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  1. 1. INSTITUTIONS Institutions refer to the companies that are involved in the production of mass media texts. Media institutions are 1. Highly regulated and hierarchical global businesses, often with an economic interest in a diverse number of interrelated media hardware and software (synergy). 2. Profit driven 3. Places where media texts are actually taken through a production process. 4. Creative businesses, where innovation and individual talents are nurtured. 5. Capitalist businesses, where issues of ideology, representation, cultural myths and power are worked out and contested. There are many alternative and independent media production that challenge and contest these areas with commercial institutions.
  2. 2. ISSUES OF POWER AND CONTROL Key areas of concern • Who owns and controls the media? • Are media texts constructed and read by audiences with the values, beliefs and attitudes of the producers? Case study 1 Sheryl Crow and Wal-Mart ‘Watch out sister, watch out brother, Watch our children as they kill each other, With a gun they bought at the Wal-Mart Discount stores.’ Lyrics from Sheryl Crow, Love is a Good Thing • There are 4 area within this case study that needs considering. 1. The song is about the singers concerns about gun violence and linked this to Wal-Mart selling these guns. 2. Wal-Mart banned the album in their stores. They are the biggest seller and retailer of pop music. The power Wal-Mart have over popular music is immense. They have the power to legislate and dictate what should be considered as offensive lyrics and deny a voice to those who may challenge the company. 3. In response to the ban, DJs began selling the album in defiance of the ban. The fans renamed the film the Wal-Mart song and it became a protest song not only about gun culture but corporate power in America. 4. Wal-Marts ban was not about protecting people from perceived harm, but denying them a voice.
  3. 3. Case Study 2: Women in Hollywood Some Hollywood statistics • A study by San Diego State University analysed the production jobs taken by women in the 250 top grossing films in America during 1999. they found that • Only 4% of women were cinematographers • 15% executive producers • 12% writers • Only 4 women directors in the top 250 films. What these statistics indicate is an industry run and controlled by men; men who make the production decisions, men who have the most creative and technical jobs behind the camera, men who make films from males point of view.
  4. 4. Home work Research Task In groups Find a song/album that has been banned in this country and produce an A4 sized report on 1. An introduction to the song 2. Why and how the song/album was banned 3. Whether you think this ban was correct Present your report to the rest of the class
  5. 5. The Cultural Industry Adorno & Horkheimer, two Marxist theorists came up with a theory called the ‘Cultural Industry Model’. The theory states that • Media texts are produced in the same way as other goods, for example, car manufacturing plants. • Media texts are dumb, empty, easy on the eye and gentle on the mind so that the widest number of people (the masses) can consume them. • Media texts are loaded with dominant ideology subconsciously put there by the producers. These dominant ideologies help to explain, justify and naturalise representations that are false. They also deny the inequalities or prejudices capitalism produces. • Media texts produce a mass, passive and obedient audience of consumers who are lulled into accepting the dreams and hopes offered by the cultural industries.
  6. 6. Case Study of Cultural Industry New Hollywood Cinema• A British director Mike Figgis had been given the green light to direct Mr Jones (1993), the story of a manic-depressive to star Richard Gere. However soon after filming started the control of the shoot and the type of film Figgis wanted to make was being challenged by the producers of the film. • The producers were not happy with film as they found it ‘too dark’ and potentially a box office disaster. They recommended that Figgis should give the film a more upbeat theme and wanted him to shoot some of the film on the beach, even though the central character was locked in a hospital. Eventually Figgis was removed from the film and it was re-edited by another director and sank without trace. The case study indicates that; • Producers are still some of the most powerful people in the film production process. • Producers have a narrative formula, a template for successful picture that they expect directors to work to. • Art, authorship and creativity are eroded by the business side of the industry. This form of filmmaking according to Wyatt can be defined as High Concept Cinema. According to Wyatt High concept cinema can be defined as having the following components: 1. The look: high production values, fast editing – MTV style, a concentration on visuals, consumerist items, look and style, beautiful characters and star vehicle projects, with emphasis on action. 2. The hook: simplified and simplistic narrative patterns (capable of being told in less than 15 sentences). Love interest, universal values of good and evil, star-genre-director vehicle, music by famous composer/international band and merchandising possibilities. 3. The book: popular best selling fiction the source of the film/script.
  7. 7. Institutional Globalisation • Cultural globalisation is the process which a wide range of cultural texts (films, adverts, TV programmes, music, books, magazines etc) are transmitted to global audiences, across large expanses of space at greater speeds ever than before. The cultural globalisation theory suggests that people’s everyday life experiences have changed because of this. • John Thompson has argued that cultural globalisation creates a mediated worldliness and mediated historicity. 1. mediated worldliness: our understanding of the world is constructed through the mediated world. 2. mediated historicity: people’s understanding of the past, of history, is increasingly dependent on media texts that change and re-present the past for people in thinly disguised but ideologically loaded history lessons. • The positive aspects of globalisation is that it erodes national boundaries, a global village. • The negative side is that it erodes national/ethnic identities.
  8. 8. Media Imperialism • Media imperialism can be defined in the following 4 ways 1. Media imperialism involves the global domination of media production by a small number of western media conglomerates. 2. Media imperialism involves the flow of information, news and entertainment from the west to the third world countries. The third world countries are unable to resist or reply to this domination because of power and resource inequalities. 3. Global imperialism involves the transmission of a homogenised (similar) and low quality western culture, which threatens to flatten out all rich and cultural diversity. 4. Media imperialism involves the global transmission of a dominant, western ideology that naturalises the western way of life as the only life worth having.
  9. 9. Case Study of Imperialism Fast-Food British TV • In 1966 a drama documentary Cathy Come Home (1966) followed the life of a newly wed couple. We see them fall in love, marry, prosper, have children, become unemployed, homeless, separated and Cathy’s character becomes homeless. The programme proved to be a powerful way of conveying the misery of homelessness and the welfare system that could do very little about it. When shown on BBC it got record audiences and the response from the audiences and media pressure, resulted with a Housing Bill and the charity housing group Shelter. TV was seen as a way to involve the citizens in the way their country was run. • However PSB was being undermined and challenged by two factors. 1. Margaret Thatcher’s right-wing government adopted a market force led approach to the economy, which subsequently effected the entertainment industry. The govt forced PSB broadcasters to be driven by profitability, rather than PSB principles. 2. By the late 1980s the impact of satellite and cable TV was being felt. The increase number in channels meant that audiences could watch programmes from all over the world. The PSB (BBC and C4 ) and commercial channels were asked to compete with the new channels. This meant more commercial films, serials, soaps and sport. This increase in choice meant the dumbing down of terrestrial channels. This meant • The decline of serious programming in the race for ratings. • Similarity of programmes from both terrestrial and non-terrestrial channels in the race for ratings and market share. • The decline in the provision of minority programming in the race for ratings and market share. • Costing and profitability became more important in the race for efficiency over quality.
  10. 10. Criticisms of Cultural Globalisation and Imperialism Cultural Globalisation and Imperialism has been criticised on a number of grounds 1. Not everyone has access to western media in the third world, so they cannot have as much influence. 2. There is a diversity of cultures that are available to people. For example gangsta rap by Black Americans is played by working class white boys. 3. There is also a reverse flow of media production and control coming from the developing world to the west. For example Bollywood films, Chinese programmes on Sky.
  11. 11. Alternative and Independent Media Institutions • The media that we find on our TV, in our cinemas, on our radios and the net are not all owned by big multinational corporations. For many people, a great deal of what they consume comes out of the alternative and media sector. For example pirate radio, independent films such as Do The Right Thing, magazines such as Big Issue or Private Eye. • However independent media institutions are also involved in producing media texts that are similar to the big institutions – C4 independently financed and produced Four Weddings and a Funeral. Similarly big institutions also produce alternative media.
  12. 12. Defining Independent 1. Independent media institutions are motivated by artistic and political concerns. They give a voice to new and emerging talent, and to issues, themes and controversies that need expressing, but which do not necessarily attract large audiences, make much money. Mainstream media who are profit based, tend to ignore these areas. 2. Independent media institutions often operate in niche market places with clearly defined target audiences. For example Film Four digital channel has film buffs and 30-something middle class as its target audience. 3. Independent media institutions are often small scale, have collective decision making and distributed and consumed differently to big institutions. For example The Big Issue is sold to the public on the streets of UK by homeless people, who keep a percentage of the revenue from every copy sold.