Sunday, 16 March 2008

Media Essay

How does a comparison of these two 'slasher' texts demonstrate how genre changes over time? Why is this so and what other media issues and debates do they raise?

Both Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Dir: Tobe Hopper, 1974, USA) and Psycho ( Dir: Alfred Hitchcock, 1960, USA) are Slasher films, which aim to entertain, create fear and shock their target audiences according to the time period they were created in. Through a comparison of both Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Psycho there is a clear generic development portrayed, within Horror, moreover Slasher films.

Within Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock makes use of a Black and White film, as opposed to colour, despite having the option to do so. A clear reason for this is to create greater authenticity and originality, however to tone down on the scenes of violence and gore within the film.. However within Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the violence is made much more explicit and less toned down, particularly made obvious through various close ups of violent scenes, such as the cutting of the chainsaw on the psychotic killers leg, and an extreme close up was used in this instance to further shock and create fear amongst the targeted audience. However despite generic conventions and developments occurring from between 1960 and 1974, both Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre still clearly enforce a patriarchal ideology. Women within both texts have to adhere to this idea of Male dominance, and appease the male gaze as theorised by Laura Mulvey. However Texas Chainsaw shows greater development to that of Psycho. Both texts show women in an inferior position to men, and include female victims. However within Psycho the female victim does not escape her death and hence does not adhere to the typical “ Final girl” Slasher convention. This is of key relevance, as this is representative of the zeitgeist within society in the 1970’s. This reflects how due to many key uprisings such as the feminists movement, women were able to adopt a somewhat more dominant role within Horror/Slasher films, despite patriarchy still clearly being existent. Further there is social reflection made clear as this gives the impression that woman began to become a lot more independent within society in the 1970’s as oppose to the 1960’s, and were out seeking greater employment and indicates society was witnessing a developing equal rights ideology. Due to this uprising equal rights ideology within the 1970’s, it is made clear through Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that women began to adopt some forms of dominance within Slasher films as the Final Girl does not die as within psycho, and escapes the brutality suffered at the hands of the male killers within the film.

Moreover despite both texts making use of a typical generic convention, phallic weapons as theorised by Siegmund Freud, there is a much greater broader use of these within Texas Chainsaw Massacre as oppose to psycho. This is of key relevance as this is representative of how in the 1960’s, Slasher films were not required to be so terrifying or gory as they were within the 1970’s, reflecting how due to social development as time progressed, the target audiences for Slasher Films wished to see more explicit forms of Violence. There is clear generic change for Slasher films particularly emphasised through this greater use of weapons, emphasising as technology advanced, the audience was being much more exposed to all forms of violence, which they were unable to witness within the 1960’s, when psycho was produced. The target audience for Slasher films is likely to be of a much more mature age for Psycho as opposed to Texas Chainsaw massacre, as despite being much less violence and goriness Alfred Hitchcock films were often directed at a much more mature audience, whereas Texas Chainsaw Massacre would also be found appealing to a more teenage audience, as during the 1970’s, there was much greater media exposure to violence and goriness, to all ages, particularly attracting attention from young people, who were shocked to witness such things for the very first time. This further pays reflection to the zeitgeist, as within the 1970’s, the Vietnam War was occurring, and the news often portrayed actual horrific scenes of brutality, death and violence to an audience through the news. Despite people in Vietnam actually killing to stay alive, rather then out of a psychotic fantasy as within Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this created greater fear and shock to the audience, as opposed to psycho, as the target audience were being exposed to such forms of violence, making them believe that such forms of explicit violence were occurring within actuality. Further there is also social and generic change reflected from the 60’s to the 70’s as Texas Chainsaw Massacre is based upon a true story, further shocking the audience and creating much greater fear then psycho could have.

Furthermore the use of masks and disguise is a typical generic convention used in Slasher films over the years. However it is much more clear that the disguise of the old “granny” within psycho in the 60’s, is of a much less terrifying nature, then that of the mask of the psychotic chainsaw killer in Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the 70’s. This reflects yet again that as time has progressed, almost all forms of Slasher Generic conventions have become increasingly more explicit as the audience is being exposed to much greater forms of violence and goriness, hence it takes “more” to an extent to shock and create fear. Both Texas chainsaw Massacre and Psycho make use of typical generic conventions within their narratives, for example Binary oppositions Evil Man VS the Victim Girl, as theorised by Levi Strauss. The narratives within both texts are throughout Linear, however there is a clear greater use of enigma and suspense created within Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as opposed to Psycho, reflecting how there is again a lot more explicitness required within generic conventions, to shock the audiences as time progresses. This is made evident as within the final scene, the audience is very eager to discover and is unsure, if the victim will survive or not, as she is at various points very close to being recaptured and killed, but then escapes and this repetitive pattern is followed within the final clip.

Therefore in conclusion it is evident by comparing both Psycho (1960) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) that as time progresses there is a greater need for generic conventions to be made more explicit in order to keep the targeted audience enticed. Reason being as time progresses the audience will be exposed to greater forms of violence and gore requiring more and more to be exposed to them in order to shock and create fear.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Form- Extract of film psycho

Function- To create suspense and make the audience go out and watch the whole film

Media Language- Set in the 1960's. Point of view shots, to placed the audience at in the shoes of the victim.Low angled shot looking down on victim when she gets stabbed, High angled shot looking down on victim to emphasis on authority and power of the killer at that time. Fast editing between shots to emphasis on the murder occuring at a rapid pace. Mask on killer typical generic convention of slasher films. Purposely chose black and white despite having the option to make the film colour in order to create a sense of mystery, and add a more sinister and dark atmosphere.However another reason for the film possibly being in black and white may be to tone down on the violence and the scenes of goriness. Further the use of long and sharp weapons is a typical generic convention of slasher films(Phallic Objects).

- Patriarchal ideology reinforced, woman placed in a inferior position(final girl). Further a capitalist ideology is being reinforced as the protaganist steals money and is on the run.

Genre- Horror- Slasher

Representation- Women represented as victims and in an inferior manner to men. Made subjective to the male gaze as the woman is inferior to the man and is further good looking and shown dressed in a revealing manner in certain clips.

Audience- Being a Hitchcock film the audience is likely appeal to a male audience, as women are often portrayed as inferiors, and Hitchcock constructs the film in a manner where the audiences is expected to be male. Adult Males, probably around 25+ are likely to watch Psycho ,however young males over 15 also may be attracted to the film primarily due to the violenc.

- Paramount

- Linear narrative used.

Other Related Texts- Texas Chainsaw Massacre

WC(SHEP)- Relevant to the zeitgeist, as it reflects the current social and political development, i.e. the feminists and women now in employment, and no longer only housewives. Socially there is reflection of a capitalist society, where getting money is of the highest importance. Economically the fact that the woman steals the money reflects that not all people are able to do so in the 1960's hence some may resort to crime in order to get hold of money.

Relevant Theories- Laura Mulvey and the Male gaze, Freud- Phallic weapons, Levi Strauss- Binary oppositions.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Form- Ending Clip of Texas Chainsaw massacre dir: Tod Hopper 1974, U.S.A.

Function- To shock the audience, curious to the build up at the end, makes them wonder if the victim will escape or not

Media Language- Low angled shot, looking up at murderer with the chainsaw at various bits in the clip whilst he is attacking the truck e.t.c. However a High angled shot looking down at him when he is attacked and drops the chainsaw on his leg. Point of view shots to place audience in the position of the victim e.g. whilst the car is driving away looking at the killer from a great distance. Close ups on the victim, to emphasis on the goriness e.g. blood covered body and face and various wounds. Mask on killer typical generic convention of Slasher films. Use of Phallic weapons- Chainsaws, Knives e.t.c.

Institution- Vortex
-Consolidated Film Industries (CFI) Screen Time Images Todd-AO Studios. Low budget Film.

Genre- Horror- Slasher

Representation- MenDominant, female the victim throughout the film, at the worst end of everything despite escaping.

Audience- Likely to attract teenagers and an adult audiences, as the protaganists within the film are teenagers. The high amount of gore within the film would appeal to many adults. However Males are more likely to view the film as opposed to females due to the very explicit violence.

Patriarchy, men dominant throughout the film. Arguably to an extent an equal rights ideology- as the woman escapes.

Narrative- Use of Enigma in the narrative, the audience predicts what will occur if the victim will escape or not as the killer at various points in the ending clip, comes extremely close to killing her and capturing her once she escapes. Linear Narrative as there is no disruptions in what occurs, everything is shown as it happens.

Issues and Debates- May not be so patriarchal and dominated as the woman escapes well of and in a position of dominance, as it appears she is laughing at the deranged killer whilst she drives off.

Wider Context
- Relates to the zeitgeist as during the 1970's, there was a shortage in oil in the U.S.A. made relevant as the whole reason why they are stuck in that area, is due to their hunt for finding petrol. Also the developments of the feminists. Women taking on more of a protaganists role and becoming increasingly dominant within film. Further there is technological development reflected in society in the 70's as the killers used to work in a slaughter house and have their desires of killing and torturing conducted whilst they worked. However due to technological development machinery was made available during the 70's no longer requiring the killers to work, hence making them conduct their neccesities of torture upon humans.


Both texts make use of suspense e.t.c., in order to keep the audience attracted and engaged

Both have a shocking disruption to the narrative, e.g. the initial murder scenes, shock the audiences

Both set in the present day according to when they were made typical generic conventions

Both make use of typical generic conventions such as Phallic Weapons

However Psycho does not have a final girl who escapes

Texas Chainsaw Massacre has social reflection of an audience that is developing and enjoying being exposed to greater violence and scenes of goriness in the 70's, as oppose to psycho in the 60's

Texas Chainsaw Massacre makes use of greater generic conventions of a Slasher film then Psycho does, e.g. the Final Girl that escapes, a group of teenagers on a road trip victimised

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Subcontinental Drift- Nitin Sawhney The observer

Asian music is developing and becoming increasingly mainstream and popular even amongst non-indians. The asian dub foundation in particular are a prime example of this, as well as the BBC Asian Network.

Many film and TV texts are also becoming increasingly popular, such as Goodness Gracious Me and Bend it Like beckham. And Bombady dreams is known as a great west end success

Ethnic Minority push by BBC- Matt wells

The BBC, are taking extra selective care to include ethnic minorities in their media teams, to promote equality and multiculturalism. This is particularly exemplified through the BBC asian network.

How entertainment changed: The media and Multicultural Britain- Alex webb

Much of the media has now began to include asian characters in developing dominant roles. The cause of this however is to primarily create comedy and to an extent asians are portrayed to be mocking themselves. Programmes such as Goodness gracious me and The Kumars no 42 exemplify this.

How entertainment changed: The media and Multicultural Britain- Alex webb


Black Actors In more TV Roles

In particular black actors have seen an increase in being shown on screen in soaps and dramas. This includes programmes such as Eastenders, Casualty amongst others. However ethnic minoroties are still often portrayed in weak positions on screen
There are not enough ethnic minorities in dominant positions, hence creating a lack of multi-culturalism. There is therefore a clear differentiation between ordinary dominant people and ethnic minorities