Postmodern media breaks the rules of representation


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Postmodern media breaks the rules of representation

  1. 1. Sian Lynes"Postmodern media breaks the rules of representation". Discuss.Postmodern media often breaks the rules of representation through manipulating genericconventions, particularly those of modernist texts, in order to create an entirely subconsciousform of hyper reality. Instead, they often subvert utopian idealistic visions of reality so thatsimulations come to replace the original thing being represented. By extension this creates adeliberate distortion of reality, one that is argued now to be preferred by audiences; using thissimulation of reality to create a form of escapism and entertainment."Drive" directed by Nicolas Winding Refn demonstrates this by manipulating the audiencescultural knowledge in order to create an arguable parallel universe from their own. This can beseen in compliance with Baudrillards theory of hyper reality as the film is heavily reminiscentof the video game genre; a medium in itself which creates a disjunctive view of reality. Thisform of pastiche can be seen in the representation of the Los Angeles backdrop, often seen inan unnatural birds eye view point, a convention often applicable to video games. Incombination with The Kids extreme violent behaviour towards the Gangsters is reminiscent ofpopularised modern day game "Grand Theft Auto". Additionally, Baudrillards State ofSimulcra theory is applicable as L.A. is represented in a dark and vacant way. This challengesthe audiences cultural knowledge, of which they are reliant as theorised by Fiske, presentedby the media which often perceives L.A. as a glamorous place. Here, the rules ofrepresentation of the location creates an entirely disjunctive simulated world that challengesstructuralist thinking.Another text which commonly embraces the rejection of principles regarding representation isQuentin Tarantinos film Inglorious Basterds. This can be seen through the use of self-reflexivity, a key concept within postmodern media, in order to acknowledge that it is aconstructed reality and bears no representation to the real-world. This is evident inTarantinos use of a birds eye view angle during Shoshannas preparation for the Nazi FilmPremiere of Nations Pride. The camera shot exposes the construction of the walls and layoutof the rooms as it pans across the screen and follows Shoshanna as she walks along thehallways. This direct deconstruction of the film set reminds the audience that the world thecharacters are in is completely fictional. Again, Baudrillards theory of hyper reality can beapplied to this sequence as the audience and characters are experiencing a preparedconstructed fiction as devised by the director which they become conscious of. In this case,the rules of representation is acknowledged by the audience, subverting the unconsciousprinciples to create a fantasy different to reality.Postmodern media breaks the rules of representation through techniques such as parody tocreate a self-mocking humour as the audience can decode that what is come to beingrepresented in not the one familiar to them in reality. This can be seen in the US televisioncartoon and reflexive family sitcom "Family Guy". In particular the episode special "BlueHarvest" was an entire parody of the blockbuster film "Star Wars IV: A New Hope" (1977). Inthis case, the show can be argued to be following a circular referentiality as it is arguablyparodying another text which bears no resemblance to reality. Genettes theory ofmetatextuality can be applied here as the text is an implicit commentary on the Star Warsfranchise. The obvious manipulation of time and space in the text, which can be seen in the
  2. 2. Sian Lynesintroductory title of "A long time ago, but somehow in the future" no longer represents auniverse parallel to our own. This supports Lyotards rejection of conventional grandnarratives, which often try to simulate an absolute truthful representation of reality and oftenassociated with forms such as love, war and religion. Instead, it supports Lyotards suggestionsof a micro-narrative that can go in any direction and is often unpredictable. Therefore isbreaks the principle that texts such be linear, instead favouring a disjunctive and non-linearstyle to create a hyper reality. This is supported when Luke breaks the fourth wall as heintroduces the London Symphony Orchestra and composer John Williams. By purposefullyacknowledging itself as a constructive text and deviating completely from the original parodythis creates a clear disjunctive representation.Another example can be seen in the US comedy "Flight of the Conchords". Real-life duo BretMcKenzie and Jermaine Clement play fictionalised versions of themselves as a two man bandfrom New Zealand based in New York. Therefore this breaks rules of representation as thesupposed representation of themselves is completely false, creating an immediate sense ofirony that would not be seen in reality. Within the episode "The Tough Brets", Bret starts agang and breaks into song to express his emotion. Intertextuality can be seen in the song "StayCool" which is reminiscent of the musical "West Side Story" opening credits, which Bretstheatrical dance is referencing. This representation of bricolage to create a sitcom, musical,music video and drama comedy combined completely subverts realistic visions and realisticsimulations of themselves.Postmodern music, like both film and TV, can often be seen challenging rules ofrepresentation in order to create a new simulation of reality, especially of artists themselves.The musicians Lady Gaga is a primary example of such simulation. Firstly her stage name,Gaga adopts previous connotations of the unusual and crazy. In addition her name usesbricolage by adopting rock band Queens 1984 hit "Radio Ga Ga" song into her name "LadyGaga". Levi-Strauss concept of bricolage through the process of addition can be seen here asshe has taken recognisable debris from the song, with the honorific Lady, to create anentirely new representation for herself. Her central theme is a theatrical pop but she is oftenirrespective of musical boundaries and divulges into other genres. For example, crossing intothe classical jazz genre by dueting with Tony Bennett of the song "The Lady Is a Tramp" andon the musical soundtrack for the film "Gnomeo and Juliet" with Elton John on a song called"Hello, Hello".Overall, postmodern media often breaks the rules of representation in order to comply with areading that can be decoded by the audience create an entire new meaning. However, thisrepresentation can arguably only be read by a literate audience, otherwise the meaning isirrelevant and nothing becomes represented.