases ‘Ticking clock’ scenario – time limitations which create tension
REVISION TIP Go through the list of codes & conventions and apply them to an Action Adventure film you have seen recently. This will mean that you have examples to refer to in the exam. If you haven’t seen an AA film recently (or at all) then watch one or more of the following:
Representation - Gender When we first look at some of the titles for Action Adventure we immediately think of men fighting over treasure or women and the woman in question being very weak. Allowed to be tough, but still wear revealing clothes and are, for the most part, controlled by or need rescuing by men (Think MULVEY!).
Charlie’s Angels The Angels are the strong heroes but are sexy & use their bodies to get what they want. They are also controlled by Charlie – a man.
Sneaky and manipulative – although Evelina Salt is strong and fierce, she is also cold, calculating and vicious – she is strong but not necessarily heroic.
However… Throughout the franchise of Pirates of the Caribbean Elizabeth Swann has become a strong female – use this to argue that representations are becoming less stereotypical in some films.
Men – macho heroes Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian and Commando Sylvester Stallone in Rambo
More ‘metrosexual’ heroes Spiderman – he cries Legolas (Orlando Bloom in Lord of the Rings) Bromance with Aragorn? Jack Sparrow – slightly camp and very goofy
Representation – Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, Disability Action Adventure is unfortunately renowned for being unfair to certain other demographics as well as stereotyping gender. This is particularly evident if you look at villains, who are often disabled, conventionally unattractive and/or ‘foreign’ (i.e. not American – there are many British villains in action films!). Often non-white American/British groups are not represented at all – consider the main characters in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Villains are often disfigured or depicted as insane. Heroes are beautiful, graceful and gallant.
‘Jaws/ZbigniewKrycsiwiki’ in the Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979) : Jaws is meant to be Polish. Bloefeld Nick Nack in The Man with the Golden Gun
Albinos The Twins in Matrix Re-loaded Silas in The Da Vinci Code
Bald Bond - Bloefeld Robin Hood - Sir Godfrey Damodar in Dungeons and Dragons Pirates of the Caribbean – At World’s End – Sao Feng (with facial scar also) The Mummy Returns - High Priest Imhotep
Race Villains are often non-white or ‘foreigners’ in Hollywood Action Adventures. The Mummy - Egyptians Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – Indians and Raiders of the Lost Ark - Germans The Goonies – the Fratellis (Italian)
Race Asian (Chinese, Japanese etc) characters are often wise or skilled in martial arts (Karate Kid, Jackie Chan/Jet Li/ Bruce Lee films).
Negative representations of Race: The cowardly/incompetent black side kick Chris Tucker as Ruby Rap in The Fifth Element Snails in Dungeons and Dragons (Marlon Wayans)
More recent improvements Denzel Washington Samuel L Jackson Wesley Snipes Will Smith
Revision Tip There may well be a question in the exam asking you to discuss representations of a certain group or more generally in the exam. Ensure that you have reasons and examples to discuss the following viewpoints:
Representations of gender are stereotypical and favour a male audience.
Some films offer representations which are less stereotypical, or not stereotypical at all.
Representations of race, nationality and ethnicity have historically been negative and limited but this is changing.
Action Adventure Audiences Generally speaking: Primary audience = Working/lower-middle class males aged 15-24 whose interests include sports & computer games. Secondary audiences = Older men and Women. For YOUR film you’ve been asked to target FAMILIES though – this is your PRIMARY AUDIENCE and is very BROAD. Uses & Gratifications Theory says that audiences choose media texts to fulfil specific needs/desires. Different audiences may choose AA films for different reasons:
Uses & Gratifications Surveillance – people feel better feeling that they know what is going on in the world around them. News and other non-fiction texts are often used to fulfil this need, although reality television and some fiction texts can also be used. Personal identity – allowing us to recognise aspects of our own character in the characters we see in the media, or to aspire to them. Soaps are often used here, as they aim to represent ‘real life’ and so are identifiable for real people. Personal relationships – using the media to enhance relationships with others or even forming a relationship with a media text. All media can be used for this, as they can be a shared experience which people can use as a talking point. Diversion – being entertained or immersing ourselves in a media text to be distracted from our real lives. Films are particularly popular for this, as they encourage total immersion in the world of the film.
Take each member of a family audience individually and explain why your own film would appeal to them.
Which of the Uses & Gratifications would apply to each of them?
Advertising & Marketing: Pirates of the Caribbean 4 A good marketing campaign is CRUCIAL to the success of any film, but particularly Hollywood blockbusters such as most Action Adventure films. A large chunk of a film’s budget will be spent on advertising and the campaign will begin months before the release of the film and cover a variety of media. Marketing is free and associates the film with a variety of other products, some of which will be a source of income for the studio.
The first teaser poster for the movie followed the same pattern that had been laid out with the previous movies by showing a skull adorned with pirate decorations, with various things hanging off the bandanna that’s wrapped around the forehead and decorations in its long beard as well as two swords crossed in back of it. Teaser Poster
Character posters were shortly thereafter released that featured up-close images of Captain Jack, Angelica, Blackbeard and Barbossa. Even the mermaids got their own one-sheet. Character posters
The next and final poster, a theatrical version, put Depp front and center on the one-sheet as he’s positioned standing in front of mermaids, burning pirate ships and more. This one is apparently designed to position Jack Sparrow as more of a hero instead of a conniving pirate since he looks like he’s readying to valiantly take on half the fleet, something that’s a bit unusual since the character is often more ready to hide behind something solid until he’s forced by circumstances to come out. Main Theatrical Poster
The first theatrical trailer featured an introduction from Jack Sparrow, which was later removed to give a shorter trailer. It was released in December 2010. May 20 was replaced by Coming Soon as this date got closer. Various shorter TV trailers were released immediately prior to the film’s release and whilst in cinemas. Trailers
The first section of content is “About”; “Videos” is up next and is especially well stocked, with trailers, TV spots, extended film clips and exclusive video featurettes that go into the movie’s plot and locations. There are even promotional videos for the Lego video game tie-ins. There’s information on who all the people in the movie are in the “Characters” section, stills from the film can be found in the “Gallery” while the “Games” section is about promoting the online multiplayer game, the console editions or other versions. “Products” also has information on the video games as well as other stuff you can buy and “Activities” has stuff you can interact with either online or in the real world by downloading and making yourself. The site finishes up with sections on “Community,” a place where you can check out Jack’s “Past Voyages” and more. Website
Lego released special sets to coincide with the release of the film. There was also a Lego Pirates of the Caribbean video game, with TV advert. Jewellery by Swarovski. Marketing - Merchandising
Online games & downloadable mobile phone goodies from promotional partner Verizon. Snacks & sweets. Nail polishes. Clothing.
Seat teamed up with Disney to sponsor the film with its new Alhambra family car. Marketing - Synergy
REVISION TIP Plan how you would advertise and market your own action film. In addition to the trailer you have planned already, consider:
At what time and on which channels would you air a TV trailer?
Which current films would you put a cinema trailer before?
Where (be specific) would you publish a print advert?
What additional marketing products would you release?
How would you use Synergy within your campaign?
Who is your target audience and how would your campaign grab their attention?
GLOSSARY Advertising – Publicity which costs money (e.g. trailers & posters) Marketing – Publicity which is low cost, associated to other products or free (e.g. McDonald’s toys & sponsorship deals) Synergy – When companies work together in a way that benefits them both (e.g. McDonald’s toys) CGI – Computer Generated Imagery (e.g. monsters, mystical creatures, flying) Pyrotechnics – explosions, fires, bomb effects Mulvey – Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze Theory says that women in film are represented in a way which appeals predominantly to heterosexual male viewers, usually sexually
Binary Oppositions – Claude Levi Strauss says that all narratives contain conflict (e.g. good vs bad, man vs woman, heaven vs hell) and that we only fully understand one because of the existence of the other Closed narrative – where there is a definitive ending (all the loose ends are tied up) Open narrative – where the ending is left open, possibly for a sequel or for the audience to interpret for themselves Todorov – TvetzvanTodorov’s narrative theory says that all narratives follow a pattern of Equilibrium-Disruption-New Equilibrium (e.g. Harry Potter lives under the stairs-Hagrid comes and Harry is a wizard! He has to battle Lord Voldemort & wins-Harry is safe again but now lives at Hogwarts & has a very different life.) Propp– see separate slide
Propp’s Character types AA Characters tend to conform to VladamirPropp’s theory that all characters fit a certain ‘type’. They are:
the villain, who struggles with the hero
the donor, who prepares and/or provides hero with magical agent
the helper, who assists, rescues, solves and/or transfigures the hero
the Princess, a sought-for person (and/or her father), who exists as a goal and often recognizes and marries hero and/or punishes villain