An intrepid group of Year 13 Media Studies students embarked upon a quest to discover the true meaning of postmodernism on Thursday 21st January. Set against the concrete landscape of London’s Southbank, the inquisitive seventeen took part in a study day organised by the British Film Institute.
Not only where they introduced to key theorists and thinkers of the movement, texts as diverse as Gogglebox, Star Wars, The Hunger Games and videos of eighties art-rockers Talking Heads were used to make the complexities and contradictions of postmodernism relevant to students living in what some have dubbed the ‘post-postmodern’ era.
The morning session focused predominantly on these concepts and whilst pens scribbled furiously, it was noted that in discussions such terms as ‘intertextuality’, ‘bricolage’ and ‘hyperreality’ mingled seamlessly alongside casual asides about what was available for lunch. A perfect mixture of the “high” and the “low” of culture. Postmodernism in practice, if you will.
The most enthusiastic reactions however, came when street artist Banksy’s satire of theme parks, cunningly titled Dismaland, was analysed and scutinised for its relevance to the day’s overriding theme. A source close to Media Studies teachers Ms Jamin and Mr Theoharis, quotes them as saying “that it is hoped that such ideas and provocative examples will feature highly in the responses students give in this summer’s final examinations.”
The group was then treated to an afternoon screening of the BBC’s postmodern reimagining of Sherlock Holmes, immediately followed by a Q&A session with the show’s producer, Sue Vertue. When asked about whether the writers when creating the scripts ever considered such notions as postmodernism, Vertue wryly commented that “no, they didn’t” – once again proving the theory that postmodernism means all things to all people.
What the audience really wanted to know however, was what heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch was like to work with. “The only thing different about him and Martin (Freeman, who stars alongside Cumberbatch as Holmes’ erstwhile confidant Dr Watson) is that they now get bigger trailers,” Vertue revealed.
With minds suitably goggled, Hillview’s Media Students, boarded the train back to Tonbridge. Somewhere between Orpington and Sevenoaks, one student was overheard explaining what exactly postmodernism actually means to her fellow thinkers. “Basically, it’s using old stuff and creating something new out of it,” she was heard saying.
And to some extent, she was right. But her rationale could just as easily be disproved. That’s the trouble with postmodernism. It’s just so hard to pin down. Which is probably the point. With any luck, the study day will have gone a long way to helping the students get a little bit closer to determining their own definitions. The quest for meaning continues…
Blog post by Greg Theoharis
Featured image cited from The Daily Mail.