Casting and Character as Embodiment of Ideological Values


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This slideshow is from a lecture in Performance in Film and Videogames at the University of Calgary.

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Casting and Character as Embodiment of Ideological Values

  1. 1. Casting and Character as Embodiment of Ideological Values Daniel Day Lewis There Will Be Blood Meryl Streep Sophie’s Choice Marlon Brando Streetcar Named Desire
  2. 2. The Pressure Cooker of Cultural Codes Within this semiotic “pressure cooker” that links producers, texts, and audiences: •Signifier, Signified, Sign •Denotation and connotation within “Reality” •Metaphor and “Representation” •Codes, demographic, “Ideology”
  3. 3. “Semiotics” • The study of signs, representation (simulation/metaphor), codes, and emergent ideologies. This provides a model of understanding of the meaning of a cultural artefact or event. Casting and Character
  4. 4. “Signs” • Signifier: any real thing that signifies something, e.g., jewellery, furnishings, location interiors. • Signified: the concept that a signifier refers to. Together, the signifier and signified make up the • Sign: the smallest unit of meaning. Anything that can be used to communicate (or to tell a lie). Casting and Character
  5. 5. • Signifier: any real thing that signifies something, e.g., jewellery, furnishings, clothing.
  6. 6. “Denotation and Connotation” • Denotation: the most basic or literal meaning of a sign, e.g., the word ”Trad" signifies a particular kind of beer. (The signifier) • Connotation: the secondary, cultural meanings of signs; or "signifying signs," signs that are used as signifiers for a secondary meaning, e.g., ”beer" signifies drunkenness/debauchery. (The signified) Casting and Character
  7. 7. “Metaphor/Representation/Simulation ” • A connotation where one sign is substituted for a concept with which it is closely associated and used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity. Casting and Character
  8. 8. Electronic encoding: •“Mass Media redesign information by replacing the vantage point of the viewer within the frame provided by a cameraperson/editor/photographer.” - Lynn Hershman •Therefore, electronic encoding is a connotation device within the Pressure Cooker supersystem. Casting and Character
  9. 9. “Ideology” • Ideological codes work to organize the other codes into a congruent, coherent set of meanings. • Serve the dominant interests of society, eg patriarchy, capitalism, race, class, materialism. Casting and Character
  10. 10. “Codes” • A “supersystem” (pressure cooker), that functions as a map of meaning and belief systems • Imply views and attitudes about how the world is and/or ought to be. • Codes are where semiotics and social structure and values connect. Casting and Character
  11. 11. Casting: •Actors cast to play heroes/villains are people whose images are encoded by our social codes. •Heroes are socially central types who embody the dominant ideology. •Classic Hollywood stars are bigger than their roles – films promoted by their real name not their character name (or writer or even director) Casting and Character
  12. 12. John Fiske “It is in the aggregate of apparently insignificant encodings that ideology works most efficiently.”
  13. 13. Daniel Day Lewis, (b. 1957) • Plays Daniel Plainview • There Will Be Blood (Anderson, 2007) Story focuses on a prospector in the early days of the oil boom. • Day-Lewis won best-actor Academy award in 2008 in this role. • Clip, 13:15 – 19:00
  14. 14. Meryl Streep, (b. 1949) • Plays Sophie Zawistowska • Sophie’s Choice (Anderson, 1982) Story is about a Nazi concentration camp survivor and her ghosts and obsessions. • Streep won best-actress Academy award in 1983 in this role. • Clip 2:08 – 2:19
  15. 15. Marlon Brando, (b. 1924 – 2004) • Plays Stanley Kowalski • Streetcar Named Desire (Kazan, 1951) A distressed woman moves in with her sister and brother. • Brando was nominated for best actor Academy award in 1952 in this role. • Clip 36:00 – 42:00