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Q.

Explain why the idea of 'postmodern media' might be considered


controversial

Postmodernism is the reaction to modernism, an action interested with the past,


the present and the future all at the same time- whilst challenging traditional
genre boundaries. Both film and music can be defined as postmodern due to the
challenging of genre boundaries, the bricolage, pastiche, parody or homage
elements and also due to the intertextual references within them. Deadpool,
produced by Marvel Entertainment, is considered a deeply postmodern film due
to the crude humour, the lack of morality and the rejection of grand narratives
(Lyotard) this demonstrates controversy within postmodern media as the humour
expressed within can be considered controversial. Space Rocket Nations The
Neon Demon is also a postmodern text due to the fragmented narrative, the
rejection of grand narratives and the elements of bricolage. This film can also
be regarded as greatly controversial due to the necrophilia; the cannibalism and
the sexual content within. Similarly; The Weeknd whom rose to fame in 2010 is
an extremely postmodern artist due to his racy lyrics, his intertextual references,
the mixing up of genres and the attitude his persona indulges upon his fans. This
therefore demonstrates controversy as all three elements of postmodern media
challenge the attitudes of what is normal and acceptable within society.
Deadpool is considered a postmodern film as elements of postmodernism are
used within the actual storyline of the film. This portrays the idea that Deadpool
can be regarded as controversial as the storyline alone alludes to a unique and
shocking plot. Ryan Reynolds plays the character of Deadpool, who acts as the
(anti)heroic figure after he gains superhero powers- whilst getting his aesthetics
destroyed in the process. Although Deadpool features many elements of the anti-
hero, his main principle is, a heroic act- as his aim is to save the girl, just as
stereotypical superhero films do. Deadpool features many elements of
postmodernism because of the continuous fourth-wall breaks, the levels of gore
and violence and the gross humour, which is not typically explored within a
superhero, nor a superhero film. This emphasises further, the controversy within
the film as stereotypical superhero films lead to the audience lusting to be like
the superhero, whom ultimately saves the world- Deadpool revolves around
sexual humour, inappropriate visuals and crude jokes. George Ritzer believed
that postmodernism refers to the mixing up of time and space and the blur
between representation and reality, a convention heavily incorporated within this
film through flashbacks and fourth-wall breaks. Not only this; the flashbacks used
throughout the film highlight it as a postmodern text as Anne Friedberg argued
that postmodernism mixes up time and space. Deadpool portrays this through
the flashbacks used throughout the film which gives the distortion of time which
once again; is a controversial element of this postmodern text.
The Neon Demon may also be considered a controversial postmodern film due to
the unexpected elements within the actual plot. The Neon Demon follows a
fragmented narrative; in which the storyline is unclear, there is no grand
narrative as Lyotard would argue and as Baudrillardi would suggest, it is very
hyperreal. Not only this; the film features elements of shock and graphic imagery.
Towards the films exposition; a photographer sensually undresses a 16-year-old
girl; which creates an uncomfortable atmosphere for the audience and this

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controversial aspect would not be expected within a film that followed a
traditional narrative. Not only this; the film uses more unexpected and
uncomfortable themes with necrophilia and cannibalism later on in the plot.
Parsons would argue that the rejection of structure demonstrates the extent of
postmodernism within the film; however, this would most likely be considered
the most controversial aspect of the film as necrophilia and cannibalism are
hugely vulgar, distasteful elements to feature within a film and a common
reaction to such things would to be horrified and outraged. The fragmented
narrative creates confusion and disallows the audience to gain a sense of
understanding, nor follow a storyline for the actual film. A hyper-spectator may
believe this to be a form of art, in which they appreciate the aesthetics of the
set, the mise-en-scene and the acting, as opposed to following a traditional
narrative. However; this could also be seen to be extremely controversial as
rejecting grand narratives makes it harder for an audience to become invested
within the film; possibly stunting the films success. The fragmented narrative
and certain imagery therefore present The Neon Demon as a controversial
postmodern text.
The Weeknd is an extremely controversial postmodern artist due to his large
array of songs, albums, videos and genres. The Weeknd mixes genres of pop,
house music, alternative and hip hop; whilst still incorporating his main genre of
alternative R&B. The Weeknds music is a demonstration of his postmodernism;
but he is also a simulacrum. Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, known professionally as The
Weeknd, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer. In late 2010,
Tesfaye anonymously uploaded several songs to YouTube under the name "The
Weeknd". The persona used by The Weeknd is carefree, he has women, drugs
and money all at his disposal. The persona in which he created leads to great
controversy, as the attitude he portrays is not one considered to be the norm
within society, nor within the media world. Dyers idea of star image is expressed
through his character as it was built from the anonymous posts to YouTube;
creating a mystery about his character which he has developed further within his
persona through the rejections of interviews. This is also a controversial aspect of
his character as interviews give his audience a chance to create a more personal
relationship with him and thus; invest themselves further into his character. The
Weeknd is also self-reflexive as the persona he has built for his character works
due to his own self-consciousness, but also due to his knowledge of what
succeeds within the music industry which may make him, as Cohen would argue,
a hyper-spectator within his own career. Moreover; the music videos, the lyrics
and the songs released by The Weeknd revolve around racy lyrics, his
promiscuous videos and the mixing up of genres which further highlights the
controversy within his character.
Not only this; Deadpool has vast levels of Genettes idea of intertextual
references within the film. The film makes multiple references to other
characters within Marvel, particularly X-men. Ryan Reynolds refers to himself and
his silky smooth acting skills, whilst still in role as the character of Deadpool.
Deadpool also refers to the juxtaposition between David Beckhams
attractiveness and his unappealing voice and he also makes rude jokes about
Wolverine and Rosie ODonell. This is another aspect of controversy within the
film as not only were references made to other well-known figures unexpected
within a superhero film; but also they could be deemed as disrespectful and
therefore be considered as unappealing. Cohen would argue that this attracts a

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larger audience as a hyper-spectator would recognise these intertextual
references as they would have a broad knowledge of the film industry and in
particular, the superhero genre. This would therefore humour a hyper-spectator
as the intertextual references would be clear. The extensive amount of
intertextual references within the film demonstrate the controversy within the
film.
Similarly; The Weeknd has intertextual references throughout many of his songs.
Particularly; his new song Party Monster. It is inferred that he is referring to
Angelina Jolie and Selena Gomez- Angelina, lips like Angelina, Like Selena, ass
shaped like Selena and with his new relationship with celebrity Selena Gomez,
this reference appears highly likely. This is a hugely controversial aspect of his
music as making sexual references to other celebrities could be considered as
disrespectful and inappropriate. Yet; Kramers theory would suggest that the
references to artists and other celebrities within a similar age range/ music style
appeals to a larger audience and also attracts a hyper-spectator as their
advanced knowledge within genre would attract them to the references that are,
in fact, mainly aimed at them. Not only this; intertextuality appears throughout
his work due to the influence Michael Jackson has had upon his career- Jackson,
being one of The Weeknds biggest influences, both vocally and performance
wise, is apparent with his high range vocal styling and certain dance moves,
specifically in the music video for I Cant Feel My Face. The similarities with the
dance moves that The Weeknd has emulated from Michael Jackson may also be
considered controversial as they are his iconic moves, whom everyone is aware
of. The influence Michael Jackson has had with the likes of songs such as Dirty
Diana and his iconic dance moves (e.g. the moonwalk) upon The Weeknds work
highlights an attraction from a larger audience as the unique artist that was
Michael Jackson, is being honoured through the work of The Weeknd whom is
said to incorporate both the old and the new- once again demonstrating Cohens
hyper-spectator elements. The intertextual references within The Weeknds work
demonstrates the controversy within his music.
Deadpool is also considered a postmodern film due to the elements of bricolage
within it. It features elements of bricolage addition with the extra genres
incorporated within a superhero film- elements of comedy, violence and romance
have all been added. It also includes elements of gross humour and crude
language and fourthwall breaks which are all uncommon within traditional
superhero films and thus; would be another controversial element of the film. Not
only this; he is self-reflexive as he refers to himself which is another example of
addition within the film. He also uses elements of bricolage deletion as he
removes the heroic aspects of a traditional superhero film as he is more of an
antihero, he doesnt have a grand, modern house like the Marvel superhero
bases nor does he have the stereotypical good looks of a superhero. This would
be considered a vastly controversial element of the film as a superhero film has
stereotypes that a hyper-spectator would be expecting to see; to change these
elements may be considered risky and unnecessary. He also uses substitution as
he substitutes a superhero base for a flat he shares with a blind lady; he uses
taxis instead of futuristic aircraft. The jokes he makes at the expense of a
disability may also be regarded as extremely controversial as people may find
this dark sense of humour offensive, rather than humorous. Also, he substitutes
the original audience of a superhero film (children), with an adult audience
because of the humour used within the film. Cohens idea of a hyper-spectator is

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further demonstrated here as viewers who are well-informed upon the genre
would notice the different elements added, or the elements subtracted from a
stereotypical superhero film and would be able to see the controversy Deadpool
explores in regards to traditional superhero films. Lastly; Deadpool uses
elements of bricolage through transposition. Deadpool links to the Greek myth of
Orpheus who goes to the underworld to get his wife back from the devil, on the
journey he experiences hellish things in order to save her. Much like Orpheus;
Deadpool goes through extremely traumatic experiences, firstly to gain a longer
life together, and secondly, to save her from the villain who ruined his life. The
vast use of bricolage within Deadpool therefore makes it greatly controversial.
The Neon Demon also features Levi-Strauss bricolage throughout the film.
Firstly; bricolage addition was featured with the extra genres incorporated within
a horror film- elements of fairy-tale, thriller and psychological thrillers were all
added to the genre of the film. It also added another feature of danger, as the
colour red was featured within every clip of one of the films antagonist, Ruby.
Also, The Neon Demon uses elements of bricolage subtraction, with the opposing
audience to traditional fairy-tale type films. This may be considered
controversial as a traditional audience for fairy-tale films would be considered to
be children, yet because of the horror elements within the film; the film is aimed
at adults- this may be considered to be controversial as it is challenging genre
boundaries and changing genre stereotypes. It also uses aspects of bricolage
deletion as theres a removal of a linear narrative and instead, there is a greatly
fragmented narrative in place. This heavily incorporates Baudrillards theory
regarding the rejection of a message behind the medium as it could be argued
that it is simply just art for arts sake. This may be considered controversial as it
is difficult for an audience to follow a non-existent storyline and remain engaged
with the plot. However; a hyper-spectator may deem this to be art and therefore
understand why the narrative used is fragmented. The Neon Demon may also be
following aspects of bricolage transposition as it is argued that the Greek Myth
Narcissus is referenced to as the films heroin becomes egocentric and obsessed
with her own beauty.
The Weeknd also uses bricolage in regards to the use of genres within his
albums. The Weeknd uses bricolage substitution as he substitutes his main genre
of alternative R&B. for pop, house music or alternative music. The mixing up of
genres demonstrates postmodernism as he doesnt fit traditional genre
boundaries and the challenging of genre boundaries may be considered
controversial. Also; The Weeknd uses bricolage in regards to his star image. His
hair is his trade mark and so bricolage addition is used as he adds this to his
music; allowing the audience to consume his image as well as his songs, making
his look unique and his image instantly recognisable. The uniqueness of his star
image may be another element of controversy within his character as no other
artist has hair like this. Bricolage deletion is used as The Weeknds persona gives
him a carefree attitude which appears without boundaries. His references to
drugs, sex and alcohol is rare within mainstream music and his graphic
descriptions within his music demonstrate that he does not have any boundaries-
making him extremely controversial.
Moreover; Jameson would argue that Deadpool is postmodern due to the use of
parodies. Deadpool makes humour out of superheroes, asking for his superhero
suit to not be green which acts as a clear reference to the Green Lantern. He

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jokes about superhero landings and how his allies want him to join them and
become the X-men. Also; he makes a parody out of villains and the stereotype of
British villains and it could also be argued that he humours love and romance
due to the arguments he has with his girlfriend about who has the more messed
up life. The parodies used within the film are also considered controversial as
they could be considered disrespectful and rude rather than humorous. Deadpool
also uses elements of pastiche as at the beginning of the film he has the
superhero good looks and the stereotype of the Damsel in distress who is in
need of being saved. This may also be an element of controversy as within a
modern day society; women are empowered and so the idea of a Damsel in
Distress may be considered sexist and outdated. Deadpool is also postmodern
because of the use of homage. At the end of the film, after the credits, the scene
features Deadpool in an extremely similar way to the end credits of Ferris
Buellers Day Off. This may also be considered controversial as although some
may see this homage as a respectful imitation; it could also be considered as
plagiarism of a less well-known film.
The Neon Demon also uses parodies, homage and pastiche within the film. It
could be argued that the film, as a whole, is making a parody out of the
modelling industry. The attitude of the characters and the ego-centric attitudes
of them demonstrate the negative connotations within such a cut-throat industry
and therefore it could be argued that the storyline itself, is making humour of the
industry. This could be considered deeply controversial as the industry is
extremely popular and therefore people may find this type of humouring to be
distasteful and disrespectful. The storyline of the film also uses pastiche as it
could be considered to be extremely similar to The Huntsman. Within this dark
fairy-tale, a woman tries to capture young, beautiful girls to suck the life out of
them and steal their beauty- especially one girl in particular. The Neon Demon
greatly resembles this as the other models become overcome with jealousy and
plot to kill the model everyone is lusting after; eating her body and thus,
following the same principle as The Huntsman- stealing her beauty. This could be
considered controversial as the target age for The Huntsman is children as it is
considered to be a fairy-tale. However; The Neon Demon is certified 18, creating
controversy within the incorporation of a fairy-tale theme within a horror movie.
Certain scenes within the film could be homage to James Turrells artwork whom
thought of the white triangle which was meant to create the idea of sacred
spaces and a subliminal touch of the spiritual as well. This may be considered to
be controversial as featuring a moderately well-known artist/sculpture leaves the
audience open to interpretation as a large amount of the audience wouldnt
know who he is; which may be another technique of the artistry within the film.
Not only this; There is a strong use of colour in the film, specifically red and blue.
The blue had a lot to do with the Greek Myth Narcissus, and to reflect Elle
Fannings climactic narcissistic moment, featuring around her own self-worth
which is expressed through an abstract representation of going to the pond and
looking at her reflection in the triangle. Thats when shes going to transform into
red and go from the Alice in Wonderland girl to the empowered beauty queen.
Its very subtle; its done with just light and mirrors. The colours therefore portray
homage to both Narcissus and Alice in Wonderland. This may also be considered
controversial as although these elements have been expressed subtly;
incorporating such a well-known film as Alice in Wonderland; there may be
people who understood this reference and didnt understand the purpose of it.

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Contrastingly; the audience may not have understood any of the homage
elements within the film and therefore may completely misunderstand the point
of certain scenes, leaving it down to art for arts sake which creates a new idea
of controversy.
Similarly; The Weekend uses homage and pastiche within many of his songs. He
has said that his high flying vocal styling was inspired by singers like Aster
Aweke, whom he claimed to be one of his biggest inspirations and therefore his
songs and his vocal technique is a pastiche to her own music. Also; The Weeknd
has said that Michael Jackson was another of his biggest inspirations and the
lyrics for Dirty Dianna a song he covered on his original trilogy album was what
inspired him to be a singer. This could be considered controversial as Michael
Jackson is one of the biggest artists in the world; the pressure of doing one of his
songs justice may be considered a controversial idea. Jackson also uses a high
pitch vocal range and so between The Weeknd learning how to song write from
Michael Jackson; he also was inspired by the way he sang which could act as a
pastiche to his music. The Weeknd is also postmodern because of his use of
homage. Specifically, in the video for I Cant Feel My Face, The Weeknd uses
dance moves that are extremely similar to Michael Jacksons trademark dance
moves. The influences of Aster Aweke and Michael Jackson could therefore be
portrayed as controversial as he is replicating the work of one of the largest
artists in the world.
Kramers theory upon postmodern music is greatly reflected within The Weeknds
work. Firstly; Kramer focuses on break and extension. The Weeknd appears to do
this as he adds something new and different, both as an artist and as a singer, a
controversial element as he did not know whether his new style of music would
be accepted within the industry. The Weeknds persona is unique within his field
of work; as is his star image. Similarly; his racy lyrics are new as many artists do
not have the confidence or the lack of care to produce songs with such
outrageous lyrics within them specifically his last two albums; Beauty Behind
the Madness and Starboy which are considered to be deeply controversial. The
Weeknd also challenges Kramers idea of low and high styles. His wide range
of genres mean that his music appeals to both mainstream and unconventional
audiences and therefore both high and low styles will have the ability to
appreciate some elements of his music, as none of it is the same. Because of
this vast range of music and genres; he avoids totalising forms- he cannot get
labelled nor lose his air of mystery, creating controversy around his character.
Also he is controversial as he embraces pluralism and eclectism as his songs
have multiple meanings, which vary depending on the individual listener which
leads onto Fiskes idea of locating the meaning within listeners- the meaning of
his songs come within and therefore The Weekend also fits this aspect of Fiskes
theory. This therefore demonstrates that The Weeknd as largely controversial;
demonstrating that postmodern media can be thought upon as controversial.
The future of postmodernism is being directed to more mash-ups of genres; CGI
actors and real actors- which are all aspects that have been used in the past.
Deadpool mashes up the genres of; superhero, sci-fi, romance, comedy and
violence all at once. Not only this; Star Wars and Gladiator have previously used
CGI to bring back characters/actors from the dead. The future of postmodern
music is being directed into holographic stage performances; which, again, has
already been done in the past by Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. Also;

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postmodern music will lose albums and appear only as EPs and downloads
aspects which are already being achieved by artists such as Kanye West whom
only sold hard copies of his album on black Friday, mainly on playlists with other
artists within the same genre as people do not listen to full albums in the same
way anymore. This demonstrates that the future of postmodernism is already
being achieved in the present day, yet we may possibly see it in the future on a
larger scale.
Therefore; Deadpool, The Neon Demon and The Weeknd express the ways in
which media texts can be regarded as controversial. Due to the crude humour,
the unexpected gross violence and the challenging of genre boundaries;
Deadpool and The Neon Demon demonstrate how film can be expressed as
controversial. Similarly; The Weeknds racy lyrics, his intertextual references and
his carefree persona demonstrate how not only his music; but himself as an
artist, portrays postmodern music to be controversial. Thus; demonstrating
further that both postmodern texts can be regarded as being controversial.

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