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Post Modernism - Complete Post Modernism - Complete Presentation Transcript

  • Postmodernism
  • Origins of Postmodernism • The beginning of the postmodern debate essentially began in 1979 with the publication of the essay “The Postmodern Condition” (translated into English in 1983) by French literary theorist Jean-François Lyotard. • Lyotard is widely regarded as one of the most influential postmodern theorists.
  • Postmodernism • Postmodernism is a term used to encompass a wide range of attitudes. It can be said to be immediately relevant to the realms of the arts, philosophy, politics and sociology.
  • Postmodernism • Postmodernism is a label given to a time period in which the abrupt influx of technology and ever-increasing cultural multiplicity must be met with new methods of representation.
  • Fragmentation • Fragmentation. • The postmodernist employs it with a tone of exhilaration and liberation (Barry, 2002: 84).
  • Intertextuality • Intertextuality in The Simpsons through pastiche, parody, and self-reflexivity.
  • High and low art. • Postmodernists regard popular arts as no less crucial to our culture than the more classic arts. • In the postmodern realm it is not infrequent that High and Low Art are mixed together.
  • Intertextuality. • Intertextuality is a prominent aspect in many postmodern art forms, in which works of art or literature frequently refer to each other through parody or pastiche. • Pastiche openly imitates a work in order to make use of its original style. • In the case of parody, a work is imitated with playful satire.
  • Hate authority and hierarchy. • Postmodernism has reacted to the authoritarian hierarchization of culture by subverting conventions, blurring previously distinct boundaries and rejecting traditional aesthetic values. • If the postmodern spirit were to be summed up in simple terms, it might lie in this inherent struggle to avoid hierarchy in any way it manifests itself.
  • Self-reflexivity • Self-reflexivity also characterizes many postmodern works, which explicitly refer to themselves in order to indicate how aware they are of their own constructive character.
  • Lyotard • Lyotard believes knowledge has become a commodity and consequently a means of getting power. • Lyotard sees knowledge as being communicated through narratives (stories), or different ways of interpreting the world.
  • Lyotard • Grand narratives are authoritative, establishing their political or cultural views as absolute truths beyond any means of criticism. • They have a totalizing effect on the culture, reducing it to universal codes which usurp other ways of living. You have to believe the meta narrative.
  • Lyotard • In a culture driven by grand narratives, the ideology of the predominant regime essentially has a monopoly on knowledge, which Lyotard opposes by calling for a new world of knowledge based on mininarratives.
  • Mini - narratives • Mininarratives do not contain any universal truths. • Mini narratives are better at describing the reality of a post modern world. There is not ‘one way’ (meta narrative) but lots of ways (mini narratives).
  • No metanarratives • For Lyotard, the postmodern culture distances itself from this centralizing effect on knowledge. • Postmodern culture does away with the hierarchy political and religious movements such as Communism and Islam seem to enforce.
  • Lyotard • Lyotard announces that “the grand narrative has lost its credibility” (Lyotard, 1984: 37), praising local and temporary knowledge instead. • This is the stage onto which the postmodern artist or writer emerges, each contributing her or his own mininarrative in the form of liberating postmodern expressions.
  • Lyotard • Lyotard’s theory of metanarratives influences the anti-authoritative tendencies in The Simpsons.
  • Habermas – critic of Postmodernism • Habermas disagrees with Lyotard and calls for an end to “artistic experimentation” . He wants “order, unity and security” (Lyotard, 1993: 40).
  • Habermas – critic of Postmodernism • The unity which Habermas desires is dismissed by Lyotard as an illusion which represses the ever-increasing plurality of contemporary culture. • This dismissal is the basis for his theory of grand narratives, or metanarratives.
  • Jameson • In 1984 Marxist theorist Fredric Jameson emerged as one of the most prominent critics of postmodernism with the publication of his essay, “Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism”, which he later expanded into a book.
  • Jameson • In the essay, Jameson argues that “aesthetic production today has become integrated into commodity production generally”. • He describes postmodernism as a cultural dominant driven primarily by the forces of consumer multinational capitalism.
  • Jameson’s thoughts • Jameson described the postmodern condition as “a new kind of flatness, of depthlessness, a new kind of superficiality in the most literal sense”.
  • No history any more. • In “Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism”, Jameson describes the loss of historical reality in writing. • “We can no longer represent the historical past; but can only ‘represent’ our ideas and stereotypes about the past” (Jameson, 2001: 79).
  • Jameson – the loss of historical reality. • In the postmodern era our historical past is represented “not through its content but through glossy stylistic means, conveying ‘pastness’ by the glossy qualities of the image”
  • Looking back – pastiche. • Jameson says instead of creating our own unique styles we look to the past and imitate old, dead styles through pastiche (Jameson, 2001: 74).
  • Jameson and the loss of historical reality. • We will see that there are parallels between ‘The Simpsons’ and Jameson’s theory on the loss of historical reality in the postmodern era.
  • Baudrillard Cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard appeared on the scene in the early 1980s.
  • Loss of the real! • Baudrillard is associated with the postmodern “loss of the real.” He says there is a problem of representation that comes from the mass media’s relentless play with signs and images.
  • Simulacra and Simulation • In “Simulacra and Simulation” 1994, Baudrillard says “the distinction between what is real and what is imagined is continually blurred and meaning is systematically eroded.”
  • Hyperreality. • Baudrillard’s most important contribution to postmodernism is the theory of hyperreality.
  • Hyperreality. • According to Baudrillard, the world once consisted of signs that could be associated with their actual referents in reality. • This has been replaced by the postmodern simulacrum, a system in which signs have lost their association with an underlying reality.
  • Simulations of reality • The postmodern world consists of simulations of reality, or hyperrealities, wherein signs refer not to an external reality but to other signs. • The result is a culture in which surface and depth become indistinguishable and superficial appearance is all that can be achieved.
  • No longer real ! • Under the bombardment of images from the dominant media of popular culture – TV, film and advertising – the real becomes subordinate to representation. • Whereas the media once mirrored, reflected or represented reality, the postmodern culture faces the problem of media constructing a hyperreality (see Douglas Kellner, 1989: 68).
  • Beaudrillard • Baudrillard proposes that simulations of reality end up becoming “more real than the real”. • The Gulf War Never Happened!
  • Beaudrillard • Beaudrillard wrote a book “The Gulf War Never Happened”. In this book he claimed that the BBC did not report the truth but propaganda provided by the American and British Governments.
  • Baudrillard • We were told there were ‘smart missiles’ that would only target military targets. This was a lie. Civilian casualties were not reported on television.
  • Beaudrillard • The reason Governments do not want a free press reporting the war goes back 50 years. In the 1960s the news channels reported what was really happening in Vietnam. The public were shocked and distressed at the bombing of civilians. Opinion turned against the war.
  • Baudrillard • In the Gulf War, the Governments wanted to prevent this happening again. Journalists were ‘embedded with the armed forces’ and told what to report. Any journalist who went ‘off message’ was denied information to report.
  • Beaudrillard • The same thing happened in the Iraq war. The public were told Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That was a lie. The public were told there was a link between Iraq and the 9/11 terrorism. That was a lie. •
  • “The war You Don’t See” (2010) • John Pilger’s film and television documentary, “The war You Don’t See” (2010) makes clear that much of the news we are presented with is a simulacra of reality. Pilger stresses the difference between what we see and reality.
  • “The war You Don’t See” (2010) • In the Gulf War, BBC journalists who were ‘embedded’ with the armed forces were unwitting accomplices in presenting a postmodern simulacrum of the war. Al Jazeera, a news outlet that refused to report the simulacra, was targeted and bombed by the American forces. Pilger describes Bush and Blair as war criminals
  • “Outfoxed” • This manipulation of news to create simulacra of reality is not just confined to war reporting. It affects politics too. The 2004 film, “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism” by Robert Greenwald highlights the way this news channel deliberately misleads the public.
  • “Outfoxed” • The Fox Logo “Fair and Balanced: You Decide” could not be further from the truth. In America, Fox News supports the Republican Party. As the film progresses, we see that, as a deliberate policy, it is impossible to separate news from commentary.
  • “Outfoxed” • The film maintains Murdoch wants news to be all about opinion. Ex Fox News Reporters speak of a climate of fear. No report can be unbiased. Everything has to have a right wing agenda.
  • “Outfoxed” • An excellent example was in the aftermath of the Iraq war. Fox presented post Saddam Iraq as a success for President Bush by focussing on some jobs being created and one school being re-opened. No mention was made of bombings, unemployment or the chaos that formed part of most people’s lives.
  • “Outfoxed” • It was fascinating to watch the Fox News coverage of the last Presidential Election between Obama and Romney. The bias was undisguised. Even as the results came in, some Fox commentators refused to accept Obama had won.
  • Simulacra of reality • Why does this matter? Why is it controversial? • In a democracy, voters need to make an informed choice. It is impossible for voters to personally interview candidates and the public has to rely on unbiased news reporting to understand different policies.
  • Simulacra of reality • With a biased news channel where a simulacrum is presented as reality, it is impossible for viewers to make an informed choice.
  • Simulacra of reality • The United Kingdom has possibly been spared from the worst excesses of Murdoch by the phone hacking scandal. Due to this, he was unable to purchase all of B Sky B. Had he done so, he might have introduced British Fox News.
  • “Homer Badman” Season 6 Disc 2. Baudrillard’s theory of hyperreality can be applied to “The Simpsons”. The role of the mass media in the construction of postmodern hyperreality can be seen in. • “Homer Badman” Season 6 Episode 9. • We will analyse this key episode in detail later.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010). • Postmodernism is not always serious. Postmodern texts have been created for entertainment. • Let us look at a Postmodern film.
  • Ironic or what? Five ways to spot a Postmodern film • Postmodernism. It’s one of those frequently- used terms which is often applied to films or TV shows alongside adjectives such as ‘ironic’, ‘quirky’, self-conscious’, or just plain ‘weird’.
  • Five ways to spot a Postmodern film • 1. Playfulness and self reference • Or to put it another way… ‘Hey you out there in the stalls’! Whereas a classical narrative will try to hide the fact that it’s a fictional product, carefully edited to make you forget any editing has actually taken place, a Postmodern film will jump up and down to draw attention to itself and its modes of construction.
  • Five ways to spot a Postmodern film • 2. Generic blurring and intertextuality Although films often cross boundaries between different genres, a Postmodern film will particularly delight in blurring those boundaries
  • Five ways to spot a Postmodern film • 3. Popular and commercial media meet ‘High Culture’ Postmodern films like to treat culture as a pick ‘n’ mix experience. The divisions between what was previously considered ‘High Culture’ (opera, classical drama and literature, fine art etc.) and those entertainment and commercial forms enjoyed by the so called masses (pop music and video, advertising, mainstream film, computer games and most forms of television).
  • Five ways to spot a Postmodern film • EG. Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann again), owes much of its storyline to Puccini’s opera La Bohème and Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. However, it also recycles famous contemporary music, most notably Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’ and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana. What’s more the film removes them from their intended period, and relocates them in Paris at the end of the 19th Century.
  • Five ways to spot a Postmodern film • 4. Fragmentation and the death of representation • Some people argue that modern audiences are so used to reading media signs and messages through film, television, advertising and, most recently, the Internet, that reading media representations has become the dominant way of making sense of ‘reality’. In other words, we ‘read’ the world not through any essential first-hand knowledge or experience, but through media representations – which themselves increasingly refer to other representations.
  • Five ways to spot a Postmodern film • 5.Uncertainty and the loss of context • All the above can result in a sense of uncertainty and the shaking up of previously understood beliefs and roles. Postmodern films can make us feel that there are no generic rules any more, and that representations only refer to other representations. This can make us feel insecure. Postmodernist filmmakers challenge many aspects of life or belief systems which were once taken for granted.
  • How many can we spot? • How many of these five characteristics are present in “Scott Pilgrim”? Lets look.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010). 112 min - Action | Comedy | Fantasy - 25 August 2010 (UK)
  • Origins • The film is based on the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley. • It translates the world of the comic book onto the big screen. • Colourful freeze-frames and flashy special effects (Hollywood rumours are that the film spent $80 million while only earning ten!)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010). • Director: • Edgar Wright • Writers: • Michael Bacall (screenplay), Edgar Wright (screenplay). • Stars: • Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Kieran Culkin
  • Storyline • Scott Pilgrim plays in a band which aspires to success. He dates Knives Chau, a high-school girl who is five years younger. • He hasn't recovered from being dumped by his former girlfriend who is now a success with her own band. • Scott falls for Ramona Flowers. He has trouble breaking up with Knives as he tries to romance Ramona.
  • Storyline • As if juggling two women wasn't enough, Ramona comes with baggage! • Ramona has seven ex-lovers. Scott must do battle with each of them in order to win Ramona.
  • How to watch the film. • In order to watch Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, viewers must suspend their disbelief and allow for the fantastical: in Scott Pilgrim’s world, vegan ex-boyfriends can possess superpowers, extra-lives can be earned by defeating opponents, and swords can carry mysterious love powers.
  • How to watch the film. • None of this should be difficult for a generation of viewers raised on ‘Harry Potter and ‘Twilight’. • Therefore, the film should be a success. • Was it?
  • Did badly at box office. • Box Office • Budget: • $60,000,000 (estimated) • Opening Weekend: • $10,609,795 (USA) (15 August 2010) (2818 Screens) • Gross: • $31,494,270 (USA) (4 October 2010)
  • Bad Box Office. Why? Why do you think it did badly?
  • Universal’s Response to Bad Box Office. • Universal acknowledged their disappointment at the opening weekend, saying they had "been aware of the challenges of broadening this film to a mainstream audience“. • Why was this film a challenge?
  • “Pushing the Envelope” • Regardless of poor box office, the studio's spokesman said Universal was "proud of this film and our relationship with the visionary and creative filmmaker Edgar Wright. Universal said ……
  • Edgar Wright. • ....” Edgar has created a truly unique film that is both envelope pushing and genre bending and when examined down the road will be identified as an important piece of filmmaking.” • Do you agree with the phrases in red? Why?
  • “Variety” said …… • Variety gave the film a mixed review, referring to the film as "An example of attention-deficit filmmaking at both its finest and its most frustrating" .
  • “Variety” also said …. • "anyone over 25 is likely to find director Edgar Wright's adaptation of the cult graphic novel exhausting, like playing chaperone at a party full of oversexed college kids."
  • *IGN gave the film…… a positive rating of 8/10 calling the film "funny and offbeat" as well as noting that the film is "best suited for the wired generation and those of us who grew up on Nintendo and MTV. *IGN is a casual news/reviews website that focuses on video games, films, music and other media
  • IGN also said …. “ Its *kinetic nature and quirky sensibilities might be a turnoff for some.“ • *Kinetic = force due to motion. • Do you agree?
  • Nick Schager of Slant Magazine…. gave the film a positive review of three and a half stars out of four, calling Edgar Wright an "inspired mash-up artist, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World may be his finest hybridization to date". What did he mean? Do you agree?
  • Why would they like it? • After its premiere in Japan, several notable video game, film and anime industry personalities have praised Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, among them Hironobu Sakaguchi, Goichi Suda, Miki Mizuno, Tomohiko Itō, Rintaro Watanabe and Takao Nakano
  • Are you surprised? • A video game was produced based on the series. It was released for PlayStation Network on August 10, 2010 and on Xbox Live Arcade on August 25, being met with mostly positive reviews. • The game is published by Ubisoft and developed by Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Chengdu, featuring animation by Paul Robertson and original music by Anamanaguchi.
  • A. O. Scott made the film… his "critics pick", stating "There are some movies about youth that just make you feel old, even if you aren't... Do you agree that “SPvsW” does this?
  • Box Office Disaster! Why? • Blurring of genres. • Audiences like the security of knowing the genre. • With “SPvsW” they do not get this. Instead they get a ………..
  • Box Office Disaster. • Is the film a ‘mish-mash ‘of computer games linked with different film genres - comic book, romantic comedy, teenage coming of age film and cartoon element, Kung Fu etc. • Do you agree with the term ‘mish mash’? Does it suggest a mess?
  • Pastiche or a ‘hodge-podge’? Is the Pastiche in the film a “hodge-podge” of different styles, conventions, forms, motifs, etc., taken from different sources, and combined together to form an artwork. • Does it succeed or is it a ‘hodge-podge’?
  • Intertextuality. • The editing also highlights the intertextuality in the scene as Wright had clearly taken influences from comic books and manga with the use of the final “K.O” appearing on screen which relates to martial arts video games.
  • Problems with intertextuality. • Another reason ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’ failed at the box office and this was because of the nature of the intertextuality that is in the film. • Scott Pilgrim is aimed at a the computer literate male teenager who likes playing computer games and his girlfriend who loves of romantic comedies. • However, there is a problem with the target audience of this film.
  • Problems with intertextuality. • Most of the references are too old for most of the target audience to know what it is. • E.g.. ‘Seinfeld’ was an American hit comedy TV series. However, it was cancelled and removed off of the air before the target audience for the film was even born. • This means that to understand this intertextual reference would have to be 20 – 30 years of age. This is not the target audience for the film.
  • Another Obscure Intertextual Reference lost on the Target Audience. • The ‘Super Vegan’ is a reference to the animated TV series called ‘Dragon Ball Z’. • Dragon Ball (ドラゴンボール, Doragon Bōru) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama. It was originally serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1984 to 1995. •
  • In Summary • Therefore, one reason ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ flopped at the box office because its narrow / specific target audience were too young to understand many of the intertextual references in the film.
  • Made a loss. Why? • The film is too ambitious it attempts more than can be satisfactorily delivered in a cinema.
  • “Mortal Kombat” – A Game • While the story is set in the real world, it’s a version of the real world in which some of the laws of video games apply. • Scott’s confrontations with the exes are staged like rounds of “Mortal Kombat.” When foes are vanquished, they turn into coins, and the point value appears above them before floating away. • It’s not that Scott has to defeat these exes. He literally has to fight them, both he and they endowed with video-game-like skills.
  • A Post Modern Film. • Weaved through this comedic romance are all the hallmarks of post-modernity. • Special attention is paid to the ways media (T.V., cinema and video-game culture to name a few) intermingle with traditional narrative patterns, creating a new type of film.
  • The film made a loss. Why? • Too postmodern - imitates a computer game. • Alienates portion of the potential audience (females ? older viewers?)who are either unfamiliar with computer games or dislike them.
  • Made a loss. Why? • No story to lose oneself in. • The audience do not respond to the text in the classical way. • Instead the pleasure comes from recognising intertextual references – if don’t know them, then don’t get the pleasure.
  • Self-reflexivity • Self-reflexivity characterizes many postmodern works, which explicitly refer to themselves in order to indicate how aware they are of their own constructive character. • Self-reflexive texts stress they are not real.
  • Should texts do this? Reflexivity is an act of self-reference, where an artwork specifically calls attention to itself, or to its method of production.
  • Made a loss. Why? • This post modern text is *self reflexive. • *marked by or making reference to its own artificiality or contrivance. • The viewer is constantly reminded we are watching a film – never lose ourselves!
  • Self Reflexive Editing. • The Director, Edgar Wright, experiments with the editing used in this scene, as he splits the screen in half to show the expression of the characters and their weapons (instruments) for “fighting” to destroy two of the seven evil exes.
  • Made a loss. Why? • No narrative plot that progresses and engages the audience . No real plot development. • Instead the repetitive structure of a computer game.
  • Poor Box Office. Why? • Violence in many postmodern films is brutal, excessive and often without clear purpose. • In postmodern films violence is typically used to overwhelm the spectator, potentially leaving her or him desensitized and without a clear sense of its function within the narrative. • Is this true of “SPvsTW”?
  • Violence in a Moral Vacuum. • “SPvsTW” has violent scenes. • However, there are no consequences to this violence. • This reflects the loss of meta narratives in a post modern world.
  • Made a loss. Why? • No meta narratives – no moral sense. • No consequences to violence. This will disturb many viewer who will feel they are in a moral vacuum.
  • No metanarratives • For Lyotard, the postmodern culture distances itself from this centralizing effect on knowledge, thus removing the need for the epistemological hierarchy which cultural or political movements such as modernism and Marxism seem to enforce.
  • Lyotard • Lyotard announces that “the grand narrative has lost its credibility” (Lyotard, 1984: 37), praising local and temporary knowledge instead. • This is the stage onto which the postmodern artist or writer emerges, each contributing her or his own mininarrative in the form of liberating postmodern expressions.
  • Made a loss. Why? • Not original – a recycling of a comic book. A simulacrum is a likeness or similarity of something that lacks the substance or quality of the original. Is this true of the film?
  • Serious or just fun? • Postmodern Cinema pluralizes the discourse, creating multiple sources of knowledge, diverse histories, and many ways of analyzing contemporary society. • Does “SPvsTW” do this or is it just fun?
  • Serious or just fun? • Cornell West describes the importance of the ”demoralized, demobilized, depoliticized and disorganized” cultures to ”trash the monolithic and homogenous in the name of diversity, multiplicity and heterogeneity.” • Does “SPvsTW” do this or is it just fun?
  • Serious or just fun? • Cornell West describes the importance of the ”demoralized, demobilized, depoliticized and disorganized” cultures to ”trash the monolithic and homogenous in the name of diversity, multiplicity and heterogeneity.” • Does “SPvsTW” do this or is it just fun?
  • Shocking! • If a movie that looked and sounded like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World had come out 40 years ago, people would have been shocked and possibly appalled. • Even by 2010 standards, the way it’s written, performed, shot and edited is supremely unusual.
  • An Exuberant Mixture • The film is an exuberant mixture of comic books, video games, and teenage romance by way of John Hughes. • Hughes directed and scripted some of the most successful ‘teenage’ films of the 1980s and 1990s, including National Lampoon's Vacation, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Beethoven, Uncle Buck.
  • Revolutionary! • The film uses an impressive number of unconventional filmmaking devices, most of which have been done before, but probably not all in the same film. • In 10 years from now this may be the norm. For now, it’s almost revolutionary.
  • How odd!! • How oddly the story is told, by director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). • Electronic sound effects accompany some of the action as befits a video-game story aimed at an audience of video-game players.
  • How odd! • On screen titles, like boxes in comic-book panels, introduce new characters. • One scene is played out like a sitcom, complete with laugh track. • There are sight gags like Scott talking about his shaggy hair, then cutting to someone’s reaction, then immediately cutting back to Scott, who’s now wearing a hat.
  • Audience Response • We recognize all these quirks as postmodern variations on the way movies normally speak to us. • We aren’t meant to believe that there is suddenly a studio audience in Scott’s apartment, or that Scott can put on a hat in a fraction of a second.
  • Audience Response The usual rules of editing, storytelling, and the expectation of reality — the standard “grammar” of film — is out the window. We’re able to keep up because we know the grammar well enough to appreciate variations on it.
  • A Positive Response. • I was never a hardcore video-gamer, nor have I read the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, so maybe it’s not specifically a generational thing. • I was impressed that despite how incredibly imaginative and energetic the film is, it never becomes exhausting.
  • A Positive Response. • Wright seems perfectly in control of the kooky tricks in his arsenal, never deploying them just for the sake of being weird. • The fact that I didn’t suffer from stimulation overload suggests that perhaps I am not too old just yet
  • A Negative Response. • You see, for as clever and inventive as the movie’s style is, its lack of traditional “reality” makes it hard for me to feel any emotional investment when the John Hughes moments arrive. • In a video game, you never die. Even when you’re out of lives, you can continue. When you think of it that way, the stakes actually aren’t very high at all.
  • A Negative Response. • ‘There are some aspects of the story that don’t resonate with me, that indeed I don’t “get,” possibly because I’m not fluent enough in the insane language of the film’. • ‘ Maybe some people are moved by Scott and Ramona’s story and it tugs at their heartstrings. Or maybe those strings don’t matter anymore, in our brave new postmodern world.’
  • A Negative Response linked to randomness. • The whole concept of the film is rather random, especially how the scenes are portrayed such as this one, as the Katayanagi Twins create some sort of dragon with their music to try and beat Scott. • In another scene Scott daydreams about Ramona on rollerblades in a desert. Once again we see the randomness that Wright so eagerly uses.
  • Is this true of “SPvsTW”? Postmodern society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs. In a postmodern film, the human experience is a simulation of reality rather than reality itself. If this is true, how satisfying is it?
  • Postmodernism and “The Simpsons” A postmodernist reading of the popular television programme The Simpsons, with special regard to the postmodern theories of intertexuality, hyperreality and metanarratives.
  • Critique of Metanarratives in The Simpsons • The Simpsons portrays contemporary society in all its ‘multi-faceted glory’. • We experience the entire spectrum of society in Springfield through a staggering number of characters that represent its fictional world.
  • Lots of characters. • Wikipedia lists nearly 1000 characters with lines in The Simpsons, noting that this is by no means an exhaustive list. • Some argue that The Simpsons, comes closest of all contemporary television shows to representing society as a whole.
  • The whole of life ! • The enormous stock of characters used to symbolize different types of people in the world.
  • Varied cast ! • By focusing entire episodes on the trials and tribulations of such contrastive characters as Indian immigrant Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, neglected youth Nelson Muntz, local drunk Barney Gumble and lonely senior Abraham Simpson, The Simpsons manages to reflect and parody the pluralism of postmodern society.
  • All included • The Simpsons does not limit its subject matter to particular age groups, ethnicities or social classes, but merges all the binary opposites of society together to form the chaotic, diversified town of Springfield.
  • Melting Pot. • It is not only the composition of characters that affects this seeming chaos ‘melting pot’, but also the subject matter itself. • An episode may begin with a portrayal of ordinary school life and end on the issue of gay marriage.
  • Postmodernism – mixing genres. • The inability to pin the programme down to one genre is indicative of its representation of America as framed by the *postmodern paradigm. * A paradigm is an example or model of the world.
  • “The Simpsons” • The Simpsons is not set in a distinct region of America. • It is not specific to any one period of time within the postmodern era.
  • Forever Young! • The Simpson children never age or progress in school. • The family is as timeless as they are placeless.
  • Nowhere but Everywhere! • The Simpsons are nowhere, living at no time, and representing no specific family – but paradoxically they are every American family everywhere at any point in the postmodern era.
  • Apu • The popularity of the Apu character in the early 1990s marked the appearance of the first recurring South Asian character in a major American sitcom. • He features regularly and has been made the centre of several individual episodes.
  • Cultural Difference. • The show’s refusal to follow normal sitcom subject matter is a key postmodern trait. • This reflects postmodernism’s aim to celebrate cultural differences and mini narratives.
  • Fragmentation • We are offered fragments of characters from diverse parts of society that together form the varied, postmodern picture of Springfieldian society.
  • Fragmentation in “The Simpsons” • The Simpsons sometimes focusses episodes on groups of people previously shoved into the background of traditional sitcoms – that is, if they were featured at all.
  • Diversity. • The Simpsons embraces diversity of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status as part of the *heterogeneity of society. • * mix.
  • Narrative Fragmentation. • Postmodern fragmentation in The Simpsons is not limited to its subject matter but extends to its narrative form as well. • The erratic structure of The Simpsons’ storylines results in a broken-down, fragmented narrative - another characteristic of postmodernism.
  • Narrative Fragmentation • Some episodes are deliberately “all over the place” and non-linear. • The first five to ten minutes usually have little or nothing to do with the main storyline.
  • Plot – drift! • The show makes rich use of the plot-drift technique, interjecting stories with so many tangents and digressions into non-related subjects that it can at times be difficult to determine what a given episode is “about”.
  • “22 Short films about Springfield” Series 7 Episode 21. Disc 4 • This fragmented narrative style is taken to the extreme in the episode “22 Short Films About Springfield”, in which 22 individual stories are told at the astonishing speed of one minute per story.
  • “22 Short Films about Springfield” • This episode is a good example of how The Simpsons tends to play with narrative structures. • It is also representative of its frequent fusion of unlike genres and themes.
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. Disc 4 • "22 Short Films About Springfield" is the twenty-first episode of The Simpsons' seventh season, which originally aired on April 14, 1996. • Disc 4.
  • Watch the Episode. • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21 • Disc 4.
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • The episode looks into the lives of other Springfield residents in a series of linked stories that happen at the same time. • The episode is a loose parody of Pulp Fiction. The title is a reference to the film Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould.
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • Apu leaves his shop for five minutes to briefly attend a party at his brother Sanjay's house. • This is a pastiche of American ‘Frat’ Films like “Animal House” where young people party, have sex and end up in the pool! • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8psQi7S cQQ • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFtxLh6Ij 9c&feature=related
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • Lisa gets gum in her hair and Marge tries to get it out by putting a variety of foods on her head. • Martha Stewart – American housewife TV shows. • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWh7VoDL1 Qw • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUZ8LmiVDdI • Smithers gets stung by a bee while bike riding with Mr. Burns.
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • Dr. Nick comes under criticism from the medical board for his unorthodox medical procedures only to treat Abraham Simpson with an electric light socket, saving his career. • Typical of American TV Medical dramas such as “ER” or in modern times “House”! A ‘maverick Doctor’ saves the day! • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MUp3PmNa6c • Moe gets robbed by Snake after Barney gives him $2,000 to pay for a portion of his bar tab.
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • Homer accidentally traps Maggie in a newspaper vending box. • The cops debate McDonald's Quarter Pounder vs. Krusty Burgers. • Bumblebee Man's house is destroyed and his wife leaves him after a horrible day at work.
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • Snake runs Chief Wiggum over and the two begin to fight, they roll into Herman's shop, who captures them at gun point. • Reverend Lovejoy urges his dog to use the Flanders lawn as a toilet – postmodern challenge to authority - no meta narratives?
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • Various townspeople advise Marge and Lisa on how to remove the gum stuck in Lisa's hair. Parody of ‘good neighbourliness and small town life? • Cletus offers Brandine some shoes he found. Plurality of American life – even ‘Hillbillys’ have a voice in a postmodern text.
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • Milhouse has to use the bathroom in Comic Book Guy's Android's Dungeon and has to purchase a comic book first, but ends up leaving before he can use it. He then goes with his father to Herman's store, there he accidentally knocks him out, saving his father, Snake and Wiggum's lives.
  • Intertextuality • The story involving Chief Wiggum and Snake is a direct parody of the "Gold Watch" segment of “Pulp Fiction”. Snake runs over the donut- carrying Wiggum at a red light, like Butch did to Marcellus Wallace, before crashing into a fire hydrant and beginning an on-foot chase.[4][9] The two run into Herman's Military Antique shop, where Herman beats, ties up and gags the two, then waits for "Zed" to arrive, exactly as Maynard does in Pulp Fiction.
  • Intertextuality - “Pulp Fiction” • Watch Hamburger discussion scene. • Watch Butch and Marcellus scene – knock down in car – kidnapped – freed.
  • Intertextuality • “Empire Magazine” named the episode's Pulp Fiction parody the seventh best film gag in the show, calling Wiggum and Snake bound and gagged with red balls in their mouths "the sickest visual gag in Simpsons history".[13] The episode is the favourite of British comedian Jimmy Carr who called it "a brilliant pastiche of art cinema".
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • Bart and Milhouse conclude that life is interesting in their town after all. • Lastly,"The Tomfoolery of Professor John Frink" is almost seen, but the episode ends before Frink can begin his story
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • Skinner hosts dinner for Superintendent Chalmers and when his roast is burnt, he attempts to disguise food from the Krusty Burger as his own cooking. • Skinner always tells unbelievable lies to Chalmers – who always believes him. In this episode he tells 13 unbelievable lies!
  • “22 Short Films about Springfield” • One of the episode’s mini-stories, revolving around the domestic problems of the actor playing Spanish TV character Pedro the Bee, is portrayed entirely in Spanish. • The tall man in a small car is a reference to one of the Illustrators on the show. Only a ‘select few’ would be in on the joke! A controversial ‘criticism’ of postmodern texts.
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • In its original American broadcast, "22 Short Films About Springfield" finished tied for 73rd in the weekly ratings for the week of April 6- April 14, 1996. It was the seventh highest rated show from the Fox Network that week.
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • The episode is *Bill Oakley's personal favourite episode. • The episode is frequently cited as a popular one amongst the show's fans on the internet. • * Writer and producer of “The Simpsons”.
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • Entertainment Weekly placed the episode 14th on their top 25 The Simpsons episode list, praising the episode's structure and finding the Pulp Fiction references "priceless”.
  • Narrative Structure • The Simpsons seems to distrust the wholeness and completion associated with traditional stories, as is characteristic of postmodernist writing (Stuart Sim, 2001: 127).
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • To decide who would write each of the segments, all of the writers chose their top three favourite characters and put them into a hat, the names were drawn out and the writers were assigned their parts.
  • Simpsons Series 7 Episode 21. • The episode's first draft was 65 pages long and needed to be cut down to just 42, so numerous scenes were cut for time or because they did not fit into the overall dynamic of the episode.
  • Speeded up version! • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCAFPpfP 3u8
  • Look over your notes and Plan this question. • Write two or three paragraphs explaining why “22 Short films about Springfield” is postmodern. Pastiche of other texts Challenge authority Plurality of American life. An ‘in joke’ – excludes those not in the ‘know’.
  • Your Essay. • Why is “22 Short Stories About Springfield” Postmodern? • Postmodern texts often play with narrative structure. This happens in this episode of “The Simpsons” where we do not have one whole story. Instead we have different ‘fragments’ of stories that are jumbled up.
  • Intertextuality • A key feature of postmodern texts is intertextuality. This episode contains pastiches of “Pulp Fiction” and “The Martha Stewart Show”. Without knowledge of these texts, much of the humour would be lost.
  • Distrust of Authority • Another feature of postmodernism is a distrust of authority and meta -narratives such as religion. In this episode religion is ridiculed when the Vicar allows his dog to excrete on one of his parishioner’s lawn. The home owner, Flanders, is an avid Christian. His naivety is held up to ridicule in the episode.
  • Meta –narratives and authority • Other examples of this postmodern show distrusting authority figures can be seen in this episode. The police are ridiculed discussing hamburgers with great seriousness. Similarly Superintendent Chalmers, Skinner and Mr Burns are all in turn made figures of fun.
  • Plurality of Soicety • Postmodernists believe in mini-narratives and the plurality of society. All sections of society are found in Springfield. Many sections of society that are not normally represented in popular sitcoms are found there including Cletis a poor hillbilly who lives on the edge of civilisation.
  • Genre Blurring • Postmodern texts mix and blur different genres. In this episode such blurring of genres happens. The opening scene with Apu is a parody of teenage Fraternity films like “National Lampoon Animal House” where he has sex and ends up in the swimming pool. Other segments are parodies of different genres such as Television Hospital dramas (“ER” and “House”).
  • Self-Reflexive • Post modern texts are often self-reflexive and deliberately draw attention to the fact they are artificial creations. This happens in this episode when the Spanish man refers to his disastrous day working on a sitcom.
  • Other References to Tarantino Season 8 Episode 13 Disc 2 “Supercalifred….”. • The Itchy & Scratchy short "Reservoir Cats" is a parody of the "ear-cutting scene" from Reservoir Dogs, where Mr. Blonde cuts off the ear of the police officer. • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSuZ2_yk-lc • The sequence features the same setting, camera angles and same music — "Stuck in the Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel. • At the end, Itchy and Scratchy dance in a manner similar to that seen in the film Pulp Fiction
  • Narrative Structure. • The constrictions of the beginning-middle-end narrative structure are cast off by The Simpsons except for purposes of parody
  • Narrative Structure. • If there is a definite, clear conclusion at the end of a Simpsons episode, it is usually done as a tongue-in-cheek allusion to the reinforcement of traditional family values . • Other sitcoms tend to place this family values message in the foreground.
  • Traditional Sitcoms. • The historical role of sitcoms has been to tell stories which resolve happily at the end of the show, so a positive moral of some sort can consequently be established.
  • “The Simpsons” • The Simpsons parodies this format by making use of the re-assuring resolution methods of conventional sitcoms. • Classic sappy strings are cued when the characters begin to express what they have learnt throughout the course of the story
  • Sarcasm. • In The Simpsons, there is always a glint of underlying sarcasm that suggests the absurdity in assuming that concrete moral messages could be reached in a 22-minute narrative.
  • Season 5 Episode 18. • In the episode “Burns’ Heir”, Homer offers Lisa and Bart some paternal advice typical of The Simpsons’ satire on resolution: • “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is: never try”. • Postmodern – challenging conventional morality – no meta narratives – Lyotard.
  • No meta narratives in “The Simpsons” • The Simpsons’ use of postmodernist techniques, such as fragmentation, serve to highlight the diversity of our culture and the impossibility of establishing moral authority in the pluralism of postmodern society.
  • Like Lyotard • It is a sentiment closely related to Lyotard’s theory of metanarratives, which involves a distrust of totalizing explanations of the world.
  • Lyotard and “The Simpsons” • In effect, The Simpsons’ stance is the same as Lyotard’s – to reject systems that aim to exert their authority in order to proclaim absolute truths. • Lyotard’s view is that these metanarratives, which purport to explain and re-assure, are really illusions, fostered in order to smother difference, opposition and plurality.
  • “Simpsons” postmodern because…. • The Simpsons essentially criticizes any and all who perpetuate such metanarratives. • One of the ways The Simpsons does this is by making anti-authoritarianism one of its most prominent recurring themes.
  • Challenge to authority • If a message is to be found buried underneath the highly satirical surface of The Simpsons it is opposition to authority, whether religious, political, academic or legal.
  • How “The Simpsons” does it. • A number of supporting characters in The Simpsons are figures traditionally associated with authority, such as politicians, policemen, teachers, Principal, doctors, lawyers and ministers. • The characters used to represent these figures in The Simpsons are depicted as either dangerously incompetent or criminally corrupt.
  • Examples. • Mayor Quimby, the most frequently featured politician on the show, seldom appears in a scene without taking bribes or lying to the public. He has no morality – he has a mistress! • Springfield’s Chief of Police, Chief Wiggum, has the mental ability of a young child.
  • Bart the rebel. • The consistency with which The Simpsons puts a negative spin on its figures of authority reflects a postmodernist distrust of authority. • This postmodern, subversive inclination is often demonstrated in the subversive antics of the show’s most ruthless rebel, ten-year-old Bart Simpson.
  • Bart Simpson. • Bart is an icon of youth rebellion, fiercely opposed to those who exert power over him and might force him to obey their rules. “Eat my shorts!” • His enemy is Principal Seymour Skinner, against whom Bart has committed countless malevolent (nasty) pranks.
  • Lisa • Lisa Simpson represents the show’s anti- establishment stance. Like Lyotard she dislikes the power authorities wield. • Throughout the series, Lisa exposes many of the wrongdoings committed by authorities in Springfield.
  • Series 7 Episode 16 Disc 3. • In the episode “Lisa the Iconoclast” Lisa uncovers a conspiracy orchestrated by the Springfield Historical Society, which has been forging documents and deceiving the public to propagate the false ennoblement of Jebediah Springfield.
  • Series 7 Episode 16 Disc 3. • In the episode “Lisa the Iconoclast” look out for: • The ridiculing of biblical authority – ”misinterpretation”. • The Flanders moustache – all who are naive and are fooled by meta-narrative authority have one. • The link between meta-narratives and vested interests.
  • “Lisa the Iconoclast” • The entire town has a radical religious-like faith in the myth of Jebediah ( a false meta narrative believed by everyone ). • Lisa tries to inform her community that Jebediah was in fact a murderous pirate by the name of Hans Sprungfeld. Everyone denies the truth and becomes hostile to Lisa.
  • “Lisa the Iconoclast” • Even Marge, who usually serves as the rational, moral centre of the family, ends up yelling at Lisa: “Everyone knows Jebediah Springfield was a true American hero, end of story!”
  • Why would Lyotard like “Lisa the Iconoclast”? Copy into book. • The episode challenges establish meta-narratives and explains how they become self-perpetuating. The episode highlights how people are encouraged to live with a false consciousness that prevents them from understanding the true nature of a situation. In the episode biblical authority and an iconic figure like ‘Founding Father’ George Washington are ‘debunked’. The power of vested interests to promote false meta- narratives is also highlighted.
  • “Lisa the Skeptic” Series 9 Episode 8 Disc 2. • Watch this episode.
  • “Lisa the Skeptic” Series 9 Episode 8. • In the episode “Lisa the Skeptic”, Lisa puts herself in a similar position against the common beliefs of her community in Springfield. • Everyone in the community is convinced of the authenticity of an angel fossil excavated near a shopping mall. • At the end Lisa is proved right when it is revealed that the whole thing was a publicity stunt.
  • Power of Authority. • In both of these episodes, Lisa combats brainwashing powers in Springfield by criticizing the blind faith which people have towards myths (meta narratives). Like Lyotard she distrusts meta narratives and hierarchical authority.
  • Lisa • Lisa does not agree with the way Springfield society accepts authoritative knowledge without proof. • This is the kind authoritarian belief system that Lyotard describes and opposes in “The Postmodern Condition”.
  • Knowledge and Power challenged. • When knowledge becomes hierarchical, as it is in Springfield, only ideas from select groups will be admissible. • It is in authority’s best interest to encourage this because this enables those in charge to maintain power. • With such a system comes totalizing systems of knowledge, or metanarratives.
  • Metanarratives. • Metanarratives exclude those sectors of society that are not situated at the top of the knowledge hierarchy, such as Lisa Simpson. • Who would listen to an eight year-old girl’s protests when a much more qualified source, for example the Springfield Historical Society, has already legitimized its knowledge?
  • The Postmodern Condition” by Lyotard • In “The Postmodern Condition”, Lyotard proposes a different system of knowledge. • Lyotard wants hierarchy is replaced by a “flat network of areas of inquiry”. This would include contributions from the likes of Lisa Simpson.
  • Mininarratives. • Instead of large metanarratives, Lyotard wants a series of local narratives, or mininarratives.
  • Lisa and Lyotard. • Lisa shares the same belief as Lyotard that “consensus (agreement) has become an outmoded and suspect value” (Lyotard, 1979: 66). • “The Simpsons” is postmodern because all her non-conformist efforts throughout the series serve to condemn blind consensus (agreement) to metanarratives.
  • Season 7 Episode 24 Disc 4. • Christianity is one of the most visibly predominant metanarratives in Springfield, as it is in the rest of America. • The Simpsons regularly features religion in a critical spotlight: when Homer is asked what religion he is in episode “Homerpalooza” (season 7 Episode 24), he replies; “You know, the one with the well-meaning rules that don’t work in life.”
  • “Lisa the Skeptic” Season 9 Episode 4 Disc 2 • Lyotard is a postmodern philosopher. He challenges the power of metanarratives like religion. “Lisa the Skeptic” is postmodern because it challenges religion by …..
  • “Lisa the Skeptic” Season 9 Episode 4 • Ridicules belief in angels • Ridicules Christians who refuse to believe in science • Ridicules people who believe in places like Lourdes to cure illness (old lady with foot) • Ridicules the commercialisation of religion • Highlights religious division – angel of what? • Highlights the hysteria religion can cause • Highlights the aggression religion can cause • Highlights the fear of judgement some religious leaders use to scare people.
  • “Lisa the Skeptic” Season 9 Episode 4 Disc 2 • Lyotard is a postmodern philosopher. He challenges the power of metanarratives like religion. “Lisa the Skeptic” is postmodern because it challenges religion by …..
  • Season 5 Episode 22 • Even Reverend Lovejoy, who should be Springfield’s strongest advocator of Christianity, feels constricted by his religion’s rigid set of rules. In “Secrets of a Successful Marriage” he confides in Homer that just about everything is a sin. • Pointing to the Bible, he says: “Have you ever sat down and read this thing? Technically, we’re not allowed to go to the bathroom”.
  • Marge. • Marge is the only one who goes to church out of a true adherence to the faith and not out of a pure sense of duty. The other family members follow Marge to church rather unwillingly, as if going to church is a bothersome chore.
  • Season 13 Episode 6 Disc 2. • In the episode “She of Little Faith”, Lisa gets fed up with her church’s emphasis on revenue and renounces Christianity altogether, decrying it as a materialistic faith. This outrages Springfield’s Christian community, prompting a meeting to try to lure Lisa back to the Christian faith.
  • Season 13 Episode 6 Disc 2. • Throughout the episode, Marge tries to convert Lisa by denying her the material goods that Christianity rewards her with during Christmas time. At the end of the episode, Homer asks Lisa if she’s “back on the winning team”. Even the Reverend describes the bible as, “a 2000 year old sleeping pill!” • In this scenario The Simpsons shows Christianity as a club in which ones participation is demanded by that insidious consensus Lyotard describes in “The Postmodern Condition”.
  • Ned Flanders • In The Simpsons, believers of the metanarrative of Christianity deny any other possible conceptions of the world and are willing to do anything to force consensus upon non-believers. • Fundamentalist Ned Flanders is the most extreme example of such a person. He is downright terrified when he hears Lisa proclaim her loss of faith.
  • Ned Flanders • In a frenzy of fear, he grabs his sons Rod and Todd and locks them in the basement where they will not be able to hear Lisa’s sacrilege. • In this episode and countless others, Ned Flanders is depicted in The Simpsons as such a faithful disciple of his religion that the thought of his children coming into contact with anything remotely non-Christian is petrifying.
  • Rodd and Todd • In the characters of Rod and Todd, we can identify an underlying criticism of Flanders’ overprotective Christian upbringing. • Rod and Todd (whose names naturally rhyme with God), are depicted in the series as extremely naïve and utterly confused about the ways of the world. Their knowledge of the world is limited to what their Bible says and it has resulted in a skewed understanding of the world.
  • Ned Flanders and misfortune. • Although Flanders has the strongest moral convictions and the most “concrete” ethical system of anyone on The Simpsons, he is continuously met with a suspiciously high degree of misfortune. • In “Hurricane Neddy”, Season 8 Episode 8. a hurricane demolishes Flanders’ house while Homer’s is left untouched.
  • Maude Flanders • Furthermore, Flanders’ wife, Maude, is the only recurring character on The Simpsons that has been permanently killed off (in a freak accident, of course). It seems that Flanders strong belief in Christianity does not benefit him in the end. • “The Simpsons” is post modern because it shows Flanders’ belief in the meta narrative of Christianity to be foolish.
  • Copy down in your books! • The Simpsons’ constant ridicule of Flanders’ fundamentalist belief system reflects an opposition to metanarratives; Flanders’ religious beliefs ultimately serves no end in the pluralism of postmodern society.
  • The rationale from a PM perspective. • From a postmodern perspective, in a world that is constantly changing, you cannot hold on to totalizing explanations and avoid all the other possibilities. This is why The Simpsons has not only aimed its religious satire at Christianity, but has dedicated entire episodes to satirizing other widespread religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism
  • All Religions • Staying true to postmodernism’s non- discriminating disposition, all religious metanarratives are equally vulnerable to attack by The Simpsons.
  • Intertextuality in “The Simpsons” • One of the primary features of postmodernism in aesthetic production is the use of intertextuality, which The Simpsons frequently embraces in its narratives. • A significant portion of the show’s comedy lies in its rich use of both explicit and implicit references to cultural icons from the past and the present.
  • Intertextual References. • To feature so many intertextual references as The Simpsons does was novel for any popular TV series, particularly in the animation genre. • Watching any given episode of The Simpsons, viewers will find it difficult to ignore the bombardment of allusions to all kinds of cultural phenomena.
  • Season 4 Episode 2. • Taking the episode “A Streetcar Named Marge” as an example, cultural references range from the Broadway play Oh! Calcutta! to the Russian philosopher Ayn Rand .
  • Season 4 Episode 2. • The episode’s story centres around Marge’s participation in a local production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, to which numerous references are made and lines of dialogue are extracted from throughout the episode, as well as serving as an allegory for Homer’s brutish Stanley Kowalski-esque treatment of Marge
  • “A Streetcar Named Marge” • Meanwhile, Maggie is left at the Ayn Rand School for Tots, from which she is forced to escape by re-enacting scenes from the 1963 films The Great Escape and The Birds.
  • An ‘in joke’ to an elite club! • Ignoring the fact that most viewers will be completely oblivious to the philosophy of *Ayn Rand, several references to Rand’s central motifs are embedded in the episode (e.g., posters appear with the phrases “A is A” and “helping is futile”). 1 “A Streetcar Named Marge” is demonstrative of The Simpsons’ plentiful use of referencing, to the extent that the references are almost as significant to one’s enjoyment of the show as its actual storyline.
  • Ayn Rand • *Ayn Rand is best known for developing the philosophy of objectivism. Her philosophy emphasizes individualism and self-sufficiency, as alluded to in the phrase “helping is futile”. “A is A” is a quote from her 1957 book Atlas Shrugged, used to describe her concept of individual rights.
  • A wide range! • The writers usually tend towards those references most familiar with the public, such as popular film, music and other television programs. By limiting themselves to neither popular nor obscure references, the show ignores the distinction between the adult/child demographics.
  • Recognisable Parodies. The diverse nature of the show’s references occasionally alienate both adults and children at the same time but most viewers are easily able to recognize parodies of well-known celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Well Known Celebrities! • Although Schwarzenegger does not lend his voice to the Rainier Wolfcastle character, a long list of other celebrities have lined up to make an appearance on the show, either as themselves or as fictional characters.
  • Representation • At times, the version of themselves to which they lend their voice is deliberately made to be a stereotype of their real persona. • The subjects of parody will gladly contribute an element of their real identity (i.e., their voice) in order to project their stereotypical personality. This is one of the ways in which The Simpsons embraces popular conceptions instead of accurate representations.
  • Stereotyping. • The Simpson family’s vacations to foreign countries, England, Australia, Japan and Brazil, are perhaps the best example of the show’s characteristic celebration of overly simplistic stereotypes. In episodes taking place in foreign countries, nearly every common stereotype associated with those countries is represented as the country’s reality.
  • Season 13 Episode 15 Disc 3 • In the Simpson family’s vacation to Rio de Janeiro in episode “Blame It On Lisa”, monkeys live in the streets and attack people, children mug tourists and all men are bisexual.
  • Self Reflexive • The Simpsons’s use of intertextuality is not only found in references to other works but in references to itself as well. The program displays an acute self-consciousness through frequent references to its own creations.
  • Season 10 Episode 10. • Characters in The Simpsons occasionally reconsider their actions based on the storyline of previous episodes; they will suddenly stop in their tracks to point out that their actions would lead to glaring discontinuity with previous episodes (e.g., in the episode “Viva Ned Flanders”).
  • Season 5 Episode 12 • In “Bart Gets Famous”, Bart walks down the street humming the theme to The Simpsons. Characters often make self-aware comments that their existence is that of a television program
  • Season 1 Episode 12 • The Simpsons’ self-reflexivity is also apparent through numerous references to its relationship to other cartoons, as well as its status as an animated program for adults. In “Krusty Gets Busted” Lisa tells Homer: “If cartoons were meant for adults, they’d put them on prime time,” alluding to the fact that The Simpsons is the first animated show in American television history to be aired on prime time.
  • Self Reflexive • Throughout the series, different Simpson family members have repeatedly dismissed cartoons as cheap entertainment with various self-parodying pronouncements, e.g. “Cartoons are just stupid drawings that give you a cheap laugh” (“Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington”) and “We’re characters in a cartoon. How humiliating” (“Treehouse of Horror IX”).
  • Other Cartoons • In addition to alluding to itself as a cartoon series, The Simpsons has parodied several of its cartoon peer programs, such as Family Guy, Tom & Jerry, The Flintstones, The Road Runner Show, The Jetsons and Yogi Bear, to name a few.
  • Self Reflexive • In recent seasons, The Simpsons has also meta-acknowledged Family Guy’s debt to The Simpsons with several biting criticisms of Family Guy’s lack of originality. • There have also be a number of references to The Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening’s other animated series, Futurama.
  • Copy into books • While there are only a few examples mentioned here, they provide a good idea of the show’s extensive and varied usage of parody and self-referencing as a comedic tool.
  • Pastiche • The Simpsons’ broader uses of intertextuality are perhaps better exemplified in its repeated imitations of other cultural works or styles, or what the theorists of the postmodernism label as *pastiche. • * an artistic work composed of works borrowed from other works and loosely connected together, work imitating another’s style.
  • Pastiche not Parody • In his essay “Postmodernism”, Jameson describes pastiche as a central characteristic of postmodern cultural production. • Pastiche, Jameson claims, is a kind of blank parody – mimicking without the satiric impulse that is identified with *parody. • * a composition in which the author’s work is made fun of by imitiation.
  • Postmodern – looking back! • Postmodern art forms are characterized by reproduction instead of production, as the trademarks of original authors in the past are reproduced in postmodern works.
  • Season 6 Episode 1. • Many episodes of The • Simpsons employ pastiche of other books, movies or historical events, from start to finish. The episode “Bart of Darkness” (an allusion to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness), in which Bart is forced to spend his summer indoors due to a broken leg, is a pastiche of Hitchcock’s Rear Window.
  • Season 6 Episode 1. • Bart uses a telescope to look around his neighbourhood and uncovers a mysterious murder plot in the Flanders’ house, which becomes the episode’s main storyline. • Besides borrowing the storyline from Rear Window, many of the episode’s “camera angles” directly emulate some of the film’s well-known shots.
  • Halloween Specials • In several of the mini-episodes in The Simpsons, particularly those appearing on the Halloween specials, storylines and styles have been borrowed from a seemingly endless list of works, such as Tron, Homer’s Odyssey, Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Henry VIII, The Shining and Poe’s “The Raven”.
  • Halloween Specials • These are only a few examples of works whose entire storylines have been compressed into 8 minutes and somehow superimposed onto the cartoon world of Springfield. The main characters are replaced by members of the Simpson family and details are altered for the sake of comedy, but the storyline in these short narratives basically remains the same.
  • Advantages of animation. • The Simpsons is easily able to represent its borrowed works’ visual styles by taking full advantage of the medium of animation. The endlessly mutable forms of animation allows The Simpsons to mimic particular settings, moods, lighting techniques and camera angles with accuracy, and incorporate it into their story in any way they please.
  • Parody and Pastiche of the Past. • Although The Simpsons is primarily occupied with contemporary culture, the past comprises a significant portion of its parodies and pastiche. References to historical events and figures are frequently assimilated into the story and parodied.
  • Visual Effects. • The visual looks of certain eras are often adopted in order to reflect the setting of a historical event being represented. When Homer reminisces about his childhood we are transported into the 1950s through stereotypical images of that era, as the vivid colours of the present are faded to the black- and-white symbolic of the time period in which the story takes place
  • Postmodern Viewers. • Presenting the 1950s in colour would appear less authentic to the postmodern viewer than black-and-white, a mode in which the viewer is more accustomed to seeing that period represented, even though colours were just as vivid then in reality as they are now.
  • Jameson – loss of historical reality. • The Simpsons’ deliberate dismissal of realism in favour of common perceptions of the past is consistent with Jameson’s theory of loss of historical reality
  • Jameson – history. • In his essay “Postmodernism or The Cultural Logic of Post Capitalism”, Jameson claims that the addiction to the photographic image in the postmodern era has a growing tendency to modify the past. We acquire our impression of the past from images we see in the media, films, books, magazines, etc. How we look upon the past is limited to these forms.
  • Postmodern history. • History comes to be conceived in superficial forms and our understanding of the past ends up being based on an image of an image.
  • Not Real • For example, our understanding of Pocahontas may be based on the Disney film, which in turn was based on 17th century paintings of the actual woman. The Simpsons seems to take advantage of this environment which Jameson describes by depicting historical figures as clichés instead of real people.
  • Season 6 Episode 10 • In a flashback in “Homer vs. Sexual Inadequacy”, a young Homer watches female reporters swoon over John F. Kennedy’s charm while he makes flip remarks with an exaggerated New England accent.
  • Irony. • Historical events are portrayed in a similarly clichéd manner: a civil war re-enactment in “The PTA Disbands” has a wounded soldier cry out: “We need leeches and hacksaws to saw off our gangrenous limbs!” reducing 19th century medicine to medieval medicine. • These inaccurate portrayals of history are typical of the heavy irony with which The Simpsons revisits the past.
  • Season 6 Episode 21 • Historical events are portrayed in a similarly clichéd manner: a civil war re-enactment in “The PTA Disbands” has a wounded soldier cry out: “We need leeches and hacksaws to saw off our gangrenous limbs!” reducing 19th century medicine to medieval medicine. • These inaccurate portrayals of history are typical of the heavy irony with which The Simpsons revisits the past.
  • Jameson • What we are left with is, in the somewhat fatalistic words of Jameson, “a new and original historical situation in which we are condemned to seek History by way of our own pop images and simulacra of that history…” (Jameson, 1993: 79).
  • Part of the Problem? • The Simpsons finds itself in a uniquely postmodern position: it adopts pop images from outside sources but at the same time contorts them into the wildly fictional world of Springfield, thus producing new pop images of its own. Due to its immense popularity all over the world, The Simpsons has been cast as a major contributor to the simulacra of history to which Jameson refers.
  • A Worry ? • With the proliferation of references to ‘real’ history in The Simpsons, the show has begun to alter their viewers’ historical consciousness, by replacing accurate knowledge with its semi- fictional Simpsonian counterpart.
  • Copy into books • The imagined and the real are continually conflated in Springfield, eventually resulting in a hyperreality wherein the viewer is detached from real emotional engagement and artificial stimulation is all that can be achieved. • This is a distinctly postmodern condition.
  • Mass Media and Springfieldian Hyperreality Please copy into your books. • As post-industrial technology, particularly the mass media becomes more integrated into our lives than ever before, the imitations of reality represented in these media come to be given more credibility than the realities they are intended to imitate. •
  • Copy into books • The media once transmitted representations of reality that could be associated with a fixed referent from the real world, but the postmodern era sees media representations entirely losing their association with their referent.
  • Copy into books • The mass media begin to dominate our consciousness with a superabundance of images disassociated from the signs they were meant to represent. What we are left with are not representations of reality in the literal sense, but simulations of reality, which are essentially copies of copies.
  • Disappearance of the real ! • The mass media have such an influence on the public that the information it exchanges is based on copies of copies instead of the original referents. • Due to mass media’s usurpation of the individual, these copies take precedence over the original referents in daily discourse, and Baudrillard sees this situation as eventually resulting in the disappearance of the real.
  • Hyperreality • With reality giving way to hyperreality, our understanding of the world becomes increasingly supplanted by mass media’s objective simulations instead of subjective experience.
  • Baudrillard • Baudrillard describes the media as a form of communication with no response from the individuals on the receiving end. • The information provided by the media thus becomes difficult to question, because there is no opportunity for dialogue.
  • Dominating Culture. • The masses’ faith in information supports the media and causes them to produce more and more information, until an endless excess of information dominates the culture.
  • All Meaning Lost! • Baudrillard theorizes that because we believe information produces meaning, the abundance of information eventually collapses and implodes into itself, until its meaning is lost.
  • Baudrillard • Information does not create meaning, says Baudrillard, but instead exhausts itself in the staging of meaning. • With our incautious faith in the authenticity of media-generated information we are unknowingly contributing to the creation of more meaningless signs and images that appear to be associated with reality but are not.
  • A Growing Problem • Mass media’s faster and more effective circulation of information allows these hyperreal images to proliferate into our society without obstruction. • Reality is dull. The hyperreal simulations are more appealing to us because they serve to stimulate as well as to inform.
  • More and More Stimulation ! • Artificial stimulation provided by the media motivates the public to receive all of its hyperreal images and constantly demand more stimulation. • One of the ways by which this demand presents itself in postmodern society is in the masses’ preoccupation with television. Historically, television has been the dominant medium of postmodern society, particularly before the internet age. •
  • Television • Baudrillard describes television as the ultimate and perfect object for this new era. • Watching television is a way to absorb images and enjoy hyperreal simulations with incredible ease.
  • Television • Due to its easy access to TV stimulation, the postmodern public literally begins to centre its life around TV. • Our furniture is aligned around the TV set, not the other way around. The result is an “alarming presence of the *television+ medium” in postmodern society, a condition which ultimately leads to the “dissolution of TV in life, dissolution of life in TV” (Baudrillard, 1981: 30).
  • Audience response ! • We become unable to identify the effect TV has on us because it is such an integral part of our lives. As the passive receivers of TV images, we gradually lose understanding of the distinction between the real and the imagined.
  • Copy into books. • The hyperreal images of TV are given more credibility and power over the individual than the objects on which the images were based.
  • “The Simpsons” and TV. • Because the Simpson family is in many ways a symbol of the typical contemporary American family, television is given the utmost prominence in the Simpsons’ lives.
  • “The Simpsons” and TV. • The show’s opening sequence is itself illustrative of TV’s importance in the family’s existence: all family members rush through their everyday lives in a frantic struggle to reach their ultimate destination as quickly as possible: the couch in front of their television set.
  • “The Simpsons” and TV. • The opening sequence sets the tone for the show’s continual depictions of TV as both a unifying force and an instigator of the family’s actions. TV is what brings these different age groups together as they watch the vast array of recurring TV shows broadcast in Springfield, from the political debates on Smartline to the mind-numbingviolence of The Itchy and Scratchy Show.
  • The power of TV • Bart and Lisa are binary opposites with regards to taste and intellectual capacity, but these differences immediately dissolve when an episode of Itchy and Scratchy appears on the TV screen. • Bart and Lisa, find more stimulation in the cartoon world on their TV screen than in their own cartoon world.
  • Living in a hyperreality. • Much like the viewers at home watching The Simpsons, Bart and Lisa prefer to live their experiences through the imaginary world on television. • Bart and Lisa, as animated characters, revel in this hyper-cartoon world in which violence is non- consequential and the characters magically reappear in perfect shape after every episode.
  • Hyperreality within Hyperreality. • The outrageously cartoon world in Itchy and Scratchy is in effect a simulation of the “real” world of Springfield – a hyperreality within a hyperreality. • The non-consequential violence typical of cartoons ever since Tom & Jerry is displayed in Itchy and Scratchy as if to sharply distinguish between the real and the imaginary in Bart and Lisa’s reality.
  • Baudrillard • According to Baudrillard, our fascination with the imaginary, such as the cartoon world of The Simpsons, stems from wanting to disassociate ourselves from the imaginary, in an attempt to establish our world as more real.
  • Reality. • By watching Itchy and Scratchy, Bart and Lisa reinforce their view that their world is real in comparison to the fictional world of their TV’s images, as Baudrillard would have it that viewers of The Simpsons are reinforcing their view of the world as more real than the fictional world of The Simpsons.
  • Copy into books. • Baudrillard says the boundary which we foster between real and imaginary is actually an illusion; our world is no longer any more real than the fictional ones because the unstoppable proliferation of media images dissolves these boundaries. This dissolution can be seen within The Simpsons as well as outside it.
  • Postmodern Criticism of TV. • The pervasive influence of mass media in Springfield is also apparent in Homer Simpson’s morbid obsession with television. • His compulsive channel-changing behaviour displays a symptom of postmodern TV culture, wherein the act of watching television revolves around constant consumption of superficial images instead of taking in an underlying meaning.
  • Postmodern Criticism of TV. • The more channels one surfs, the more of these images can be absorbed, and the more stimulation can be achieved. The channel- changing fixation in postmodern TV culture essentially transforms television programs into trailers designed to satisfy the public’s demand for instant gratification.
  • Season 5 Episode 6. • His search for gratification in television ultimately fails and often results in a cry of frustration. In “Marge on the Lam”, Homer does not understand a joke he sees on TV and reacts by slamming the TV set, exclaiming: “Stupid TV. Be more funny!”
  • Baudrillard believes …… • Here, Homer is confusing the medium of television with the message it transmits, which Baudrillard sees as “the first great formula of the era [of hyperreality]” (1994: 30).
  • Baudrillard believes ….. • Baudrillard believes that this widespread confusion signifies the end of the message, as the medium and its message implode into each other and become part of a single hyperreal nebula whose truth is indecipherable (1994: 83).
  • Baudrillard believes ….. • It becomes impossible to define what the medium is and thus it becomes difficult to determine whether it is the message that lends credibility to the medium or the other way around
  • “Gulf War never happened.” • The medium ceases to become an intermediary and becomes the message itself. This puts the medium of television into the position of being able to present its messages as automatically credible to viewers such as Homer Simpson. • Hence “The Gulf War” never happened.
  • Believing a simulacra. • Homer puts his utmost faith in television and feels deceived when it fails him, yet he never loses his trust in it. Television remains to Homer the source of both entertainment and information.
  • Like Fox TV ? • If a newsworthy event takes place in Springfield, Homer switches to Channel 6 Action News, whose coverage is characterized by a deliberate deviation from authenticity in favour of empty sensationalism. To Channel 6 Action News, it is more important to entertain the viewer than to deliver an accurate depiction of events.
  • Copy into books. • Passive viewers like Homer let such machines of the mass media interpret information for them and make judgments on their behalf, regardless of their inaccuracy.
  • Season 6 Episode 9 • The episode “Homer Badman” is particularly representative of the impact mass media has on public opinion. In this episode, Homer himself becomes the subject of the media spotlight when he is wrongfully accused of sexually harassing his babysitter
  • “Homer Badman” • Homer’s faith in television compels him to agree to an interview with sleazy TV magazine show Rock Bottom.2 Of course the interview is edited out of context so that Homer appears to be a sex-crazed pervert, because that is what makes compelling television.
  • “Homer Badman” • The Simpson house is consequently surrounded by hordes of television reporters who construe Homer’s every move as monstrously perverted. Matters get even worse when a TV movie, based on the “real events” of Homer’s harassment, depicts Homer as outrageously evil and even maniacal.
  • “Homer Badman” • Homer becomes the most hated man in Springfield, a victim of the media’s power over public opinion. Springfield’s residents receive the media’s false representations without criticism, and so their opinion of Homer is based not on Homer himself but on the false TV movie depiction of him.
  • “Homer Badman” • Even Homer’s children are hesitant to believe Homer’s side of the story. Bart tells Homer: “It’s too “Rock Bottom” is a parody of news programme “Hard Copy”, known for sensationalizing its news stories. Focusing primarily on scandals and conspiracies, the show’s journalism closely resembles the kind of journalism practiced on “Rock Bottom”.
  • “Homer Badman” • This leaves Homer, the only person qualified to recognize the truth of what actually took place, in doubt. • Homer says “Maybe TV is right. TV’s always right. • In the end, the media has managed to conflate the real and the fictional so convincingly that even the subject of the false representation is duped, leaving no tenable version of the actual so-called harassment event.
  • A Postmodern view, • Reality has been lost in the media’s play of simulations with no underlying truth to support their representations. The only version of the event left in the world is the one that the media have created. • “Homer Badman” serves to remind the postmodern subject of its complete dependence on the media’s perspective.
  • How Ironic ! • Ironically, the only way to eliminate the lies television has produced about Homer is to broadcast the truth on public access television. • This is how Homer eventually clears his name. Thus, television has both ruined Homer’s life and redeemed it once again. Television’s command over Homer’s life is complete.
  • Are we like Homer? • At the end of the episode we learn that Homer’s faith in television has not changed one bit, despite the fact that he has experienced first- hand how easily the medium can be manipulated. • We can see the character of Homer Simpson as embodying the postmodern difficulty of separating oneself from the dominant medium of TV.
  • The Power of Television. • Homer cannot abandon TV because his life would seem empty without the artificial simulations it provides. • His inevitable submission to television is further suggested in the conclusion in “Homer Badman” .Homer embraces his TV set and pleads to it apologetically: “Let’s never fight again.” Homer has never let anything come between him and his television, and he is not about to start.
  • Conclusion • If television is one of the media in which postmodernity is most clearly visible, The Simpsons must be regarded as one of the programmes in which the postmodernization of television is most clearly exhibited.
  • Copy and learn ! • The Simpsons displays a multitude of the most prominent formal features that are commonly associated with postmodernism, such as self- consciousness, fragmentation, parody and pastiche, intertextuality, hyperrealism, multi- layered irony, and a strong opposition to hierarchy and authority.
  • “The Simpsons” Legacy. • A myriad of animated television shows have followed in The Simpsons’ footsteps, such as Family Guy, South Park and Drawn Together, which employ some of the same techniques while intensifying them to achieve a more aggressively postmodern effect.
  • Longevity and Universality. • What distinguishes The Simpsons from these programmes is its unequalled universal appeal, having reached the status as the highest rated cartoon in history and longest running sitcom of all time.
  • Cheeky ! • The Simpsons further dissolves boundaries by being dependent on the commercially driven corporation FOX Broadcasting while overtly antagonizing it in its content, as is evident in their ongoing jokes about Rupert Murdoch’s corporate empire.
  • “The Simpsons”. • One of the more biting ‘couch gags’ in The Simpsons’ opening sequences is when the family rips the FOX logo off the bottom right corner and angrily stomps on it. • This kind of subversive act against the very institution that makes your artistic production possible is representative of The Simpsons’ disdain for corporate conglomerations. It is the perfect example of fierce anti-foundational postmodernity, right in the face of mainstream America.
  • Popularity. • In a 1998 issue of Time Magazine, celebrating the greatest achievements in the 20th century arts and entertainment, The Simpsons was named the century’s best television series. • Bart Simpson was also named one of the 100 most influential people of the century in the same issue (the only fictional character on the list).
  • Popularity. • The Simpsons finds itself in the unique situation of being known as one of the most influential shows in television history while at the same time largely owing its popularity and critical praise to its incalculable recycling of pop culture in the form of intertextuality and pastiche.
  • A Pop Culture Icon. • The Simpsons has now become a pop culture icon of its own. Its imitations of pop culture are now being imitated by a growing number of new hyper-postmodern TV shows.
  • Audience Awareness. • The Simpsons could not have thrived on prime-time network television unless it was embraced by an audience so advanced in “TV literacy” that they are able to recognize and relish the signs and symbols from TV culture which the show continuously throws at them.
  • TV Literacy. • The Simpsons could not have thrived on prime-time network television unless it was embraced by an audience so advanced in “TV literacy” that they are able to recognize and relish the signs and symbols from TV culture which the show continuously throws at them.
  • and Postmodernis m!
  • What is Postmodernism?•It is where new texts are constructed by making reference to, or „borrowing‟ from, existing texts. • It rejects conventional reality and conventional forms.
  • The Simpsons Is a postmodern recreation of the first generation sitcom. It includes a range of postmodern features such as: • Pastiche - borrows or imitates from the work or style of others • Quotation – Repeats and quotes from other sources • Intertextuality - makes use of a different text in order to add a different layer of meaning • Reflexivity – reflects on itself and uses internal references.
  • Reflexivity •The use of internal references within episodes of the show represent a feature of postmodernism. • Although each episode is freestanding, they carry a memory of past episodes. • Many of the supporting characters change, even though the main ones do not. • Appeals to a sophisticated audience, Rewarding loyal viewers with inter- textual References.
  • Reflexive TV •The Simpsons is a great example of reflexive TV. • It is about the process of viewing TV, represented by the opening credits where characters rush to the couch. • The show contains its own TV universe with news anchorman Kent Brockman, Spanish sitcoms on TV, and the animated Itchy and Scratchy Show, a parody of our own Tom and Jerry. • Combines our world with its own world. • episodes which include celebrities from our world often include the real actor‟s
  • Hyperconsciousnes s! The show is very aware of the fact that it is a show, and there are often small jokes that relate to this, for example: • In “Homer‟s Night Out” the episode includes a sequence of silent film. YouTube - Homers Night Out • In “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”, A balloon with Bart‟s face on it flies across the screen. • The “138th Episode Spectacular” consists of an episode where the characters discuss
  • • Much of the show uses material from other sources to create new ideas for episodes. • This occurs mostly in Halloween specials. • In “The Springfield Files”, Homer sees an alien, and the episode uses elements from a range of sources such as The Shining, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, andThe X Files, even using the characters of Moulder and Scully and the theme tune. Pastich e
  • Works Cited • Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory. 2nd ed. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002. • Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila F. Glaser. Ann Arbor: • University of Michigan Press, 1994.
  • Works Cited • Lyotard, Jean-François. The Postmodern Condition: a Report on Knowledge. Trans. • McRobbie, Angela. Postmodernism and Popular Culture. London: Routledge, 1994. • Kellner, Douglas. Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond. • Sim, Stuart. "Postmodernism and Philosophy." The Routledge Companion to • Postmodernism. Ed. Stuart Sim. London: Routledge, 2001. 3-14.
  • “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) 153 min - Adventure | Drama | War - Director: Quentin Tarantino» Writer: Quentin Tarantino Stars: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger and Eli Roth
  • What type of film is it? • Is the film a grotesque postmodernist reconstruction of military operations at the end of WWII?
  • Inspiration / Reference to other texts. • Inspired by “Inglorious Basterds” (1977) – an Italian war film directed by Enzo Castellari. • This film was in turn inspired by “The Dirty Dozen” (Aldrich 1967). • To what extent is this postmodern film ‘original’ if it reworks earlier films.
  • Postmodern because of the film score? • The score (and the intertextual references) remind the audience they are watching a ‘fairy tale’. • The audience being constantly reminded this is not reality and a film with in a film. • Tarentino, has used several different scores in the film such as David Bowie’s ‘Cat People’ (1982). This music is postmodern because the sound tracks are from a different era to the film’s setting.
  • Postmodern because ………… • The film mixes genres. • The “Basterds” 'scalp' the people they kill. • Scalping is a feature of western films not WW2 ones.
  • Intertextuality • The dialogue contains references to another cult Italian director (Antonio Margheriti). • There are other references to German cinema of the 1930s and 40s.
  • Mix of genres • A European art-house film? • A revenge crowd-pleaser? • A slap in the face to self-serious cinema? • An uncompromising thriller? • A joyous slice of entertainment? • A Leone-style western? • A men-on-a-mission throwback?
  • Mix of genres – the western! • Tarantino’s ‘Basterds’ scalp like the Apache Indians. • The film music reinforces this association by citing music from the brutal spaghetti westerns whose score was composed by Ennio Morricone.
  • Postmodern references to other films. • The pram scene in ‘Nation’s Pride’ (a film within ‘Inglorious Basterds’) is an intertextual reference to the Odessa Steps sequence in ‘Battleship Potemkin’. • NB ‘Inglorious Basterds’ can be considered postmodern because it contains a ‘film within a film’.
  • Postmodern because ………. • The film starts with ‘Once upon a time’ which is how a fairytale starts. • The film ends in a forest. A happy ending?
  • Postmodern films are self-reflexive • They never let the audience ‘suspend disbelief’ in the traditional way. • The film is ‘peppered’ with distancing devices most famously associated with Goddard.
  • A ‘Self-reflexive’ Film. • Tarantino mocks self-serious period films through a barrage of devices to distance viewers. • Where a film like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” does everything it can to get the audience to suspend disbelief, ‘Inglourious Basterds’ prefers a self-aware (self reflexive) approach.
  • Postmodern because ………… • in the first scene, where the Colonel goes to the house with the Jews under the floorboards, the audience notice that the backdrops are painted. • Not reality!
  • “IB” is self-reflexive ……… • Tarentino reveals the set to the audience. When Shoshanna is preparing herself for the Nazi film night at the cinema, the set is revealed by an overhead camera shot. • The camera follows Shoshanna across the set and over a door frame which is visible.
  • Constant reminders the “I B” is not ‘real’. The film is ‘self reflexive’. • Bizarre titles and freeze frames intentionally shatter the film's tone and play for laughs. • Brad Pitt talks in a funny accent.
  • A ‘Self-reflexive’ Film. • Tarantino sprinkles his story with randomly-timed Samuel L. Jackson narration, David Bowie interludes, and other self-conscious devices to distance us from what is happening on screen. • Like Godard, he wants us to know we're watching a movie. Unlike Godard, he actually cares to entertain. Tarantino wants to bring postmodern filmmaking to a wide audience.
  • No reality in Postmodernism. • The postmodern ‘media-scape’ is a matter of superficial surfaces. • Postmodern texts are a zone in which signs can function without having to be plugged into ‘reality’ - the authentic realm of existence. • NB Beaudrillard – “Gulf War”.
  • Jameson • This critic of postmodernism would not like this film? • Why? • He fears that postmodernism leads to a lack of historical reality. • He is concerned that pastiche is a ‘dead end’.
  • Jameson • Fredric Jameson said that pastiche is a "dead language." • Postmodernists have ruined the form itself by depriving it of any historicity. • With no political or historical content, pastiche cannot effectively satirize anything. • The result is what Jameson calls "blank parody," a mere gesture of satire too hollow to properly skewer anything.
  • No reality • Jameson would criticise the film as being a ‘phantom of authenticity which always ends up just short of reality’.
  • Jameson -Historical Problem. • Is there a problem with the postmodernist, playful, pseudo-historical reconstruction of the end of the WWII? • Tarantino provokes us with the fictitious possibility of ending the war by killing Hitler, Goebbels, Bormann and Göring in a film (“all the rotten eggs in one basket”).
  • Images and Reality. • Postmodern theorists argue, in a society inundated with images, The Truth and The Image become indiscernible. • It's all "real" if you can convince people it's real. Whether it is or not doesn’t matter.
  • Jameson – the superficiality of historical representations in postmodernism. • The Nazi, as a stock character, has effectively been stripped of his historical context and been transformed into an all-purpose villain, a vessel into which any artist can pour his desired message. • The American soldier is perfectly interchangeable with The Cowboy: tough, handsome, and courageously fighting for any number of specific kinds of patriotism and honour.
  • No historical reality. • Tarantino partially modelled the film after Sergio Leone's western epics. By the time A Fistful of Dollars came out in 1964, the historical reality of the American West had long been erased by cinematic lies. • Leone's westerns were exaggerations and parodies of the same ‘mythologization’ found in other films of the western genre and have as little to do with the actual settling of the frontier as ‘Inglourious Basterds’ does with the actual Nazi occupation of France.
  • Postmodern because ………… • The film starts with ‘Once Upon a Time' and is split into ‘chapters’ - this implies it is a fairy tale and is all ‘made up’.
  • Postmodern because ………… • … there is a split screen of a man trying to get a nitrate film onto a bus. • This split screen is a modern filmic device and disorientates the viewer. It is out of place in a war film.
  • Key Point • “Inglourious Basterds” positions viewers as spectators of history as a comic book.
  • Morality and Postmodernism • Is the film controversial because it lacks the ‘moral high ground’ of most WWII films?
  • No historical reality regarding……. • The clothing and hair styles. • Although Aldo and his gang were: dragged across a dirty floor, been in a fight and had bags over their heads, their clothing and hair styles remained unrealistically clean.
  • A controversial thought! • The target of ‘IB' isn't the Nazis, the Holocaust, or any of the other actual people involved. • The target is the post war film audiences in Europe and America whose fondness for action and cheap drama reduced World War II to a shallow, unthinking film genre.
  • Is the film controversial because it deals with serious ‘taboo’ issues? • Should top level officers of conquered armies, who committed massive war crimes against civilians, be allowed to have arranged conditional surrenders? • Should they be eternally branded? Tarantino’s bad Jewish ‘Basterds’ carve Nazi swastikas on the forehead.
  • Jameson – the superficiality of historical representations in postmodernism. • Tarantino's versions of these characters are purposely disconnected from their historical counterparts. • They are caricatures, freed from the prisons of historical accuracy, morality, and realism, able to run amok in Tarantino's ‘hyperreality’.
  • Postmodern – no consequences. • Where are the audience positioned with regard to moral responsibility? • Is everything in ‘quotation marks’ in this film? • Does this relieve the audience of moral responsibility?
  • Postmodern Music Score. • In a war film you would expect to find old fashioned music from the era of the film’s setting (or new music that mimics the older style). • However, in ‘IB’ Tarantino uses modern music - e.g. a David Bowie song when Shosanna is doing her hair and makeup. • Also, Tarentino uses music from spaghetti westerns – a deliberate mixing of genres.
  • Controversial questions. Why do we watch films like this? • Is ‘Inglorious Basterds’ too brutal to enjoy without a sadistic streak? • Has Tarantino tapped into the undercurrent of sadomasochistic glee responsible for the continued popularity of World War II movies?
  • Postmodern because ………… • We are reminded it is a film and not reality. • In the scene where we see Shoshanna walking around her cinema, it turns into a ‘birds eye’ view. The audience see that it is all just a set and not a real building. A deliberate removal of authenticity.
  • A Step too Far? • Different directors dish out different levels of wanton Nazi slaughter, but only Tarantino has the audacity to unload a clip of machine gun ammunition into Hitler's face and turn it into a pile of hamburger meat with a toothbrush moustache.
  • A controversial moral problem? • Is there a problem in having a brilliant, intelligent, eloquent, polyglot, charming and well-mannered mass murderer in the character of the SS-colonel Hans Landa? • Is there a problem that he represents some very famous Nazi monsters who managed to escape from justice (e.g. Mengele)?
  • Interesting Last Thoughts. • ‘Inglourious Basterds’ is a postmodern movie about the importance of images in society. • In almost every scene, characters broadcast images and conceal true aspects of their real selves. They lie, exaggerate, and hide in the name of escaping death (if on the defensive) or spreading fear (if on the offensive).
  • Interesting Last Thoughts • Some characters, like Goebbels, use visual media to propagate myths about themselves and their enemies. Others, like Brad Pitt's Lt. Aldo Raine, take a viral approach. They roam the woods, terrorizing Nazis, and leaving survivors to speak of the horrors. • Both share the same goals: rallying supporters and scaring enemies. At its core, ‘Inglourious Basterds’ unfolds like a murderous PR battle.
  • Hugo Chavez and the Power of Simulacra • Hugo Chavez became President of Venezuela. He focused on implementing socialist reforms. He helped the poor in the country by providing health care and free education. The USA saw him as a Communist threat because he put up the price of oil and their media waged a campaign against him. • On 11 April 2002 the ‘right wing’, wealthy, business, pro USA elite tried to replace Chavez. During the coup guns were fired, and violence ensued involving both pro- and anti-Chávez supporters, the police, and the army. Twenty people were killed. The USA manipulated the media to make it look as though Chavez was the villain. The USA news replayed this simulacra of reality to convince the US public Chavez was their enemy. • “The War on Democracy” John Pilger 2007.
  • Fox News Fox news is owned by Rupert Murdoch. He is very ‘right wing’ and supports conservative, ‘right wing’ politicians. The slogan for Fox News is ‘Fair and Balanced’. This is a distortion of the truth. Rather than present news, Fox News presents opinions presented as news. In extreme cases, rather than present the news neutrally it presents a biased simulacra news events. This is dangerous and prevents the public from making up its own mind.
  • Post-modern Controversies Here are some of the controversial aspects of postmodernism you can discuss in your examination essay .
  • Exam Style Questions • Consider the ways in which post-modern media challenge conventional relations between audience and text. Refer to at least two media forms in your answer. [50] • Explain why the idea of 'post-modern media' might be considered controversial. Cover at least two media in your answer. [50] • “Post-modern media blur the boundary between reality and representation”. Discuss this idea with reference to the media texts that you have studied.
  • Exam Questions • Think which texts you will use. • Why are they postmodern? 1. What is controversial about what makes them postmodern? 2. How do the audience respond to these postmodern elements? Active rather than passive? 3. How do these postmodern elements blur the boundary between reality and representation?
  • Television NB Simulacra/hyperreality – not living real life but a simulation of life as portrayed by the media. POSTMODERNISM AND ‘CONTROVERSY
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • Reality TV is littered with celebrities that are famous just for being famous – no talent – unlike the past. • Who can we think of? • Katie Price? Kerry Katona?
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • Are they victims? • Danger for individuals concerned – Jade Goody, Kerry Katona, Mark Wright etc – ultimately destroyed by their fame? • Ultimately the celebrity defines him/herself in terms of the media image (Jordan, Peter A etc). • They become trapped by their need for celebrity – but of course have no real talent.
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • Their celebrity is dependent upon the audience being complicit and choosing to bestow celebrity on them. • Does this mean the ‘celebrity’ is the victim and ‘power’ lies with the viewer? • At its most obvious the viewer has power to evict from the jungle / X factor etc.
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • Michel Foucault (1926-1984) • Foucault's ideas centred on how we know about the world around us and each other. • His main ideas were on: • Panopitcalisation • Knowledge and Power
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • Panopitcalisation • The Panopiticon was an innovative prison design by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1785. • In it he designed a prison in which all inmates could be constantly watched or be under the threat of being watched.
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • Foucault's ideas explain why we are so obsessed with Voyeurism in Postmodernity. • Foucault suggested that the act of watching (voyeurism) was an act of power and control on part of the viewer. • Because of this people act differently and the act of watching becomes an act of control.
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • Recently Foucault's ideas have been used by postmodern theorists to understand Reality TV and the Media. • Foucault says: 1. Reality TV is not ‘real’ if people act differently when being watched (simulacra). 2. People like watching reality TV because it gives a sense of being in control.
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • “TOWIE” • Since the late 90's, reality TV has grown in popularity as it turns the camera on the audience • Some argue this is lazy/cheap TV programming • Others that it reflects Foucualt's theory of Panopitcalisation
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • “Big Brother” • To what extent is “TOWIE” a Panopticon? • How does watching Big Brother feel? • To what extent does the voting system put you in control? • How real or Hyperreal are the contestants? • Why was it cancelled by Channel 4?
  • • Are we really in control when we watch reality TV like: • TOWIE • The X-Factor • I’m a Celebrity • Do we really control the situation with our voyeurism as Foucault suggests, or does someone else hold the “power”? Charlie Brooker - Reality TV Editing- clip Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • A Postmodernist might suggest “Reality TV” is about nothing. Viewers are watching a simulacra – not a reality that actually exists. • Focault says, the act of being watched changes a persons behaviour and so they stop being “real”. • Hence, when watching “reality” TV like “TOWIE” is really watching a simulacra of reality.
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • Look at the finale to “The Hills”. • Many viewers thought this was real life. • Why is the last twenty seconds ‘postmodern’? • The Hills - Final Scene
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • The new ‘reality TV shows’ scripted but pretending to be ‘real life’. • How real are; • “Jersey Shore” • “Only way is Essex” • “Teen Mum” • Are they reality or a simulacra?
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • “Jamie’s Dream School” – how far was this a reality? • Not a real school – constructed as a redemption story. • Headteacher seen breaking down mid series and then was barely seen in the programme. • Did he not fit the “narrative” – the story the producers wanted to tell? • An artificial happy ending?
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • Is any reality television really reality - or is it all a “simulacra” of reality? • Think about the narrative structure of the following programmes • “Ramsay’s kitchen nightmare” • “Super Nanny” • “Wife Swap”
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • The sheer volume of simulated reality on television is hugely controversial. • Today’s youth are bombarded with images of a “reality” that simply does not exist. • We learn a lot about life through a television sets – what if not of it is true?
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • Most serious case of “reality television” not really being a reality is the news coverage that most of us take for granted as being “real”. • Link these ideas about reality television to: • John Pilger “The war you do not see” • Baudrillard -“The Gulf War did not happen” • Media coverage prevents independent thought.
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • Interesting point. • Are programmes like “Only Way is Essex” “The Hills” etc more honest with the viewer than “Big Brother” or “Jungle”? • Is the voting viewer really in charge?
  • Postmodernism and ‘Controversy’ • “Simpsons” / “South Park” • Controversial because they are parodies of much loved aspects of American culture – “Mary Poppins” • Alienates the viewer – only a privileged elite are in on the ‘joke’ and understand the references. • No consequences for action – violence