poststructuralism

To prepare for the class ahead, I read through the online lecture and recommended reading. This gave me some insight into the topic of poststructuralism. I found exploring multiple sources for better understanding quite helpful. To better understand what poststructuralism is, I had to know what structuralism is. By my understanding, structuralism was a culturally accepted way of giving meaning to media text. It was the arbitral relationship between signifiers and signified. Structuralism shares the notion that “everything we see is a sign and ‘carries’ a meaning” (Mcdougall, 2012, p.18). Conversely, poststructuralism deviates from this notion and argues that how we give meaning to text “should be a reflection drawn by an individual rather than a generally assigned meaning from the top down” (Bennet, 2005, p. 46). 

I particularly enjoyed watching Animating Poststructuralism by Christopher Bolton on youtube. Especially the part where it said, “Poststructuralism is a suspicion of the concise definition” (7:25-7:30). This explains one for the radical ideas that poststructuralism presents as mentioned in the online lesson; that ‘every text has multiple meanings and all meaning is able to be contested’. The thought of this idea poses a challenge to me as a student and eventually a practitioner in the creative media industry, in that whatever I create can easily be subject to various meanings. I am aware that we see and understand life differently but at the same time, I have a specific message in mind whenever I create a media text and knowing that my meaning to this text can easily be lost in a poststructuralist world is a bit daunting. 

I must say that this has been a tasking journey because some of the text was somewhat challenging to understand at first read, but then it has challenged me to look into multiple sources for better understanding. What I will do better with subsequent classes is to read beyond the online lessons and recommended text and have a variety of sources to learn from. For the coming week, I will also be focusing on research into subcultures in relation to postmodernism. 

References.

Bennett, A. (2005). Culture and everyday life. London: Sage, p.46.

Bolton, C. (2012, November 9). Animating Poststructuralism . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/6a2dLVx8THA?list=PL-of4HBxbY3guEanS5X3aQsH3T58X7YQ0

McDougall, J. (2012). Media studies. London [u.a.]: Routledge, p.18.

The mainstream

I have not as much used the term “that is so mainstream” but i definitely must have implied it when I find something or a practice very popular. For instance when fashion styles are in vogue, or when a pop song is making waves. So before this class I would have used the word popular rather than mainstream. After going through this class though, now I know the right term to use is mainstream. However, mainstream is way beyond what is acceptable by most people. Some examples of mainstream given in the online lectures include; mainstream medicine, education or science. 

In the sense that mainstream might not be just about what most people accept or what is conventional, mainstream can also be associated with best practices in a certain field. This is however not to say that these “best practices” are actually the best ways of getting results as far as these industries are concerned. For instance, in the Audio production industry the mainstream software to use is Pro-Tools as it is considered the industry standard. But a lot of great music producers don’t necessarily use this software to produce award winning tracks. 

So, in answering this question “As creative practitioners and consumers, is mainstream always a model for best practice? Or is it an attribution and/or judgement of cultural value?” My answer would be that it is a mix of both, because in some cases it is a model for best practices. Take for instance in audio production, the more mics you use in recording a sound the more complicated the recording process is as well as the mixing process, the same goes for applying effects on a track when mixing, if too much compression is applied to a track it loses its dynamics and becomes pointless. 

On the other hand, we could say that this practice is an attribution to cultural value because a significant number of renowned producers have applied this process to their work flow and came out with excellent results which in turn made it like a rule of thumb for other producers to go by. This is not to say that excellent results cannot be achieved should one choose to attempt a different route as it is also generally believed that if it sounds good, then it is good. 

I believe that the mainstream can be positive or negative depending on how one sees it. I would probably use the mainstream as a yardstick to measure the quality of a work I am creating either to go with how mainstream sound or choose to go in the opposite direction. The point remains that the mainstream gives me a reference point to work with. 

References 

Cover Image [image]. Retreived from http://breakfastatbridgets.blogspot.com/2017/01/are-you-mainstream.html

Postmodernism

The first time I went through the online lesson it was quite interesting to be exposed to what postmodernism is. I guess I have not really paid attention to this subject before and how it affected the media space and the world at large. However, after carefully reading through the online lectures and the prescribed reading, I was even more confused than when I started because Andrew Edgar and Peter Sedgwick’s writing style in Cultural Theory is quite advanced. I found it difficult to consume and digest.

However, some portions of the extract that I found slightly understandable were two definitions of postmodernism. First is that postmodernism is “A form of apology for capitalism” (Edgar & Sedgwick, 2007, p. 257). Second, “Postmodernism is an avant-garde aesthetic discourse, which seeks to overcome the limitations of traditional conventions by searching for new strategies for the project of describing and interpreting experience.” (p. 258).  My understanding of postmodernism from these two definitions is that postmodernism disagrees with the idea that the way we see life or interpret our experiences should be defined by what a few have passed on from generation past. Rather it argues that there should be freedom to choose how our experiences are being interpreted regardless of how diverse it will make us be. It celebrates the diversity effect it brings instead of mourning its disunity effect.

Watching some of the videos on the online lessons also helped me understand a little bit better.  Sadly a couple of the video could not play thereby robbing me of the opportunity to better understand the subject.

I reckon that I am more of an audio-visual learner than reading and writing learner. So I think I would have a better grasp of the subject if I get to watch more videos online which I did. Additionally, the in-class discussion gave me more perspective on the topic of postmodernism. The view of some of my classmates on this subject was that postmodernity is the new way of giving meaning to theories and this has allowed for young people especially the millennials and the Gen Z to go against known and generally accepted conventions and practices to express themselves.

Understanding that this is the reality of this age and time helps me as a creative student to better come up with tailor-made content that will appeal to the millennials and Gen Z or X if I am set out to create content for them. The same thing applies if my content is to older people whose philosophy tilt more towards the modernist point of view.

For subsequent classes and topics in this Unit, I look forward to engaging more in class in order to enhance my understanding of the topic and to search out more audio-visual resources as well as keep reading the recommended text of the week.

The image below also gave me more perspective as it showed a contrast between modernism versus postmodernism. 

(North, 2018).

REFERENCES

Edgar, A., & Sedgwick, P. (2007). ‘Postmodernism and Poststructuralism’. In Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts (pp.256-266). London: Routledge.

North. A. (2018). [Screenshots]. Retrieved from https://owlcation.com/humanities/Postmodernism-Explained