Monday, January 22, 2018

MIGRAIN: January assessment learner response

The January assessment was a good opportunity to learn more about the structure of new Media exams and check we are progressing in the right direction.

The first part of your learner response is to look carefully at your mark, grade and comments from your teacher. If anything doesn't make sense, ask your teacher - that's why we're here! 

Your learner response is as follows:

Create a new blog post called 'January assessment learner response' and complete the following tasks:

1) Type up your feedback in full (you don't need to write the mark and grade if you want to keep this confidential).

2) Read the mark scheme for this assessment carefully. Identify at least one potential point that you missed out on for each question in the assessment.

3) On a scale of 1-10 (1 = low, 10 = high), how much revision and preparation did you do for this assessment?

4) Look at your answer for Question 1. Did you manage to write about three different strategies and three different benefits? It's vital you read the question and follow it exactly.

5) Look at your answer for Question 2. Did you follow the question guidance and write about both the BBC and commercial broadcasters? What could you have added to this answer to reach a higher mark?

6) Now look over your mark, teacher comments and the mark scheme for Question 3 - the 20 mark essay question on media effects theory. Write a new paragraph for this question based on the suggested theories/answers in the mark scheme. Make sure it is an extensive, detailed paragraph focused on the question and offering examples from the wider media. 

If you do not finish your learner response in the lesson your work is returned, this needs to be completed at home by your next exam lesson.

MIGRAIN: Feminist theory

A current debate in feminism is whether we are in a post-feminist state: is feminism still needed?

It's important to have your own opinion on this debate and, crucially, be able to support it with reference to feminist theory and current examples. 

Feminist theory: key notes

Judith Butler: gender roles

Butler believes traditional feminists are wrong to divide society into ‘men’ and ‘women’ and says gender is not biologically fixed.

By dividing men and women, feminists accidently reinforced the idea of differences between the two genders

Butler believes gender roles are ‘a performance’ and that male and female behaviour is socially constructed rather than the result of biology.

Butler and the media

If gender is a ‘performance’ rather than biological, we then need to think about what is influencing that ‘performance’.

And that’s where the media comes in. How might the media influence our behaviour in terms of gender roles?

Angela McRobbie: empowering women

McRobbie is a British cultural theorist known for her work analysing magazines aimed at women and teenage girls in the 80s and 90s.

McRobbie highlights the empowering nature of magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Glamour, taking a different perspective to traditional feminists.

This idea of ‘popular feminism’ fits into the idea of post-feminism and challenges the radical feminism of the 1970s.

Feminism: blog tasks

Complete the following tasks on your blog:

Media Magazine reading

Read Playing With The Past: Post-feminism and the Media (MM40, page 64 - our Media Magazine archive is here).

1) What are the two texts the article focuses on?

2) What examples are provided from the two texts of the 'male gaze' (Mulvey)?

3) Do texts such as these show there is no longer a need for feminism or are they simply sexism in a different form?

4) Choose three words/phrases from the glossary of the article and write their definitions on your blog.

Music video analysis

Watch the Beyonce video for ‘Why Don’t You Love Me?’: 

1) How might this video contribute to Butler’s idea that gender roles are a ‘performance’?

2) Does this video reinforce or challenge the view that women should perform certain roles in society?

2) Would McRobbie view Beyonce as an empowering role model for women? Why?

3) What are your OWN views on this debate – does Beyonce empower women or reinforce the traditional ‘male gaze’ (Mulvey)?

Complete for homework if you don't finish this during the lesson - due next lesson.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Mr Halsey cover work - Friday 18 January

Apologies Year 12 - I'm out training on the new school website so won't be in lessons on Friday.

Mr Bush and Ms Quinn will look after the lessons but the work is pretty simple:

12E - period 2
Representation - an introduction to Feminism. Ms Quinn will show you an important TED talk on Everyday Sexism then you need to work through the notes and blog tasks here. I'll be going over the teaching of this Monday so we'll have plenty of opportunity to learn the basics of feminism.

12D - period 5
Film Industry - British Board of Film Classification. As discussed on Wednesday, you need to research the regulation of the British film industry. All the details, links and tasks are on this blogpost - work through the questions and complete anything you don't finish for homework.

Good luck!

Film Industry: BBFC film regulation

In our work on the British film industry, we need to consider the role of the BBFC, why Chicken was rated 15 and what the future holds for film regulation in a digital world.

Film certification in the UK is the job of the BBFC - the British Board of Film Classification.

Watch this (slightly old) video outlining how videos are classified at the BBFC:

Film regulation and the BBFC - blog tasks:

1) Research the BBFC in more detail: what is the institution responsible for? How is it funded? What link does it have to government?

2) Read this BBFC guide to how films are rated. Summarise the process in 50 words.

3) Read this BBFC outline of the issues faced when classifying a film. Summarise the debate in 50 words.

4) Read this BBFC section on controversial decisions. Why did The Dark Knight generate a large amount of media coverage regarding its certificate? Do you agree with the 12A certificate The Dark Knight was awarded?

5) What are the guidelines for a 15 certificate?

6) The BBFC website offers an explanation of every classification it makes and detailed case studies on selected titles. Look at the rating for Chicken and explain why it was given a 15 certificate.

Complete this for homework if you don't get it done in the lesson - due next Friday.

MIGRAIN: Introduction to feminism

Discussing feminism and learning a range of feminist theories is an essential part of A Level Media Studies.

Are we living in a post-feminist state? Do you agree there is still a need for feminism? To what extent does the media contribute to the identity created for women in popular culture? These are some of the questions we need to consider when studying representation in A Level Media.

There is a current debate regarding whether feminism is still required in the 21st century (the idea that we are now in a 'post-feminist' state) against the view that the use of new and digital media to further feminist campaigns constitutes a new fourth wave of feminism.

Key notes

Waves of feminism
First wave: early 20th century, suffragette movement (right to vote).
Second wave: 1960s – 1990s, reproductive rights (pill), abortion, equal pay.
Third wave: 1990s – present, empowerment, reclaiming of femininity (high heels, sexuality etc. See Angela McRobbie's work on women's magazines).
Fourth wave? 2010 – ongoing, use of new technology and digital media (e.g. Twitter) for activism.

Fourth wave?
Many commentators argue that the internet itself has enabled a shift from ‘third-wave’ to ‘fourth-wave’ feminism. What is certain is that the internet has created a ‘call-out’ culture, in which sexism or misogyny can be ‘called out’ and challenged. 

This culture is indicative of the continuing influence of the third wave, with its focus on challenging sexism and misogyny in advertising, film, television and the media. 

Key quote: “power users of social media”
The internet has facilitated the creation of a global community of feminists who use the internet both for discussion and activism. 

According to #FemFuture: Online Feminism, a report recently published by Columbia University’s Barnard Center for Research on Women, females aged between 18 and 29 are the ‘power users of social networking’.

(Source: Political Studies Association. Read more about this:

Critics of online feminism
Critics of online feminist movements suggest that petitions and pressure from Twitter campaigns is simply a witchhunt orchestrated by privileged middle-class white women.

They ask: are ‘trolls’ the danger they are portrayed to be?

Introduction to feminism: blog tasks

Case study: Everyday Sexism

Watch this TEDx talk by Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates:

1) Why did Laura Bates start the Everyday Sexism project?

2) How does the Everyday Sexism project link to the concept of post-feminism? Is feminism still required in western societies?

3) Why was new technology essential to the success of the Everyday Sexism project?

4) Will there be a point in the future when the Everyday Sexism project is not required? What is YOUR view on the future of feminism?

Media Magazine: The fourth wave?

Read the article: The Fourth Wave? Feminism in the Digital Age in MM55 (p64). You'll find the article in our Media Magazine archive here.

1) Summarise the questions in the first two sub-headings: What is networked feminism? Why is it a problem?

2) What are the four waves of feminism? Do you agree that we are in a fourth wave ‘networked feminism’? 

3) Focus on the examples in the article. Write a 100-word summary of EACH of the following: Everyday Sexism, HeForShe, FCKH8 campaign, This Girl Can.

4) What is your opinion with regards to feminism and new/digital media? Do you agree with the concept of a 'fourth wave' of feminism post-2010 or are recent developments like the Everyday Sexism project merely an extension of the third wave of feminism from the 1990s?

Complete for homework - due Friday 26 January.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Film Industry: Chicken case study research

Our first close-study product is micro-budget British film Chicken. We need to know how the film was funded, produced, distributed and promoted.

The key notes from the lesson are here:

In order to make Chicken, director Joe Stephenson raised £110,000. Key points:
  • Raised entirely through investment by individuals (e.g. rich friends/contacts)
  • No funding body (e.g. BFI Film Fund) was willing to fund Chicken
  • Raises questions about whether film industry is accessible to lower-income filmmakers

Key points for making Chicken:
  • Adapted from a play by Freddie Machin that originally ran at Southwark Playhouse.
  • Filmed in 19 days, almost all external locations so victim to rain, issues with lighting etc.
  • Film produced and distributed by a new company set up by director Stephenson: B Good Picture Company.

Chicken’s distribution has been very difficult:
  • No distribution deal secured in 2014
  • Two-year festival circuit won awards and generated interest and critical acclaim for film
  • UK cinema release followed in May 2016. Selected for film subscription service MUBI and acquired by Film4 for TV premiere in April 2017.
  • UK DVD release distributed by Network Releasing. Digital distribution in USA/Canada – January 2018.

Alongside film festivals, new technology was vital to promoting Chicken to a wider audience: 
  • Some traditional marketing: trailer, film poster with review quotes etc.
  • Social media very important to market film – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.
  • Film available on-demand now; Stephenson hoping for deal with Netflix or Amazon Prime to bring in revenue and find wider audience.

Chicken: case study blog task

Work through the following tasks to build a detailed case study for Chicken. This will give you plenty of background information to use in an exam question on the film industry.

Read the following interviews and features on Chicken:

Film News interview with director Joe Stephenson
Hey Guys interview with Stephenson
Flavourmag interview with Scott Chambers and Joe Stephenson

Watch the trailer for Chicken:

Watch this Into Film feature on Chicken:

Watch important film critic Mark Kermode's review of Chicken on the BBC:


1) What was the budget for Chicken?
2) How did Joe Stephenson end up raising the money to make the film?
3) How does the Chicken budget compare to a Hollywood-funded British blockbuster such as Spectre or Paddington 2?
4) Joe Stephenson tried to secure funding from organisations that help low-budget filmmakers. What is the BFI Film Fund and how does it contribute to the British film industry?
5) Why do you think Chicken failed to secure funding from the BFI Film Fund?


1) What difficulties did the film run into during production?
2) How many days did the film take to shoot?
3) What scenes were particularly difficult for Joe Stephenson to film?


1) Why did the film fail to secure a distribution deal when first made in 2014?
2) What film festivals did Chicken feature at between 2014-2016?
3) Why are film festivals an effective way for a low-budget film to secure a distribution deal?
4) When was Chicken released in cinemas in the UK?
5) Why do you think film subscription service MUBI chose the film to feature on the service?
6) Why was Film4 a good choice to give the film its UK television premiere?
7) When will the film be released on iTunes and other video-on-demand services in the USA and Canada?


Note: some of these pages will be blocked in school - you will need to complete those particular questions at home.

1) What does the trailer suggest regarding genre and the potential audience pleasures of Chicken?
2) What synergy can you find between the trailer and other traditional marketing methods such as the film poster?
3) Why are reviews from industry figures such as Mark Kermode so important to a film's success?
4) How does the Chicken Twitter account create and maintain interest in the film?
5) Who does the Twitter account re-tweet? How does this help to promote the film?
6) How does the Chicken Facebook page use images and video content to promote the film?
7) What pages are liked by the Chicken Facebook page? What does this tell you about the film and potential target audience?
8) Go to the B Good Picture Company's website page for Chicken. What celebrities are mentioned on the page? Why might they be highlighted?
9) Now go to the film's official website. What is the key purpose of the website and what does this tell you about the influence of new technology and how it is changing howpeople watch films?
10) Go to the B Good Picture Company YouTube channel. What videos feature on the channel? How do they help to promote Chicken?

Complete for homework - due next Wednesday.

Monday, January 15, 2018

MIGRAIN: Representation theory

When analysing representation in the media we need to be able to apply media theories as well as discussing dominant and alternative portrayals.

A reminder of the notes on Representation theories:

Richard Dyer: Stereotyping and power
Richard Dyer's theory suggests that the complexity and variety of a group is reduced to a few key characteristics. An exaggerated version of these characteristics is then applied to everyone in the group. 

He states that those with power stereotype those with less power. 

Therefore, we have stereotypes of non-white people, poor people and women... but not so many of white, middle class men.

Medhurst: shorthand that carries value judgements
Andy Medhurst suggests stereotyping is shorthand for identification. This means we use stereotypes to tell audiences a lot in a short space of time.

However, this can carry value judgements and therefore be very negative for the representation of minority groups. Medhurst gave the example of the representation of gay men: 

"The image of the screaming queen does not just mean 'all gay men are like that', it means 'all gay men are like that and aren't they awful', which in turn means 'and they are awful because they are not like us'."

Perkins: stereotypes can be positive or partly true
Tessa Perkins suggests some stereotypes can be positive and are often true.

Specifically, she stated that stereotypes are...
  • Not always negative (the French are good cooks)
  • Not always about the less powerful (Politicians are corrupt)
  • Can be about our own social groups (Students are lazy)
  • Not always false (The Scottish wear kilts)
  • Can change over time (A typical British holiday was in Blackpool; now it is Spain)

Mulvey: the male gaze
Laura Mulvey suggests that the dominant view in the media is masculine and created for the benefit of men. Women are presented for men to look at, hence the ‘male gaze’. This links to the idea of ‘sex sells’ and women being represented as sex objects.

More recently, the idea of the ‘female gaze’ has been suggested. Rosalind Gill suggests the objectified male is an example of post-feminist media culture in modern Britain. Task: write down an example for each.

Linked to Mulvey...

Berger: ‘Ways of seeing’
An additional representation theory that influenced Mulvey:

John Berger (1972) stated that: “Men act and women appear”

“Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.”

Levi-Strauss: Representation and ideology
Claude Levi-Strauss suggests that representations in the media are informed by ideology: the set of beliefs and values held by the producer of the text.

Some things are included and others are left out to create a dominant or preferred representation. 

Representation blog tasks

Create a new blogpost called 'Representation theory'. 

Read the Media Magazine feature 'Representation old and new'. This is in MM51 on page 6 - go to our Media Magazine archive to find the article. Complete the following tasks:

1) Why is representation an important concept in Media Studies?

2) How does the example of Kate Middleton show the way different meanings can be created in the media?

3) Summarise the section 'The how, who and why of media representation' in 50 words.

4) How does Stuart Hall's theory of preferred and oppositional readings fit with representation?

5) How has new technology changed the way representations are created in the media?

6) What example if provided of how national identity is represented in Britain - and how some audiences use social media to challenge this?

Now think about today's representation theories. Go back to the Taken trailer from last week's introduction to representation and apply each theory to the trailer:

Write a short paragraph for each theory picking out aspects of the trailer that could be linked to that particular theory.

For example, negative representations of Eastern Europeans and women support Dyer's view that those with power stereotype those without power. It also reduces complex and varied groups to a few simplistic characteristics.

Complete this for each theory:

Dyer: stereotyping and power
Medhurst: value judgements
Perkins: some stereotypes can be positive or true
Mulvey: the male gaze
Levi-Strauss: representation and ideology

Complete for homework: due next week in double lesson