- Media content can create stereotypes and/or challenge stereotypes.
a) Describe representations which create and/or challenge stereotypes in media content you have studied. (6)
Game of Thrones is a TV series which focuses on a fantasy world in which there is the typical heroes and heroines. Sometimes the show choses to rely on the stereotype and other times it challenges them to create interesting storyline dynamics.
One character who is wholly stereotyped is Jon Snow. He is a hero and is portrayed as noble and honourable (1). Jon Snow will always do the right thing no matter what it costs him – even losing his life at one point. (1)
Another character who is wholly stereotyped is Ramsey Bolton. Ramsay is seen as a villain. (1) He captures a castle and tortures people. A lot of his actions verge on the psychopathic and he regularly comes out with sarcastic one-liners when threatening his enemies. (1)
A character who challenges a stereotype is Sansa Stark. Sansa is a rape victim (1). Instead of being a ‘broken woman’ who clings to her victimhood and lets it consume her, Sansa seeks justice on her rapist, Ramsay. She leads an army against him and finally executes him, by letting his own ravenous dogs eat him as payback for the torture and rape he put her through. (1)
b) Explain in detail how language features have been used to create and/or challenge stereotypes. (6)
Jon Snow was clearly cast as the hero in the Battle of the Bastards. There is a fantastic shot used to show him standing against Ramsay’s army. The shot is a medium shot showing Jon Snow from behind, raising his sword against a charging cavalry from the opposition. This shows us that Jon Snow is a hero, as even though he is the only man near enough to Ramsay’s army to start fighting, and he had a clear field to run away on, and even though he has lost his horse and is in a weakened position at this point he still stands against the oncoming army.
The language features then use a long shot, still putting Jon Snow in the centre of the image, but this time he is side on. We see that his cavalry has caught up with him and the two armies meet at the point where Jon stands. This gives the shot an epic feel as you see the two horse lines smash into each other. It also reinforces the stereotype of Jon Snow as a hero because his army will do anything for him, and rush to help defend him because they believe in him.
Something else that reinforces the stereotype of Jon Snow here was the use of parallel, non-diegetic music. The music was orchestral and used long, soaring high notes to show us that this was a big battle scene coming and to emphasise Jon Snow as the heroic leader. There was also an element of sad notes to the music which suggested that Jon Snow knew his army was smaller and would probably loose but he was determined to fight for the cause he believed in.
- Producers of media content must consider internal and external factors.
a) Describe two internal and/or external factors in media content you have studied. (2)
An internal factor that affected the filming of Game of Thrones – Battle of the Bastards was the budget and how this would be spent on things like location, actors fees, extras, stunts and camera crew departments.
An external factor which affected the filming of this episode would have been the BBFC rating. The show is given a rating of 18. This actually means they can include a lot more gore and violence that media texts aimed at lower age groups.
b) Explain in detail how internal and/or external factors have affected media content you have studied. (6)
The Battle of the Bastard had to take place outside and was supposed to look like a battle between Jon Snow’s small army and Ramsay’s much bigger one. The whole series was given a budget of roughly £80 million which averages out at £8 million per episode. However, because this episode had a sweeping battle scene to film taking up at least half the episode it is likely the budget accredited to this episode was bigger.
The location was Ireland, near the studios in Belfast. This meant that they could easily find filming space that was big enough in the country side and that didn’t have any modern technology ruining the shots.
The next thing was to work out how best to use the 500 extras and 70 horses. This meant working out clever camera shots and heavy choreography of the extras to ensure that shots showed a medieval battle. The cavalry charge was supposed to be of hundreds of horses but by using close-ups and medium shots, the production team managed to give the feeling of hundreds of knights charging rather than physically showing it.
Another way the budget was carefully spent was by using CGI later. The crew filmed the 500 extras standing in battle formation to look like an infantry in an extreme long shot. This small group was then duplicated to make it look like a much larger group of men.
They also had to use special equipment for the tracking shots of the horses running. A special 4×4 was rigged up with a suspended camera to get smooth shots of the horses running across the battle field. This was effective as it meant they could still film even though they were on rough terrain and could get the speed right.
The battle scenes used diegetic sound and were specially choreographed so they could be filmed as a single (Smooth) hand-held shot. This gave the viewer a first-person immersive experience of being in battle. The BBFC rating of 18 also meant that the fight scenes could be graphically realistic as an 18 audience (therefore adult) are able to see more accurate representations. This means there is lots of blood and diegetic battle sounds with screaming. This made the battle scene seem real and gave the viewer an experience of battle.
- Genres are used to attract audiences.
a) Describe the genre conventions of media content you have studied. (8)
Game of thrones is clearly a medieval fantasy TV series. There are many ways in which the episode Battle of the Bastards conformed to the conventions.
The main focus was the battle . Battles are stock parts of fantasy shows as they are where good versus evil and usually good wins. Here Jon Snow battled Ramsay’s army. An extra element of excitement and drama was added as Jon represented good but his army was tiny compared to Ramsay’s and so we weren’t sure if they would win thus creating an enigma code.
Another way that the show conformed to the genre was through the creation of characters. There is a clear hero in this episode – Jon Snow. He is defined as honourable and noble. Even though he is outnumbered, he is willing to fight to the death in order to do the right thing. This is shown through the camera techniques at the start of the battle. A long shot of Jon Snow is shown raising his sword against a charging enemy cavalry. The body language of Jon Snow here shows him raising his sword and making himself big and spreading his legs to take his weight. This is a typical hero pose. It shows us he is ready to take on the fight.
The fantasy element is also very strong in this episode as there is a giant used in the battle called Wun Wun. Giants are stereotypical fantasy creatures and so to include one signalled that this was a fantasy. It gave the battle a more epic feel as well as we watched Wun Wun take out infantry with spears and defend his friends.
Another element was the damsel in distress that was represented by Sansa. Sansa is a tough character with a lot of political power but because she is female and a Lady she is not allowed to fight. She must hold back and let Jon Snow fight for her.
A final thing that made this fantasy was the inclusion of White Knights. This cultural code was used to save the battle. A second army turns up just as Jon Snow’s army is being surrounded and slaughtered. They ride white horses, have super shiny armour and have happy banners to show they will save the day.
b) Explain in detail how these genre conventions would attract one or more audiences (4)
The Damsel in Distress is included to attract audiences as we want to see how her fight goes. Sansa is also important as she is seeking justice against the villain Ramsay for raping her and murdering her little brother. She is particularly appealing to female audiences who appreciate strong female characters.
The hero Jon Snow attracts audiences because he is the typical hero. We are heavily emotionally invested in Jon Snow as a character. He has been through a lot (including returning from death) and we know he is in the right and should win this battle. We watch to confirm that he wins. He appeals to everyone as he is the good guy.
The battle scene is also another big reason we watch the show, particularly male audiences. The budget and hype around this episode was huge and we knew it would be a strong episode in terms of cinematography and narrative. The White Knights at the end, and their nod to the stereotypical cultural code, adds relief and an element of humour to an otherwise serious and heavy battle sequence.
- Media content cannot be separated from its context in society.
Explain in detail how media content you have studied has been affected by the society in which it was made and/or set. (8)
Game of Thrones has been affected by the society in which it was created.
First of all, with the creation of the Sopranos in the noughties there became more demand for lengthy TV shows that spanned a number of seasons. The size and scope of the plotlines in Game of Thrones made it ideal to be turned into a TV Show rather than a film.
There has also been a rise in popularity in recent years for Fantasy. This began with films like the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. These big budget films that made huge profits at the box office showed there was a thirst from audiences to see Fantasy. It was a natural progression to start making adult Fantasy for Television and George R R Martin’s books again had the perfect inspiration to create a series from.
Society as a whole has also become more accepting of violence and sex in TV shows. Things that would not have been acceptable fifty years ago are acceptable on film now. This show is set in a mediaeval fantasy world and so there is a lot of violence. The changes in what it is acceptable to show means that we get to see a lot more gore in the battle scenes. For example, at the start of the battle we see Rickon pierced through the heart with an arrow. There is a close up of the arrow bursting out the front of Rickon’s chest to hammer home for the audience that he has been shot.
The audience of Game of Thrones is split between men and women. Because of this the plot lines realistically include females despite medieval fantasies typically being male-dominated. (I.e. the Lord of the Rings has very few female characters who don’t have huge important roles). In the episode Battle of the Bastards, Sansa is integral to her side winning as she sends a raven for help and her aid turns up at the last minute to rescue everyone. Also the characters are realistic having a balance of good and bad traits rather than being simply all good or all evil. This makes them more interesting for a modern audience who want complex interactions.
- One role of media is to meet audiences needs by providing entertainment.
Explain in detail how media content you have studied meets this need. (10)
Game of Thrones is aimed at adults who enjoy fantasy set during the medieval period. However, because the storylines involve lots of people (an ensemble cast) people who like drama might also like it and so it has to be medieval, fantastical and dramatic.
For example, in the episode Battle of the Bastards, it has been filmed to meet the audiences needs. People were wanting a super battle scene. In this episode we get that. The technical codes uses a mixture of close-ups of people getting injured and long-shots of people fighting to recreate a feel of battle. The camera was also put at eye-level and was done in a hand-held style although much smoother. This gave the audience an immersive sense of the battle. It felt like you were actually a soldier or Jon Snow and were fighting everyone.
Extreme long-shots were also used at the start of the battle scene to give a sense of drama and excitement as you could see the battle scene, and we could visibly see the two opposing armies sizing each other up. We could also see that Jon Snow’s side was visibly smaller than Ramsay’s. This gave his side an underdog element. It meant as an audience we were rooting for him. It also meant when he won, we had a greater sense of his victory. This also engaged the audience as it used an enigma code and it used Todorov’s theory throughout the episode. We knew Jon Snow would win as he was the hero, but we also knew the battle would be an exceptionally tough one and we didn’t know how many characters would be hurt or killed in the process. This fits with Todorov as there is balance and then imbalance and then balance again. The battle was the imbalance and Jon Snow winning was the balance being restored. The enigma code was answered by revealing how Jon Snow won.
Sound was also important throughout this episode to help create the mood and change it at certain points in the storyline. There was a lot of orchestral music used. As the armies were setting up, this music used more percussion, to create a sense of armies marching and to give a military impression. As Jon Snow stood against the charging cavalry alone, the music used strings and used longer, higher notes to support the idea that he was hero standing alone. When it looked like Jon Snow’s army might be defeated there was a lot of strings and the music used minor notes to sound much sadder. At some points the music cut out completely and we were left with diegetic sound – specifically the clashing swords, horse noises and screaming men – this moved us into the battle itself and helped add to the immersive visuals.
The dialogue at the start of the scene and the interplay between the opposing characters also helped create tension for the audience. There was a clear enemy character established through Ramsay. We also see that he is only supported by paid men. Jon Snow is seen as the hero, and he has an entourage including his sister Sansa, Ser Davos and Tormund. Jon Snow challenges Ramsay to one-on-one combat but Ramsay refuses. Jon Snow then says that Ramsay’s army will not fight as well because they will know Ramsay wouldn’t fight for him, but Jon Snow’s men, although smaller in number, will fight harder knowing Jon Snow offered to fight. The dialogue interplay builds up the already established image of these two characters as hero and villain.