Does the narrative always tell the story?

Last week we looked at the penultimate ‘key concept’: Narrative. Narrative is said to link random sequence of events though time and space and when we apply this thought  to basic media texts the application is there. What is the key point here is how these sequence of events are placed together which has differed more and more.  When the idea of narrative structure was composed the forms of media were alot less complex than they are today and TV shows, films alike were all in the early stages, thus giving theorists less ideas to analyse.

Narrative ideas such as Toderov’s equilibrium-diseqilibrium theory works well with mainstream media texts which still follow the simple structure of shifting balances, the same goes with Propp’s theory of character functions, the ideas only really work with mainstream media such as Hollywood blockbusters and thus analysing a wider span of text becomes abit of an issue when applying media theory.

Take this music video for example, Muse’s ‘Supermassive Black hole’, this piece cannot be analysed in terms of Toderov and Propp’s theory, the reason because of this may lie down to its context. The music video nowadays is one of popular culture at it’s simplest, its a modern text which compliments a song by an artist. In the video we can identify characters (possibly the band) and try to fit them into character functions. This however is quite difficult to do because none of them fit or portray to fit any of the roles. For the audience this is a dilemma because it leaves the audience without an understanding, which, can be problematic and ultimately and quite vulnerably leave the audience completely baffled by the text. There is however a catch with this because this is a music video, it has a free pass for the audience to ultimately except what is going on in the text regardless of it making sense, this I believe is because of  the music being played in the background. The music in music videos are the narrative and this helps the audience understand the random sequence of events put before them.

What the point here then is that music videos are just one of the texts, more modern texts I would add, sometimes don’t always fit the more dated approach to analysing media texts. Perhaps this is because newer texts try different approaches narrative structure. Of course this statement is not nailed on for all music videos and all new media texts but for examples like this its always worth questioning the theory.

24 however is a little more easier to apply narrative to, in this trailer both the diagetic and non-diagetic audio does the leg work for you. The audio clearly defines with deepening progression what the audience is supposed to hear and what to leave out. We are introduced the the plot and some of the characters involved, again in stages, with ideas of prediction and expectation make understanding the characters easier to do for its audience. Different shots also display who we are supposed to be following and who we are not. As a trailer the selection of material is designed to fit what the trailer is supposed to do, to give away key info on the series but no the whole plot.

The next text I chose to look at was a factual doccumentry programme, found on the internet. The show’s topic was obese individuals and their eating habits with a voice over ‘interviewing’ the ‘talent’. The understanding comes from the style of  programme and the genre which the audience is usually quite familiar with the layout.  This familiarity however does not include character functions in this case of the programming does not require it. The TV show does however establish the voices or characters and this determines the progression by placing the clips in an understandable order. We do however see some kind of equilibrium as we are introduced the the fat people, disequilibrium as we see their lives and lastly we see the change in their lifestyle, back to equilibrium.

The last text I looked at was print media based, an advert for the milk campaign ‘got milk?’ The text automatically signify’s that Ms Panattiere is the main hero (excuse the pun) in the text because she is the main focus and the sole individual on the ad. There is also a narrative understanding that she has smashed the glass and that she has drank the milk. The over all text makes audiences make assumptions on what is going on in the text, especially when it comes to print media but the text at the bottom also instigates what is going on in the picture to support what is trying to be said. Like music videos mentioned above it is sometimes difficult to apply some of the narrative theories to them simply because they rely on audiences to make assumptions on their own about texts. These texts are not however always new, print media for example has been around for a while and like this example, requires intellectual understanding to understand the text and its intended meaning. The media theories then can be applied to select media texts however there are definite examples I find, not quite fitting to the rules.

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