Ideologies and Meta Narrative
The Postmodern Mediascape
What is the Postmodern mediascape? and how does it affect Ideologies and Meta narratives? Following is an investigation into media representations and the deconstruction of Ideologies and Meta narratives in the Postmodern media environment.
Ideology is considered an individuals worldview structured by their social, political and economic position in society. Ideologies frame discourse, by structuring our thoughts, ideas, beliefs, values, identities, behaviours and relationships. In doing so it produces much of what occurs within us and within society. Discourse is how we structure and communicate our ideology or worldview in thought and language. Ideologies influence the formation of institutions, such as the church, education, government, and the media, and the kinds of discourses that these institutions express and distribute. . These are called dominant ideologies and discourses, and include beliefs about gender roles, the economy and social institutions. Many theorists consider these emerging out of and engrained in relations of power and control on mainstream society, who consider them truthful and virtuous. This effectively keeps a sense of structure and stability in society, with minimal questioning of these dominant ideologies/discourses. .
“The power of discourse lies in its ability to provide legitimacy for certain kinds of knowledge while undermining others; and, in its ability to create subject positions, and, to turn people into objects that that can be controlled. Mainstream media typically adopt the dominant state-sanctioned discourse, and showcases it by giving airtime and print space to authority figures from those institutions”. Nikki Lisa Cole. .
Once discourse is consumed and shared by society, it is fed back into influencing the reproduction of ideology. . According to theorist Marshall McLewen in work ‘The Media is the Message’, discourse is consumed by society via audiences interaction with media messages. Theorist, Stuart Hall further defines that media texts are encoded with discourse before media is even created including the ideologies of the creators and producers of the media. Once audience interacts with media via production, circulation, and distribution, the meaning of the discourse and ideologies are extracted from the media by influencing, instructing, entertaining or persuading society, via complex, perceptual, cognitive, emotional and behavioural methods, by consumption, leading to influencing the reproduction of ideologies. The reproduction happens when audience bring the knowledge and discourse from the media back into the world. .
An example of discourse that influenced the reproduction of ideologies, can be identified with the dominant discourse distributed in mainstream media regarding the 9/11 events, with use of language like terrorism and trauma. Structured by the media and government to persuade and control society, leading to influencing the reproduction of ideologies like nationalism in the United States and societies acceptance for the anti terrorism laws, that resulted in increased civilian surveillance and lack of privacy for individuals. Evident of the structure, control and power that dominant discourses have on mainstream society. This structure and control stems from media representations, defined as the ways in which the media portrays particular groups, communities, experiences, ideas, or topics from a particular ideological perspective, depending on the encoding of media messages. In this mediated reality, media representations re-present reality or create a totally fabricated reality, bound by generalisation, stereotyping and augmentation, aiding in dominant discourses distribution of Essentialism and Ethnocentric perspectives. An example of this is with the media representations, stereotyping the Muslim culture/minority group, which led to an us verse them Ethnocentric attitude in the United States and formed mainstream societies Essentialist perspective of this culture, resulting in societies acceptance of the ‘War on Terror’ and United States domination over Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. .
Dominant ideologies, based in institutions organise society, via economic, social and political structures. Similar to the Meta Narrative, which is a grand or dominant story that structures and legitimises other stories. For example the meta narrative Terrorism, that legitimises economic, cultural and political narratives. Media representations use meta narratives in texts to communicate or express certain values or ideologies. What happens when these structured meta narratives and dominant ideologies are taken to the realms of the unstructured or deconstructed, multi dimensional Postmodern mediascape?
The result is the Postmodern Meta narrative. Postmodernism is an ambiguous, complex and sometimes contradictory term used to define certain developments in culture and philosophy. These developments are characterised by; an admission of the fact that universal values and truths are relative; uncertainty; dubious of narratives; and the constant pervasive presence of critique and contradiction in response to an established or structured concepts. Postmodern works are build on reference, pastiche, and a breakdown of common expectations. Combine this with Meta narrative and the result is a text with a skeptical, dubious critique of Meta Narratives, where truth, reason, science, or values loose their legitimacy in a structured and representational world. . Team America is a Post modern meta narrative that uses media text build on reference to critique American culture and media stereotyping, seen in the above image with the Essentialist stereotyping of Muslim individuals and culture. The purpose of the Postmodern Meta Narrative is to reveal, persuade, analyse, interrogate, challenges and comments on the legitimacy of all of the elements in that media scape with a critical manner, allowing us to consider and question dominant discourse and ideologies.
“Postmodernism is an incredulity towards meta narratives. A skepticism towards the stories that help us organise all other stories”. Jean-Francois Lyotard. .
The narratives of postmodern media scape serves as a catalyst to introduce new ideological perspectives with critique and deconstruction of the dominant ideologies and discourses. By imitating and simulating meta narratives and disregarding the values, ideas and ways of thinking implicit or expected in culture, leading to a diversity in media representations. These Postmodern diverse media representations take a reflexive approach, with creators translating their roots into local forms, far from the dominant, static, marginalised and homogenic representations. The postmodern media scape with its diverse media representations has birthed a new emergent hybrid culture, a culture of interconnectedness, some worry will lead to Globalisation. . An example of a media text that explores diverse media representations through a Postmodern Meta Narrative is television show Community, with evidence of the deconstruction of cultural expectations and dominant ideologies via contradictions and critique.
The theoretic process of extracting meaning from text and signification in mediated realities is called Semiotics. Theorist, Jean Baudrille believes that through Postmodernism we now live in a hyperreal non-world of simulacra due to the re present of reality through augmentation, abstraction and reproduction signs in texts and mediated realities, leading to signification that is totally abstracted from meaning with no rationale left in Semiotics.
“The real is produced from miniaturised units, matrices, memory banks and command models — and with these it can be reproduced an indefinite number of times. It no longer has to be rational, since it is no longer measured against some ideal or negative instance. It is is no longer enveloped by an imaginary, it is no longer real. It is a hyperreal: the product of an irradiating synthesis of combinatory models in a hyperspace”. Jean Baudrillard. .
Theorist, Roland Barthes describes that semiotics or the way we take meaning from signs and texts is not a universal linear form but a multi dimentional space, where audience interprets media texts and discourse via the abstraction, simulation, reproduction and amalgamation of previous media texts and discourse, with audience choosing what they consume from the text, making the meanings and interpretations relative to the ideologies of the individual audience member.
“We know that text is not a line of words releasing a single theological meaning. But a multi dimentional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash. The text is a tissue of quotations, drawn from the numerous centres of culture”. Roland Barthes. .
Postmodernism has changed the ways that audiences interact with and make meaning from the text by commenting on and challenging the legitimacy of all elements of culture and discourse in a multi dimentional, diversely representational mediascape, simulating dominant ideologies and meta narratives in a critical manner, calling audience to question and reassess their own ideological view. . The Postmodern mediascape is a space where truth is relative and Meta Narratives, Essentialism, Ethnocentric views and dominant Ideologies are deconstructed, where society fabricates its own ideologies, with a collage of reflexive discourses influencing the reproduction of an unstructured, connected, diverse, freedom and equality based ideology and society.
- Nicki Lisa Cole, “ What is Discourse? A Sociological Definition Updated”, (2017): https://www.thoughtco.com/discourse-definition-3026070
- Te Tahuhu O Te Matauranga: Ministry of Education, “Media Studies: Ideology”, (N.d.): http://media-studies.tki.org.nz/Teaching-media-studies/Media-concepts/Ideology
- PBS Idea Channel, “But Wait: Do We Really CONSUME Media?”, (2016): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRsQ0-94O9A
- Melodine Sommier, “The Concept of Culture in Media Studies: A Critical Review of Academic Literature”, (2014): http://inmedia.revues.org/768
- Scott Rudin & Braniff Productions, “Team America: image”, (N.d.): https://i.pinimg.com/236x/b7/bf/af/b7bfafc43cdad67656f31872cc01f9fb--long-beards-the-beards.jpg
- PBS Idea Channel, “Is Community A Postmodern Masterpiece?”, (2013): https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=YanhEVEgkYI
- Jean-Francois Lyotard, “The Postmodern Condition: A report on knowledge”, (1982): https://monoskop.org/images/e/e0/Lyotard_Jean-Francois_The_Postmodern_Condition_A_Report_on_Knowledge.pdf
- Jean Baudrille, “Simulacra and Simulations”, (1988): http://arthistoryunstuffed.com/category/theory/
- Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author”, (1967): http://artsites.ucsc.edu/faculty/Gustafson/FILM%20162.W10/readings/barthes.death.pdf