Friday, January 21, 2011

You can't have it so you must have it: A quick note on advertising.

I guess I'll just keep posting on here since 305 is done and I need somewhere to vent about media related things.


When the Gossip Girl campaign came out with ads saying things like "Every parent's nightmare" and "A nasty piece of work" I thought it was pretty clever. Reverse psychology done nicely. I mean, who wouldn't be interested in a show that was scandalizing the upper echelons of the "Parent's Television Council"? I was! It was sexy in a scandalous way. MTV's new show Skins on the other hand? I think their advertising is pretty ridiculous. I mean, I get it. Totally. "Skins is so hardcore and badass that we don't care if you watch or like it or not. We are young, sexy, fabulous, and so drugged up we can't remember our first or last names!" Except they do care. They have to. And telling viewers that their show is "sh*t" doesn't exactly seem like the most carefully thought out move.  Anyway, there's a difference between the two campaigns even if they are predicated upon the same idea. I think the Gossip Girl one was basically effective whereas I think the Skins one is just annoying... With a show like Skins, you don't need the captions or the hype. Everyone knows that sex sells...

Ad from original campaign for UK Skins on E4. Not the best show ever, but definitely addictive. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Evaluation of blogging experience. Extra Credit

         I had used a blog before RTF305 for a European history course. It was similar in that we responded to prompt questions and we also commented on each other’s blogs to aid discussion. Its focus was to facilitate learning through research and discussion. It was extremely useful.

I really liked the blogs focusing on movies because I found that applying technical concepts of movie making to my own examples really helped me internalize the information and understand it. I also liked defining things in my own words via the blog because it made me really understand the concept and not just memorize a definition.

I didn’t really encounter any difficulties while using the blog. I thought the instructions were fairly simple and the prompts were not difficult to follow either. I’d used a blog before so I knew how to technically work it. I think blogger is fairly simple even if you haven’t had to use a blog before if you are fairly adept at computer use.

Because I’m a film major, I naturally felt that the film related blog prompts (for example the one where we had to find examples of Long shots, short shots/ close up, etc.) were very interesting and useful. I also thought the prompts relating to advertising were very interesting. I thought that the blogs about general terms such as “globalization” were a bit dull, but not difficult. I did not find any of the blog prompts difficult.

I would definitely recommend using a blog in any class. I think students spend an inordinate amount of time online so blogging is the next natural step in education. It’s good to put down original thoughts and an easy format for that is blogging.

I thought the prompts were all pretty relevant to the topic. I might suggest a central location online where everyone has their blog URL so students can read other student’s blogs. I would have liked to read what other people were posting about.

Yes, you can use my blog in a paper or report.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Globalization and the media

Defining Globalization: 

Globalization involves the increasing interconnectivity of separate nations in areas of business and trade. 

Globalization and cultural imperialism are inherently linked. Globalization is the causal factor that leads to cultural imperialism. Cultural imperialism comes from the idea of political Imperialism which reached its peak in the 19th century. Imperialism occurred as powerful countries conquered and colonized other countries. They claimed political sovereignty over said countries and took over economically as well as politically. The idea of Cultural Imperialism is similar in that it involves one country influencing another country by injecting the more powerful nation's culture into the other. This naturally involves the dissemination of the more powerful nation's ideals and principles into the other culture. Globalization allows Cultural Imperialism to exist in its current form. If not for the fairly open world trade market and increase of international communication through internet and other technological advancement, Cultural Imperialism could clearly not have the same wide reaching and influential effect. Cultural Imperialism may be a flawed term because countries are likely to take the ideas of other countries and adapt them based on their own understanding of the world. 

One example from the communications industry that shows globalization's massive effect on cultural imperialism is the popularization of MTV throughout the world. MTV was based in America and launched in 1981. Since then MTV has begun to operate in over 45 countries around the world including Ukraine, Indonesia, and Pakistan. MTV has 16 channels in the UK. Because MTV is American owned, western beliefs and culture are spread into other countries that have MTV. Globalization has allowed American corporations to own and produce television for dozens of other countries. MTV is just one example of globalization leading to cultural imperialism. 

Globalization is the 

Friday, November 5, 2010


Advertising has changed significantly in the last fifty years. Early ads printed their brand names in huge letters that you absolutely could not miss. Brands today have become trademarks to the extent that they hardly need to tell you the brand name at all. The image content is enough. I think that Burberry's advertising is extremely effective. The ad I picked is a Burberry Brit ad that features four young people, one of whom is Emma Watson. The color palette is neutral and the clothing is androgynous. Three of the four models wear khaki colored trench coats and the fourth wears a sweater.  The trademark Burberry print appears on scarves, the collar of Emma Watson's jacket, and on one models scarf. Instead of big print letters, Burberry relies on the fame of their classic print to advertise for them. The models all stare defiantly and directly at the camera with classic model pouts. The background is a wrought iron fence that does not take away from the models. The focus is the faces of the models. 

I think this ad is successful because the simplicity of its design. The models have interesting faces and seem to be challenging the viewer. Sort of like, "I'm British and awesome- how can you resist buying Burberry?" The neutral tones of color are very appealing and easy on the eyes. The photography is also very successful and I like the lighting.  The models are interesting and Emma Watson adds star power. Burberry ads do not scream at you to buy their product, it challenges you to resist. Viewers of this ad can easily come to the conclusion that if they resist joining the models in wearing all Burberry then they are the absolute antithesis of cool. This ad says, "We are young, beautiful, and British. You can be all these things too if you just join us and buy tre' cool, neutral toned clothing and stand around sulking". Who could resist that logic? 

Advertising Appeal: Sex, affiliation. 

Selling sex is an extremely effective method of advertising because the viewer's attention is instinctually drawn to the image. Essentially, sex appeal in advertising boils down to the fact that advertisers use attractive models to sell their products. Both males and females are impacted by this type of advertising. Also, sex appeal is effective across age groups. Sex appeal grabs the attention of the audience. It can be extremely explicit or more subtle. Affiliation is linking the audience viewer to whomever is in the ad. 


Though Burberry usually leaves its models mostly or completely clothed, they definitely lean on sex appeal for advertising. The models they pick elicit a certain amount of sex appeal. They are young, beautiful, and powerful. The photos they choose feature seductive poses and facial expressions. Emma Watson adds a level of affiliation to the ad. She is extremely famous from the Harry Potter movies and instantly recognizable. People want to buy the product because she is selling it. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Three-Act Structure in Billy Elliot

"Billy Elliot" (2000) Directed by Stephen Daldry 
Screenplay by Lee Hall

*spoiler alert 

Billy Elliot is the story of a boy who is in a working class home in a mining town in England. He has a passion for ballet but is expected to conform to gender roles and enroll in boxing and eventually follow in his father’s footsteps to become a miner.
         The structure of Billy Elliot follows the classical Hollywood Three Act structure. It is divided into thirds with two major plot points followed by the climax in the third act.

ACT I: Billy, the protagonist of the story goes to take boxing at the local community center. Professor Ramirez-Berg’s lecture stated that there was an overall rise and fall action and also smaller rise and falling actions within the acts. The major conflict that exists throughout the first two acts is the tension between Billy and his father. The rising action of the first act occurs when Billy begins to take secret ballet lessons and discovers his love and talent for dance. This becomes a secret that he has to hide from his father. His father expects him to follow in his footsteps and be a “normal” boy. The plot point in Act 1 that escalates the stakes is the moment when Billy’s father discovers that Billy has been taking ballet lessons and confronts him about it. It causes the audience to ask the questions “will Billy get to continue dance? Will he decide to disobey his father”? This propels the plot forward into the next act.

Act II:  Billy continues with his lessons behind his father’s back. This implies a complication that will occur in the future. The second act continues as Billy’s skill set increases. Billy’s dance teacher encourages him to try out for the Royal Ballet School in London. The plot point in Act II occurs when Billy’s father sees his son dance and recognizes his true talent. This causes the audience to question what will happen to Billy, whether he will get into the Royal Ballet School, and how his father will deal with the changes in his life. The plot point of the last Act is, at this point, answered. Billy did continue with dance despite his father’s warnings.

Act III: Billy auditions for a spot in the Royal Ballet School. The tension in this act centers around whether or not he will get in. The rising action of the movie occurs in the third act at Billy’s audition. He gets into a fight and yet performs an incredibly electric audition that impresses the judges. The audience considers the consequences of Billy’s actions. Will his rash behavior cost him his future in dance? In the climactic scene of the movie, Billy receives his letter from the Dance academy and is accepted! Billy Elliot is a perfect example of the three-act structure being adapted easily for melodramas with happy endings. The plot point of the second acts are answered as Billy goes to The Royal Ballet Academy and his dad returns to his job after being on strike. The loose ends are tied up and the Three-Act structure is complete. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sitcoms in Society

(From "Friends")

         In my opinion, the most important function of a TV sitcom is to reflect society. One way in which TV does this is by having an episodic format and by objectifying issues from a culture. The lecture discussed the idea of TV being our modern campfire story. Campfire stories are part of an oral tradition in which the stories of a culture are told. Like campfire stories, TV is not always a perfectly realistic depiction of culture. However, it takes aspects of culture such as the role of family, the emphasis on popularity in high school, or relationship pressure, and interprets that into a recognizable format. 
(From "The Big Bang Theory")

The episodic format allows viewers to watch individual episodes without having to remember a lot of specific details from previous shows over a long period of time. It also allows a TV show to represent many different story lines and themes with the same characters without the constraints of trying to be consistent. The TV sitcom allows viewers to watch issues of society being dealt with by characters and to internalize reactions to these issues as well as be entertained at the same time. TV sitcoms would not be interesting or entertaining if the subject matter was not familiar. The reflection of society within television causes the audience to take interest in the character’s lives and causes audiences to feel more connected with society.

 From "Boy Meets World" 

A show that I think symbolizes the classic “sitcom” that was popular throughout the 90’s is “Boy Meets World”- a show about a middle class boy experiencing life as he grows up.  The show is typical of 90’s sitcoms because it reflects a national stereotype about middle class American life. It reflects society by placing the characters in various situations that any adolescent might have to go through. It examines issues of school, community, and family. Boy Meets World typifies the “three-act” structure discussed in the lecture. There is always a problem that is introduced in the first act, the character’s reactions to the issue, and then the solution in the third act. Boy Meets World began as a very episodic show, but then gradually turned serial because of its massive fan base. It ran for seven seasons from 1993 until 2000 and its characters went from the beginning of middle school to the time they are adults and are beginning married life. Many characters stay constant over time and are used for comedi relief. For instance, the character of Mr. Feeny, the high school principle and friend of the protagonist’s family is used in this capacity as well as for giving advice. His character stays the same throughout the show. Cory’s brother is portrayed as a non-serious character who is more interested in girls than work.  Boy Meets World portrayed many issues that were important to high school students in the 1990’s (many of which remain relevant today). These include early marriage, alcohol use, responsibility, and loyalty. Boy Meet World, like most sitcoms, uses pretty formulaic plotlines but I feel like it does this in a clever and innovative way that makes watching it entertaining. Boy Meets World is a great example of a sitcom because it has an episodic format, easily recognizable characters, and it reflects issues in modern society. 

Boy Meets World Clip 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Discussion of Film shots in "Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain"

Film: Amelie directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

    Amelie, a French film, uses all three shots sequentially in most scenes in the film in which new information is introduced.  The film director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet filmed Amelie in a style to emphasize human connection and understanding of the characters. The progression in most scenes is from Close up--> Medium Shot--> Long shot. Not the other way around.  This immediately establishes a close connection with the character or setting, even if we are not sure exactly who the character is yet. This ties back to one of the themes of the film which is self discovery and understanding the quirks of human nature.

1.  Close Up: One of the very first shots of the film is a hand with a face drawn on it. It is shown during the beginning credits, moving the fingers so that the hand is "talking". It immediately gives the film an undertone of playfulness. At the same time, however, the face on the hand is indisputably a bit macabre.  The eyes particularly, are rather disturbing since they lack pupils.  The hand is shown with a stark black background with a green-ish dark lighting. This Chiaroscuro type image adds to the feeling that perhaps not everything is as happy as the original shot may suggest.  This shot clearly begs the question of "who does the hand belong to?" It immediately hooks the audience, making them interested in the character before they even see her. Since this is the first shot, it can not "make sense of feelings" as normal close ups do. It instead establishes emotional content in another way- creating a mood with images that will continue throughout the length of the film.

2.  The medium shot:  The medium shot still works in a similar way to the tradition medium shot in Amelie. It gives more information and confirms information, but it gives more information about the series of close up shots. In the first medium shot, Amelie sits, petrified in an arm chair. Someone has played a practical joke on her and she is horrified by what she thinks she has done. The shot is set up so Amelie is the center of focus. Her face is brightly lit from the side, emphasizing her expression of horror. The camera is positioned at a low angle which in this instance, shows the immensity of the chair in comparison to Amelie. This functions to make to look very small and very frightened. It is now clear that it is Amelie's hand we saw in the first shots. Amelie is almost always shown alone in the opening scenes of the movie, portraying an isolated quality to her childhood. She looks directly above the camera, but straight ahead which makes her appear paralyzed by fear.

3. Long Shot: This is literally the first Long shot I could find in Amelie which is more than five minutes in. The movie is shot in a series of close ups and medium shots, emphasizing different character traits about the different people portrayed in the film. It gives a sense of familiarity to them and puts the audience essentially "in the room" with the characters. This long shot is when Amelie and her mother go to Notre Dame. It shows the church and that little Amelie is with her mother. It is only seconds before her mother dies when a tourist jumps off the top of Notre Dame, committing suicide, and landing on Amelie's mother. This is realized only by narration and not shown. The fact that the scene is shot in the elegant entryway of Notre Dame adds an absurdity to the image when the narration is added. The brightest color int he shot is Amelie's coat which is used to put particular emphasis on her character and not her mother. The mother's character is rarely shown and if she is shown, it is like this shot: a distance shot which affords no ability to see her features close up. The way this shot is set up and the absurd nature of her death allows the audience to distance themselves from her death and to move on quickly with the storyline. The camera angle is straight on which is a power neutral stance.