Monday, 19 November 2012

Narrative/Representations in 3 slasher openings Task

This task links to one of your Evaluation questions as well as generally boosting your prospects of a good mark for the R+P (and giving you a good grounding in the genre you're working in).
A useful book, available in classroom/Lib/to buy!
The best work here will include some further reading from some of the many books purchased and in the Lib/classroom on horror, tho you should all also be using the horror blog too, and all should be referencing the concepts of final girls and scream queens, plus the male gaze theory, associated with feminist critics Carole Clover and Laura Mulvey.
Here's a couple of useful links:

These can be slashers you've previously analysed.
Aim to accurately employ useful terminology from semiotics plus editing + other media language terms.
Aim to engage with the feminist writings of Laura Mulvey and Carole Clover, and provide your own take on their arguments through your discussion of the examples you're looking at.

I highly recommend you also seek to engage with the relevant sections from the book Blood Money by Richard Nowell, which sets out a 7-part breakdown of the quintessential slasher narrative, but also shows how the sequence of this is moved around to create variety (see p.21).
You should also be drawing upon the theories of Propp (character archetypes), Todorov (narrative structure: equilibrium etc), Levi-Strauss (binary opposition) and Barthes (narrative enigma, or enigma codes), while Stuart Hall's notion of levels of reading a text is always useful. Use semiotic terms throughout.
This is useful exam practice: the 1st half of your AS Media exam tasks you with analysing the media language used in a 4-5min clip of recent (last 2 years) UK TV drama. As well as analysing cinematography (camera shots, movement, framing), mise-en-scene (locations, props + verisimilitude, costume etc), sound and editing you'll be given ONE of the following areas of representation to consider: AGE, GENDER, SEXUALITY, REGIONAL IDENTITY, PHYSICAL (DIS)ABILITY, ETHNICITY, CLASS + STATUS. You're looking for stereotypes, countertypes and archetypes, and always considering who is framed as the other, different from the 'normal' folk in some way and not someone we empathise with as an audience.

Present as a vodcast, Ppt or Prezi. Whichever you choose, make sure your films are clearly referenced with all the usual key contextual info, and that your points are thoroughly illustrated with clips/screenshots.

You should be engaging with a number of theorists here, as indicated above: Propp, Todorov, Levi-Strauss, Barthes, Hall, Clover, Mulvey and Nowell being prominent amongst these: the best way to understand and thus truly learn any theory is to apply it. You've been given a photocopy of a few pages from Nowell which are packed with useful references to other theorists and ideas they've put forward about genre and narrative.
On pp. 18-20 he shows how the slasher movie came to be recognised as a distinct sub-genre with narrative conventions recognised by audiences, producers and distributors alike. On pp.20-21 he outlines what he sees as the 7 key components of a slasher, also framed within the situation - conflict - resolution (or equilibrium, dis-equilibrium - new equilibrium) model that Todorov argued is present in all narratives. In SETUP we have (1) Trigger and (2) Threat; in DISRUPTION we have (3) Leisure, (4) Stalking and (5) Murders; in RESOLUTION we have (6) Confrontation and (7) Neutralization. He also argues that filmmakers create some variety by changing the order of these components.
On p.22 he explores Rubin's concept (and how these link to Bordwell's model) of 'the whodunit format' and the 'cipher format'; with the whodunit vital info on step 1 (trigger) is withheld, while with the cipher story-point 7 seems impossible. He discusses Carroll's notion that story-points 4 (Stalking) and 6 (confrontation) are used to create thrills ): 'thrills are generated when viewers are presented a situation with two outcomes'. On p.23 he looks at Lewis' argument that story-point 3 (leisure) functions to aid the creation of comic relief. On pp.24-25 Nowell turns to Neale, a writer widely referenced when academics (that'd be you!) are discussing genre:
As Neale has shown, the production of films to a type is is characterized as much by difference between the films as their similarities, and teen slashers were no different, a notion flaunted in the tagline that promoted My Bloody Valentine (1981): 'There's more than one way to lose your heart'. (Nowell, 2011, p.24)

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