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Fiona Wong

POSTMODERNISM
WHAT IS POSTMODERNISM?
CONVENTIONS OF POSTMODERNISM
POSTMODERN THEORISTS
CASE STUDIES (MUSIC VIDEO, FILM & TV)

Fiona Wong

What is postmodernism?
A style and concept in the arts
characterised by distrust of theories
and ideologies and by the drawing
of attention to conventions.

Postmodern media rejects the idea


that any media product or text is of
any greater value than another. All
judgements are merely taste.

Postmodernism says there is no real truth.


Knowledge is always made or invented and not discovered -it is made by people so ideas and facts are believed rather than known.
It says that one should not try to make another believe what they believe as it
means nothing to say that one belief is right and the other is wrong.
Postmodernism argues that since peoples opinions change and since one persons opinion cannot be more right than another, it means nothing to say that
one work of art is better than another.

Generally a world view/theory.


Postmodernism is the reaction against modernism in all disciplines art, philosophy, film, literature, history etc.
Modernist and postmodernist texts have shared conceptions. They challenge
typical conventional structures.
Modernist critical, deconstructs, makes fun of
Postmodernist take things from the past, turn things around, nostalgic
It is self-contradictory (contradicts with itself) and ironic (it knows that it contradicts itself).
Postmodernity is suspicious of meta-narratives (e.g. Capitalism, Marxism,
Feminism, God etc.) it is self-contradictory because they say that there cant
be theories for everything when it is a theory itself. It offers a meta-narrative
that there are no meta-narratives.

Pessimistic postmodernism think that everything is already done


Optimistic postmodernism think that there could be something new done
by combining things together

Fiona Wong

Conventions of postmodernism





Rejects the totalising of theories


Subjective
Believes there is no universal truth
Attempts to remove the difference between high and low
Playfulness, irony, parody
Attention on superficial appearances, playing on the surfaces and show no
concern into depth of subjects
Ignores any text narrating the past and believes it is useless in the present
time

Hyperreality - Where a person loses


their ability to distinguish reality from
fantasy. The hyperreal world is often
thought of as an idealized enhancement of reality, much preferable to the
real life equivalent.

Simulacra - a copy of a copy, so far


removed from its original, that it can
stand on its own and even replace the
original.

Nostlagia - a sentimental longing or


wistful affection for a period in the
past.

Fragmentation - postmodern media


typically are fragmented and consists
of many small narratives

Bricolage - A mashup or creation


from a diverse range of existing items
or ideas

Parody - It is an imitative work created to mimic, make fun of, or comment on an original work
Pastiche Paste together/comment
(from past). It is a tongue-in-cheek
imitation or tribute.
Pastiche is performed with respect to,
or in homage to, other works compared to parody which is done in
ridicule or sarcasm.

Irony - the expression of ones meaning by using language that normally


signifies the opposite, typically for
humorous or emphatic effect.

Fiona Wong

Postmodern theorists
BAUDRILLARD

His main theory is about simulacra and simulation. Simulacra


is how society simulates the real.
He argues that today there is no
such thing as reality and we are no
longer sure what is real and what
is not real because theres an instability of meaning
due to the signs given by the mass media. We experience everything through the media so we accept
things as being real which in fact may not be real
but we perceive it as being real because it has been
presented to us as being the reality. Simulation is
the active process of replacement of the real.
He uses these to explain that we all live in something known as a hyperreality. This is the idea
that we are now detaching ourselves from reality
and choosing things which make ourselves happy.
Therefore, he is suggesting that we are now losing
the ability to make sense of the distinction between
the real and the fictional. This however has been
criticised as jokes for example only work when people can distinguish between what is real and what is
not real.

LYOTARD
Simplifying to the extreme he defines
postmodernism as an incredulity
towards metanarratives which
means that totalising stories are losing
importance. He rejects metanarratives, for example he opposes the idea
that everything is knowable by science
and that science possesses a higher kind of knowledge. He argues that theory is never neutral and so
scientists have no more direct access to the truth
than philosophers and historians. The narratives
produced by scientists such as research papers and
hypotheses are governed by protocols of the field in
which they work in. They are therefore only exploring within the limits of the system.
He notes that there is no one set of rules, story or
condition which can accurately explain knowledge.
He believes that everyone has their own perspective
so metanarratives should give way to more localised narratives which would address specific events
and the diversity of human experience.

JAMESON
He argues that postmodernism is a culture of
pastiche and that stylistic innovation is
no longer possible and all is left is to
imitate dead styles. This is arguing that
rather than a culture of creativity, postmodern culture is a culture of quotations of the past and is the
imitation of styles without creating new meanings.
He refers to pastiche as being a blank parody
without any deep or hidden meanings and says that
parody was replaced by pastiche in the postmodern
culture.
He considers totality to still be a valuable idea. He
notes that we should try to understand how all the pieces of our
world and our experience fit together. This is because knowledge gives
us power so the more we understand about our world, the better
the choices we make and act upon
them to improve our world.

It is safest to grasp the concept of the postmodern as an attempt to think the present
historically in an age that has forgotten how
to think historically in the first place.
-Fredric Jameson

Postmodernity is said to be a culture of frag-

mentary sensations, eclectic nostalgia, disposable simulacra, and promiscuous superficiality,


in which the traditionally valued qualities of
depth, coherence, meaning, originality, and
authenticity are evacuated or dissolved amid the
random swirl of empty signals.
-Jean Baudrillard

In contemporary society and culture postin-

dustrial society, postmodern culture the


grand narrative has lost its credibility, regardless
of what mode of unification it uses, regardless of
whether it is a speculative narrative or a narrative of
emancipation.
-Jean-Franois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge

Fiona Wong

Music video
ORANGE CARAMEL - MY COPYCAT
Intertextual reference
It references the famous childrens book Wheres
Wally?. From the very beginning of the video, the
design of the introduction with the screen set out
with similar colours is known to be related to the
character Wally red and white. Throughout the
video, the concept is maintained with the costumes
of the artist and the settings used.
Fragmentation
There is a constant change between scenes. There is
no narrative to the music video and it doesnt follow a particular pattern. This could be considered
postmodern as Lyotard notes about the postmodern world no longer being based on one meta-narrative but several small narratives.
Playfulness
Bricolage
This is shown on the dress of the girls where many
well-known logos are placed onto the one dress.
For example, logos shown included Mickey Mouse,
Apple and Starbucks. This can be linked to consumerism which argues that in the postmodern
world we are now living in a consumer society
where we lose our self-identity due to the increasing desire in obtaining certain things because of advertisements. As a result we are defining ourselves
with the material possessions we have rather than
by character or work.

It is based on Wheres Wally? and so it encourages the audience to interact with the music video
by spotting the three girls among many others who
are dressed similarly in a crowd of people doing
different things. In addition, a game of spot the
difference is also incorporated into the music
video. The audience are encouraged to find the
differences between the two images shown. As
the video progresses, the game gets harder as the
differences are more difficult to spot. This encourages the audience to pay attention to the video and
perhaps even watch it a couple of times. The style of
the music video is very different from conventional
music videos because it creates a connection with
the audience as they can be involved more in the
music video by playing the games rather than just
watching and listening to the music.

Fiona Wong

Film
MALEFICENT
Directed by Robert Stromberg
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release date: 28th May 2013 (UK)
Budget: $180 million
Box Office: $757.4 million
Challenges conventions of fairy tales
1. The protagonist of the film -Maleficent- could be
considered the villain as well as the hero. Maleficent
may be considered evil in the rise of the plot where
she places a curse on the princess Aurora. However,
for the majority of the film Maleficent is not as evil
as she is thought to be as she develops her kindness
again when she realises how Aurora treats her as
her fairy godmother. She is also portrayed to be
innocent and kind in the beginning as well as the
ending. It is therefore unclear what dominant role
Maleficent plays as she changes through the course
of the film. The instable character of Maleficent
contrasts with the conventional protagonist as they
usually maintain their role throughout the film.

2. The narrative is different to the original tale with


some key features being altered. For example, the
character who wakes Aurora from her death-like
sleep is Maleficent rather than the prince. This aspect of the plot may be considered as ironic as Maleficent was the one who placed the curse yet she
is the one that breaks it. Furthermore, in the end
the king is the one who dies rather than Maleficent
which could also be classed as irony as throughout
the film the king repeatedly tried to kill Maleficent
but ultimately he is the one who dies.

Intertextual reference and nostalgia


Maleficent is based on the well-known Sleeping
Beauty. It incorporates the main points of the plot
to make it relatively similar to the original story
tale. This makes Maleficent quite nostalgic as
most of the story reminds the audience of Sleeping
Beauty. This creates a sense of familiarity to the
audience and could cause them
to pay attention to the details of
the film that is different from the
original tale. This could also draw
peoples attention to the film as
the success of Sleeping Beauty
could gain a guaranteed audience
for the film.
Representation
The make-up of the protagonist is simple yet bold
as it highlights the features as being quite sharp
and perhaps less friendly-looking which we would
expect from the main character.
However, the younger version of Maleficent was
shown to be very innocent and youthful like the
typical main character. The contrast between the
two ways in which the protagonist was represented
shows the progression of the character from being
innocent to evil. This could also perhaps suggest
that she is not evil at heart. This is indicated at the
end where her costume and make-up makes her
overall appearance less dark as it is similar to how
she looked when she was younger. This could
suggest that she has returned to the state she was
originally kind, typical protagonist.

Fiona Wong

TV
THE BIG BANG THEORY
Genre: Sitcom
First episode date: September 24, 2007
Director: Mark Cendrowski
No. of seasons: 8
No. of episodes: 174
Broadcast channel: CBS
Distributor: Warner Bros. Television
Highest viewership: 20.44 million (Season 7, Episode 2)
Awards: Peoples Choice Awardfor Favorite Comedy(2010 & 2013)
What makes it postmodern?

Intertextual references

Audience laughter in the background breaks


the sense of reality and it is heard throughout
the show to constantly remind the audience
that what they are watching is not real.
Meta-narratives as Lyotard notes theres an
incredulity towards metanarratives and this is
displayed in the show with each episode having
its own story and the whole sitcom containing
many small narratives.
Playfulness the whole sitcom is humorous
and the characters frequently dress up
Goes against typical TV programmes

Star Trek is frequently referenced in one episode, the cast are dressed up in Star Trek characters for a photoshoot. Sheldon identifies strongly
with the character ofSpock -in one occasion he is
given a used napkin signed byLeonard Nimoyas
a Christmas gift from Penny which made him
overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude.
There have been a few cameo appearances made
by the cast of Star Trek.
Doctor Who
theres a scene
where the characters are watching
Doctor Who on
TV. A dalek has
also been spotted in one of the
scenes of the show. Some characters has also
dressed up as the characters in Doctor Who, even
including the tardis in the set.

Another way in which the show goes against the


typical TV programme is that it is entertaining for
the audience yet it can be educational in a way as
there are many scientific references made by the
characters. Although this is often used in way to
make the show humorous but the audience are likely to pick up on it as it teaches them in a funny and
interesting way. Compared to the typical narrative
based TV programmes which aim to just entertain,
The Big Bang Theory may function to entertain as
well as educate.

Lyotard
Another link that this show can be made to Lyotard is that it is primarily based on science and perhaps conflicts with the Lyotard idea
which opposes that everything is knowable by science. The character
Sheldon in particular is constantly reinforcing the idea of how science
is a higher form of knowledge with the scientific terms and theories
that Sheldon mention to prove his point. The fact that most of the time
he seems to argue with a scientific point suggest how science is seen as
being the superior form of knowledge which Lyotard strongly rejects.

Gender representation
There is a constant representation
of intelligence in both the men
and women which contrasts with
the gender stereotype of men
being smarter than women. This
is displayed in a scientific aspect
with the main characters being
scientists. The scientific terms they
frequently use in their dialogue
reflects their intellectual side.

Fiona Wong

Post-postmodernism
What happens after postmodernism?

The post-postmodern viewpoint seems to be taking the postmodern condition (postmodernity) as

a given and creating new remixed works disassociated from the modern-postmodern arguments and
oppositions. The post-postmodern takes the always already mixed condition of sources, identities,
and new works as a given, not a question or problem. The metaphors of network and convergence
in creative subcultures (e.g., musicians, artists, designers, writers) are seen to be live operations or conditions received and re-performed, not just abstractions. From this more recent perspective, living in
remixed hybridity is thus obligatory, not a choice, since it is the foundation for participating in a living,
networked, globally connected culture.