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Nat5 Media


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Title: Nat5 Media

Nat5 Media
  • Introduction

  • As your teacher has mentioned to you, Media
    involves you looking closely at texts and also
    thinking about the issues that surround them (the
  • In this short unit, you will be introduced to
    some of the important ideas that affect the
  • You are going to think about how different people
    react to content in the media.

Films and You
  • Can you think of a film that has really affected
    your life?
  • It might be one that has truly scared you (now or
    as a child) one that your family love one that
    you love and are a fan of one that you have
    quoted from, etc.
  • Was the effect a positive or negative one?

The impact of the Media
  • Now write down a list of other media
  • What computer games do you play?
  • Do you read a magazine?
  • What TV shows do you watch?
  • What radio programmes do you listen to?
  • What music do you buy/stream/download?
  • For each one, rate it out of 10 in terms of how
    much you think it influences your life.

The History
  • Since the creation of film, societies have been
    concerned about the impact that moving images can
    have on audiences.
  • In early films, cinema audiences were terrified
    when they saw moving images of a train coming
    towards them (http//
  • As Hollywood evolved, the film industry took up a
    central role in western societies, with huge
    audiences attending cinemas regularly.

Moral Decline and Panic
  • However, there were concerns that
  • films were having a negative impact on
  • society that people were influenced by
  • the sex and violence they saw and this was
    leading to more unacceptable behaviour.
  • This idea applies to all media. Many people
    believe that computer games have a negative
    impact or that TV is bad for us or that
    magazines contain inappropriate images.
  • People seem less concerned about the impact of
    novels on society why do you think this is?

Moral Decline
  • This is the idea that the media are responsible
    for a moral decline in society.
  • Can you think of any films, TV shows, computer
    games (or any other media) that have caused
    outrage amongst the public?
  • Was the reaction justified?

Case Studies The War of the Worlds (Orson Welles
radio broadcast)
  • Throughout history there have been cases where
    the media are considered to have gone too far
    (listen from 10.10 to 16.20)
  • In 1938, a radio broadcast of the HG Wells story
    The War of the Worlds caused widespread panic
    with people phoning the emergency services,
    panic-stricken about the imminent alien attack!
    The actor Orson Welles and his theatre group
    broadcasted their radio edition of the story on
    the eve of Halloween radio programming was
    interrupted with a "news bulletin" for the first
    time. What the audience heard was that Martians
    had begun an invasion of Earth in a place called
    Grover's Mill, New Jersey.

Case Studies The War of the Worlds
  • Approximately 12 million people in the United
    States heard the broadcast and about one million
    of those actually believed that a serious alien
    invasion was underway. A wave of mass hysteria
    disrupted households, interrupted religious
    services, caused traffic jams and clogged
    communication systems. People fled their city
    homes to seek shelter in more rural areas, raided
    grocery stores and began to ration food. The
    nation was in a state of chaos, and this
    broadcast was the cause of it.
  • The Night That Panicked America (1975) US TV
    drama http//
    (1hr 30mins)

Case Studies The War of the Worlds
  • What do you think this tells us about American
    radio audiences at the time?
  • Think carefully about the date of the broadcast.
    Could there be any other social or political
    factors that might explain this panic?
  • Many people believe this was a publicity stunt to
    get more people to listen to the radio programme.
    Can you think of any other examples of media
    trying to shock viewers/listeners in order to get
  • http//

The James Bulger case
  • On February 12th, 1993, a toddler was abducted
    from a Merseyside shopping mall by two
    10-year-old boys. Two days later, James Bulger's
    mutilated body was found on a railway line.
  • Two boys, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, were
    sentenced to stay in prison until they became
  • They were the youngest convicted murderers in
    British history.
  • The judge who convicted them commented It is
    not for me to pass judgment on their upbringing,
    but I suspect exposure to violent video films may
    in part be an explanation.Mr Justice Morland,
    Trial Judge

Whats that got to do with the media?
  • Venables and Thompson, supposedly saw the film
    Childs Play 3, and imitated a scene where a
    victim is splashed with blue paint. There was a
    lot of mention of the links between the film and
    the crime in the UK press at the time, and a
    moral panic ensued. The case against the film,
    though never really proven, led to new
    legislation, The Amendment to the Video
    Recordings Act, contained in the Criminal Justice
    and Public Order Act (1994)
  • The Child's Play sequence of movies follows the
    exploits of evil doll Chucky, in his various
    reincarnations. The original Chucky was
    supposedly inhabited by the spirit of multiple
    murderer Charles Lee Ray, as the result of a
    deathbed voodoo incantation that went slightly
    wrong and he spends the rest of the movies trying
    to transplant his soul into a more suitable,
    human form. The series has provided an excuse for
    lots of doll jokes, lots of violent murders made
    to seem funny because they are being committed by
    a doll, and some lunatic toystore scenes.

Case Studies Media coverage of the James Bulger
  • Your teacher will now show you a clip from the
    movie. http//
    (trailers for Childs Play 1,2 and 3)
  • In your opinion, do you think it is possible that
    violent horror films of this type of could
    influence the behaviour of children?
  • Could it be a factor in the murder of James

Case Studies Media coverage of the James Bulger
  • Here is the view of one journalist who explains
    the social context surrounding the case and the
  • In the early 90s, though, the only show in town
    was Kiddy Horror. Cartoons depicted timid adults
    kowtowing to giant, tantrumy babies. Films and
    novels declared the age of Golden Treasury
    innocence dead children were little devils,
    dissing their elders and betters. In this climate
    of post-Thatcherite panic, John Major was under
    pressure to stamp his authority, by getting tough
    on juvenile crime. Hence his infamous soundbite
    on the Bulger case, one of the dimmest political
    slogans ever dreamed up "We must condemn a
    little more, and understand a little less."
    Understanding nothing, Major looked to the Bulger
    trial to discourage shoplifters, glue-sniffers,
    joyriders and other young offenders. The
    consensus was that kids needed stamping on. They
    had grown too big - and dangerous - for their own

Case Studies Media coverage of the James Bulger
  • The tabloid verdict was that Thompson and
    Venables were aliens from the Planet Evil, or (no
    less Gothic) video-junkies mimicking Chucky Doll
    in Child's Play 3.

Case Studies Media coverage of the James Bulger
  • Their family backgrounds exhibited classic "risk
    factors" - dysfunction, poverty, alcoholism,
    marital breakdown, neglect and bullying. Both
    boys had been held down a year at school, a
    humiliation which made them team up. Both
    resented their siblings, and may have punished
    James for it. Most important, having bunked off
    school and walked the toddler the two miles back
    to their school and homes in Walton, they were
    terrified of getting into trouble with their
    mothers - and scrambled up on the railway line,
    where they killed him, to avoid it. The police
    saw evidence of sophistication and premeditation
    in the crime. But why, then, did they take the
    victim to their own neighbourhood, where people
    knew them? I see damaged children, not cunning
    adults. They were 10.
  • Blake Morrison, The Guardian

Case Studies Media coverage of the James Bulger
  • According to this journalist, many people blamed
    the film Childs Play 3 (and films like it) in
    order to explain the murder of James Bulger.
  • Which people/groups blamed the murder on such
  • What reasons might they have for doing this?
  • What are the other social factors that may have
    actually explained the murder?

Press response tabloid fuel the moral outrage
  • On the 25 November 1993, the day after the
    judgement, the Daily Star (a tabloid) ran the
    photos of the boys with the headline How do you
    feel now you little bastards?
  • The Mail ran with the headline - The Evil and
    the Innocent (November 25th), while the
    Telegraph recalled on the same day that Venables
    was born on Friday 13th.
  • Media pressure led to the release of the
    killers identities
  • The press commented regularly on the luxury of
    the prison conditions that awaited the convicted
  • The Sun began a wider campaign encouraging all
    households to burn their video nasties in order
    to save our children.

Conclusions The medias role in society
  • The press (newspapers) used this story in order
    to create a moral panic
  • It created an argument about the influence of
    violent movies on young people
  • There was a political response to the case where
    those in power were influenced to introduce
    harsher sentences for criminals
  • There was a change in the law (it was made
    illegal to sell unclassified videos and computer
    games there had previously been a loophole in
    the law)
  • Media pressure led to the revealing of the
    murderers identities normally children are
    protected by anonymity in court cases
  • As well as informing and entertaining, in our
    society the media carries out the role of moral
    guardian through reporting and editorials. No one
    appoints them to speak on our behalf and yet it
    is a common occurance.
  • Overall, the medias reporting of the case had a
    major impact on British society.

Aladdin (1992) Disney
  • How can this be
  • considered
  • offensive?

Case Studies Aladdin (1992) Disney
  • This is, surprisingly, one of the most
    controversial movies made in recent years.
  • It tells the story of Aladdin, trying to win the
    hand of his beloved Jasmine. However, social
    boundaries (she is a princess, he is a street
    urchin) and the villain, Jafar, get in the way of
    their relationship. Comedy is provided by the
    Genie (Robin Williams)
  • Most UK and US audiences considered the story as
    a lovely, fun, adventurous story that teaches us
    about the importance of true love and friendship
    over greed and money. This is, of course, the
    preferred reading.

Look more carefully, however, at the way the
heroes and villains are portrayed
Representations Heroes (Aladdin, Jasmine) Villains (Jafar, Iago)
Cultural Codes Appearance Accent Dress Attitudes towards laws, relationships, marriage, social order
  • Heroes are handsome and ethnically westernised
    with pale skin, Disney-esque features
  • Portrayal of unmarried women without veils is
    offensive to many in the middle east
  • Aladdin is surrounded by sexualised images of
    women (belly dancers). Again, this is offensive
    to both men and women in many cultures.
  • Aladdin and Jasmines disregard for parental
    wishes (marrying within class arranged marriage)
    go against traditional cultural practices. They
    are presented as the good guys and are rewarded
    with a happy ending, therefore the film
    undermines many aspects of middle-eastern culture
    in favour of an Americanised lifestyle. This is
    an example of a NARRATIVE that has a
    controversial impact on AUDIENCES.

  • Villains are all stereotypical Arabs turbaned,
    dark skinned, threatening, greedy, etc.
  • The opening song caused the most outrage as it
    describes the Arabian setting as "Where they cut
    off your ears if they don't like your face/It's
    barbaric, but, hey, it's home. This was
    censored/dubbed out and changed to "Where it's
    flat and immense and the heat is intense/It's
    barbaric, but, hey, it's home" for subsequent
    video releases.
  • http//
  • (Short youtube film pointing out some of the
    problems in the movies representations)

Conclusions the medias impact on Audiences
  • Unfair representations of particular
    cultures/nationalities can cause offence to
  • Over time, stereotypes influence peoples views
    and can create intolerance and unrest in society.
    Inaccuracies (like Indian street performers in
    Aladdin) also misinform audiences.
  • The storyline (narrative) can also be offensive
    if it contains a message that people dont agree
  • The media often contains subtle messages that go
    unnoticed by the majority of viewers,
    particularly the Target Audience.

Changing Standards
  • Many of you will have studied or seen the movie
    Psycho in English. This is an important film in
    the history of cinema. For a number of years,
    American cinema had to work within a strict set
    of guidelines called the Motion Picture
    Production Code, also known informally as the
    Hays code.
  • It was the standard from approx
  • 1920-1960 in the U.S.

The Hays Code some main points
  • The following content was simply not to be shown
    in motion pictures
  • Pointed profanity by either title or lip this
    includes the words "God," "Lord," "Jesus,"
    "Christ" (unless they be used reverently in
    connection with proper religious ceremonies),
    "hell," "damn," "Gawd," and every other profane
    and vulgar expression however it may be spelled
  • Any licentious or suggestive nudity in fact or
    in silhouette and any lecherous or licentious
    notice thereof by other characters in the
  • The illegal traffic in drugs

More banned stuff
  • White slavery
  • Miscegenation (sex relationships between the
    white and black races)
  • Scenes of actual childbirth in fact or in
  • Ridicule of the clergy
  • Willful offense to any nation, race or creed
  • What do these guidelines reveal about the values
    in American society during this time?

Some other areas where film-makers had to be
careful about
  • The use of the flag
  • International relations (avoiding picturizing in
    an unfavorable light another country's religion,
    history, institutions, prominent people, and
  • The use of firearms
  • Theft, robbery, safe-cracking, and dynamiting of
    trains, mines, buildings, etc. (having in mind
    the effect which a too-detailed description of
    these may have upon the moron)
  • Brutality and possible gruesomeness
  • Technique of committing murder by whatever
  • Methods of smuggling
  • Actual hangings or electrocutions as legal
    punishment for crime
  • First-night scenes
  • Man and woman in bed together
  • The institution of marriage
  • Surgical operations
  • The use of drugs
  • Titles or scenes having to do with law
    enforcement or law-enforcing officers
  • Excessive or lustful kissing, particularly when
    one character or the other is a "heavy".
  • The sale of women, or of a woman selling her
  • Attitude toward public characters and
  • Sympathy for criminals

Group Task
  • In groups, discuss and come up with two movie
  • 1. Modern films that you think would pass the
    Hays Code
  • 2. Modern films that would not.
  • Overall, how have societys attitudes changed
    since the 1950s?

Case Studies Batman and the treatment of
source material
  • In the 1960s Batman was made into a colourful
    U.S. TV show for kids. It starred Adam West as
    very earnest caped crusader who fought crime in a
    rather comical and camp manner. This series was
    incredibly popular but treated a fairly serious,
    dark comic book character in a very bright, silly
    and fun way. http//
  • In 1989 the director Tim Burton was asked to
    create a new film version of Batman. In keeping
    with his usual style he used a much darker style
    to depict the character. This was the first major
    modern re-boot of a comic book character.

Case Studies Batman
  • At the time, the only film certificates in the UK
    were U, PG, 15 and 18. However, censors were
    uncomfortable about the levels of darkness, the
    violence and overall sense of threat. It couldnt
    achieve the PG cert the makers desired.
  • As a compromise, a new, cinema only certificate
    was created by the BBFC and Batman (1989) became
    the first (12) rated movie.
  • Importantly, film-makers use controversy to draw
    audiences therefore they are always trying to
    push the boundaries of what is acceptable!

Case Studies Batman and the treatment of
source material
  • You will be aware of more recent films directed
    by Christopher Nolan Batman Begins The Dark
    Knight The Dark Knight Rises
  • Again, this new version of Batman caused
    controversy as Batman Begins included more
    violence, threat and also a drug-induced
    nightmare sequence
  • The reboot was an even darker version of what
    had come before.

Case Studies Batman
  • Further instalments included more gritty realism
    in the form of the Jokers terrorist activity and
    several scenes of implied graphic violence (knife
    in the mouth pen in the eye) in The Dark Knight.
  • By this time the 12A certificate had almost
    replace the (12) in cinemas in order to allow
    younger children to films like Spider-Man if
    accompanied by a parent. However, these darker,
    violent portrayals of Batman caused more
    controversy as many viewers were outraged that
    such a dark and violent film received a 12A

Case Studies BatmanThe Copycat killing debate
  • The release of the final Batman film, The Dark
    Knight Rises, was overshadowed by a tragic
    killing spree where a masked man killed 12
    movie-goers at a cinema in Colorado.
  • This event reignited the debate about the
    influence of movies and how they may be
    responsible for copycat killings.
  • http//
  • Discuss/debate the issue
  • Violent movies are responsible for
    violence in society

Some more controversies
  • Alex "Viddy well little brother, viddy well."
  • THE FILM Alex is a teenage hooligan who leads
    his gang into fights, home invasions, and rape.
    When caught by the police he undergoes aversion
    therapy to make him a good citizen.
  • THE FUSS Upon release director Stanley Kubrick
    declared A Clockwork Orange his best made film.
    In the UK it was cited as the catalyst for two
    assaults and one gang rape, and the furore
    resulted in Kubrick withdrawing the film from UK
    distribution, citing death threats against his
    family as the reason. He ruthlessly enforced the
    unprecedented ban throughout his life, suing the
    London Scala cinema into bankruptcy in the early
    90s when they screened it. A large part of its
    controversy is due to Malcolm McDowell's
    charismatic performance as the psychotic Alex -
    what would the film have looked like if original
    rights owner Mick Jagger had played the part? In
    2001 the film had its uncut UK TV premiere on Sky
    Box Office.

Some more controversies
  • Brian's mother 'He's not the Messiah. He's a
    very naughty boy!"
  • THE FILM The Python team's spear-sharp satire
    of religious intolerance failed the tolerance
    test with scores of religious groups. The late
    Graham Chapman played Brian, an unfortunate whose
    birth in a stable next to Jesus would mean a
    lifetime's inconvenience being recognised as the
    Messiah.The original backer EMI - fearful of
    blasphemy accusations - dropped out and ex-Beatle
    George Harrison came up with funding.
  • THE FUSS Despite the fact the movie did not mock
    Jesus himself, it was met with indignant howls of
    horror, earning council bans across the country.
    Aberystwyth didn't allow the film to be show
    until 2009. In Sweden, it was billed "the film so
    funny it was banned in Norway". In New York,
    screenings were picketed by both rabbis and nuns.
    Amused by the reaction from church groups, John
    Cleese commented "We've brought them all
    together for the first time in 2000 years!"

Some more controversies
  • THE EXORCIST (1973)
  • Father Merrin and Karras "The power of Christ
    compels you!"
  • THE FILM When the daughter of a renowned film
    star is demonically possessed, two priests are
    called to cast out the unclean spirit in a
    violent, prolonged exorcism.
  • THE FUSS William Friedkin's horror masterpiece
    simultaneously legitimised horror with its
    brilliant script, acting, and direction, and
    proved how powerful and divisive the genre could
    be. Certain British councils banned the film,
    leading to Exorcist Bus Trips to neighbouring
    counties, and Mary Whitehouse's Festival of Light
    handed out leaflets with a number to call if
    spiritually distressed after seeing the film.
    BBFC head James Ferman was so adamant a video
    release would damage adolescent girls, the film
    only received a release in 1999, five months
    after Ferman retired. Rumours of the shoot being
    cursed are false, but the film did destroy Linda
    Blair's film career, ruinously typecasting her
    forever as "The Exorcist girl".

Key ideas
  • Certain films and products deliberately try to
    shock in order to create publicity
  • The media is regularly involved in moral panics
  • People in society often blame the media for
    problems in society this is the idea that the
    media leads to a moral decline
  • This can lead to changes in the law
  • Over time, our societys view of sex, violence,
    swearing and drug use has changed and this is
    reflected in film/game certificates as well as
    changes to the TV watershed.

The History of Cinema
  • Interesting film on aspect ratios(18mins)
  • http//
  • The History of (U.S.) Censorship (15mins)
  • http//

  • This unit should now have helped you to
    understand how the content of some media has an
    impact on society.
  • This will help you to answer some of the
    questions in the final exam on
  • The role of the media in society
  • How some media content has an impact on the
  • Representations in the media

  • We have covered various cases that could be used
    to help you answer questions
  • The War of the Worlds radio broadcast (1938)
  • Media coverage of the James Bulger case (1993)
  • Disneys Aladdin (1992)
  • Different treatments of Batman