Thursday, 21 April 2016

Agents of SHIELD clip

From S02 E18

Here's a starter to get you going with analysis; you can use the additional screenshots (or your own) to continue analysing the use of media language (how meaning has been created) in this scene, referencing sound, editing, camera, miss-en-scene...


There are mixed messages from the framing and mise-en-scene here. The framing carries connotations of a peephole, a classic horror or voyeurism signifier (seen in Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho for example). The two shot might connote a bond, perhaps romantic, between the two seated, and the wood cabin could be 'read' (using Stuart Hall's term) as relaxed and romantic. The voyeuristic framing and shadow suggest otherwise though, and, despite the relaxing diegetic ambient sound of birds cheeping, the large room and high windows could be read as ominous, making the characters vulnerable.

Rather than cut from the opening long two shot to a tighter two shot to reinforce any sense of a bond between the two we get a panning shot instead, which seems to signify the distance or difference between the two rather than closeness of similarity, although the dialogue through most of this scene presents a very different reading. It is notable that we do not see the man in this pan, just his arm as he plays a move, but we do get a medium shot of the young woman, suggesting that she is a more important character or protagonist than him.

The backgammon set is a clever device to connote the competition or even battle between these two; despite the appearance of bonding and dialogue to support this, the editing and framing throughout this scene, which mostly relies on shot reverse shot with medium shots or medium close-ups (avoiding two shots) connotes a sophisticated battle between the two. A Ludo set or some other more childish game would not have carried such connotations, but backgammon is a sophisticated game more likely to be played by intelligent adults.

So...take up the analysis from here. I have provided screenshots in narrative order below, but that does not mean you have to analyse these in narrative order - you may wish to consider editing across several scenes, then sound (etc) for example.

Several more shot reverse shot, then, with the male saying "you're about a million miles away" we get a two shot:

Representation: mix of normative and counter typical elements for woman? Conventional male - designer stubble significant? Jumper? Short hair? Tight MCU when he says "dinner with my parents can stress me out too", denoting young starting point of target audience? [uses and gratifications: identify with, aspirational]

Two shot returns with "I'm sure he was going to have some twisted surprise" (dialogue suggesting a foreshadowing? setting up narrative enigma if we think so)

Sad music flares up: "he doesn't exactly belong here" says man ... but emotion is not his... Consider his framing and compare with woman's: light v dark?
Unbuttoned top...

Woman: "its nice having someone normal to talk to"; man laughs; then this:
Visual pun: "you hit me!" then cut to boxing - consider framing of blond woman...

Several tightly framed shots then...
Intriguing representation issues - do compare their outfits for one ...

Verisimilitude? Clearer costume shot. Uses and gratifications in less muscular woman winning? "Its not like I can benchpress a small hatchback" ... stereotyping...?

Costume design + representation issues clearer now?

There's quite a lot going on here...
Wow, makeup perfect...

Music building tension...
Dialogue and music designed to work with cut to new scene. Consider verisimilitude (genre signifiers?) and miss-en-scene generally; a binary pair (e.g. look carefully at hair - small details...)? Is there a masculine role here?


Friday, 8 April 2016

Semiotics of the mini skirt over history

NB: the article contains some moderate strong language and is an opinion piece, provocatively written.
In 2015, a city in Alabama proposed that the miniskirt be banned. Council members argued that it was really all about respect. They argued that God just wouldn't be a fan. "I prayed about this," one of them said.
Just months later, a Kansas state senator told his female staff that miniskirts were simply not up to code in the office. He said that they were inappropriate, he'd seen women dressed provocatively in this manner before and he considered it all very distracting.
Clearly, the miniskirt and the women who still boldly wear them are powerful. And as it turns out, when you look back in history, they really always have been powerful — and a symbol of how much of it women have.