A2 Media Studies

Revision notes for up and coming media A Level exam

  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 11-05-12 10:35


Semiology (Saussure and Pierce): 

Signifier: What you see
Signfied: What you link it to 

Iconic: Close relationship between signifier and signified. 
Indexical: Assumed relationship between signifier and signifed.
Symbolic: No realtionship between signifier and signified. 

Example: Handbag.                                                             Example: Television.
Iconic: Bag                                                                      Iconic: Television show
Indexical: Fashion                                                               Indexical: BBC news
Symbolic: Glamour                                                        Symbolic: Entertainment 

Anchorage is when a code or convention ties down the meaning to a text

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Structuralism and Post Structuralism. Metanarrativ

Structuralism and Post Structuralism. (Saussure and Barthes). 

This is the attempt to detect and analyse the underlying universal rules that govern human communication. 

Human language, values, symbols etc are the product of culture not nature.


These are underlying 'aspects' to be considered. This encloses around social, cultural, economic relations, political and religious views. These can be a basis of characters in media texts or audiences. 

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Post Modernism.

Post Modernism.

This questions what is real? What is art? What is truth? What is good taste?
This theory questions everything that is seen, and is linked directly to hyper reality. 

Hyper Reality. (Baurdrillard).
 This theory describes a hypothetical inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced post-modern societies. Hyperreality is a way of characterizing what our consciousness defines as "real" in a world where a multitude of media can radically shape and filter an original event or experience. 

Hyper reality also calls into question that the audience can no longer distinguish the differece between real life and media texts - this is frequently seen along side the consumption of video games.This can also be linked to the Hypodermic syringe theory.

The Hypodermic syringe theory debates that audiences are passive and take in all messages that media texts 'inject' into them. This is argubly leading to copy cat killings and is also linked to moral panics etc.

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Marxism and hegemony.


This is a theory based around the ideologies of Marx. This ideology of that of the bourgeoisie have control over all media products (therefore the institution) which the proletariat (the audience) consume. It is argued that the bourgeoisie place their own ideologies and values into the media texts that they create for the proletariat. 

This is linked to hegemony (Gramsci). This is when highly agreed with ideologies are present.

Hegemonic ideologies: Murder is wrong. Children are innocent.  Killing animals for                meat is okay. Education is valuable. BBFC. 

Non hegemonic ideologies: Illegal drugs should be used. Racism is acceptable.          Killing animals for fur is right

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Patriarchal. Feminism. Objectification.

Patriarchal, Feminism and Female Objectification. 

Patriarchal ideology: Men dominate over women in job roles etc. 

Feminism (Brunsdon): Femininity and feminism are opposites. Brunsdon suggests                                      that women's magazines mean that women conform. 

Objectification: Women in the media are sexual objects for men within the media.                             This links to the Male Gaze theory. 

Male Gaze theory (Mulvey).

This is the ideology that women are sexual objects in the media for men to gaze upon, and therefore is why women are placed in the media.  

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Liberal Plauralism

This is the ideology that goes directly against Marxism. 

Liberal Plauralism sees that what is in the media is representating is what is actually in society ... and therefore challenges the bourgiousie and proletariat roles. 

Liberal Plauralism suggests that society has control over media rather than those in power. 

What is represented is actually true:

Teenagers are violent - news clips show teens being violent.

Teachers are boring - narrative in film connotes students being bored of teachers lesson.  

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Active audience: Take part in audience activity. Question what they see in media texts and representaions. 

Passive audience: Agree with ideologies and values placed in media and simply take what they see to be true. 


Negotiated reading: Assumes that no actual meaning exists and any meaning that is created is shaped by the audiences own ideologies and values.

Oppositional reading: This is the opposite of what institutions want the audiences to gain from the media text. Challenges preferred reading.

Preferred reading: This is the reading that institutions want audiences to gain from a media text. 

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Narratives and Parasocial interaction.

Narratives within the media.

Propp: This theory states that there are 8 characters within a narrative: 

Hero, Villan, Donor, Dispatcher, False Hero, Helper, Princess and Her Father. 

E.G. Stereotypical Fairtales. Shrek films. 

Strauss: This is the idea of binary oppositions within narratives. 

E.G. Good Vs Bad. Earth Vs Aliens. Cowboys Vs Indians. 

Todorov: This theory states that within a narrative there is:
Equibibrium, Disequilibrium, ending with Equilibrium.  

Parasocial interaction. 

This is when audiences build up a relationship with characters within media texts. This is common with soap operas E.G. EastEnders. 

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Post Colonialism and Race theory

Post Colonialism: This theory challenges the ideologies of cultural imperialism. 

Post colonialism rule simply mimics the operations of the colonizer. The theory suggests issues of race and the legacy of colonialism have a strong influence on media and media representation. 

Race representation (Alvarado et al, 1987). 

There are four main types of race representation within the media: 

1) The Exotic

2) The Dangerous

3) The Humorous

4) The Pitied 

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Two-Step Flow, Dependency theory and cultivation t

Two-Step Flow theory (Katz and Lazarsfeid) 

Opinion leaders influence followers to 'check out' media texts. Texts, ideologies and values are promoted. Mass audiences will accept this rather than niche. 

Dependency theory (Ball-Rakeach and Defleur)

This theory focuses on the degree to which audiences depend on the media. The greater the uncertainty within society, the greater level to which audiences are dependent. 

Cultivation theory (Gerbner)

This theory believes that watching TV affects peoples views of the real world. TV has long term effects, which are small, gradual, indirect and cumulative. TV reinforces already present values.  

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Effects theory and uses and gratifications

Effects theory. 

This theory believes that audiences are uncritical and undifferentiated mass and simply believe what the media tells them. This links to hypodermic syringe theory and passive audience theory. 

Uses and gratifications theory. (Blulmer and Katz) 
This theory discusses the potential reasons why audiences consume the media:

Diversion - escapism from audiences every day lives and routines. 

Personal Relationships - using media for an emotional interaction.

Personal identity - using the media to 'find yourself', learning acceptable behaviors and values. How to 'be'.

Surveillance - gaining information about the world around us. Gaining information which could be useful in everyday life. 

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Cognitive dissonance, verisimilitude and news valu

Cognitive dissonance.
This is the unhappy feeling that audiences can gain when their own ideologies, values, beliefs or idea about someone is proved wrong by a media text or is challenged. 

This is when a media text tries to replicate something to look 'life like'. This is a form of realism. 

News Values (Gallung and Ruge). 
This is the basis of what helps to create the news seen in the media today:

Frequency                       Cultural proximinty                      Negativity                         Unambiguity

Personalisation                Elite nations                               Elite people                        Composition

Visual imperative              Narritivisation                             Threshold                          Predictability

Unexpectedness                        Continuity    

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Representation Case Study 1

John Carpenters. The Ward. (2010). 
Stereotypical murder victim. Blond hair. White dress. Murderer is woman - counter stereotype. Murder is sneaky - the murderer is never seen until the end of the film, therefore little identity is given. Narrative reveals that the victims have split personalities, therefore she murders herself .. connotations of mental instability linking to murderers. Moral panics can be connoted from the treatment of the mentally ill.
- Feminism. - Moral Panics. Produced by Echo Lakes Production. Based in America. 

Wider context: 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. (2008).
Narrative focuses on a child in a Nazi concentration camp. The boys father is murdered in a gas chamber. The boy and his Nazi child friend swap places. The leading Nazi ends up gassing his own son. Done in the perspective of the young German boy - connotations of innocence. Social view of WW2 and its importance. 
- Marxism - Hegemony. Produced by BBC films. Based in UK. Binary opposition: Jew's V Nazi. 

Wider context: Historical context of WW2; holocaust, genocide and death of soldiers. British ideology - against Nazi's and that WW2 should always be remembered. 

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Representation Case Study 2

Public Enemies (2012). 
Narrative shows actual and convicted murderer. Man who has been in prison was not the murderer, and when released attempts to live a normal life; getting a job in garden center. This is an alternative representation of murderers. Victim is not dwelled on. However victim is stereotypical young girl.  A sympathetic view point is show; through sympathy portrayed by the parole officer. Binary opposition; Public Vs murderer. This can also be linked to social, moral panics regarding murder and the vulnerability of young girls within communities? Murderers living among society. 
- Alternative representation - Liberal pluralism - cognitive dissonance - semiotics. Produced by BBC, UK.

Wider context: 

Taken (2008) 
Mans daughter goes on holiday with friend. The young teenage girls in Europe are then abducted and imprisoned into the sex trade within Europe. The man then goes to Europe (From America) to save his daughter. In the process he kills men who get in the way. The teenage daughters friend is also killed through drug overdose. The man then kills more 'bad guys' and then saves his daughter. This film also covers various moral panics; sex trafficking,  drugs, gang violence, abduction, prostitution. 
- Patriarchal ideology - Marxism - Uses and Gratification (revenge) - Parasocial interaction 

Wider context: 2007 abduction of Madeline McCann. 

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Representation Case Study 3

Betty Yates murder - BBC. (2012).
Victim, based out in 'the middle of no where' was a stereotypical older victim. Potentially a break in - murderers also thief? Murderer is also very violent, as victim was beaten with a walking stick and stabbed in the neck. Moral panics of treatment of the elderly and their safety. Also moral panic on how safe audiences are in their own home. 'a man in this 20s wearing a thigh-length dark-coloured jacket walking alone at about 20.30.'  

- News values - Moral panics Produced by BBC. Based in the UK. 

Wider context: 

Birmingham murder - The Guardian. (2012). 
House broken into and items stolen. Murderer was also a thief. Stereotypical male murderer. 'Tragic and senseless death'. Lump hammer was the weapon - violent. Moral panics again about home safety. 

- News values - Patriarchal ideology

Wider context: 

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Representation Case Study 4

Call of Duty - Video game.
Based upon the player fighting within WW2 (Call of Duty Modern Warfare). The player shoots against 'the enemy' to help to win the war. To finish the game you have to complete missions, and to do them you have to kill. This game arguably encourages violence within the player and leads to a questioning of morals. It is mindless killing through a hyper reality, leading to moral panics. Binary opposition is also seen. 

- Post modernism - Hyper reality - Hypodermic syringe theory - Verisimilitude 

Wider context: 

Law abiding citizen. (2009). 
The narrative follows a man who takes revenge upon two men who torture, **** and kill his wife and child. The narrative follows the main character tracking down the two men, and brutally murdering them in revenge. This can be linked to moral panics about short prison sentences, child and women **** and murder and theft. This film questions the ideology of 'the greater good' as well as the morals, values and ideology. Binary opposition between Good husband Vs evil rapists. 

- Marxism -Liberal Pluralism - Uses and gratifications. Created by The Film Department Warp Film.

Wider context: 

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Representation Case Study 5 (Theory)

Cognitive Dissonance: Audiences have mainly negative ideas of murderers. They therefore can be unhappy when this is challenged through media texts such as Public Enemies (2012) on the BBC. 

Active audience: This audience will question the representation of murderers. They will see through media texts underlying motives and therefore will ask whether the representation seen, such as that in Taken is realistic compared to the murderers in The Guardian Birmingham murder. 

Passive audience: This audience would not question what they see in media texts, but would simply accept that all murderers would be like that show in John Carpenters. The Ward. 

News Values (Ruge): Bad news makes good news, therefore the Betty Yates murder, which is bad, actually makes good news for the BBC. The Bourgeoisie control the BBC news and show hegemonic ideology regarding the fear of murderers.  

Liberal Pluralism: The positive representation shown in Public Enemies may be viewed as realistic, that many offenders try to change their lives. However this can also be applied to Law Abiding Citizen whom kills for revenge, therefore implying that murder for revenge is one of the main reasons for murder.

Stereotype: Violent and thief (BBC and The Guardian print articles). 
Archetype: Mass murder, and done with out thought (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas).
Counter stereotype: Feels remorse for murder or is innocent (Public enemies). 

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MEST 3 Section A

Evaluate how ....(individual, group, place or event) are represented in each media product. 8 marks.

Level 4 (7-8 marks): A sophisticated analysis and evaluation, showing very good critical autonomy. Sophisticated understanding of media concepts, in particular the representation within both media products. Supported by detailed reference to both media products. Articulate and engaged. 

Why does the media (something that it does)? You may also refer to other media texts to support your answer. 12 marks. 
Level 4 (10-12 marks): A sophisticated evaluation, showing very good critical autonomy. Detailed and sophisticated application of a wide range of media debates, issues and theories. Supports answer with a wide range of examples from other media texts. Articulate and engaged. 

Evaluate a media concern/issue/debate. You should refer to other media texts to support your answer. 12 marks. 
Level 4 (10-12 marks): A sophisticated evaluation, showing very good critical autonomy. Detailed and sophisticated application of a wide range of wider contexts. Supports answer with a wide range of examples from other media texts. Articulate and engaged. 

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MEST 3 Section B

Representation or New Digital Media. 

Level 4 (37 - 48 marks). 

A comprehensive discussion and evaluation, showing sophisticated understanding of representation or new digital media. 

A sharp focus on the question. 

Sophisticated application of concepts and a wide range of media issues, debates and theories and wider context. 

The use of the candidate's individual case study shows detailed evidence of independent study and very good critical autonomy. 

Answer is supported by a wide range of examples. 

The answer is well structured, articulate and engaged. 

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New Digital Media Case Study 1

How is the film industry affected by new digital media? 

* Merchandise - more marketing. Technological convergence. 

* We media - audiences and institutions.

* Games - synergy - technological convergence - marketing. 

* Apps - slogans - social networks. 

* Piracy - key debates - music industry - illegal downloads. 

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New Digital Media Case Study 2

Advantages and disadvantages of audience and institutions of convergence within the film industry. 

Audience advantages.
In web 2.0 anyone can create and publish films. This is done though sites such as youtube.  Convergence of technology has resulted in: A proliferation of film content. Instant, cheap or free film downloads online. Audiences can create and publish their own films. (Hyper Reality). 
Audiences can have new interactive experiences with each other and institutions, using a range of different media and technologies. On way this occurs is Social Networking, which utilizes  a range of media and technology including video. Photographs, games and virtual applications. Can be linked to viral marketing. (Active audiences). 
Despite We Media audiences still access content from large institutions, where there is a guaranteed degree of quality and reliability e.g. buying DVD's and going to the cinema. (Marxism). 

Audience disadvantages.  
Audiences have to sift through huge amounts of low quality recordings. Successful Web 2.0 sites are often brought by large institutions. After this happens they become corporate, more concerned with profit and tighten their approach to copyright infringements, such as illegal film downloading. (Marxism).  

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Audience and institutions advantages and disadvant

Institution advantages.
360 branding - where institutions surround audiences with media products across all forms; Video, Games, Mobile Phone App, Social Networking, YoutTube, Video, Internet Advertising and more. (Post modernism). 
Web 2.0 websites and new technology can prove very profitable acquisitions for large institutions.

Institution disadvantages. 
In Web 2.0 anyone can create and publish films to the world. This is known as We Media, done through sites such as YouTube. 
Audiences who have become producers pose a threat to major film institutions and established brands e.g. Paramount. (Liberal Pluralism). 
As a result of the converged technology involved in illegal file-sharing of recorded films, institutions have lost revenue.
Websites and converged technology offer content for free. This has severely affected revenue in the film industry.  
The formally mass audience has become a fragmented audience. 
In the converged media world, boundaries between media and technology aren't the only ones being blurred. So are those between legal and illegal activity such as Peer to peer illegal file sharing. (Two Step Flow Theory). (Hyper Reality).  

Audiences can be exposed to unsuitable content. Can create moral panics.  

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New Digital Media Case Study 3

How much is the film industry worth: $ 942 billion from ticket sales.
How does it make its money:  Films, DVDs, Memorabilia, Soundtracks and Movie related games.  
Audience and the media. How has the development of new digital media effected the film industry. Advantage or disadvantage and for who? 

YouTube: Audiences can watch selections of films on demand. Audiences can create their own films and publish them (free marketing for institutions). Audience interaction is encouraged - such as creating own trailers for films etc (Viral marketing for institutions). Mainly benefits for the audience.

Facebook: Allows institutions to cheaply market their media products directly to consumers. Due to smart computer technology advertisements can be liked directly at specific audience members. Advantage for institutions of cheap direct marketing. Two step flow theory is encouraged among audiences. Advantages for the institutions as this allows cheap easy marketing between audience members. 

Twitter: Films can gain a 'cult' following of Twitter users. Advantage for audiences as they can gain parasocial interaction. (Liberal Pluralism). Films can 'Trend' using # this encourages users to talk about the film and therefore create their own. Institutions are helped to market their product or gain hype. Two step flow theory, as users can see tweets from who they follow. Advantages for institutions because its a form of free marketing. 

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New Digital Media Case Study 4

How has changes within new digital affected the film industry?

New technology.

Online file sharing sites: Allows audiences to share between themselves films. This means that less is spent on audience members going to the cinema or buying DVD's, therefore affecting the cinema industry as well as the film industry through a loss of revenue. 

Film watching sites: This has allowed audiences to watch the latest films, online for free before films release dates. This means that not only the cinema and film industry is affected but also DVD production and distribution. Customers are no longer as willing to buy the films or spend money seeing them as they are available for free. 

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New Digital Media Case Study 5

The Numbers: 

Top grossing movies for each year:
2009: Transformers. Total for the year: $402,111,870. 

2010: Toy Story 3. Total for the year: $415,004,880. 
2011: Harry Potter DH 2. Total for the year: $381,011,219. 

Top grossing genres 1995 - 2011:
Comedy - $44,517,094,860.

Adventure - $37,669,151,209.
Drama - $33,305,197,629.

Top grossing distributors 1995 - 2011:
Warner Bros - $28,815,783,818.

Walt Disney Pictures - $26,813,361,238.
Sony Pictures - $24,365,483,515. 

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New Digital Media Case Study 6

New digital media has changed the film industry. How can institutions reach global audiences? 

- Viral marketing. 

- World wide distributions.

- Social networking. 

- Technological convergence:

 Video games

Smart phones  

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New Digital Media Case Study 7

Viral marketing: 

How are institutions responding to new digital media: Cloverfield. 

* TV and movie trailers. 

* Fan created trailers -spoofs.

* Online things to find for active audiences - different things for audeinces to track down and find.

* Twitter and Facebook.

* Movie website.  

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