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Postmodernism. A Level Media Studies. A definition…. Problematic The social, political and cultural values that were prevalent at the end of the 20 th and early 21 st centuries.

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A Level Media Studies

a definition
A definition…
  • Problematic
  • The social, political and cultural values that were prevalent at the end of the 20th and early 21st centuries.
  • In a postmodern culture there is a greater sense of ‘anything goes’ with audiences constructing their own meanings from a range of cultural and media artefacts.
  • Ideas, styles and icons are taken from another medium and reworked into a new text.

The context in which contemporary media texts are produced

Increasing emphasis

on the importance

of style and the visual

The decline of

party politics

and trade


An emphasis on

difference rather

than uniformity

Identifiable elements of

a postmodern context


society with



Collapse of communism

and belief in the

ability of

governments to

centrally plan societies

Insecurity and


lyotard 1984
Lyotard (1984)
  • Suggests that in a postmodern period, explanations/theories of the world (metanarratives) such as Marxism, capitalism, religion and science have been debunked, leading to greater instability within society.
  • There are now a greater range of religions and interpretations of previously established religions…
  • Individuals can take a pick and mix approach to find a religion that suits them.
identifiable characteristics of post modern media texts
Identifiable characteristics of post-modern media texts


**the way in which texts refer to other media texts that producers assume audiences will recognise**

  • Audiences enjoy recognising and understanding intertextuality.
  • DANCE – Justin Timberlake borrows dance moves from Michael Jackson.
  • MUSIC – DJs remixes of popular songs...or the mash-ups in Glee.
  • FILM – Scary Movie borrows clips from other horror films to create comedy.
  • FASHION – Lady Gaga influenced by Madonna.

Is not always obvious...

References can only be recognised if you know what they are referring to.

Cultural, social and linguistic limitations.

People bring their own experiences to the text.

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

Family Guy

PG Tips


Edvard Munch – The Scream

Homer Simpson – The Scream

shrek and popular culture
Shrek and popular culture

Watch the clip and note any intertextual references

Numerous references to American brands.

Burger Prince (Burger King)

Olde Knavery (Old Navy)

Far Far Away sign (Hollywood sign)

Saxon Fifth Avenue (Saks Fifth Avenue)

Versarchery (Versace)

Gap Queen (Gap kids)

Farbucks Coffee Starbucks)

shrek and fairy tales
Shrek and fairy tales

“Once upon a time”

“Happily ever after”

Good v bad


Hansel and Gretel

Red Riding Hood

Peter Pan


Beauty and the Beast

identifiable characteristics of post modern media texts1
Identifiable characteristics of post-modern media texts


  • **the process of creating a media text out of a series of artefacts, styles and signs from other media texts or cultural artefacts**
  • "to make creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are at hand (regardless of their original purpose)".

Billboard top 25 Mash-up

identifiable characteristics of post modern media texts2
Identifiable characteristics of post-modern media texts

3) Merging of genres, styles and media

Films based on video games rather than ‘real life’ (Pokemon 1997 and Lara Croft 2001)

4) An emphasis on image and style rather than narrative and meaning

5) Elements that draw attention to the construction of the media text.

DVD box sets which include DVDs on the making of films along with the actual film, drawing attention to how the film was constructed.

6) Playful and ironic elements.

The Sopranos
  • Incorporated numerous intertextual references to previous gangster movies
  • Mixed the generic elements of gangster movies and soap operas
  • Incorporated a number of film-like dream sequences giving it a fragmented feel.
2007 – Hilary Clinton’s presidential election advert made numerous intertextual references to The Sopranos.
  • It featured many of the actors from the series.
  • They appeared alongside the Clintons in a scene that replicated the final scene of the series.
  • This playful mixing of genres of political broadcast and popular TV is also popular on Youtube.
7) A mixing of elements of ‘high’ culture within popular culture.

Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet – mixes narratives from ‘high’ culture (Shakespeare play) with a pop video playful and fragmented visual style.

8) Fragmentation

9) Diversity of representations and viewpoints.

identifiable characteristics of post modern media texts3
Identifiable characteristics of post-modern media texts


  • **a creation of a media text out of elements of, or with reference to, other media texts in a mocking or caricatured way**
  • Parody – aims to mock an original in a critical way .
  • Can only be effective through our knowledge of the text or genre that is being parodied.
  • Cheryl Cole – comedy fight for this love clip
  • Watch the following trailer for ‘Scary Movie’ – what generic codes and conventions are being parodied?
baudrillard 1983
Baudrillard (1983)
  • Argues that we live in an era of HYPER-REALITY –
  • Whereby the daily world and the world of media are merging and texts seem more real than the reality they seek to convey.
  • In this world, media merely represents other media – it is a SIMULACRUM.
  • **a media text that makes no attempt to represent reality and merely represents other representations**
cyberspace and virtual reality
Cyberspace and virtual reality
  • One element of post-modern media-saturated culture is cyberspace.
  • Sending an email, purchasing goods online etc takes place in a cyber culture.
  • The Matrix films took this to another level, representing an entire cyber world.
  • Cyberspace has opened up scope for audiences to interact much more actively within virtual reality.
  • Eg Activeworlds website – participants can build worlds, visit shops and interact with shopkeepers, meet new friends and construct new identities.
  • Dystopian view – virtual reality destroys our sense of reality and stifles the development of relationships.
  • Utopian view – the ability to construct identities unrestrained by the restrictions of our physical bodies is the most liberating aspect of cyberspace.