Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Heritage TV/film as conservative and, gosh, posh

Backwards to the future: how Britain’s nostalgia industry is thriving http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jul/25/backwards-to-the-future-how-britains-nostalgia-industry-is-thriving?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Caroline Aherne a rare working class voice

Caroline Aherne’s death ‘leaves British TV short of working-class voices’ http://gu.com/p/4nkct?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

2014 Exam: Downton Abbey/Cinema Hardware

Below is the script of an A-grade exam from an IGS student, analysing the representation of class and status in a Downton Abbey clip (it can't be embedded) and answering the British Cinema question:
The increases in hardware and content in media industries has been significant in recent years. discuss the effect this has had on institutions and audiences in the media area you have studied.

Here's the actual exam paper (click to enlarge or click here)

Playlist of past/practice clips

You can use these to set yourself practice exercises - feel free to hand in any subsequent essays for marking and feedback:

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Tess of the D'Urbevilles

A great clip to look at for social class and status; there's a lot going on with every technical element here to frame and comment on this aspect of representation, manipulating the audience towards a likely (preferred) reading through multiple, often combined, signifiers.

[alas, the previously embedded clip has been disabled]

A NOTE ON ABBREVIATIONSI use them frequently simply because of the scale of blogging I do, as a 2-finger non-typist! You can use abbreviations in an exam, but should only do so where you've first used the full term (and put your intended abbreviation in brackets). Given there are different ways of denoting the same shot (some use 'big' instead of 'extreme' for example) don't take the risk of losing marks by using abbreviations that some examiners may not understand and/or welcome.

This is a sequence which in some regards frames social class in a highly conventional, normative* fashion, employing common tropes or stereotypes (such as the drunken, unintelligent peasant, Tess' father), but also includes some more subtle, ambivalent elements. We start with a conventional establishing shot, an extreme long shot (ELS) foregrounding the rural setting. With the BBC logo, we might easily expect a costume drama centred on upper class characters, something the Beeb is internationally known for. The exaggerated diegetic sound of birds cheeping reinforces the signification of rural, and the next shot, a medium shot (MS), helps signify the time period through the heavy garb and particularly the hat.

normative* the repetition of certain stereotypes has the effect of defining what is seen as normal, or common sense; if we see over and over again representations of gay men as effeminate, for example, this frames how many people will view gay men. You can also write of 'normativising'. Consider the following shot:

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

UK's lack of social mobility

This might help to put in perspective some of the arguable consequences of rendering the lower social classes (socio-economic groups DE) invisible, or simply representing them as criminal and/or unintelligent, and routinely presenting ABC1s as the heroes/protagonists of our TV + film dramas: a report in The Guardian about the UK's worsening lack of social mobility. (That means the ability to succeed in a society irrespective of the social class you're born into; the idea that anyone can achieve social mobility and become rich and powerful is an important ideology, expressed as the 'American dream' for example).
You can read the stats from the article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/may/22/social-mobility-data-charts - a sample follows below:
Here's what the figures show:
• Britain has some of the lowest social mobility in the developed world - the OECD figures show our earnings in the UK are more likely to reflect our fathers' than any other country

• Social mobility hasn't changed since the 1970s - and in some ways has got worse. For every one person born in the 1970s in the poorest fifth of society and going to university, there would be four undergrads from the top fifth of society. But if you were born in the 1980s, there would be five
• 24% of vice-chancellors, 32% of MPs, 51% of top Medics, 54% of FTSE-100 chief execs, 54% of top journalists, 70% of High Court judges …went to private school, though only 7% of the population do
• Education is an engine of social mobility. But in the UK, achievement is not balanced fairly - for the poorest fifth in society, 46% have mothers with no qualifications at all. For the richest, it's only 3%
Click on the image for the full chart
• Parental influence still makes a big difference to a child's education in the UK, especially compared to other countries - in fact in the UK the influence of your parents is as important as the quality of the school - unlike Germany, say, where the school has a much bigger role
• Higher education is not evenly balanced either in terms of aspirations - 81% of the richest fifth of the population think their child will go to university, compared to 53% of the poorest
• … or achievment: 49% of the poorest will apply to university and get in, compared to 77% of the richest
• There is a strong link between a lack of social mobility and inequality - and the UK has both. Only Portugal is more unequal with less social mobility
• If you are at the top, the rewards are high - the top 1% of the UK population has a greater share of national income than at any time since the 1930s

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Chav: What's in a word?

Interesting article here which rehearses some of the arguments around how specific terms can embody and reinforce certain prejudices. I personally loathe the use of the word 'chav', seeing it as socially acceptable cover for attacking the working class, no matter what spurious links are made with Burberry, in the same way that 'that's so gay' has become an acceptable form of (unintentional generally) homophobia. Students tend to disagree! See what you make of the following, which gets fairly hard hitting at times, including the use of some strong language:

Debating the word 'chav' is irrelevant to the working-class experience

Extending choice for the poorest will achieve more than defining who they are

Suzanne Moore 4.6.11 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/04/suzanne-moore-chavs-working-class

    Chavdom is just a smash-and-grab on the "values" on offer. It’s a response to the rich slagging off the poor for being poor'. Photograph: BBC/Tiger Aspect
    Cast your minds back to Tony Blair's great triumph of 2007. He appeared in a sketch for Comic Relief with Catherine Tate, who was playing the stroppy Lauren Cooper. She takes tea in to Blair and starts babbling about Center Parcs and Nike Town. Exasperated, the then prime minister came back with: "Am I bovvered?" What a guy! He could act? Who knew? If only Gordon Brown had been able to do a turn in Gavin & Stacey, maybe things would have been different. Anyway, part of Lauren's diatribe was actually about chavs a