Contemporary British Cinema and the Representation of British Youth
Contemporary British Cinema and the Representation of Youth
Watch the opening sequence of ‘Harry Brown’.How does it represent young people?
Read the article about the representation of hoodies in contemporary British films and make notes on the key points. You should consider: • How it suggests young people are represented • The links to the horror genre • The significance of social class • The implications of the representationsLink to article
Watch the trailer of ‘Eden Lake’. How are Jenny and Steve(the main couple) represented? How is this contrasted withthe representation of the other characters? How importantis the issue of social class? How are young peoplerepresented?
• Film theorist Robin WoodHorror and theRepresentation of Youth argues that the basic formula of the horror film is ‘normality is threatenedWhat is the significance of theemergence of a cycle of British by the monster. I usefilms in which the ‘monster’ isyoung people? “normality” here…to mean simply “conformity to theHow do they threatennormality? dominant social norms”’.What term could we useinstead of normality?
‘Attack the Block’ – Youth, Stereotypes, Social ClassWatch the opening sequence of ‘Attack the Block’ – how are the main charactersintroduced? How does this representation change?...
‘Attack the Block’ – Youth, Stereotypes, Social Class• Opening sequence stereotypical hoodie representation.• As the film progresses the representation becomes more positive. Develops a more sympathetic representation.• The film initially represents the young people as ‘monsters’, then replaces them with actual monsters.• Contrast to other ‘hoodie horror films’.
‘Attack the Block’ – Youth, Stereotypes, Social Class‘While Attack the Block has moments of hilarity, and evokes the loneliness of ET – thefantasy, the bizarre things happening in residential streets – this is definitely a horrorfilm. A political horror film, far less silly than fans may expect. There are monsters,aliens of the sort we havent seen in the cinema for a long time."Theyre all the things that the press and people call those kids, made into a monster.People call these kids monsters, they call them feral, they call them animalistic, theysay theyve got no morals or values and all they care about is territory andcompetitiveness. So what if there was a creature that really was like that, and thenyou pitted the kids against it?“’The Observer, interview with director Joe Cornish
‘Eden Lake’ – middle class adult main characters, antagonists areteenage hoodies (monsters) who torture and kill the maincharacters. Reflects middle class fear of working youth and theirperceived threat to hegemony.‘Harry Brown’ – middle class, adult hero. Teenager hoodies areantagonists. Hero hunts/kills antagonists. Middle class revengefantasy in which threatening working class youth are punished.‘Attack the Block’ – film initially opens with middle classprotagonist, teenage hoodie ‘monsters’. These characters thenbecome heroes. Film is an attempt to resolve tensions betweenmiddle class and working class youth.
Entertainment and Utopia, Richard Dyer• Film theorist Richard Dyer argues that one of the functions of entertainment is utopianism. ‘Entertainment offers the image of “something better”…the sense that things could be better…Entertainment does not present models of utopian worlds…Rather the utopianism is contained in the feelings it embodies.’
Utopian Categories of Entertainment• Energy• Abundance• Intensity• Transparency• Community• Dyer argues these categories reflect ‘temporary answers to the inadequacies of the society’.
Watch the ending of ‘Attack the Block’. How can yourelate Dyer’s theory of entertainment and utopia?(1:00:00)
Applying Theory HomeworkResearch into the following theories (record on blogs) andconsider how you can apply them to the three media texts wehave just covered (write notes for each*):• Giroux (1997), empty category• Acland (1995), reinforcing hegemony/ideology of protection• Gramsci (1971), hegemony• Cohen (1972), moral panic• McRobbie (2004), representations against the working class• Gerbner (1986), Cultivation theory, Mean World syndrome• * These must be re-written in your own words
Support for HomeworkTheorist Year Concepts Your explanationGiroux 1997 Youth as empty categoryAcland 1995 Ideology of protection; deviant youth and reproduction of social orderGramsci 1971 (1929- Cultural hegemony 1935)Cohen 1972 Moral panicMcRobbie 2004 Symbolic ViolenceGerbner 1986 Cultivation Theory
Giroux (1997)• Representations of youth in popular culture have a long and complex history and habitually serve as signposts through which American society registers its own crises of meaning, vision, and community…youth becomes an empty category inhabited by the desires, fantasies, and interests of the adult world.
Acland (1995)• Order has a key function: to reproduce itself. Youth in crisis, youth gone wild, is a central site in which this activity of reproducing order takes place. It involves the constitution of the normal, adult, the normal youth, and the relation between the two. The deviant youth is thus a crucial trope of this relationship; it helps patrol the boundaries
Gramsic (1971)• Cultural hegemony - a culturally-diverse society can be ruled or dominated by one of its social classes. It is the dominance of one social group over another, e.g. the ruling class over all other classes. The theory claims that the ideas of the ruling class come to be seen as the norm; they are seen as universal ideologies, perceived to benefit everyone whilst only really benefiting the ruling class.
Cohen (1972)• Societies appear to be subject, every now and then, to periods of moral panic. A condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media
McRobbie (2004)• Symbolic violence against the working class is a form of social reproduction
Gerbner (1986)• The repetitive pattern of television’s mass- produced message and images influences people’s understanding of the world• Cultivation theory• Mean World syndrome
Choose one of the three films to research. Try to findreviews which reflect different perspectives, e.g.from conservative newspapers like the Daily Mail, orthe Telegraph, and liberal newspapers like TheGuardian, and The Independent.
Essay Question• How are young people represented in contemporary media?• Introduction: – State argument (link to theory) – Identify texts
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