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Media Language 2017


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To support students on the OCR A2 Media Studies course. Q1(b) of exam.

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Media Language 2017

  1. 1. Media Language The way in which a text is constructed to create meaning for a reader or viewer of the text Some of the content is adapted from Chandler (2005) -
  2. 2. For the exam you need to be able to: Write a coherent analysis of the media language in your teaser trailer: Refer to theory – e.g. Semiotics, Saussure, Barthes Apply this theory to your teaser trailer, giving lots of specific examples of how meaning is created for the audience. Use key terms appropriately (e.g. denotation and connotation, signifiers and signified, codes and conventions, and terminology relating to micro and macro features of a media text).
  3. 3. KEY TERM: Semiotics Definition: The study of SIGNS (& the role of signs in social life) Semiotics examines how signs construct meaning (i.e. how the use of mise-en-scene, camerawork, editing and sound construct meaning in your teaser trailer). You will be using a semiotic approach to analyse media language in your teaser trailer.
  4. 4. Semiotics – The Study of Signs Saussure (a founder of semiotics) summarised it in the following equation: The Sign = signifier + signified the form which the sign takes the concept it represents
  5. 5. Semiotics – The Study of Signs • This basic level of signification operates at the level of ‘denotation’. In other words we are simply identifying or ‘describing’ a sign. • i.e. Furry animal, four legs, barks = dog • A more complex level of signification operates at the level of ‘connotation’ these are more sophisticated mental associations we conjure up when we come across a particular sign.
  6. 6. SEMIOTICS Denotation furry animal, four legs, barks Connotation dirty, friendly, ‘mans best friend’ dangerous, etc..
  7. 7. Signifier Signified Dog SIGN (denotative) Signifier Signified Friendly SIGN (connotative) Remember at the second level of signification meaning is less ‘fixed’. The number of connotative response to the image of a dog will be varied and numerous although some will be more common than others. Shared connotations can be described as ‘socially agreed’ Furry animal, four legs, barks Dog The two levels of signification: DOG At the second level of signification meaning is less ‘fixed’. The number of connotative responses to the image of a dog will be varied and numerous although some will be more common than others. Shared connotations can be described as ‘socially agreed’
  8. 8. Semiotics – codes and conventions We interpret things as signs largely unconsciously by relating them to familiar systems of codes and conventions (e.g. genre conventions, cultural conventions, etc.). e.g. low key lighting which casts dark shadows in a film scene can symbolise mystery or sinister characters.
  9. 9. But it all depends on context! What made the shadows mysterious or even sinister in the last slide? What different meanings are created in the images on this slide?
  10. 10. Shadows as symbolic codes Shadows are not mysterious in themselves. I am tapping into cultural ideas that connect darkness with the unknown or hidden. Also, expectations based on our understanding of thriller/horror film codes and conventions, which associate low key lighting and dark shadows in a scene with mystery or sinister characters.
  11. 11. Semiotics So, signs can be polysemic (have many possible meanings) Why do viewers interpret certain meanings over others? – Dominant cultural ideas will lead us towards certain interpretations over others. – We understand the conventions of particular media forms. – Context is important – how signs work in combination will lead us towards particular readings over others. Meaning can be anchored.
  12. 12. Semiotics Write down an example from your teaser trailer that demonstrates how you have anchored meaning for the audience. i.e. how you have encouraged them to take a particular reading.
  13. 13. How to read the signs and signifiers within a Media Text All media texts have 2 layers of meaning: DENOTATIVE LEVEL: What we actually see/hear CONNOTATIVE LEVEL: What you associate with this image
  14. 14. This image denotes a tropical island The image connotes peace, tranquility paradise, holiday, summer to some readers. …but think about the film ‘Castaway’, the victims of the Bali bombings or the recent tsunami - in this case the image may connote isolation, fear or even death It is important to note that images have different connotations depending on the reader of the image/text
  15. 15. Denotation & Connotation within a Media Text – A Movie Poster The Mission Impossible Poster denotes a MATCH and a GLOBE OF THE WORLD What are the connotations of a) The match? b) The globe? What are they communicating to an audience? Why?
  16. 16. TASK Log on to YouTube and access your teaser trailer in video manager. (Use Chrome) Add at least 5 annotations that explain how meaning is created for the audience (denotation and connotation / signifier and signified). Try to link to meaning created for the audience in terms of genre, narrative, representation, audience.
  17. 17. Examples Textual analysis of media language reveals how the following adverts are constructed to create certain meanings in relation to their product.
  18. 18. SIGNIFIER: Water/Ocean Wave SIGNIFIES: Wild, Stormy, Natural, Earthly SIGNIFIER: Words ‘Cool Water’ SIGNIFIES: Refreshing, different, SIGNIFIER: Droplets on Bottle SIGNIFIES: Cool, chilled appearance, almost drinkable SIGNIFIER: Mans Naked Torso SIGNIFIES: Natural, angelic, pure, toned, ideal, masculine, adonis SIGNIFIER: Facial Expression/Body Language SIGNIFIES: Ecstatic, pleasure lost in ecstacy, laid back, inviting SIGNIFIER: Calligraphy Style Font SIGNIFIES: Classic, timeless, expensive tastes
  19. 19. SIGNIFIER: Blonde Hair Signifies: Ideal Woman, Innocence, Looks ‘gold’ SIGNIFIER: Perfume Bottle Signifies: Looks Jewel- like, Buried Treasure SIGNIFIER: Colour Gold Signifies: Luxury, Riches, Expense, Success, Shimmering SIGNIFIER: Jewellery Signifies: Extravagance, Excess, Glamour, Decedance SIGNIFIER: Word ‘Love’ Signifies: Passion, Excitement, Lust SIGNIFIER: Font Signifies: Dior Logo, Brand Name, Designer
  20. 20. Roland Barthes and semiotics Barthes was an influential theorist who explored the way in which media texts make meaning. (Saussure was more interested in how meaning was created in language, Barthes was more interested in the cultural significance of Semiotics.) He considered that all cultural forms, are essentially made up of a system of signs that could be deconstructed to reveal how cultural meanings are constructed. He analysed the denotative and connotative level of signs in a media text.
  21. 21. Roland Barthes and semiotics Barthes argues that the organisation of signs encodes particular messages and ideologies and that these ideologies can be revealed as constructed through textual analysis. He described these constructed messages and ideologies as myths – cultural myths. For example, he would say the perfume adverts reinforced ideas of materialism and certain ideas of masculinity and femininity.
  22. 22. For those of you who want to really stretch your academic muscles… ‘Semiotics is important because it can help us not to take 'reality' for granted as something having a purely objective existence which is independent of human interpretation. It teaches us that reality is a system of signs. Studying semiotics can assist us to become more aware of reality as a construction and of the roles played by ourselves and others in constructing it …Meaning is not 'transmitted' to us - we actively create it according to a complex interplay of codes or conventions of which we are normally unaware. Becoming aware of such codes is both inherently fascinating and intellectually empowering… Daniel Chandler (2005)
  23. 23. For those of you who want to really stretch your academic muscles… In defining realities, signs serve ideological functions. Deconstructing and contesting the realities of signs can reveal whose realities are privileged and whose are suppressed. The study of signs is the study of the construction and maintenance of reality. To decline such a study is to leave to others the control of the world of meanings which we inhabit.’ Daniel Chandler (2005)
  24. 24. Over to you Go back to your analysis. Summarise any overall messages it connotes or cultural myths it reinforces.