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Sophie Nutt What is meant by postmodern media?

Postmodern media is a label given to cultural forms since the 1960s that display several particular qualities. Postmodern texts deliberately play with meaning. They are designed for a literate audience whom will understand its emphasis on intertextuality. They have no preferred reading and present a whole range of oppositional readings simultaneously, which allows writers free movement within narratives; time and space within narratives are often fragmented. Therefore, there is a breakdown of barriers between genres and styles. Postmodern media is built on the foundations of hyperreality that emphasizes style over content and a blurring of the distinction between representation and reality, suggested by George Ritzer. Postmodernism has also been criticized as being simply a reaction or progression from modernism, which gathered pace from about 1850. Modernism was, in general, associated with idea visions of human life and society and a belief in progress. A reaction quickly took place which was quickly identified as postmodernism. A focus on style over content can be seen in the opening credits of Quentin Tarantinos film, Inglourious Basterds. The text on such credits is conventionally white on a black background. Tarantino, however, is known for using yellow text in his films, breaking this convention. Therefore, although the credits are introducing the film and displaying focus on content, it is Tarantinos style that is notably unusual. The use of chapters that segment the film also reminds the audience that it is unreal. This suspension of reality is further portrayed as text is presented on screen that reads Once upon a time In Nazi-occupied France, which is reminiscent of the fairytale form. This applies Levi Strauss theory of addition in a text. Realistically, a war film is not expected to be introduced in the same way of that in a fairytale. Gerard Genettes theory of hypotextuality explains that, as the audience, we view our preceding definition of fairytales to amend what we understand to be a generic war film. This use of bricolage from different genres reflects postmodern medias disregard for barriers between styles. Postmodern texts will employ a range of referential techniques and will use images in a way that is entirely alien to their original function. Another example of Genettes theory of hypotextuality theory can be identified in the scene when Shoshanna escapes from the Jew hunter. The framing of the shot is reminiscent of the Western film, The Searchers, as John Waynes character leaves; Tarantino, however, transforms the scene from the character leaving to escaping. This theory can again be applied to the comedic portrayal of Hitler within Inglourious Basterds Tarantino substitutes a realistic depiction of the character, for one that is much more humorous. This exemplifies that postmodern media emphasizes style over content, opting for a more entertaining approach to a simple character rather than an intense and realistic persona. Postmodern media incorporates a hybrid of genres and this is yet another postmodern feature of Inglourious Basterds. Although the film is portrayed primarily as one of war, other genres are similarly openly addressed. As previously stated, the idea of the film being a fairytale or a fantasy story is featured throughout the film with the use of chapters. Simultaneously, there are

Sophie Nutt many references to Spaghetti Westerns throughout, such as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and Tarantino sampled music from such styled films. Although this use of music is unusual in a war film, the music is relatable to the modern audience as we associate this style of music with confrontation, which is a feature of war films and so, although there is a barrier between styles, there is a relationship between the audience and their understanding. This applies Bauldrillards theory of signs masking the reality. The audience interprets the music as a sign of confrontation within the film, as opposed to an element from a foreign genre due to signs masking our concept of reality. There are further references to Westerns throughout the film, adding to the breakdown of barriers between genres and styles. Blaxploitation is another genre featured within Inglourious Basterds. A song named Slaughter is used as a motif to introduce characters. This statement introduction in a typically 1970s style reminds the audience, yet again, that we are in fact not witnessing reality. This cool sounding genre again modifies our perception of this war film, with which idea we can apply Fiskes theory. Due to the audiences, including mainly literate individuals, previous knowledge of media and film, they can acknowledge that Inglourious Basterds is not a typical war film; it is a mixture of genres. The conventional war film involves primarily little dialogue, gunfire and battle scenes, and is much less glamorously presented than Tarantinos war film. It is the audiences previous knowledge of films and media that allows individuals to understand Inglourious Basterds as a postmodern film. Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, is also an example of postmodern media. Similarly to Inglorious Basterds, the film is a tapestry of genres ranging from thriller, sci-fi, through to action as a postmodern media. As previously stated, postmodern media often features a fragmented narrative. A key postmodern feature of Inception is the disjunctive narrative it has. Throughout Inception, Christopher Nolan disrupts the linear structure that would be expected from a film and, instead of reporting events chronologically; Nolan mixes up time reality by differing the amount of time that passes in the dream world to the real world. It is clear when watching Inception that Nolan wanted to introduce the views of postmodernism to his viewers and cause a questioning of our own reality, but he also warns the audience of its consequences, by making his characters explore on our behalf. It is this element of disjuncture and fragmentation, a manipulation of time and space, that makes a piece of media distinctly postmodern. Intertextuality is also a common feature within the film. For example, when Ariadne is learning how to create and design the layout for a dream, suddenly the buildings and landscape around them begin to explode as Cobb manipulates it, referencing Ori Gershts art. Intertextual references such as this are frequent within the making of dream states, even when Ariadne tries to create her own architecture, as she recreates the mirror sequence from Citizen Kane directed by Orson Welles in 1941. Ariadne, the architect, also shares her name with the daughter of Minos, King of Crete, in Greek mythology. Within Greek mythology, Ariadne is associated with mazes and labyrinths, due to her involvement in the

Sophie Nutt myths of Minotaur and Theseus. During her introduction to the world of inception, Cobb makes Ariadne conduct mazes that would take him a limited amount of time to get out of - this references the Greek myth of Ariadne. Postmodern media is defined to be constructed out of culturally familiar fragments, based on Levi Strauss idea of bricolage fragments which are applied through processes. Using so many frequent references reminds the audience of the unoriginality of the film, defining it as a postmodern text. An emphasis on style over content is also a defining feature of postmodern media and is a quality that can be seen within the film Drive, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. The film has very little narrative depth, to the extent that the audience is never told the real name of the lead character; our knowledge of him is based solely on what we take from his actions and appearance on screen, and he is only referenced to as The Kid. There is a sense of a fading, threatened male hero as a representation of the postmodern sensibility. The fragile sense of the male self, complementing the heros monstrousness, is basic to Drive. The film quickly undermines the older man/young acolyte idea so basic to Westerns, challenged in film like Se7en (1995) Shannon, The Kids employer, is a damaged, weary man of poor judgment who has nothing to teach; the kid seems smarter and more confident than his boss. The lack of back-story for any of the characters further demonstrates this, leaving the audience with little explanation for their behaviour or the situation that they appear to be in. Hypotextuality is also further demonstrated from the birds eye view shots of the city of LA, reminiscent of the film Blade Runner. Although this city is clearly represented as a built up metropolis, there are little signs of life or action throughout the majority of the film, almost implying the nature of that of a ghost town, creating a hyperreal world. The retro aesthetics also appears to reference Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The font and colour of the text of the titles are comparable to that of the video game. The idea of the film representing the urban sprawl side of LA is, again, notably similar to the game. Bauldrillards theory of simulacra cites that our understanding of signs of culture within the media create our perceived reality. Although, presumably, the majority of individuals that watch the film have never been to LA, and we are never explicitly told that this is where the film is set, we assume that this is the city in which the film is set, due to the cultural signs presented to us in various scenes. This can be taken further to understand the hyperreality within the film. We are shown that characters live in such a city, however they seem disconnected from the reality, which we understand, to be LA. This relates to Fiskes theory that what we know about certain events is based only on what we have seen in previous media and not on real life experience. From our knowledge we can identify this postmodern aspect of the film because it does not respect the boundaries of style within the media. Postmodern media can also be defined by manipulating time and space. This is seen in Drive with the frequent changes from the real world to a more hyperreal setting. This can be seen within the scenes that involve just The Kid, Irene, and her son, which are often gold filtered. These scenes also incorporate a more rural

Sophie Nutt setting, giving the scene a more idyllic and disconnected feel. These transitions from supposed reality to this idyllic dreamlike state manipulates the use of space within the film, both because of the physical cutaway from the city, but also because the three characters are in a different space to all other people. Many scenes contain only Irene and The Kid, creating innocent scenes in a world of violence and corruption developing the tapestry of genres within the film. Genettes theory of hypertextuality can be applied here. The classic style romance portrayed within the scenes and the preceding hypertext of a romantic film modify this film entirely from, what we initially understand to be, based on crime and brutal violence. However, postmodern media does not only go as far as filmmaking. Postmodern media also involves a heavy use of parody taking something of cultural relevance and mocking it entirely something that can be seen within the Marmite Neglect television advert. The company took advantage of the omnipresence of the distinctive jar of marmite and came up with an advert that likens the abandonment of marmite to the neglect of an animal. The brands advert is shot in the style of the ubiquitous day-in-the-life animal rescue programmes. Music can also take the form of postmodern media. Kramers theory refers to postmodern music as presenting multiple meaning and multiple temporalities as well as not respecting boundaries between sonorities and procedures of the past and of the present, elements that can be identified within the artist Childish Gambino. This artist is a product of postmodern hip-hop, drawing influence from MCs like Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Common, and Talib Kweli. His beats also contain elements of vintage funk, hip-hop, and R&B, while also sampling modern sounds. An example of this is the song Hold You Down from his album Camp, which uses a sample from the Slow Moon theme in the 1992 video game soundtrack for Streets of Rage 2, originally composed by chiptune composer, Yuzo Koshiro. Childish Gambinos stage name was created by a Wu Tang Generator on the internet capturing the postmodern angle of style over substance all of which linking to the postmodern idea of the death of uncool. This stage name and alter-ego that Childish Gambino created for himself admits to the postmodern music theory of simulacrum; a concept that many artists adopt. To conclude, postmodern media can be defined by multiple elements, seen from the examples previously analysed. Key concepts include the theory that there is no longer an uncool and that nothing is original within postmodern media. Everything we see before us has been created via symbols and signs to create a reality. Above all, postmodern media values style over substance. These definitions have been thoroughly exemplified through both theorists and exemplar texts from different sources of postmodern medias. However, despite all this, Frederic Jameson sees postmodern media as vacuous and trapped in circular references nothing more than a series of self referential jokes that have no deeper meaning or purpose. Amongst these critics, the speculation of postmodern media, and the future of overall postmodernism, does not bode well.

Sophie Nutt