Structuralism Devised by Ferdinand De Saussure, the theory of Structuralism entitles that every genre has a set of codes and conventions that need to be followed. His theory crafted the idea that a consistent use of specific paradigms throughout a film, such as specific location, props, character types etc. represents a different genre. De Saussure posed the idea that our understanding of a genre and it’s paradigms, is based on our cultural understanding of the genre in society. For example, in our chosen horror genre, such stereotypical paradigms would consider of props such as knives and axes, and a location that is somewhere dark, very isolated and empty.
Barthes’ Codes Barthes developed 3 theories relating to media texts: Pleasure of Text: This theory entitled that although we know roughly what is going to happen in a film, from advertisements and trailers and even by our estimations, we still go to see it for the pleasure aspect, and because we know of no moment of new equilibrium, and want to find out the outcome of the film. If there is a twist to the film, that unveils another layer of pleasure for the audience. Ball of Threads: This theory designed that a different text can be interpreted in a number of different ways, by different audience members. Enigma Code: Relating to the Pleasure of Text theory, and not knowing about the moment of new equilibrium in the film, we start to ask ourselves questions about the text and why things in the film are, as they are.
Todorov’s theory of narrative Todorov’s is of the belief that every film/media text follows this set of rules regarding to narrative: Equilibrium: At the start of every film, there is a sense of calm and everything is normal. Moment of Disequilibrium: Something suspicious happens which causes characters to be unsettled and leads onto the total disequilibrium. Disequilibrium: Characters are threatened by an opposing force/enemy and everything is unsettled. For example, in horror, the disequilibrium would be when the killer is on a rampage. New equilibrium: The opposing force/enemy is beaten, peace is restored and everyone goes back to normal.
Binary Opposites Levi Strauss’ theory of ‘Binary Opposites’ established that you need some idea of conflict and opposites to propel the narrative further. For example, you could have the conflicting opposites of love and hate, or control and panic.
Propp’s 8 Character Types Vladimir Propp’s 8 Character Types theory explicates that there are 8 different character types that are stereotypical for every film. These character types are: The villain (struggles against the hero) The donor (prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object) The (magical) helper (helps the hero in the quest) The princess (person the hero marries, often sought for during the narrative) Her father The dispatcher (character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off) The hero or victim/seeker hero (reacts to the donor, weds the princess) False Hero
Final Girl Theory Carol Clover’s Final Girl theory depicts that there is always a final girl in structuralist horror movies. She devised the theory that the final girl is always of a virginal, innocent state, whereas all the previously murdered girls were promiscuous and stereotypically blonde. Examples of final girls are; Laurie Strode, Halloween Ellen Ripley, Alien Alice, Friday the 13th
Sadism and Masochism Sigmund Freud’s Sadism and Masochism theory poses Carol Clover’s idea that we are forced into indentifying with the surviving female. So, instead of indentifying with the killer (sadistic voyeur), our identification switches to the victim, who is the masochistic voyeur. Freud suggests that we as the audience are ‘pre-oedipal’ and that as an audience we are all masochistic, as we indentify with the victim and not the killer.