You are on page 1of 3

Holly Armitage What is meant by post-modern media?

Post-modern medias distort boundaries between genres, manipulate time, and break conventions with their advanced themes and intricate plot lines that create an undeniably captivating hyper-reality the audience is submersed in. Post-modernism itself is a continuation of Modernism; a mid-19th century move from the traditional to the more contemporary arts, in which a utopian world was idolised and explored. It then advanced, however, to a movement that has subconsciously destroyed any relation to its predecessor, incorporating a variety of different elements that pay homage or even parody previous works through a plethora of intertextual references. The act of taking something old to create something new can be defined in Claude LeviStrauss theory of bricolage, as post-modern films are comprised of elements that have been used time after time, yet still remain valid in todays society. Quentin Tarantinos Inglourious Basterds bears a very unsubtle resemblance to the 1967 Robert Aldrich film The Dirty Dozen; of which both films feature released convicts attempting to destroy Nazi Germany, and most of whom, die trying. It can be said this is Tarantinos way of paying homage to the film, yet others may claim he stole the idea because it makes a good plot line; this is the problem with post-modernism; it breaks boundaries so that there is no clear definition within its anything goes approach. Other inter-textual references include mentions of Max Linder, the doorway scene in The Searches and Tarantinos other films. The trademark yellow text, featured in Kill Bill amongst others, displays the subtitles of the foreign scenes, giving a subtle nod to his other masterpieces. The 2010 thriller Inception also combines elements previously explored in other films such as the snow scene in the James Bond film On her Majestys secret service and the mirror scene in Citizen Kane, adhering to Genettes theory of intertextuality. The theory of intertextuality can also be applied to music, as parody band The Midnight Beast create songs using both the soundtrack and lyrics from other artists, incorporating references to other bands and musicians within their songs too. Kramers post-modern music theory emphasises the artists ability to include quotations of or references to music of many traditions and cultures which is essentially the act of referring to other texts within separate works. The Midnight Beast have referenced artists such as Ke$ha, One Direction and Take That, as well as including references to the Home Alone film series, and actual clips of other texts such as The Office character David Brent within their Die Young video. The band prides themselves on being able to parody songs, originally taking Ke$has music and altering the lyrics to mock her style and sound, they have since moved on to Eminem and the Harlem Shake distorting the original meaning of the song by creating music for comedy effect only. The idea of parody is also explored within Inglourious Basterds, as the stereotypical representation of Hitler links to Baudrillards theory of simulation and the process in which the representation replaces the object being represented. His angry, Nein nein nein! and evil German laugh shows him to be the generic portrayal we are all used to within films and the roles he plays. The use of parody is designed to mock the character, creating a symbol not to be feared, but to be laughed at, taking away any power he has left as both a character and real life figure. It can be said the portrayal of Hitler is hyper-real as it is unlikely he was truly like that in real life. Baudrillards theory of hyper-reality is present within most post-modern films, as like in most films, a world is explored, parallel to our own, that the audience can submerse themselves in and live amongst the characters, sharing both their experiences and their emotions, yet it is not real. An example of hyper-reality that can be construed as subtle

Holly Armitage is the immaculate hair and costume of Brad Pitts character Lt. Aldo Rein. Hes involved in brutal physical contact, struggles and fights, yet his hair remains slick and pristine at all times in comparison to other characters such as Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, whose hair portrays that of everyday life. This sense of hyper-reality, often used on adverts for companies such as McDonalds, promotes an unattainable look. For example, we choose what we eat based on the promotional images of it, yet our meal never resembles the hyper-real image we perceive. Although the events in Inception are hyper-real, the audience accepts the hyper-real elements as we are aware that it is only a film, therefore we do not question it. It is not only the content of the film that displays the elements of post-modernism, it is the structure of the film that combines these elements and presents them in an ultimately postmodern way. The structure of Inception can be defined as fragmented, as parallel editing is used throughout to remind the audience where the action is taking place. The film initially starts near the end of the story and it is not until near the end, we finally understand the beginning. Not only does this entice the reader, making them watch to find out what happened in the past, but it also displays a non-chronological plot that is often used within post-modern texts. It is this fragmented structure that can also be applied to the genre of both Inception and Inglourious Basterds, as neither of them fit into a defined genre category. Inception has a variety of plots and sub-plots within itself, making the genre of the film hard to distinguish. Its score is intense and creates the dark atmosphere of the later action within the film, however Edith Piafs Non Je Regrette Rien was both acknowledged within the film as a separate text and incorporated into the soundtrack of the film itself. One could say the film contains Romance, Thriller, Action, Espionage, and above all Drama, yet these undistinguishable boundaries prove Derridas structural thinking correct a text cannot be without one or multiple genres. Another example is Inglourious Basterds as Tarantino created a war film that has no stereotypical war scenes in it there are no trenches or big battles, much like in The Dirty Dozen. The soundtrack contains Spaghetti Western tracks, along with R&B and David Bowie, introducing modern music to a supposedly old film, much like in Baz Luhrmanns adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Not only can the music be classed as a time shift, but the actual events within the film happen one year earlier than they did in real life, and it is the blatant disregard of history that ensures we dont take this war film seriously and even causes us to question whether it is truly a war film at all. Self-reflexivity is another element of post-modernism that is both interesting and clever when used. Tarantino uses this method in almost all of his films through on screen text, joins in the set and chapter names. In Kill Bill Vol.1 we see the set joins in Copperheads kitchen as we look inside two rooms simultaneously from above, much like in Inglourious Basterds when Shosanna walks through a corridor from one room to another. A split screen is used to show The Bride in a coma on one side, and Elle Driver planning to kill her on the other which can be seen as a self-reflexive manipulation of the film itself as we do not view reality in the same way. Tarantino uses chapter names in both films to separate scenes with other characters such as Chapter Two: The Blood-Splattered Bride and this on screen text refers to the film itself, therefore displaying the self-reflexive behaviour of a post-modern film. The Midnight Beast can also be seen as self-acknowledged as within their songs they often refer to themselves in a comedy way, something artists such as Rihanna wouldnt do, as they wish to be taken more seriously within the world of music.

Holly Armitage Overall, the post-modernist genre is one that pushes boundaries and sticks to an unconventional style, manipulating genres or set design to create a visually exiting hyperreal atmosphere. In Drive, Ryan Gosling plays The Kid a character who rarely talks unless threatening acts of violence upon people. A simple question deliberates an excessive amount of time before him answering something that can be seen as unconventional in any film, apart from the works of Sergio Leone and his Dollars Trilogy as the characters can go 10 minutes without speaking at one time. Although drive is a predominantly violent film, the quaint romance between The Kid and his neighbour, has a fairy-tale like quality to it, as they spend their days lounging by rivers and driving in the sun. Scenes between them feature little dialogue, yet the audience feels their connection through body language and the action that occurs, something perhaps only a post-modern film would explore, as most films rely on a detailed verbal script to carry the plotline. Post-modern medias have the potential to keep on reinventing themselves through their use of manipulated conventions, and in the future it wouldnt be outrageous to predict the films will comprise of many of the same elements, yet will be so fragmented that they require multiple watches in order to understand them. Plots may be developed in reverse like Christopher Nolans Memento and will become more confusing yet interesting to watch. Self-reflexivity may extend to a new level, focusing on the idea of a film within a film, like Tarantino explored within Inglourious Basterds and the mini-film Nations Pride. On the other hand, originality is sometimes impossible to achieve, so films may continue to steal and borrow features of other films, or possibly even clips from other texts like The Midnight Beast in their music videos. Although it has been claimed the post-modern movement has passed, I dont think post-modernism is going anywhere and will be embedded in our media for a long while to come.