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AS  Media  Report   Name:  A.  Student  

Student User 1/3/11 09:08 Comment: Always  include  your  name  at  the  top.  

Group:  AS-­MEDI-­LFE   Tutor:  John  Crossley     Introduction   This  research  examines  conventions  within  the  romantic  comedy  genre  and  the  findings  will  be   used  to  help  in  producing  a  film  poster  and  DVD  cover.     Genre  is  the  term  used  to  describe  types  of  media  text  that  share  similar  characteristics  such  as   action,  horror  or  science  fiction.1  Daniel  Chandler  explains  why  genres  are  useful:   Genres  offer  an  important  way  of  framing  texts  which  assists  comprehension.  Genre  knowledge   orientates  competent  readers  of  the  genre  towards  appropriate  attitudes,  assumptions  and   expectations  about  a  text  which  are  useful  in  making  sense  of  it.2  

In  the  case  of  Romantic  Comedy  films  this  means  that  the  audience  usually  has  quite  a  deep   understanding  of  the  type  of  things  that  might  happen  in  this  type  of  film  and  will  predisposed   to  expect  certain  character  types  and  plot  situations.  Part  of  the  enjoyment  of  watching  the  film   is  then  the  balance  between  the  parts  of  the  film  that  follow  the  expected  pattern  and  the   aspects  that  are  unusual,  unexpected  or  original.   Poster  and  Trailer  Analysis   To  inform  my  production  I  examined  three  films  that  exhibit  conventions  from  the  romantic   comedy  genre:  Knocked  Up  (2007),  How  to  Lose  a  Guy  in  Ten  Days  (2003)  and  When  Harry  Met   Sally  (1989).3  This  is  a  hybrid  genre,  which  means  it  is  a  combination  of  two  main  genres.                                                                                                                               1

 Philip  C.  Congleton,    Guide  to  Film  Critique  <>  Congleton  lists  film  genres  as   follows:  1.)  Action:  A  fast  paced  film  that  displays  the  use  of  human  endurance.    2.)  Adventure:  Journeys  to  other   lands.  3.)  Animated:  Cartoon  or  stop-­‐motion.  4.)  Comedy:  Funny!  5.)  Crime:  Plots  are  based  on  unlawful  human   actions.  6.)  Documentary:  A  film  that  tells  a  report  on  an  issue.  Not  a  story  or  narrative  drama.  7.)  Drama:  Films  that   deal  with  strong  human  emotions.  8.)  Family:  A  film  with  subject  matter  suitable  for  all  ages.  9.)  Fantasy:  Films  that   deal  with  fairy  tale  adventures  or  plots  from  the  dark  ages.  10.)  Horror:  Films  that  are  created  to  scare  the  audience.    11.)  Musical:  Films  that  have  song  and  dance  as  the  primary  factor.  12.)  Science  Fiction:  Films  that  deal  with  outer   space  adventures  and  extra-­‐terrestrial  encounters.  13.)  Suspense:  Films  that  keep  secrets  from  the  audience.  The   outcome  is  always  kept  secret  in  the  best  way  possible.  14.)  War:  Films  based  on  wars  that  occurred  in  recorded   human  history.  15.)  Western:  Films  based  upon  the  exploits  of  the  American  west  during  the  19th  and  early  20th   centuries.   2  Daniel  Chandler,  An  Introduction  to  Genre  Theory,   <>   3  Knocked  Up,  dir.  Judd  Apatow,  (Universal,  2007).

Student User 1/3/11 09:00 Comment: Make  sure  you  use  the  sub-­‐headings   to  help  with  your  structure  

Student User 26/2/11 20:08 Comment: This  is  a  footnote,  used  to  indicate   that  there  is  some  extra  information  related  to  this   point  at  the  bottom  of  the  page.  Place  your  cursor   in  the  text  then  use  the  insert  menu  and  scroll   down  to  footnote  

Student User 26/2/11 20:10 Comment: Footnotes  are  also  used  to  give  a   reference  showing  where  quotes  came  from.  To  get   the  higher  grades  it  is  good  to  provide  evidence  that   you  have  done  some  reading.  

Student User 26/2/11 20:14 Comment: When  quotes  are  included,  you  should   explain  in  your  own  words  how  the  quote  relates  to   your  topic.  

Student User 26/2/11 20:14 Comment: When  you  make  reference  to  the  titles   of  texts  these  should  always  be  in  italics  not   quotation  marks.  

Student User 26/2/11 20:16 Comment: Including  pictures  is  very  useful  to   save  on  words.  You  should  always  add  a  caption  to   say  what  the  image  is,  even  if  you  think  it  is  obvious.   To  do  this  go  to  insert>caption.  

  Figure  1  Rob  Reiner,  When  Harry  Met  Sally,  (1988)  


  Figure  2  How  to  Lose  a  Guy  in  Ten  Days  

Figure  3  -­  Knocked  Up,  Poster  (2007)  

All  three  films  have  an  attractive,  slim,  young  blonde  woman  as  one  of  the  main  protagonists   and  a  male  who  is  either  older  or  less  attractive.4  Figure  3  illustrates  this  point,  as  the  slim,   beautiful  and  immaculately  made-­‐up  Katherine  Heigl  is  cast  alongside  the  scruffy,  unshaven  and   slightly  out-­‐of-­‐shape  Seth  Rogen.   This  reflects  a  more  general  inequality,  whereby  female  actors  are  primarily  valued  for  their   looks,  whereas  male  actors  can  succeed  by  virtue  of  other  characteristics.  I  have  chosen  to   subvert  this  convention  in  my  production  by  creating  a  smart  and  independent  female  lead,  who   successfully  pursues  an  attractive  male  without  succumbing  to  pressure  to  have  a  make-­‐over  or   act  like  a  damsel-­‐in-­‐distress.  This  will  appeal  an  educated  female  audience  who  enjoy  strong   female  characters  such  as  Cady  in  Mean  Girls  and  less  to  a  mainstream  audience  who  enjoy  more   conventional  Hollywood  representations,  where  women  are  often  only  included  as  a  beautiful   love-­‐interest  for  a  male  character.   As  is  typical  of  this  genre,  all  three  posters  centre  on  white  heterosexual  couples  and  it  is  clear   that  there  is  a  close  relationship  between  the  characters.  Despite  these  genre  conventions  there   are  also  notable  differences  between  the  posters,  as  the  facial  expressions  and  body-­‐language  of   the  main  protagonists  in  each  case  are  used  to  convey  different  meanings  to  the  audience.     Figure  1  shows  Harry  and  Sally  lying  in  an  intimate  embrace.  Whilst  Sally  looks  contented  and   happy,  Harry  appears  wide-­‐wake,  with  a  slightly  furrowed  brow  suggesting  he  is  worried.  The   image  therefore  fits  in  with  stereotypical  gender  roles  within  this  genre,  where  a  female   character  is  looking  for  love  and  security  with  one  man,  whilst  the  male  character  fears   commitment.  The  scenarios  that  arise  from  these  conflicting  interests  then  usually  provide  a   source  of  humour  in  romantic  comedies.  The  meaning  of  the  image  is  anchored  by  the  tag  line:   ‘Can  men  and  women  be  friends  or  does  sex  always  get  in  the  way’.  This  means  that  the   audience’s  expectations  regarding  the  film  are  likely  to  relate  to  a  light-­‐hearted,  comedic   treatment  of  the  ‘men  are  from  Mars  women  are  from  Venus’  theme,  in  which  mismatched                                                                                                                             4

 Billy  Crystal  (1948)  –  Meg  Ryan  (1961),  Mathew  McConaughey    (1969)  –  Hate  Hudson  (1979),  Seth  Rogan  (1982)  –   Katherine  Heigl  1978).  

Student User 1/3/11 09:09 Comment: When  you  insert  captions  word  will   automatically  generate  a  figure  number  which  you   can  refer  to  in  the  text.  

Student User 1/3/11 09:04 Comment: Try  to  avoid  describing  the  poster  and   make  a  point  about  what  is  generally  expected  in   the  genre-­‐  backed  up  with  reference  to  the  text.  

Student User 1/3/11 09:05 Comment: Make  sure  that  you  show  how  the  real   posters  have  affected  your  work.  

Student User 1/3/11 09:07 Comment: Try  to  interpret  the  visual  codes  of  the   poster  –  how  it  creates  meaning  for  the  audience.  

lovers  try  to  negotiate  the  difficulties  of  love,  sex  and  friendship  en-­‐route  to  a  ‘happily-­‐ever-­‐ after’  ending.   Similarly  to  Figure  1,  the  poster  for  How  to  Lose  a  Guy  in  Ten  Days,  (fig.  2)  shows  a  couple  who   are  drawn  to  each  other  but  also  with  a  note  of  tension.  The  placement  of  the  couple,  with  their   backs  towards  each  other  indicates  a  degree  of  hostility  and  suggests  to  the  audience  that  this  is   not  a  straightforward  romance.  The  combination  of  the  title  and  the  image  implies  that  the  film   is  about  a  couple  who  are  motivated  to  not  be  together—going  against  the  narrative   conventions  within  the  genre.  Despite  this  twist,  the  overriding  expectation  from  the  genre  is   that  the  resolution  of  this  hostility  will  form  the  main  narrative  arc  of  the  film.     Osama  Tarek  Ammar  explains  the  relationship  between  the  narrative  and  the  audience  as   follows:   The  narration  controls  disclosure  of  information  and  depends  on  disparities  of  knowledge   between  different  characters  and  the  audience  to  inform  and  attempt  to  shape  an  audience   response.5  

In  other  words,  although  the  characters  experience  some  degree  of  hostility  within  the  film,  the   audience  has  the  superior  knowledge  that  this  is  a  fictional  Hollywood  romance  with  certain   genre  conventions.  This  allows  the  viewers  to  make  the  comfortable  assumption  that  despite   the  character’s  own  understanding  of  their  situation,  within  this  fictional  world  they  are   destined  to  be  together  and  the  audience  can  enjoy  the  process  of  the  characters  coming  to   share  this  understanding.  How  and  why  the  characters  come  to  accept  this  fate  is  what  Roland   Barthes  would  describe  as  an  ‘Enigma  Code’:  a  narrative  device  whereby  a  puzzle  or  problem  is   set  up  at  the  outset  that  triggers  an  audience’s  curiosity  to  find  out  how  it  might  be  resolved.   The  Knocked  Up  poster  encapsulates  a  similar  enigma.  The  combination  of  the  title,  waiting   room  setting  (with  a  poster  related  to  pregnancy  on  the  wall)  and  body  language  suggest  that   the  film  follows  a  couple  dealing  with  an  unintentional  pregnancy.  The  enigma  is:  how  will  this   ‘problem’  be  resolved  in  order  to  achieve  the  obligatory  happy  ending.     Despite  the  differences  between  each  film,  the  producers  of  each  poster  are  able  assume  that   their  audiences  will  all  have  a  existent  understanding  of  the  genre  and  they  can  therefore  use   slight  variations  on  a  consistent  theme  to  communicate  the  main  characteristics  of  the  film  very   economically.   The  teaser  trailer  for  Knocked  Up,  begins  with  a  black  screen  followed  by  a  studio  logo  with  non-­‐ diegetic  music  (Let’s  Do  It);  a  suggestive  female  vocal  immediately  generating  connotations  of   love  and  sex.6  The  logo  dips  to  black  before  an  establishing  wide-­‐shot  of  restaurant  with  the   diegetic  sound  of  conversation  and  cutlery  (fig.  4).  The  slow  forward  motion  of  the  camera  over   a  table,  with  flattering  light  raises  audience  expectations  of  romance.  A  caption  follows:  ‘what  do   you  talk  about’.  This  unfinished  question  encourages  the  audience  to  relate  to  the  awkward   situation,  reflected  in  shy  glances  and  stilted  conversation  of  the  main  protagonists  (figs.  5  and   6).  The  sedate  style  of  the  trailer  is  conventional  in  this  genre  and  allows  the  audience  to  dwell   on  the  social  awkwardness  that  is  the  source  of  comedy  in  this  trailer.                                                                                                                               5

 Osama  Tarek  Ammar,  Notes  on  Narrative  Disclosure  in  Film,   <>   6

 Knocked  Up  Teaser  Trailer,  accessed  February  2010,   <>  

Student User 1/3/11 09:10 Comment: Longer  quotes  should  be  set  apart  as  a   separate  indented  paragraph  –  select  the  text  and   hit  the  tab  key  to  indent.  

Student User 1/3/11 09:12 Comment: The  marking  criteria  require  you  to   show:  Excellent ability to apply knowledge and understanding, this means reading to find media ideas and theories to apply in analyzing the texts  

Student User 1/3/11 09:14 Comment: Make  sure  that  you  insert  screen   grabs  to  help  your  trailer  analysis.  On  a  Mac  hole   cmd+shift+4  then  drag  the  cros-­‐hairs  over  the   screen,  this  will  capture  the  screen  as  a  jpg  on  the   desktop.  

  Figure  4  Knocked  Up  Trailer  


  Figure  5  Knocked  Up  trailer  


  Figure  6  Knocked  Up  Trailer  

  In  my  storyboard,  I  have  similarly  made  use  of  non-­‐diegetic  music  to  create  audience   expectations.  I  have  also  adopted  slow  transitions,  flattering  light  and  minimal  camera   movement  to  avoid  the  fast  and  disorientating  style  used  to  create  tension  in  other  genres  such   as  action.   Target  Audience   My  target  audience  are  single  women  aged  15-­‐25,  predominantly  in  English  speaking  countries   such  as  the  UK  and  US.  They  are  likely  to  be  in  education  and  will  relate  to  an  independent   woman  looking  for  love  on  her  own  terms.  There  are  also  positive  male  characters  and   humorous  situations  to  interest  a  male  audience  who  might  watch  the  film  with  female  friends   or  girlfriends.   Evaluation     I  have  attempted  to  create  a  conventional  product  to  appeal  to  a  mainstream  audience.  The   colours  are  instantly  recognisable  as  signifying  love  and  romance  and  this  connotation  is   reinforced  by  the  use  of  love-­‐heart  graphics.    

Student User 1/3/11 09:15 Comment: Try  to  make  4-­‐5  specific  points  about   your  intended  audience  –  don’t  just  say  men  over   16  or  something  equally  simplistic.  

Student User 1/3/11 09:17 Comment: This  poster  was  made  by  a  student  in   2010  but  I  am  using  to  illustrate  how  to  evaluate.   You  should  include  your  own  poster  and  dvd  cover   here.  

  Figure  7  Love  Struck  poster  

The  Ugly  Truth  uses  the  same  colour  palette  and  similar  iconography.  The  leading  female  characters   are  also  similar  in  appearance.  

  Figure  8  The  Ugly  Truth  Poster  

Other  posters  from  the  genre  such  as  Marley  and  Me  (fig.  9)  also  use  red  text  and  a  white   background,  with  the  main  characters  shown  in  bright,  flattering  light  to  maximise  how   attractive  they  look  to  the  audience.  I  have  use  similar  lighting  and  a  smiling  expression   effectively  to  make  a  similar  impression.  

Student User 1/3/11 09:16 Comment: The  marking  criteria  specify:   Evaluation incorporates sophisticated reference to comparable media products  

Figure  9  Marley  and  Me  poster  

  Intolerable  Cruelty  (fig.  10)  uses  some  of  the  same  conventions  but  this  time  the  title  and  the   barbed-­‐wire  heart-­‐shape  indicate  that  this  film  is  likely  to  offer  an  unconventional  and  even   adversarial  take  on  love.  My  poster  does  not  go  this  far  and  is  designed  to  appeal  to  more   popular  expectations  of  an  idealistic  romance.    

  Figure  10  Intolerable  Cruelty  poster  

  Life  As  We  Know  It  targets  an  older  audience  who  are  interested  in  seeing  the  trials  and   tribulations  of  a  long-­‐term  relationship  and  the  arrival  of  children.  The  flattering  portrayal— love  hearts  and  clean  white  backdrop—are  replaced  a  cluttered  room,  signifying  the  chaos  of  a   young  family.  As  is  usual  for  a  romantic  comedy,  my  poster  seeks  to  deal  with  the  couple  getting   together,  not  the  more  realistic  and  less  romantic  portrayal  of  what  happens  after  the  couple   ‘sail  in  to  the  sunset’.  

Figure  11  Life  As  We  Know  It  Poster  

Finally,  the  Notebook  poster  shows  stereotypical  traits  of  a  romantic  drama,  such  as  sepia  colour,   sunsets,  a  chaste  embrace  (not  an  actual  kiss)  and  idealistic  rowing  boat  setting.    

  Figure  12  The  Notebook  Poster  

  My  poster  compares  favourably  with  the  professional  productions  and  follows  the  genre   conventions  that  are  identified  in  the  The  Ugly  Truth  poster  in  particular.  

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