UNIT G325 SECTION BMEDIA AND COLLECTIVE IDENTITY-REPRESENTATION OF YOUTHIN THE MEDIA “THIS IS ENGLAND” –SHANE MEADOWS ,2006 Recap and define: what is collective identity? What is the collective identity of this group? “BIG FAT GYPSY WEDDING” – CHANNEL 4 T.V SERIES 1 EPISODE 1-“BORN TO BE WED” 2011- Use extracts from this to explore representation of youth in TV Documentary (Channel 4) Discuss these representations and apply postmodern theories regarding the “truth”STUDENT NAME:....................................................................................................................
COLLECTIVE IDENTITY IDENTITY “Identity is complicated. Everyone thinks they’ve got one.” (Gauntlett 2007) “A focus on identity requires us to pay close attention to the diverse ways in which media and technologies are used in everyday life, and their consequences both for individuals and for social groups.” (Buckingham, 2008) What is meant by collective identity? You have studied “This Is England” (Shane Meadows) and have focused on the representation of youth. Using “This is England” as your starting point and source of examples, discuss the collective identity of youth that is represented in this film?ACTIVITY: RECAP TASK. Watch the trailer for “This Is England” and look at posters provided.Then answer the following questions on “This is England”:1. WHAT GIVES THIS GROUP OF PEOPLE A COLLECTIVE IDENTITY?2. WHAT DO THEY SHARE IN COMMON?3. WHAT DIFFERENCES ARE THERE BETWEEN THEM?4. HOW ARE YOUTHS REPRESENTED IN THIS FILM? 2
FILM ANALYSIS SUMMARYhttp://www.filmeducation.org/pdf/film/ThisIsEngland.pdfThis Is England (2006, Shane Meadows)This Is England is the story of a summertime school holiday,.It’s 1983 and school is out. Twelve-year-old Shaun is an isolatedlad growing up in a grim coastal town, whose father has diedfighting in the Falklands War. Over the course of the summerholiday he finds fresh male role models when those in the localskinhead scene take him in. With his new friends, Shaundiscovers a world of parties, first love and the joys of DrMarten boots. Here he meets Combo (Stephen Graham), anolder, racist skinhead who has recently got out of prison. AsCombo’s gang harass the local ethnic minorities, the course isset for a rite of passage that will hurl Shaun from innocence toexperience. Combo creates conflict and division and Shaun istorn between the 2 gangs. As Combo escalates out of control,he turns his anger onto Milky who he almost kills whilst Shaunwatches on.Shaun is seen back home with his mum, once more innocent. Hegoes to the beach and throws the union jack into the sea.THE GANG The members of the skinhead gang area Woody, the unofficial leader of the skinheads, who befriends Shaun after he has been bullied Milky is one of Woody’s close friends and Lol is Woody’s girlfirend -Lol is the leader of the girls. Combo (the racist thug) ironically is mixed race 3
SKINHEAD CULTURE: Woody and Combo are similar in termsof dress, however the way inwhich they behave is very different. The subculture that unitesthem is what it means to be a skinhead.SKINHEADS.The original skinheads hailed from the late sixties. Theskinhead culture was taken up by black and white workingclass kids working in shipyards and on factory lines, whobonded over a love of reggae and forging a particular kind ofEnglish identity, with braces, suits, boots, and sometimes aCromby hat atop heads shaved, military style. There was nopeace and love for this lot, life was a series of hard knocks andthis tough, fighter’s appearance was how they chose to expressthose truths.The second wave of skinheads, in the early eighties, were inone sense similar: just kids from council estates finding theirplace by being different together, like teenagerseverywhere. Allegiance was now sworn to bands thatacknowledged the heritage of Ska music, like Madness orThe Specials. At the same time a new genre sprang up in punkinfused Oi! Music, romperstomper, screwdriver tunes, chargedfor fighting. Dressed in Dr Martens and with heads shavedmilitary style, these kids would give the V to anyone foolishenough to give them the eye.These were teens who came from areas of highunemployment looking for solidarity beyondThatcher’s ‘me’ culture. They were abandoned by society andthat, of course, made themvulnerable to the advances of the National Front. 4
“BIG FAT GYPSY WEDDING” – CHANNEL 4 T.V SERIES 1 EPISODE 1-“BORN TO BE WED”2011 Having analysed a range of representations of youth in Film, youmust now analyse representations using a different media text.The chosen text here is a Channel 4 documentary series “Big Fatgypsy wedding” Series 1 Episode 1 entitled “Born To be Wed”FROM CHANNEL 4’S WEBSITE - Series Summary -A visuallyarresting portrait of the lives of gypsies and travellers in Britaintoday. Picking up where the hugely successful Cutting Edge film ofthe same title left off, the new series follows the extraordinaryrite-of-passage events - including weddings, communions andchristenings - to offer a window into the world of the gypsy andtraveller community. Each stand-alone episode gives insights intothe communitys attitudes toward gender roles, education andoutsiders. The series also explores the remarkable rituals,traditions and beliefs held by this minority group. Warm,intelligent, engrossing and funny, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings tellsintimate stories on an epic scale, laying bare an exotic unseenBritain that exists right on our doorstep.ACTIVITY: Watch the opening 10 minutes of the DVD and answerthe following questions:1. What is a documentary? What is the purpose of a documentary? What doyou expect from a television documentary?2. What actually happens in this opening sequence?2. Describe the lives of female teenage travellers. 5
3. How do you feel they are represented?4. Describe the lives of male teenage travellers represented?5. What makes these representations believable?6. What makes these representations seem less believable?7. To what extent do you think these representations of traveller youthshave been “mediated”(created by the media)8. What do you feel about these representations? Are they fair, accurate orcould they be damaging?ACTIVITY: READ THE FOLLOWING NEWSPAPER EXTRACTS AND CHANNEL 4COMMENTS AND answer the questions that follow – 6
THE MAIL ONLINE 16 Feb 2012 - THE HIT Channel 4 show My Big Fat GypsyWedding has been accused of stereotyping gypsies while an advertising campaignfeaturing gypsy girls and the strap-line Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier has been slammed asoffensive by The London Gypsy and Travellers Unit and potentially racist by twoLondon Assembly members.The documentary, which features gypsy and travellerbrides in colossal wedding dresses, was also accused of stereotyping gypsies as"menacing" young men and "alluring young girls".A number of gypsies had told theunit they found the programme insulting and degrading and felt it was turning them intosomething they are not. The unit has also complained to the Advertising StandardsAuthority and asked Channel 4 to remove the adverts and apologise."Gypsies and travellers are [already] pretty close to being bottom of the heap in terms ofthe abuse they receive. Channel 4 should show greater respect and restraint."Programme-makers claim that they are throwing "an overdue light on a secretive,marginalised and little-understood segment of our society". But Joe Cottrell-Boyce, thetraveller policy officer for the Irish Chaplaincy, writes on the Liberal Conspiracy websitethat nothing could be further from the truth. He points out that many travellers live belowthe poverty line, 20 per cent of Britains caravan-dwelling travellers are statutorilyhomeless and 62 per cent of adult gypsies and travellers are illiterate. "These statisticspaint a grim picture of the traveller experience in Britain," he says. "One that is a millionmiles from the high jinks of MBFGW."Meanwhile, a spokesman for C4 told The Week: “Big Fat Gypsy Weddings is anobservational documentary series that features a mix of Irish travellers, Englishand Romany gypsies and makes a clear distinction between those differentcommunities. All the issues touched on in the series were meticulouslyresearched and are told through the eyes of the contributors themselves, talkingabout their own experiences in their own words. “While some of the issuestouched on in the series are challenging, the programme is a fair and accurateportrayal of what happened during filming and all children were filmed withparental consent.”THE MAIL ONLINE -The programmes reveal the eye-popping, extravagant nuptials thatappear to be the norm today among young traveller couples. Initially a one-off show, My 7
Big Fat Gypsy Wedding has been developed into a six part, prime-time series. Eye-catchingand back-breaking: Dresses worn at gypsy weddings can cost up to £50,000, weigh 20 stone andhave a 20-foot train In a carefully sympathetic, scrupulously politically-correct way, viewers aregiven an insight into the lives and times of the modern gypsy. Here we are shown that ceremonyand ritual are all-important, providing the travellers with crampons to cling on to the rubble oftheir ‘diminishing’ way of life. So we have the lurid weddings, the gaudy parties and theunsettling ritual of the first Holy Communions. Here, feisty little gypsy girls are primped, curledand made up like showgirls by their mothers and grannies to receive the Holy Sacrament. Thesetiny toughies in their Sunday-best frills are oddly affecting, yet there’s no escaping the fact thatin their high heels, tight dresses and false eyelashes, they look like the can-can chorus line froma munchkin strip club. Not little girls about to embark on their spiritual journey to inner peace.Josie explained that she had tanning-bed treatments every week before her wedding, determinedto get so brown that ‘all people will see are my eyes and teeth’. Meanwhile, when munchkinMargarita stumped up to the church in her enormous crinoline Communion dress, all the otherlittle girls at the ceremony - all non-travellers in their plain white dresses and scrubbed faces —pointed at painted Margarita and laughed.It was an uncomfortable moment. But are viewers slyly being invited and encouraged to doexactly the same? Perhaps the freak show that is My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding has more incommon with Big Brother than just high ratings. Certainly, the weddings are spectacular. Girlsstagger into church in enormous dresses that sometimes weigh more than they do, watched by acommunity that lives alongside, but detached from, mainstream society.CHANNEL 4 CLAIMS ;The Cutting Edge viewpoint in the programmes is strictly non-critical and non-judgmental. No difficult questions are asked of the travellers and very fewmen from the community allow themselves to be filmed or interviewed.ACTIVITY: having read the articles above answer the questions below:1. List the criticisms of the programme: 8
2. List the comments in support of the programme:3. The travelling community clearly feel very strongly about the ways in which they feeltheir youth has been misrepresented. Why do you think Channel 4 would create thismediated view of travellers?Academic theory –postmodernismJean –Francois Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard offered different definitionsof postmodernism or post modernity but what they share is a belief that theidea of truth needs to be “deconstructed” so that we can challengedominant ideas that people claim as the truth, which Lyotard(1984)described as “grand narratives”. Baudrillard (1988) said: He who hangs on to truth has lost.”Postmodernism cannot wish to remove one version of the truth andreplace it with another supposedly ”correct version”. They would arguethat all notions of the truth must be viewed with suspicion. TASK:Apply postmodern theory to “Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”In what ways could you say that this a truthfulrepresentation?In what ways could you agree with the postmodernists andsay this is an untru representation?In what ways could therepresentation of traveller youths be damaging/harmful/negative 9
The opening 8 Minutes storyboard of Big Fat Gypsy Wedding VOICEOVER: “For hundreds of years the traveller way of life was one of ancient“Born to Be Wed” traditions and simple tastes,”1 V.O :Then their world collided with the 21st2 century4 Do you want some beef? (lively folk dance music –upbeat mood) 10
5 With unprecedented access to some of the world’s most secretive communities6 Thelma the dressmaker: “They dont’like peole knowing anything about them at all. They even have their own language.”7 VOICEOVER: This series will take you to the very heart Of gypsy life through the biggest celebrations to8 important events in the traveller calendar9 11
10 From the most extravagant children’s parties to the biggest weddings on earth.1113 “It’s the most important day of a travelling girl’s life.”14 12
15 VOICEOVER: Over 5 episodes this series will explore..16 Unique aspects of gypsy and traveller life.17 In a world where a man is a man..18 A woman knows her place..19 13
20 “if a girl don’t give you a kiss straightaway, you got to beat them.”212223 VOICEOVER: “From the day a traveller day is born the preparations begin for the biggest day of her life.. her Wedding day.”24 Thelma: from the day these girls are born all they are thinking about is their wedding dress..the bigger the 14 better.
25 Thelma: “But when you get to know them...their morals are so high...definitely, definitely no sex before marriage.”26 VOICEOVER: “Marriage for these girls tend to happen at a young age. 16 year old Irish traveller, Josie, met her 19 year old fiancé, Swanley, just 427 months ago. The wedding is in just 5 weeks time. Josie: “We first met on Facebook. We started chatting and I thought... mmm Nice guy!”28 Traveller girls must be chaperoned even when they are engaged to be married. Swanley’s mum,29 Christine has accompanied the couple.. Christine: “Girls start very young looking after the kids. I was 10 when I started.” Homemakers...we’re 15 bought up to be homemakers-we’re bred into it.”
30 But for the single traveller girls the place to meet boys is in this West London carpark. Gypsy cousins, Cheyanna and Montana, can be found here most weekends dressed to impress.” I’m 15,I’d like to get married at 16-defintely by 17..3132 VOICEOVER: traveller girls have to follow the strict rules of courtship imposed on them by the community. Girls aren’t allowed to approach boys, they must wait to be chosen-sometimes through a ritual known as grabbing.33 INTERVIEWER So why do you come here then boys 34Boys:”To get some good looking girls like these” 16 Upto 8 minutes
JOSIE AND SWANLEYS WEDDING ( 37 MINS TO 45MINS) V.O :As the guests await the bride, Swanley has gone down the pub.36 Swanley arrives at church still gulping down beer and spills some on his suit! The bride in her “classy dress” and her dad37 The wedding vows. Josie dissolves into laughter as she says “ Swanley I give you this ring.... 17 Swanley joins in the laughter in the middle of the vows!
38394041 Cousins preparing for the reception. VO: Girls will have to be on guard from boys wanting grabs. The cake fight! 18 The dancing-younger generation arrive...