Analysis into the codes and conventions of tv documentaries
Analysis into the codes and conventions of TV documentaries: Teenage Heroin Epidemic - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIbpt1aDFqMIntroduction:This documentary explores the increasing number of teenager drug users in the UKand how their lives have been shattered due to their self inflicted heroine abuse. Thedocumentary is very poignant at times as the characters inform the audience whattheir lives were like before using heroin and what their lives are now life. Thisapproach to the film the documentary is well thought of as the audience is informedof the affects of heroine and also creates sympathy for the characters urging theaudience to continue to watch the documentary.Target Audience:The documentary is targeted at teenagers, this is evident as majority of thecharacters in this documentary are teenagers and explores the difficulties andchallenges they are facing due to their heroine usage. This documentary’s targetaudience would be both males and females between the ages of 16 and 21. I havecome to this conclusion as this is the age rate that teenagers in the UK are eithersuing or selling heroine. I believe that, in terms of class, people of class C2 and Dwould watch this documentary as these are the people who are either taking or knowsomeone that has or currently has taken heroine. I do not think an audience aboveC2 would watch this documentary as heroine is a drug that is not commonly used byhigher class individuals.Type of documentary:This type of documentary is a social/investigative documentary. I say this becausethe documentary is highlighting problems in our society and making them aware tothe audience. Therefore, as a result this documentary type is a social documentary.Moreover, because this documentary investigates the affects heroine has onpeople’s lives both physically, mentally and personally it is an investigativedocumentary.Published:This documentary was published on Vice over the internet. The internet is a usefulway to broadcast the documentary as it particularly as this documentary as it is freeand seeing as this documentary as a low production value. Furthermore, from ourresearch into our target audience we discovered they use the internet a lot whichtherefore shows it is good way to attract them to watch the documentary.
Style of documentary:This style of documentary is narrative as the narrator is giving the audienceinformation of the affects of drug use and how it has destroyed people’s lives.Content:The documentary follows the daily routine of heroin addicts and at times hasgruesome scenes e.g. showing dirty conditions and drug taking behind bins. Thedocumentary is very factual at times and explores how heroine usage by teenagershas lead to a lost generation. The documentary has a negative viewpoint towardsheroine from the beginning of the documentary and highlights the negative aspectsof drug usage such as addiction, and risk of HIV/AIDS and other associateddiseases; and even death.Narrative structure:This type of documentary has a circular narrative structure. This narrative structurefits this style of documentary as it shows the never-ending, continual cycle of drugaddiction.Methods:The documentary consists of a narration; this is useful as the narrator provides factsand information which aids in making the documentary seem more professional andrealistic. The dialogue used is extremely useful also as it provides an insight into thethoughts and feelings of heroin addicts.Camerawork, lighting and mise en scene:The documentary simply follows heroine addicted teenagers daily routine and theirbattle with heroine and as results the camerawork simply follows them around onlyconsisting of mid-shots and close ups but does make sure that the characters in thedocumentary are within the rule of thirds. The lighting is not applicable as the camerasimply follows the characters everyday life in the streets of Swansea. The mise-enscene is a teenagers living in the rough streets and council houses of Swansea,which clearly reflects the characters low social class.
Super-Size Me:The 2004 documentary ‘super-size me’ aims to shed light on the ever rising aphetic of obesity inAmerica and targets fast food giant McDonalds as responsible. The documentary attempts to revealAmerica’s hidden obesity problem by the presenter and producer Morgan Spurlock only eating fromthe McDonalds menu in order to portray he negative ramifications of eating an unhealthy fast fooddiet. ‘Super-size me’ uses elements of different documentary mode; the participatory mode isthroughout the documentary as Morgan Spurlock undergoing the experiment and tracks his day today struggles and interactions. In additional, the documentary also contains the polemical mode asSpurlock is heavily biased as he targets solely McDonalds as responsible out of the hundred fast foodchains and diners in America.The documentary constantly hasinterviews and informal discussions fromprofessional individuals such as doctors,dietician to highlight and stress thenegative implications of a McDonald’s dietsuch as coronary heart disease, angina,heart attack and even shorten lifeexpectancy. To portray to the audience thehealth risks of consuming McDonald’sprofessional individuals are interviewed.Mise-en-scene is significant as the womanbelow is wearing glasses and surroundedby books is a symbol and containsconnation’s of knowledge and intelligencewhich creates a highly skilled andprofessional persona.Mise-en-scene is used once more thisparticular extract of the documentary usesprops such as a computer and piano. Thecomputer is associated to be used byindividuals with a professional career. Thepiano is a cleverly aspect that strengthenthe mise-en scene that the individual is aprofessional as piano’s are related toindividuals who have an interest inculture and the finer things in life whichcreates a well-known stereotype that theindividuals with a professional careeroriginate from a middle/high class which
creates more realism about thedocumentary.The documentary highlights the negativeaspects of American society for examplethe documentary predominately usesvoxpops to question the American publicon whether there are aware of the longterm ramivactions of eating Mcdonald andbasic health knowledge.Spurlcok aks simple questions such as“What isa calorie?” this seems as a simplequestion to answer however, a largeproportion of the American public were unable to answerhim which portrays them as naïve, uneducated and unhealthconsicious. By showing how ignorant America is of the risksof eating fast food meals it damages McDonalds reputationas it appears they are feeding their customers without givingthem any nutritional information on what they areconsuming.Moreover, Spurlock continues to criticize American societybut having an informal interview with big mac enthusiastDon Gorske at a McDonalds resturant. Gorske is presented as a self conferssed McDonalds fanaticwhose diet solely consists of big macs and unwilling to change his eating habits. The use of thisinformal interview has damaging effects as it presents Americans as food addicts and reluctant tostop the devasting consequences it is causing to themselvesand to their society.Furthermore, American society is presented as lazy andletting their lives get out of control when a man is sent tohospital to have a operation to lose weight instead ofexerising. This portrays America as reluctant to changetheir sluggish ways.Mcdonalds itself is also used negatively not only by thefood they are producing and the effect it is havig on theAmerican public but also when Spurlock tried to get intouch with one of their mangers, he phoned them more than 14times but to no reply which portrays them as discourteous and notthe coventional friendly, helpful, customer caring company whichthem make us to believe.However there are elements in the documentary where Spurlockaims to reveal American postive society such as the man fromsubway who was tried of being overweight and decided to act
about it. This portrays American society asa community who are willingly to changetheir eating habits and become morehealth conscious which is a turning point inthe documentary.As mentioned, the documentary uses a lotof graphics to emphasis it message ofMcDonalds causing health problems. Thisparticular graphic creates a sense thatMcDonald’s is taking over the world withfast food chains leaving people no choicebut to buy their products which is causing anincrease in obesity. In addition, the Mcdonald’scups are fronted in this particular long shotmakes the cups seem large than the buildingsand cars creating an illustion that they areenourmous and unesscarrly huge.The documentary also uses graphics torepresent the growing obesity trends and theimplications of what will be the result ifAmericans do not stop the ever growing foodhabits. Furthermore, the documentary uses ofvisual effect to present the health risk thatMcDonald is causing Americans, by showing ahealthy artery and an unhealthy artery claimingthat 40% of Americans have a damaged or partialblockage artery and that in the next 40 years thisfigure will double creating a sense of drama andfear. I believe graphics are used cleverly in thisdocumentary because if Spurlock just gave thefacts the audience would just view them asnumbers but by visually seeing the effects of a fastfood diet it hits the message home a lot harder thatthis food could lead to serious illness or death andto stop consuming as much of it which I believe isthe purpose of this documentary.In conclusion I believe ‘Super-size me’ gives insightinto the growing obesity problems and although theexperiment was not as accurate as it could havebeen I do believe it sheds light on both positive andnegative aspects of American society.