HyperNormalisation

Adam Curtis’ ‘HyperNormalisation‘, available on the BBC iPlayer. 

“We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, random bomb attacks. And those who are supposed to be in power are paralysed – they have no idea what to do.

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This film is the epic story of how we got to this strange place. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening – but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them.

It shows that what has happened is that all of us in the West – not just the politicians and the journalists and the experts, but we ourselves – have retreated into a simplified, and often completely fake version of the world. But because it is all around us we accept it as normal.

But there is another world outside. Forces that politicians tried to forget and bury forty years ago – that then festered and mutated – but which are now turning on us with a vengeful fury. Piercing through the wall of our fake world.”


This will be a great piece of additional work for you. Not only is it a brilliantly edited documentary with a wealth of found/stock footage montage but it also presents radical ideas. Please watch and then we can all get coffee one afternoon to discuss.

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Genre Theory Applied to Coursework

Today we are going to start to look at how to apply advanced genre theory to coursework in preparation for the Theoretical Application of Coursework exam (Section A Question 1b)

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I have taken the following from the Edusites Media page, so it is really useful! We are going to go through in class and then look at wider reading to help support you. You’ll be having a timed exam question next week.

Analyse Genre in one of your Coursework Productions

“I will be analysing my thriller opening sequence which I filmed and edited as my main task which formed part of my Foundation Portfolio in Media. In class, we studied genre in existing Thrillers such as Psycho, Seven, Man with the Golden Arm, Taken 3 and to learn about genre hybridisation – Skyfall and Escape Plan. This enabled us to fully understand how genre can be applied to our own productions”.

  • Example early analysis – my opening sequence uses an emotive, dramatic range of diegetic and non-diegetic sound to build tension – shouting, helicopters sounds, explosions and a smash of glass. Think about developing Steve Neale’s theory of repetition and difference in your early statements.
  • Do you have close ups of the protagonist (which is not necessarily a convention of the Thriller) but ultimately helps to anchor any underlying dramatic tension and plants narrative enigmas – it is wholly appropriate to link narrative to an essay on genre as narrative elements can be ‘typical’ of the genre.
  • Analyse the non-diegetic soundtrack (important in thrillers) – think about how you establish mood and tone and how audiences become familiar with the mindset of the character/s and his/her/their intentions. Hitchcock’s Psycho takes a similar approach. Link this with John Hartley who suggests that genre is interpreted culturally (by the audience – so link your audience here).
  • Do you use of SFX/violence – common to the genre? If not, link this with possible hybridisation – do you evidence comedy, social realist conventions for example. Narrative action sequences are likely to mix with narrative enigma codes – thrillers often have bigger budgets to attract a wider audience (John Fiske suggests genre “is a convenience for producers and audiences”) in relation to production and distribution.
  • Genre hybridisation (or not) should be a key focus using Henry Jenkins: “Genres should not be understood as rules or restrictions” (pro hybridisation)- “my sequence is arguably a hybrid of a thriller and (for example social realism) with its gritty urban representations and a frustrated, aspirational central protagonist who is trying to escape from a downward spiral”.
  • Does your trailer have a standard, mainstream opening sequence as part of a three-act structure – setting, character and problem introduced? Again, common to the genre withProppian protagonists often introduced early on (hero, false hero, villain).
  • Is your thriller typically British or Americanised? Link this with the thrillers you have studied. Using Hartley again, British thrillers tend to have more obvious, encoded narrative themes e.g. “my film is a culturally British Thriller that would have initially independent distribution and more critical success that some more commercially successful American Thrillers like Escape Plan”.
  • David Buckingham is a useful theorist to end on: “Genre is not simply given by the culture; rather it is in a constant process of negotiation and change” (reflects changing societal norms). Discuss how your film reflects how society has changed (think about the examples your have studied) and how this would be understood by audiences within the framework of the narrative.

Remember, as with all 1b answers your 30-minute essay will need to balance close textual analysis and theory applying relevant media language.

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