Postmodernism is a short cut to mass audiences. Discuss.

2/01/2016 April 0 Comments


Postmodernism is not always a short cut to mass audiences, some texts purposefully target niche audiences. An example of a text which does this is The Grand Budapest Hotel, which uses pastiche as it imitates the Victorian time period to create an aesthetic which only appeals to a niche audience. Donnie Darko is popular cult film which has many postmodern elements, it could be considered similar to The Grand Budapest Hotel as it is a postmodern text that appeals to a niche audile rather than the masses. Many Hollywood films however, do use forms of postmodernism as a short cut to mass audiences, one of the forms of postmodernism they use to do this is bricolage. Levi-Strauss saw bricolage as any text which was constructed out of socially recognisable debris from other texts. An example of this is Spectre which reuses features from other films. Spectre was almost guaranteed as being a box office success due to the success of the previous James Bond films. The James Bond franchise films all use the same basic features and story arc in the films, much of the film is just a copy of a previous film in the series. Other texts also use postmodernism as a way to short cut to mass audiences. Many of the most popular video games, such as The Sims 4, are based on hyperreal simulations of real life. Baudrilliard saw the blurring of reality and hyperreality as one of the key definitions of postmodernism. Video games such as The Sims 4 and Grand Theft Auto V can be seen as just reflections of real life. Similarly, music videos use postmodern techniques to appeal to a mass audience, for example Taylor Swifts music video Bad Blood uses low celebrity culture to gain a larger audience. One of the more recent examples of postmodernism being used to reach mass audiences is by Youtubers. Video bloggers have begun to rise in popularity over the past 3 years, the appeals of ‘vloggers’ such as Zoella is that what they are doing is achievable and easy/free to access in this digital age. 

Sam Smith’s music video for Writing’s on the Wall, written for the 23rd Bond film Spectre, could be considered as using postmodernism as it uses techniques such as bricolage and homage, which some consider to be indicators of a postmodern text. Writing’s on the Wall’s video uses bricolage as it takes scenes directly from the film and uses them in the music video. This technique draws in a mass audience as it brings in fans of the films and those looking forward to the next film. The music video and song were released weeks before the film, this brought in a large audience who wanted to get a glimpse of what is in the film and a taste for the storyline. As well as using bricolage, they have included pastiche elements as there are scenes filmed for the music video which have been filmed in the same location as scenes from the film. They have placed Sam Smith in locations which were used on Skyfall and Spectre. Due to using scenes directly from the film and through parodying the scenes the film could be considered as postmodern as it self references. The lyrics of the song play homage to Spectre, as they don't directly copy but they reference. Although the music video relies on a knowing audience to fully understand what is taking place in the music video, however due to the franchise being over 50 years old they are not necessarily limiting their audience as most people in a western culture aware of Jame Bond. 

A more recent form of postmodern media is Youtubers or ‘vloggers’ (video bloggers). These people use the online platform as a way to reach a mass audiences. We are now living in a digital age where more and more of our time is spent online and using technology. Youtube is a platform on which it is easy to reach a mass audience as it is free and accessable to most people. It could be considered a postmodern platform as it blurs the boundaries between what is real and what is not.  Jean Baudrilliard theorised that “the real no longer exists”. He suggested that mass media was supposed to represent reality, but modern society sees this as reality. Youtubers try to show a real version of themselves and their lives which many believe, but in reality we are seeing an edited version of them. They have decided what parts of their day they want to film and can edit footage to make situations appear different and their lives more ‘perfect’. 
The platform has grown rapidly in the past 3 years, Youtuber Zoella currently has over 9.5 million subscribers to her channel and over 600 million total views on her videos. Her Youtube channel has enabled her to go on to create her own beauty line and appear on a celebrity version of the Great British Bake Off. Other Youtubers have gone on to achieve similar feats. Joe Sugg and housemate Caspar Lee who have over 10 million subscribers between them have gone on to make their own feature length film which had its own Hollywood style red carpet premiere in Leicester Square. Jim Chapman has gone on from his Youtube channel to model, host film premieres and write a column for mens magazine GQ. Although they are relatively unknown to most people over 30, at the rate their audience is growing and the amount of views that they get from a video it appears that Youtube may become the next major form of entertainment. As reality TV shows such as the X-Factor fail to reach their target audience, Youtubers gather a larger audience. Future projections for Zoella predict that within 5 years she could have a billion views in 5 years she could have nearly 20 million subscribers and 1.7 billion total views. 

To conclude I feel that although some postmodern texts such as The Grand Budapest Hotel aren't trying to use it to reach mass audiences, many postmodern texts are used as a short cut to mass audiences whether intentional or not. Although some forms of media use postmodernism to reach mass audiences and to make a large revenue. For example Spectre and Writings on the Wall purposefully use postmodernism to appeal to a mass audience. Youtuber are considered postmodern but they didn't necessarily set out to be so. They couldn't have predicted their success but they are now a leading form of entertainment which is becoming more and more popular. Although unknown a few years ago Youtube is set to become the next major form of entertainment, Google has recognised the success of the platform and has begun to introduce subscription fees in the form of Youtube Red. It appears to be a form of media that is going to continue to expand over the next few years due to the freedom and ease at which the creator can create and upload footage. However, it is also easy for anyone to upload videos and for them to spend their messages across the web and target young individuals. This creates debates surrounding internet privacy and what people should and should have access to. 

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