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Define Postmodern Media with examples

Postmodern media makes no attempt to hide that it isnt real. It wants a literate audience to understand its unoriginality and recognize the references from previous Medias. There are no limits between genres; time, space and narratives are often fragmented. Postmodern media is based on a hyper reality that emphasises style over content. An example of a focus on style over content can be seen in the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino film Inglorious Basterds. The text on these credits is habitually white on a black background. Tarantino however is known for using yellow text as oppose to white in his films, and so although the credits are introducing the film, it is Tarantinos style that is notably unusual. The use of chapters that segment the film reminds us that it is in fact unreal. This unreality is further portrayed as we see the text on screen that reads once upon a time in occupied Europe which is reminiscent of a fairytale. This applies Levi-Strauss theory of addition in a text; realistically we do not consider a war film to be introduced as a fairytale. Gerard Genettes theory of hypotextuality explains that we view our preceding definition of fairytales to amend what we understand to be a generic war film. This use of bricolage from different genres reflects postmodern medias disregard for barriers between styles. A further example of Genettes hypotextuality theory can be seen as Shoshanna escapes from The SS, the framing of the shot is reminiscent of Western film The Searchers as John Waynes character leaves, however Tarantino transforms the scene from the character leaving to escaping. This theory can again be applied to the comedic portrayal of Hitler within the film. Tarantino substitutes a realistic depiction for a stereotypical much more humorous character. This exemplifies that postmodern media emphasises style over content; opting for a more entertaining approach to this character than a realistic persona. Tarantino further prioritises style by including something of him in the film. As Brigit Von Hammersmark is strangled the shot focuses on the womans foot, Tarantino includes his foot fetish in most of his films and it is something a literate audience would understand to be an element of him within the film. A key postmodern feature of this film and postmodern media in general is the hybrid of genres. Although Inglorious Basterds is portrayed primarily as a war film, other genres are openly addressed. As previously mentioned the idea of the film being a fairytale or a fantasy story is features throughout the film with the use of chapters. We also see many references to Spaghetti Westerns such as The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Tarantino in particular samples these Westerns music. Although it is unusual in a war film, the music is relatable to the modern audience as we associate this style of music with confrontation; which is a feature of war films and so although there is no barrier between styles there is a relationship between the audiences understanding. This applies Baudrillards theory of signs masking the reality. We interpret the music as a sign of confrontation within the film as oppose to something from a foreign genre due to signs masking our concept of reality. Further references to westerns include the scene in the tavern as the barman grabs a gun from below the counter. Blaxploitation is another genre featured. A song called Slaughter is used as a motif to introduce characters. This obvious introduction in a typically 1970s style reminds us again that we are in fact not watching reality. This more modern cool at the time it was made genre again modifies our

perception of this war film. With this idea we can apply Fiskes theory. Because of previous knowledge of films we can acknowledge that firstly Inglorious Basterds is not a typical war film, but also that it is mixture of genres from the elements we can identify. We know that typical war films involve primarily little dialogue, lots of gunfire and battle scenes and are much less glamorously presented than Tarantinos war film. It is our previous knowledge of films and media we have seen that allows us to understand that Inglorious Basterds as a postmodern film. 2010 film Kick Ass is also an example of postmodern media. Like Inglorious Basterds the film is hybrid of genres; ranging from a superhero film to a teen film, but also featuring aspects of action and comedy films. A key postmodern feature of this film is the disjunctive narrative it has; it cuts away several times to explain parts of the characters past, even cutting away to a comic book. This encompasses more bricolage as we see recognisable debris from previous texts. The comic book concept is used again with the semi episodic structure of captions that highlight the time periods on the screen. These are used to remind us again we are seeing something that has been created and is not real. Intertextuality and hypotextuality are also common features within the film. Many other superhero films are referenced and transformed. For example films such as Wolverine and Sin City are referenced. There is a parody of Peter Parker looking into the mirror as Kick Ass tries on his superhero costume. Batman is referenced when Hit Girl speaks of using the Mayors office as a signal. Big Daddy is also a pastiche of Batman. Using so many references to comic books and superhero films reminds us of the unoriginality of the film. This defines it as a postmodern text. Postmodern media is defined to be constructed out of culturally familiar fragments, based on LeviStrauss idea of bricolage. He saw that these fragments were applied through processes. This is exemplified in Kick Ass by the character of Hit Girl. Firstly she is a substitute for a typical woman superhero. They are usually portrayed provocatively in revealing outfits; however Hit Girl is young innocent looking schoolgirl. Her feelings are often deleted and substituted for extreme emotionallydetached violence. This further defines the hyper real aspect of Postmodern Media. Having an 11 year old girl use extremely strong language and brutally murder grown men with the encouragement of her father blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. Another example of postmodern media focusing on surface over depth can be seen in the film Drive. The film has very little depth, to the extent that we dont even know the real name of the lead character; our knowledge of him is based solely on what we take from his actions and appearance on screen. The lack of back story for any of the characters further demonstrates this; this leaves us with little explanation for their behaviour or the situation theyre in. Hypotextuality is also further demonstrated from the shots of the city of LA. The birds eye view angle at night is reminiscent of the film Blade Runner. The film also appears to reference Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The font and colour of the text of the Titles is comparable to that of the video game. The idea of the film representing the urban sprawl side of LA is again similar to the game. Baudrillards theory of simulacra cites that our understanding of signs of culture within media create our perceived reality. Although a lot of people who watch the film have never been to LA, we understand that this is the city in which the film is set because of the cultural signs presented to us in

these shots. We can take this further to understand the hyperreality within the film. We are shown that the characters live in a chaotic, crowded city and yet they seem disconnected from the reality we understand from our concept of LA. This relates to Fiskes theory that what we know about certain events is based only on what we have seen in previous media and not on real life experience. From our knowledge we can identify this postmodern aspect of the film because it does not respect the boundaries of style within the media. Postmodern media can also be defined by manipulating time and space. This is seen in Drive with the cutaways to a more hyper real setting than the real world. The scenes which involve just the driver, Irene and her son are often gold filtered. They also have a more rural setting which gives the scene a more idyllic feel. This cutaway from supposed reality manipulates space, both because of this cutaway from the city but also because these three people are in a different space to all other people. Often the scenes are just with Irene and The Kid, the innocence of the scenes in a film such as this lead us to view the film as hybrid of genres. We can also apply Genettes theory of hypertextuality. The classic romance within the film and the preceding hypertext of a romantic film modify this film which we understand to be based on crime. Texts that belong to multiple genres can also be seen in different postmodern media. Television show Flight of the Conchords contributes to many different genres and styles. It is by definition a sitcom based in New York, however the use of bricolage adds several genres. The music videos incorporated into the programme give it a musical style. We also see an aspect of dramatised reality TV, with the band in the programme being recorded in their apartment. These different genres allow for further postmodern elements to be included. As Bret and Jermaine sing Ladies of the world they scene cuts to a parody of a music video from what seems to be the 70s. The styling of them and setting is all reminiscent of this period of music videos. During this song, the band directly address the camera and breaks the fourth wall. This further reminds us that what we are watching is in fact not real, a key definition of postmodern media. Something else which defines postmodern media is the use of self-reflexivity. Bret and Jermaine in the show are actually called Bret and Jermaine and they are actually in a band called Flight of the Conchords. The consciousness of reality within the programme once again reminds the audience that this text has been created and is not designed to be taken as a reality. Another example of hyperreality within postmodern Television is The IT Crowd. The characters featured in the episode Moss and the German are extremely hyperreal and stereotypical of their culture. For example the German cannibal is represented as typically German with a very pronounced accent and there is a reference to Schweinfleisch. Jens scenes that parody soviet Russia are also very hyperreal. The costumes and settings become increasingly extreme and stereotypical. The lighting is made increasingly bleak and her accent becomes Russian. Postmodern media uses parody; taking something of cultural relevance and mocking it. This can be seen at the beginning of the IT Crowd episode with a parody of the anti-piracy adverts that are on DVDs. The film takes the original adverts concept ad ridicules it to extreme lengths. It makes the crimes in comparison to piracy seem ludicrous and also the consequences, with it ending in a young girl being shot by the FBI at her computer.

Music can also take the form of postmodern media. Kramers theory refers to posmtmodern music as on some level and in some way, ironic this can link back to the postmodern idea of the death of uncool. We see examples of songs that are so bad that they do in fact prove popular, thus making them successful. A prime example of this is Rebecca Blacks song Friday which proved to be a huge internet sensation. The song was openly mocked and criticized, yet was one of the most talked about songs for a period of time. This goes back to the postmodern definition of style over substance. Kramer also states that postmodern music references many different cultures. A prime example of this is M.I.As Bad Girls. The song features an amalgamation of dance, electronic and traditional Arabic music. This songs use of electronic music also highlights Kramers idea that technology in postmodern music is implicated in the essence of the music, as oppose to simply a way of creating it. Postmodern music, like other postmodern media, shows little respect for boundaries between genres and style. It also shows little recognition for the past and present; many songs sample older tracks from contrasting genres to produce a completely new song. Kanye West provides a strong example with this. Otis, by West and Jay-Z samples five different tracks ranging from the 1960s to the 2000s. The song falls in to the genres of rap, hip-hop and soul, providing a mixed variety. Overall postmodern media can be defined by multiple elements, seen from the examples I have looked at. Key concept s include the idea that there is no longer such a thing as uncool and that nothing is original. Everything we see before us has been created through signs and symbols to create a reality, and that postmodern media values surface over substance. These definitions have been thoroughly exemplified through both theorists and exemplar text from different Medias.