Category: Media Studies


International Standards on Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the Press is an essential aspect of functioning democracies.  Be it an institution or an individual, the liberty to express openly is the most important of attributes.  The press, in particular, being the Fourth Estate of a democratic society, is expected to be bold and articulate.  But ground realities differ from ideal conceptions of the function of the press.  In the real world, an array of external factors coaxes or coerces the press into acting against democratic principles. These include advertisers, political parties, businesses and even special interest citizen groups.  In this backdrop, it is interesting to analyze the state of freedom of press in the world today. It is an interesting exercise to find out which countries are exemplary and which are at a nadir. After all, freedom of press has an immediate bearing on the lives and prospects of citizens. It is not an abstract idea whose relevance is confined merely to the academia.

The Freedom House . . . Read More

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British cinema’s dialogue with Thatcherite ideas, meanings, and values during the 1980s

The eleven years of Margaret Thatcher’s reign, which spanned through the 1980s were known for the social turbulence they caused.  The right wing political ideology that has come to be called Thatcherism is deemed reactionary in many ways.  To given an example, a pub near the Underground station at Highbury and Islington in north London was forced to paint the following sign blank under Thatcher’s conservatism: An Equal Opportunities Pub Regardless of Race, Creed, Nationality, Disability Or Sexual Orientation. This illustrates the deep impact of Thatcherism in all domains of cultural life. This was a period when “the very existence of society was placed in doubt, when the belief that greed is good was promoted as a moral imperative. It was also the decade when London came to seem like another country.” (Street, 1997, p. 106)

Cinema, being a major cultural product, was especially subject to pressure from the conservatives.  Cinema as an industry suffered . . . Read More

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Discuss the contribution of Hammer Studios to the Gothic tradition in British cinema

In the decades following the Second World War, Hammer Studios produced a number of films in the horror genre. These decades were considered the ‘Golden Age’ of British Cinema (1945-1975) and filmmakers were trying to experiment and explore the medium of cinema. The period witnessed “the evolution of a radical and subversive cinema focused upon challenging the moral codes and conservative values of the British establishment.”  Hammer Studios emerged as an influential player in British cinema during the 1950s.  It marked a “direct reaction to postwar optimism and the subsequent rise of a conservative political system. It also represented alternative artistic strategies operating in opposition to the realist tendencies of classical British cinema.” (Wilson, 2007) It was in this milieu that Hammer Studios’ foray into horror films will have to be analyzed. The rest of this essay will identify Hammer Studios’ contribution to the Gothic tradition in British cinema by way . . . Read More

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Th impact of the Second World War on British Cinema

The Second World War was a pivotal event not just for Britain but also for the rest of Europe.  In the wake of the end of the war all art forms embraced questions about war in particular and human conflict in general.  One of the important British films to emerge in the Second World War milieu was The Battle of the River Plate. Though the film is largely drawn from real historical events surrounding the war, it is a feature film and meant for entertainment.  Though the story is broadly consistent with historical record, the dialogues were almost nearly invented.  The challenge for the film maker venturing the world war genre is the upkeep of historicity.  The British audience has always allowed a fair license for fiction in the genre for the imperatives of the narrative form. Even allowing room for fiction, the ultimate success depends on the degree of authenticity that the filmmaker could bring to his representation of real history.  It is for this reason that critics were . . . Read More

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Do Experiemental Video Art convey their message to the audience clearly? Or is it not important?

Video as a medium of communication has been in existence for more than hundred years now.  In this time the role, technology and application of the medium has evolved considerably. Experimentation is done for numerous purposes.  The obvious motivation is to stretch, test or expand the techniques of creating video art.  But the manner in which content is formatted, presented and perceived can also be experimented with.  Today, directors are empowered by the new digital technology that is available, which makes experimentation easier to carry out.  But this comes with the proviso that the audience is still able to understand and appreciate the novelty being offered them.  This essay will explore this subject in detail.

Video art is applicable to a diverse set of broadcast mediums. Chief among them are television, cinema and the Internet.  In the case of television, “the televisual public sphere disseminates and normalizes a model of split identification in which the . . . Read More

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William Shakespeare: A Question of Authorship

William Shakespeare and JS Bach are perhaps the two most important cultural figures in Western Civilization. This high pedestal that they occupy makes questions over their authorship almost blasphemous for their admirers. If Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor has come for scholarly debate in recent years, the question marks over Shakespeare’s authorship were raised four centuries earlier and cover a substantial part of his work. The Anti-Stratfordians (as those sceptical of Shakespeare’s authorship are called) prefer to attribute his works to one among the following contenders: Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Edward Dyer, the earl of Derby or especially Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford. In this backdrop, the challenge facing both the faithful and the doubters is the scarce historical record to either support or disprove their claims. If the late Baroque obscurity surrounding Bach’s primary documents lead to no definite conclusions, it is even more . . . Read More

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Report on Student Half Recital by Melissa Hight

I attended the Student Half Recital by Melissa Hight on the 3rd of November.  The program was conducted at the Mathes Hall Auditorium at 3pm. It was one of the rare occasions where I had the pleasure of enjoying classical vocal music. The solo vocalist Melissa Hight and pianist Dr. Jessica Keup brought their experience and expertise to bear on the performance.  The whole program can be roughly divided into five sections.

The first section began with Mozart’s delightfully romantic song Oiseaux, si tous les an. It was given a mellifluous rendition by Mellissa Hight, who was suitably complemented by Keup at the piano. One of the features of the song is its strong lyricism. The song begins as a quiet tribute to nature in the first verse.  It then expresses more passionate feelings in the second verse, all the while keeping the same melodic line.  The duo on stage did justice to the demands of this masterpiece from Mozart.

The second item in the . . . Read More

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Existential Themes in the film My Life Without Me

The basic plot of the movie – that set on the last days of a dying young woman – hints at being a tear-jerking melodrama.  But contrary to this threat My Life Without Me delivers a surprisingly novel representation of a life about to end.  The announcement of death, instead of limiting the physical and mental possibilities of the young woman Ann, actually liberates her to explore them to the fullest.  The film is rich in its philosophical content, particularly themes central to Existentialism.  This essay will showcase how through the strength of her character and a preference for rationality over sentimentality Ann represents a true existential hero.

Hardly 23 years of age, Ann lives an arduous yet contented life. She lives with her young family in a caravan put out in the backyard of her mother’s house.  Although the relationship with her mother is somewhat troubled, she has a loving husband and two adorable girls.  Her father is . . . Read More

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Compare and Contrast: JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto 4 (First Movement – Allegro) and Joseph Haydn’s London Symphony (No.104 First Movement)

The two music pieces chosen for this exercise are JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto 4 (First Movement – Allegro) and Joseph Haydn’s London Symphony (No.104 First Movement). These two pieces were chosen on account of the sharp differences between them in terms of style, texture, genre, period, etc.  For example, Bach’s piece is written for a chamber orchestra of not more than 17 players.  This was roughly the common size for the Baroque concerto format.  Haydn’s piece, on the other hand was written to be performed by a much larger symphony orchestra comprising around 40 musicians.  It is perhaps due to the limited resources at Bach’s disposal that constant invention in music was a matter of necessity than of will.  In contrast, the bolder, simpler style of Haydn is typical of the Classical era.  The following observation by Igor Stravinsky’s in his 1947 work Poetics of Music (1947) applies to both the works in question:

“All music, whether it . . . Read More

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Critical Analysis of a theme in The pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness was a commercially successful film whose main appeal is its ‘feel-good’ ending.  It treads the much worn path of the rags-to-riches narrative, albeit with some variations in plot, characterization and context.  This paper would argue that despite the commercial success of the film, it fails as a social instrument.  In other words, if the purpose of cinema is not merely to entertain but also to educate, the Pursuit of Happyness fails on the latter count.

The main criticism is toward its core message that among the thousands of honest aspirants for the American Dream only a few lucky ones make through.  The final shot of the film is not merely the triumph of its protagonist, but equally the defeat of multitudes of his brethren. The defeated cannot said to have all been less industrious than our hero.  Luck plays a major role in deciding who succeeds. One also needs to question the kind of culture in which the odds are so stacked that . . . Read More

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