Postmodernism and the Media
Postmodernism is a complex paradigm of thought, art, philosophy, method. It emerged, initially, as a reaction to high modernism. Modernism is a paradigm of thought and viewing the world characterized in specific ways that postmodernism reacted against. Modernism was interested in master and meta narratives of history of a teleological nature Postmodernism attempts to subvert and resist and differ from the preoccupations of modernism across many fields (music, history, art, cinema, etc.). Postmodernism emerged in a time not defined by war or revolution but rather by media culture. Unlike modernism, postmodernism does not have faith in master narratives of history or culture or even the self as an autonomous subject. Rather postmodernism is interested in contradiction, fragmentation, and instability. Postmodernism is often focused on the destruction of hierarchies and boundaries. The mixing of different times and periods or styles of art that might be viewed as “high” or “low” is a common practice in postmodern work. This practice is referred to as pastiche. Postmodernism takes a deeply subjective view of the world and identity and art, positing that an endless process of signification and signs is where any “meaning” lies. Consequently, postmodernism demonstrates what it perceives as a fractured world, time, and art.
Music Video ‘Walk’- Foo Fighters Pastiche: a clever parody of Joel Schumacher’s 1993 movie Falling Down, in which Michael Douglas stars as a man who snaps from the pressure of everyday life and goes on a violent rampage through Los Angeles. In this clip, Dave Grohl takes the Douglas role and has a series of silly encounters with characters played by his band mates as he wanders through the streets of L.A. on the way to the Foo Fighters’ rehearsal space. Postmodernism categorically rejects an underlying normative standard. The video is a celebration of how clever the director is in cramming the music video full of intertextual references. Consumerism: The product placement, similar to Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ is obvious, as the audience are meant to feel clever by highlighting them. However, the director mocks this as the camera lingers on each (Bieber, President Bush and Coldplay) far too long and is portrayed as humorous. Self reference: The blatant product placement is a mockery of todays society. The director lingers on consumerist products and figure heads yet is subtle when promoting the band. Before the entire product placement there is a long shot of a traffic jam in which, not in the immediate shot, there is a number plate with `D. Grohl’ obviously referring to the bands lead singer and iconic front man. This is very subtle yet shows a self awareness in the video. It means that we can celebrate the consumer culture as long as we are ironic about it.
Postmodernism and TV - Dexter Dexter is an American television drama series which debuted on Showtime on October 1, 2006. The series centres on Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a blood spatter pattern analyst for the fictional Miami Metro Police Department who also leads a secret life as a serial killer. Set in Miami, the show’s first season was largely based on the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the first of the Dexter series novels by Jeff Lindsay. It was adapted for television by screenwriter James Manos, Jr., who wrote the first episode. Subsequent seasons have evolved independently of Lindsay’s works. In February 2008, reruns (edited down to a TV-14 rating) began to air on CBS, although the reruns on CBS ended after one run of the first season. The series has enjoyed wide critical acclaim and popularity. Season 4 aired its season finale on December 13, 2009 to a record-breaking audience of 2.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched original series episode ever on Showtime. Michael C. Hall has received several awards and nominations for his portrayal of Dexter, including a Golden Globe. On November 18, 2011, it was announced that Dexter had been renewed for two more seasons. Season 7 premiered on September 30, 2012. The Season 7 premiere was the most watched Dexter episode ever with over 3 million viewers. On January 12, 2013 it was revealed that Season 8 of Dexter would be moved from its originally planned Autumn airing to the Summer of 2013. Season 8 will begin on Sunday, June 30, 2013. Dexter takes the form of several genres. The fact that he works for the Police department categorises the film under a detective/noir genre or more definitely a crime drama. However, the excessive violence and large quantity of blood coupled with unanswered questions means the show can take the form of a mystery/thriller. The deep dark characters that surface throughout the seven seasons add to the thriller genre yet play on the readers mind therefore classing the show as a psychological thriller. Also, there are elements of satire and parody, giving it a light hearted almost ironic feel. This means that instead of categorising it as a drama, it would be easier to say that Dexter was a black comedy. This reinforces the difficulty to put Dexter into a genre as it focuses on several key theme, disallowing us, as an audience, to categorise it. The show takes the form of a black comedy, which is a comic work that employs black humour, which, in its most basic definition, is humour that makes light of otherwise solemn subject matter. For example, the main character is a police blood spatter analyst who pursues an alter ego in murdering rapists, paedophiles and ironically other serial killers. The fact that his primary job is to capture villains and criminals in Miami is ironic as he himself is one of these villains that he is tasked to capture. Moreover, his family life is peculiar in the sense that it is somewhat perfect until season 4. He joins marries a single mother with two children and they live a relatively happy family life considering their father was an abusive drug addict. Furthermore, the protagonists sister, Debra Morgan, works for the police department and she, as well as Dexter’s friends in the police are tasked (in Season 2) at capturing the ‘Bay Harbour Butcher’, who is in fact Dexter. This parodies many other crime shows like NYPB Blue who create aliases for the criminals they do not know the name of. Also, the irony of this is profound as, as soon as the police get near to capturing the villain, Dexter removes evidence or diverts their attention in order to save himself. The main character as a serial killer evokes that the television show focus on a negative character, however, Dexter’s warm and loving personality is ironic as he brutally murders people in a grotesque ritual. Dexter acts as the anti hero as a serial killer who captures and kills other serial killers. However, the audience do not see the negative side of Dexter’s character only seeing the side in which he protects Miami from dangerous figures.
Postmodernism and Film - Blade Runner Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts toexplain reality. It stems from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in humanunderstanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular andpersonal reality. There are many different interpretations of postmodernity; I believe it is a reactionagainst social norm. Postmodern films for example will parody pop culture and also break down thecultural divide between high and low art and often upend typical portrayals of gender, race, class,genre, and time with the goal of creating something different from traditional narrative expression. Blade Runner (Scott , 1982) is an exemplary postmodern text in the sense that it both represents theconditions of post modernity and employs elements of the postmodern condition to texture itsnarrative. In its form, content and ideological centre Blade Runner explores and utilities thestrategies of quotation, recycling, pastiche, hyper reality and identity crisis. These are just a severalpostmodern features that exemplify Blade Runner as postmodern. In Blade Runner there is an overarching and insipid postmodern identity crisis that seems to toucheverything and everyone in the film. Los Angeles 2019 is in a state of perpetual crisis. Composed of patchwork of styles and fads it has no geographical centre, no ‘original’ past to refer to, no securehistory to be bound to and no concrete present to allow communities to foster. As an audience whoare watching the film in the present about the future, we do not know the socio economiccircumstances that have made the Los Angeles we know, into a dark and mysterious place.Moreover, the ambiguity over Deckard’s background surrounds him the whole film, meaning he can fully develop into the protagonist the audience want him to be. He cannot truly express his identityin the fullest as he works for someone else and only does their bidding, almost as if he has no freewill. The audience can never fully connect with Deckard, leading some to believe he is in fact areplicant himself. Another reason why Blade Runner is interoperated as postmodern is due to pastiche. Pastiche is acinematic device wherein the creator of the film pays homage to another filmmaker’s style and useof cinematography, including camera angles, lighting, and mise en scène. For example, in BladeRunner, Scott alludes to the private eye genre of Raymond Chandler and the characteristics of filmnoir. The scene with Deckard and Jessica reflect this as the director has usedlow-keyblack-and-whitevisual style coupled with chiaroscuro lighting, giving the effect of a detective film. The case inquestion could be perceived as Deckard attempting to uncover his truth as he struggles withpersonal identity. Moreover, the film combines film noir with Science Fiction by uses of dark lighting,despite the presence of bright lights and neon signs (as is stereotypical of sci-fi films based infuturistic environments), the majority of the film is covered in shadows that helps to create apessimistic atmosphere, which is a convention of film noir titles. Film noir films are very well known for having protagonists who questions the moral implications of his own actions, and Blade Runner fulfils this with the character of Deckard, who questions whether or not he should be killing thereplicants he’s employed to “retire” , leading the audience to once again question Deckard’s identity.
The Matrix and Postmodernism The Matrix (1999, Wachowski Brothers) is a science fiction/action film depicting a future in which reality perceived by humans is actually the Matrix: a hyper reality created by sentient machines in order to pacify and subdue the human population while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Upon learning this, computer programmer Neo is drawn into a rebellion against the machines. In Postmodern thought, interpretations of The Matrix often reference Baudrillard’s philosophy to demonstrate that the movie is an allegory for contemporary experience in a heavily commercialized, media-driven society, especially of the developed countries. The Wachowski Brothers were keen that all involved understood the thematic background of the movie. For example, the book used to conceal disks early in the movie, Simulacra and Simulation, a 1981 work by the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, was required reading for most of the principal cast and crew. It is a philosophical treatise by Jean Baudrillard seeking to interrogate the relationship among reality, symbols, and society. The relevance here is that the film is based on what is real and what is put in place by a false fiction. The Matrix Trilogy works specifically within the postmodern theory of Jean Baudrillard, whose Simulacra and Simulation makes its appearance in The Matrix in the “Follow Instructions” scene. Neo opens a copy of Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation to a chapter entitled “On Nihilism.” The hardcover book is hollow, serving as Neo’s hiding place for black market software. He opens the book at the halfway point; the opening page of the final chapter, “On Nihilism,” lies to the left while the right half is a hollowed out storage area. The opening page of the chapter was displaced to the left side of the book when it would normally be found on the right. Add to this the fact that “On Nihilism” is the book’s last chapter, not a middle chapter, and it appears that the directors have deliberately placed this chapter in the shot to direct viewers to a specific referential point for the film. Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation, in fact, is so intricately woven into the narrative structure that the movie can be described as a conscious validation of Baudrillard’s theory. Moreover, pastiche is used in the film to relate to a variety of audiences over time. The film contains many references to the cyberpunk and hacker subcultures; philosophical and religious ideas; and homage to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Hong Kong action cinema and Spaghetti Westerns. This allows many different audiences to connect with the film, and is also somewhat ironic as the spaghetti western showdowns between Neo and Mr Smith are serious and central to the story yet are a parody to that audience.
The Mighty Boosh The Mighty Boosh is a British comedy written by and starring comedians Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding. It developed from stage shows to radio shows to a TV show. It focuses mainly on surrealism, fashion and complete and utter fantasy in ways that make it into a completely unique show. Fielding and Barratt’s influences include Mr Benn, Monty Python and even Frank Zappa. The show is based around 6 reoccurring characters in Vince Noir, Howard Moon, Bob Fossil, Naboo and Bollo. The use of bricolage throughout allows the show to reference many different genres, from music video (the tundra rap) to fantasy (“welcome to mirror world”) and romantic comedy, not to mention the cartoons used throughout later episodes. This mixing of genres is typically postmodern; however, it is not bricolage as other texts does it, as all of the footage is newly shot. In fact, The Mighty Boosh tends to blur the boundaries between genres rather than use bricolage in the traditional sense. Much like ‘24 Hour Party People’ shares genre characteristics with that of a documentary and a drama, the Mighty Boosh can be classed as a comedy, musical, fantasy, science fiction and many more besides. This show also parodies and satirises many other shows, as well as genres in general. The episode ‘Mutants’ is a parody of the horror/ sci-fi genre. ‘The Nightmare of Milky Joe’, which is a parody of the film ‘Castaway’, starring Tom Hanks. Obvious parallels can be drawn between the two texts, with Tom Hanks’ character creating an imaginary friend out of a football, and in The Mighty Boosh, Howard creates Milky Joe from a coconut. However, the Mighty Boosh takes the idea one step further into the surreal, with the coconut people coming alive to capture Howard and Vince.