Theory Work

Nominated Films:

Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois)

The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almondover)

Uncle Boomee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

A Separation (Asghar Farhadi) WINNER!!

Something very interesting I noticed when watching the Cinema Awards was when Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher, 8 Women) gave her speech after winning the award for Achievement in Cinema she talked about missing one film and that was a British Film, Jonathon Ross then went on to say “If Isabelle doesn’t get a part in the next Inbetweeners movie I’ll be very cross”, there was then a laugh from the audience. The laugh came from an audience of foreign film loving upper class people who obviously found the idea of having such a respectable actress in a low culture film such as the Inbetweeners would be totally crazy. Here we see a line that is clearly not blurred between high and low culture. This is quite an extreme case as maybe the Inbetweeners movie isn’t quite her forte.


To see the bit I mean go 38 minutes 40 seconds in.



This article written by Nick Lacey sets out to try to answer the question:


Points from the article:

  • low vs high culture debate is fuelled by politicians, education ministers, cultural critics and the media.

If someone was asked who are the greatest writers of all time we may hear names such as Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens and TS Elliot. In music names such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. But why is it that this is the case, some of the people who answer that question may not have even read or heard these writers or composers work so how would they know.

According to the French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu by knowing “great works of art” people believe they have cultural capital which would enable them to become part of the ‘elite’. There is this idea that knowing the ‘classics’ means that you are somehow better prepared in the world and if for some reasons you aren’t knowledgeable on something that is classed as a ‘classic’ then it is a very bad thing indeed. However why should someone have to have read a certain book to be allowed in the ‘elite’ group, I feel this group is a little bit clicky. However this distinction in classes is said to now be far less important that in the past as both high and low culture is available to all classes in some way, shape or form. All classes have a high range of media available to them and can decide what and how they want to experience it.

There is now also the idea that age, gender and ethnicity also have a part in determine what texts are for cultural capital. For example I have had little experience of the ‘classics’ during my time at school however have broadened my knowledge of TV Drama, Arthouse films and music videos. In a time of postmodernism there is no reason why as a media student I can’t compare a soap opera and Shakespeare’s pieces.

There is a problem with having such a high range of texts available to us, how on earth are we going to find out what is worth experiencing? If we only read, watch, play etc what is most popular we may be denying ourselves all the niche texts, we could be missing out on the ‘long tail’. There are many lists and polls of “the greatest [insert media here] of all time”, if I haven’t seen many of these things on these lists does that mean I’m missing out or have I made my own list that is more important to me?

Quentin Tarantino films don’t really fit into a category but are a combination of things such as  high-end French New Wave and low-end Grindhouse trash. He has entered into contemporary cinema with a combination of intertextuality of the greatest of cinema history and a new incredibly unique take on narratives. He has blurred the line between high and low culture, the clever narrative and contemporary style and camera work caters for the high culture while the comedy and action caters for the low culture, not that both could be admired by either culture it’s just what you decide to love about his films.

Tarantino’s films are discussed in all circles of people, whatever class. He saw cinema as one, not being put into any groups. He became familiar with all type of film for his job at a video store and you can see this knowledge of films from different genres, different artistic movements and different periods shine through in his films.

‘It’s like a wax museum with a pulse”

We see lots of intertextuality in Pulp Fiction:

  • In the restaurant Mia and Vincent visit, we see the staff impersonating iconic figures such as Marlyin Monroe and Buddy Holly, both figures of popular culture.
  • Jules deciding to “wander the earth” like Kane in televisions Kung Fu.
  • There are also very small references such as the scene where Butch is deciding which weapon to use, we see a chain saw (Texas Chain Saw Massacre).

The term ‘nobrow’ has now been introduced into the film world, used to define the less direct reliance in high/low distinctions and a greater leaning towards the notion of one, all encompassing, cultural recognition.


There is an argument that all of these post modern films are merely just a grouping together of references to past work with no innovation of their own. However the creativity involved in a postmodern text such as Pulp Fiction is so great that it makes these type of films a whole new movement that cleverly integrates the old and new. Tarantino “is not degrading, but reclaiming culture” and then adding his own, fresh, flair.


Even from looking at the website we are hit with male vibes, from the steely gray background to the sturdy positioning of the characters heads with smirks on their faces and we faced with Jeremy Clarksons head smack bang in the centre, set slightly forward trying to force a smile thats not too happy becasue that may make him look slightly femanine.

Top Gear has, despite having 3 larger than life male presenters and being about such a sterotypical topic of cars, somehow managed to achieve an almost even audience demographic of 42% female and 58% male viewers. Top Gear has gained its popularity  throught funny antics, fast cars and and the competition between presenters. Top Gear has many aspects that are typically masculine from the set being chunky and surrounded by steel framework.




 There is an escapist feel to the show where the presenters are given money to buy a car and don’t have to worry about insuring themselves on this car or the car getting damaged, they can blow up nearly anything they want and don’t themsleves have to worry about setting anything up or clearing everythinhg away. The three men have no worries about practicality, time or how rediculous they look. There is something quite engaging about middle aged men acting rather like children, looking like fools and sometimes giving us some knowledge about cars.
Clarkson ios often the alpha male of the show as being the first to speak every episode, the one who interviews the celebrities instantly shows him to be the ring leader, he can throw out the insults when ever he wants and is not afraid to carry on this persona outside the show, often being in the media due to feuds with others (Piers Morgan) and affairs with his women. He also participates in shows such as QI and Have I Got News For You where he does tone down him dominant persona and brings out more of a relatively intelligent man.
Despite being on the recieving end of numerous height jokes Richard Hammond then challenges alpha male Jeremy’s decisions on things such as choice of cars and the “Cool Wall”. He is also the presenter of childrens show Richard Hammonds Blast Lab, somthing that Jeremy Clarkson couldn’t possibly due and would most likely make some small children cry.
James May is the one that seems to be most in the show for the cras, i think he generally wants to just talk about the technicalities and history if the cars but has to engage in the crazy tasks set just to fit in, he is nicknamed “Captain Slow” and has a sensible label that is backed up by other shows he presents such as 20th Century and Big Ideas.

The word postmodernism is more like a shorthand way of describing a whole style of contemporary culture.

Strinati’s five ways to define post modernism:

1. The breakdown of the distinction between culture and society.

When things are more real in the media than in real life, the postmodern means people make sense of reality by referencing media texts. For example, ADVERTISMENT, a product used to be able to be successful by being a quality product how ever postmodernism means a poor quality product can still do well if it has great advertisement. Another example would be characters such as Bruno or Borat, we know more about these characters than we know about the person that plays then Sacha Baron Cohen. He is going along with postmodernism by staying in character when interviewed so the audience can carry on with this fake world that they love so much. This media reality becomes our reality and the disconnection between reality and media reality is reducing.  

Baudrillard- Hyper-reality. Where this culture perceives the copy and more real than the original and the fake is more readily accepted than the original.

Jameson- Historical deafness. History is now documentaries where the historical knowlede is based on media representation. For example war films havce changed so much over the years in terms of reality of content however they are all about the same wars.

2. An emphasis on style at the expense of substence and content.

Celebrities: sometimes contemporary culture values appearences over function such as good looks over intelligence and talent.

Branding: somtimes the label of the item of clothing is more important than the product itself.

Style over substance: some celebrities are famous for being famous rather than for having an actual talent, a good example for this is for people who have been contestants on Big Brother.

Jameson: Meaning is lost in culture, there is no longer depth to our culture. The public then try and add depth by showing public displays of grief if a beloved celebritiy dies. It’s like our way of saying “We do care, honest” when the week before the celebrity was nothing but entertainment to us.

3. The breakdown of the distinction between high culture and popular culture.

High art: opera, ballet, theatre

Popular Culture: avaliable to the masses

Postmoderism is about the line between these two groups being blurred and how high art is now avaliable for anyone and how the two are being intertwined without worry. Examples of this are pop songs with pieces of classical music in and Andy Warhol mixing pop art prints with the Mona Lisa.

4. Confusions over time and space

This is all how quickly information can travel, it can go from one place to another in a matter of seconds. The internet enables you to send emails to someone on the other side of the world in no time at all. However this may not nessecarily be a brilliant thing, i think this might cause us all to get bored of something way too easily. There is no excitement of putting a letter in the post box written by hand and recieving a letter, it all feels a bit impersonal sending emails not that I don’t do it. This has made the world much more efficient and keeps up with the fast pace of everything else. People are leading much busier lives and need this quick way of contacting people. We now also have the etchnology to be able to see the world using only the click of a mouse. We are all experienced travellers without going anywhere, everything is “here and now”.


This is about how we aren’t living in one big theory such as communism, facism, liberalism or socialism as now all of our cultural understanding is based on personal interpretations, people are making up their own ideas on the time that we are living in. This decline in absolute ways to explain reality may have come about due to the more secular society we are living in where religious views have less influence on us. We want a complex world where some people can’t even explain how they are living their lives, its a mixture, a postmodern way of life that can’t be explained by a simple “ism” word.


The breakdown of the distinction between high culture and popular culture.


Media Texts and the Postmodern

The postmodern brought about a new way of constucting texts and ideas that at the start everyone was fine with is being in the mainstream media however as events such as 9/11 occured the population became vunerable and needed the comfort of more classically structured approaches to make better sense of the world.


My Version- the not no frills but less frills version.

Media theory has thought about how much the content of media has helped to getting an easy view of the world that everyone agrees on. However, how do all the things represented in media bring about a particular way of seeing the world? Is there a simple set of values and beliefs that explain media representations in the world, or is it far more complex? Does media make people thing about lifes problems and solutions in a certain way? Does media make clear appropriate ways of thinking and acting? Does media always act bias and stereotypical when covering events? Are meanings constructed through things such as the news? Do people involved in media act as one group carrying and dishing out ideas?

These types of questions link to ideology where we study the nature and origion of ideas and the beliefs that guide people. Media theory looks at how media representation is effecting ideology, looking at how the media represent the opposites of men/women, gay/straight, rich/poor etc and whose interests are involved with these views.

There are break downs in communication when someone doesnt understand what they have seen or heard in the media. People interpret the media differently and can ritely think what ever they want, however this freedom of thought is constrained by culture and society. Factors stopping people thinking what ever they want are things such as history, tradition, language and ways of life. Media  is always trying to make meaning. Structured arguements about meanings in media have led to new ways of forming ideas about the ideological power of the media, particularly in the event of “discourse”, and debates about how to analyse media.

DISCOURSE: Speak or write authoritatively about a topic.

Destutt De Tracy believed ideology is the step by step study or science of ideas. However there is great confusion about the term.

The idea that it is negative: Many think of ideology as “a system of wrong, false or distorted beliefs associated with our social/political opponents”. When people think their opponents are wrong purely becasue your against them. Some use ideology as a term of abuse, one that describes dangerous threatening views. Others think ideology is when someone is strongly attatched to a bias idea and that is ideologies where removed people would see the reality of the situation.

The more neutral view: Ideology being a system of though or belief related to things happening socially or politically. A term related to “isms”- materialism, capitalism, Thatcherism etc.

McLennan believed that to make an idea or belief ideological lots of people had to agree on them. Ideology is concerned with power between people as some have the power to impose views upon others such as presidents to their country however some don’t have this power. Its the “important” people of the world that group together and say things that don’t make a true depiction of the world.

Marx then went on to say that ideology is false conciousness where we don’t know the truth. Because of their beliefs and values working class people don’t know the truth about the way they live. This was apparent during capitalism where advertisment created false needs to divert people from seeing the bad points about capitalism.

CAPITALISM: an economic system where trade and industy are controlled by private owners for profit.

Mrax believed that ideology is produced by the dominant class, the middle class, and passed on to the other classes through media giving everyone a false picture of the world. However it’s not just class that put people in their position in the world, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, race and nationality all play this role too.

Ideological State Apparatus


  • Marxist thinker
  • leader of communist party of Italy
  • concept of cultural hegemony- political leadership of the working class


  • Marxist philosopher
  • member- French communist party
  • structural Marxist

Both of these men argue that things that give out ideology are the media, the church and the education system however they all operate in their own way. Althusser was interested in how the ruling class rules and how the dominant ideology makes peoples thoughts about the world.

Representations of the imaginary relationship of individuals with the real conditions of the their existence

 Basically how people think they live Vs. how they actually live. Althusser argued that media, schools and churches are responsible for the way in which men and women take part in the world. Althusser didn’t belive ideology was false but more of a word to describe peoples “lived experience”.

Repressive state appatatus such as the police and the army who use force to maintain power still rely on the ideological state apparatus to gain the long term support of the ruling class. Interpellation describes the way in which individuals are exposed to the forces of ideological state apparatus from a young age in the form of family telling them how they should act, behave and think. As we consume media we become more and more interpellated.

Most people see the media as entertainment or information but what it is really trying to do is create a whole new world for comsumers of media to understand and to ensure they do not feel the need to try and understand the real world. This made up world needs to be discrete with the fact that it is made up with the use of effective promotion. Althussers theory of ideology then became out of fashion as it was so hard to put into practise and Gramsci.s concept of hegemony became a way to think about ideology in the media.  Gramsci belived idoelogy is not ruled by the dominat class but also by texts and their readers which goes against the idea that media messages are formed and trasmitted through classes.

There are many different approaches to media theory and explaining ideology. On the one hand we have people not having the chance to be exposed to reality, about whether the media are telling the truth or giving an accurate reflection of current events. However there is then the media that don’t aim to show reality such as cartoons but while they are thought to be imaginative and escape from reality they often adress what is going on in the “real” world in an imaginative way.

Some people pick and choose what they want to be real and what they don’t, there are suggestions that no representation of reality can ever be real. Representation should be the process of constructing reality. In reality, representation is now our reality unless we find a way to see what is actually real.

Intertextuality is refrencing from other media. It can be from the same type of media such as a music video referencing another music video or from different types of media such as a TV programme referencing a novel. Using intertextuality in our music video can achieve audience gratification where the audiEnce will see the reference and feel excited about having a connection to the video. We can then broaden the audience that watches our video.

Before locating where we are including intertextuality in our music video’s we looked at some other artists who have have got either obvious intertextuality or discrete references.








By using intertextuality an artist can borrow a style and then put their mark on it and this makes the whole porcess of making the video a lot easier. It makes you question wether anything we see in media such as film and music video is origional, how far back has some of the ideas now come from? Many people think we have the artists of yesterday to thank for the artists of today, the ones who made a movement in art to times suchas cubist and surrealism. Maybe this applies to media such as film, the way directors think today is very much influenced by the work of directors when film first started out.


In many ways we are including sexuality, we have the gothic, vampiric theme that links nicely to the popular group of TV series such as Vampire Diaries and True Blood and then we have the strong femme fatale figure as the basis of the video which linked to charaters such as Rite Hayworth as Gilda in the Shawshank Redemption.

The things that make Gilda a femme fatale is the strong movements and the way she seems to own the space she is in, he silky dress and  gloves and red lipstick. We can use some of these ideas to, also the iconic hair flick when we are first introduced to her,  if we introduced our female character in this way the audience may recongise it and feel more attatched to the video.

We can also include some more discrete intertexuality from other media such as the red apple we see on the popular book and films Twighlight, if we were to show the apple being held the way it is on the cover of the book then the audience may recognise it and  give them gratifcation for their spot. There may also be potential for the inclusion of strong female figures such as Cruela De Vil, the fictional baddie from 101 Dalmations, who loves to boss her male sidekicks about and wear fur. By includinga costume made from fur in our video this could also link to the animalistic and dangerous nature of a femme fatale.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How does Submarine represent British youths?

The youths in this film are neither living in council estates with a bad up bringing and parents on benefits nor upper class university going young people that have all the latest fashions and attend multiple parties. Oliver Tate played in the film by Craig Roberts is a boy living in Swansea in the 1980’s. The film is based around his coming of age and his relationship with Jordanna and his parents.

If you are going to have film that uses simple art house shots where there are no fancy camera angles or special effects such as in Submarine then you need to have the most interesting person in the shot. The person NEEDN’T be arteficially pretty they need to have interesting features. ELDERLY PEOPLE tend to make a shot interesting if they have wethered faces with wrinkles and glasses. There are characters in submarine who are interesting enough to make up for the simple shot angles. Such as the main character, Oliver Tate, he has a very pale face and dark features, he reminds me of a vampire however this may well be from him player a wannabe vampire in the cbbc childrens series Young Dracula. But he does have dark circles under his eyes and wears black long coats.

Oliver Tate has an unusual relationship with his parents. He and his Mum live in two very different worlds, they try to engage in conversation however it always seems to lead to Oliver making an awkward comment and his mum leaving.

“My mother is worried I have mental problems. I found a book about teenage paranoid delusions during a routine search of my parents’ bedroom.”

Oliver keeps a close eye on his parents sex life. He doesn’f find the fact that he does this at all wierd. Him and his father i feel have a special connection, they both have woman problems and can share a look that transltaes to a whole conversation.

This shot wouldn’t be half as interesting if the people in it were boring to look at, they are wearing statement colours and have pale faces and dark hair. The shot is a mid shot with no angle and the background is simply grass and trees.

 When making the music video for our coursework we need to choose people to be in it that are interesting and quirky as this will make the shot more exciting menaing we won’t need to spend as much time trying to use origional and extravagant angles.


Jordanna and Oliver do engage in arsen and both seem to get a slight thrill from flames and are often shown having romantc times in front of a fire they have made in a skip. However they aren’t really shown as thugs and we never see an elderly person looking at them in disgust and they mean no harm to anyone just like making fires. There ins’t too much to do in Swansea highlighting the lack of activities for young people in some areas of Britain, not that Jordanna and Oliver are the type of people that would go to activities.

Visit this website and watch the interview with the director and author submarine.

Oliver Tate seems to be slightly naieve when it comes to him interviening with his parents rocky relationship, he devisises little plans and situations to try and help the situation. In an interview with the dircetor he describes Oliver as being a “slightly puffed up, self important young man who has got the perception of the world quite wrong” which is shown through scenes such as a fake love letter that is meant to be from his father to his mother but is quite obviosly done by Oliver. LETTERS seems to be involved quite a lot in Olivers life which is surprising due to his extensive vocabulary and long complex sentences used as vioce overs.

Jordanna is shown as a tough girl who detestes anything romantic or sloppy however we see her being just as emotional and vunerable as any other 15 year old girl when she speaks about her mothers cancer. She finds it hard to even tell Oliver about the problems in her family life which shows the secrecy and lack of communication experienced by children this age. It is quite clear that Jordanna wouldn’t let anyone else know about her mother especially not the school which today seem to want to help so much with problems in the personal life of it’s pupils. Jordanna feels she has no one to talk to until she meets Oliver.

Both Jordanna and Oliver try hard to keep their love lives and family lives as far apart as possible proving the distance some children feel towards their parents.