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Age is a factor because the show revolves around four 17-18 year olds and highlights some of the stereotypes which are often associated with teenagers, however this group of boys are different and strive to become stereotypes to fit in. Also, since they are 17 they are nearly adults and still trying new things which creates humor throughout the series when they are posed with adult situations.
All four of the main characters are white and represents the stereotypical English town where there are very few other races, however race is played on throughout the series and is used to create humor but also to show how the boys are perceived by other races when they venture out from their home town.
How does this compare to other youth representations we have seen?
All of the four main characters are male and this shows the male race as being very dominant, throughout the series we see how the boys see females as sex objects (conforming to Laura Mulley's male gaze theory) and this is a main theme which runs throughout the series which often creates humor.
As Charlie Brooker noted in his astute and acerbic How TV Ruined Your Life, one of the most fundamental jobs of the box in the corner is to scare us. Or, to put it in Brooker-speak, shout: "'Boo!' in your mind." Not only is that the function of a large amount of primetime entertainment, it has also been the reliable aim of public information films – sort of health and safety porn – designed to reform our behaviour. That explains why, if we're to believe the treasure trove of paranoid PIFs that Brooker's researchers unearthed, you no longer see schoolboys swinging fishing rods beneath low-lying electricity pylons.
Although, leaving absurdity aside, repeated images over a long period may inhibit our actions, it's rare that television manages to shock or scare us. We've seen too much, and most of it on TV, to be jolted by what we see on TV. But, once in a while, along comes a film that is so powerful and haunting that it seems to stop the world as you watch, leaving you struggling to re-enter the reality of unfolding life.
What do you understand by Contemporary British social realism?
Social realist films attempt to portray issues facing ordinary people in their social situations.
Social realist films try to show that society and the capitalist system leads to the exploitation of the poor or dispossessed.
These groups are shown as victims of the system rather than being totally responsible for their own bad behaviour.
‘ These places represent an everywhere of Britain, where relationships are broken down and where people have become isolated and disconnected. Their Britishness is their culturally specific address to audiences at home’. (Murray, 2008)
Social realist films which address social problems in this country offer a very different version of ‘collective identity’ than British films which are also aimed at an American audience. Films like Notting Hill and Love Actually reach a much bigger audience than the lower budget social realist films.
Social realist films are aimed at a predominantly British audience.
If many more people see the more commercial films, consider which version of our collective identity is the more powerful or has the most impact.
Analysing Representation of Collective Identity
When comparing how Britishness and our collective identity is represented in films consider the following questions:
Who is being represented?
Who is representing them?
How are they represented?
What seems to be the intentions of the representations?
What is the dominant discourse? (World view offered by the film).
When an audience interprets the message as it was meant to be understood, they are operating in the dominant code. The position of professional broadcasters and media producers is that messages are already signified within the hegemonic manner to which they are accustomed. Professional codes for media organizations serve to contribute to this type of industrial psychology. The producers and the audience are in harmony, understanding, communicating, and sharing mediated signs in the established mindset of framing.
Not all audiences may understand what media producers take for granted. There may be some acknowledgement of differences in understanding:
Decoding within the negotiated version contains a mixture of adaptive and oppositional elements: it acknowledges the legitimacy of the hegemonic definitions to make the grand significations (abstract), while, at a more restricted, situational (situated) level, it makes its own ground rules - it operates with exceptions to the rule.
While the hegemonic view and dominant definitions will tie events to "grand totalizations" as Hall calls them, negotiated positions are the result of the audience struggling to understand the dominant position or experiencing dissonance (conflict) with those views.
When media consumers understand the contextual and literary inflections of a text yet decode the message by a completely oppositional means, this is the globally contrary position/oppositional reading.
The de-totalization of that text enables them to rework it to their preferred meaning. This requires operating with an oppositional code which can understand dominant hegemonic positions while finding frameworks to refute them. Hall feels that this position is necessary to begin a struggle in discourse or the "politics of signification.“. (communication, the way in which meaning is given through signs and signifiers)
If you’ve seen the film Independence Day, you may have been amused or annoyed at the way that British People were represented as upper class idiots. If you consider the different parts of the Constructionist approach to representation, they would work like this:
1.There must be some British people who the producers either encountered in reality or in other media texts.
2. They formed an opinion of them that they were stuck up idiots which they used as the basis of their representation.
3. As an individual watching this, you chose whether to believe the representation was valid or not.
4. In doing this, you were influenced by the fact that you are yourself British — an American watching the film would probably have come to a different conclusion.
The fact that we naturally see the world in this kind of shorthand way, with connections between different character traits, allows the media to create simplistic representations which we find believable. Implicit personality theory explains this process…
• As humans we use our own unique storehouse of knowledge about people when we judge them. • Our past experience is more important than the true features of the actual personality that we are judging — traits exist more in the eye of the beholder than in reality. • We have each a system of rules that tells us which characteristics go with other characteristics. • We categorise people into types (e.g. workaholic, feminist etc.) to simplify the task of person perception. • Once we have in our minds a set of linked traits which seem to us to go together, they form a pattern of connections that can be called a prototype. In other words the mix of traits that we may consider “typical” of feminists are a prototype of what a feminist is like to us. • If we encounter someone in reality or in the media who seems to fit neatly into a prototype, we feel reassured. It confirms our stereotyped view — we do not need to think further.
Also once a few of the traits seem to fit our prototype, we will immediately bundle onto the person the rest of the traits from the prototype even if we do not know if they fit them in reality.
Research has shown that if we find people who do not fit into our prototypes, we will form very strong often impressions of them — it is surprising to us and disconcerting — it forces us to think more deeply.
On the other hand, if it is at all possible, we will try to twist the truth to fit in with our prototype, often ignoring traits which do not fit into our neatly imagined pattern of characteristics. This will particularly happen as time passes and we have time to forget things that do not fit in. This can lead to enormous differences between our perceptions of people and the reality.
All of this distortion happens naturally in our minds before the media have had their chance to simplify and distort. We do a lot of the business of stereotyping ourselves. It is almost as if we conspire with the media to misunderstand the world