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'Smash Hits' sells itself as a 'popular music magazine';

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Introduction

'Smash Hits' sells itself as a 'popular music magazine'; it fits well into this self-proclaimed genre and creates its image through the codes, conventions, and generic signifiers of that genre. For example, bright, bold lettering-the red and white titles, almost like a stamp. Generic signifiers and genre in general are vital to both the magazine and its audience, the audience use genre as a means of segmenting and recognition in the crowded magazine market. Genres, signifiers, codes and conventions are all used to make a product recognisable to its audience and as a guide to a magazine's style and content. The institution of magazines use genre as a basis for creating a magazine's formula, taking genres that in the past have proved successful and adapting this formula to suit the needs of the magazine, a variation of the established theme. This way, the magazine is pleased, (a successful formula usually makes a popular magazine), and the audience is pleased as their consumer 'needs' will be met if they buy into a genre they know they have previously enjoyed. The front cover of a magazine is its primary signifier and main advertisement and therefore that single page has to be representative of the magazine as a whole. All of the 'Smash Hits' covers feature a pop band or star as their main image. The females (or more precisely, girls) tend to be blonde and giggling. Whereas the boys either smile cheekily or adopt a 'sexual gaze'. All of the stars gaze 'out' of the picture and at the reader. There is also a list of main features down the left hand side of the page. All three covers examined are very similar in both style and content, each with an almost identical layout. Whatever changes that do appear are few and subtle. Audiences not only influence, but also have the ability to control the magazine and its style. ...read more.

Middle

REPRESENTATION AND IDEOLOGY. 'Smash Hits' represents and reflects the world of popular music as ultra-clean, sugar-coated and filled with constructions of 'ideal', white, 'fit', young, attractive women and men, dressed and looking like 'boys' and 'girls'. The magazine presumes the audience to be mindless (though this is not the case), young teenage girls with an agenda of fun, popular music, current trends, fuzzy lollipops, and child-like, sexually non-threatening 'lads'. The bands, along with the pop industry, are sexually driven, offering attractive, yet musically vacuous bands of boys that neither write the songs, nor sing them live. The audience is encouraged, if not expected to have a purely sexual interest in the band (they are of course, heterosexual). Girl members of bands are a feminist's worst nightmare, passive, short-skirted, and with a constant computer-generated smile. These girls act as 'big sister' to the readers, someone to imitate and admire. All the boys are reduced and deliberately brought to the lowest common denominator, constructed as cloned sexual objects. 'Smash Hits' presumes its audience to be of limited intelligence and offers simple templates and constructions, encouraging stereotypes and segmentation. These overly-idealised templates of beauty try to ingrain impossible notions of what it is to be beautiful, and offer solution orientated consumerism as the answer. It's anti-feminist ideological constructions of what women should be, do nothing but try to limit the audiences ideas about female capacity, an encourage the need for male validation to be happy. The 'Smash Hits' and pop formula is so rigid that there is little margin for change. It offers no moral ideologies as such, but is happy with setting young girls forth on the long road to 'housewife'. It is superficial in the extreme, operating on the most basic of levels. Safe boys with no sexual urges fill the near identical weekly issues; this safe, placid style encouraging (if not the first stages of conditioning) ...read more.

Conclusion

Omitting all forms of cultural, sexual and physical diversity. This blatant misrepresentation of our diverse society, put bluntly, is a lie. It is Elitist and acts as literary segregation of those outside the white 'norm'. Teenagers stepping out into the world may be fooled into the belief that this 'Arian reality' is a correct representation; this could cause some definite social damage. Thirdly, 'Smash Hits' serves no educational purpose, but rather constructs and presents everything in its most basic form. It offers no moral of ethical guidelines, but in their place presents a set of mindless distractions, encouraging time-consuming obsessions with industry-produced bands that are little more than carefully constructed sales pitches, and the need for self-validation by a male (boyfriend). Unfortunately, 'Smash Hits' sales suggest that it is very popular, and an audience wouldn't buy it if they didn't enjoy its content. This may be due to the painfully limited 'teen' market of magazines. If you don't buy 'Smash Hits' then your money goes on a clone of it. All 'teen' magazines tend to follow the same superficial, trivial generic formula of limited constructions. 'Smash Hits' acts as a spring board into the world of fashion, boys, makeup, and passive 'feminine' behaviour, a world constructed by male patriarchy. If 'Smash Hits' represented black people the way it represents teenage girls it would surely be banned. However, I'm not calling for censorship, but for a breakthrough and definite change in this dated formula that seems to pre-date any sort of equal rights movement. Finally 'Smash Hits' presents a very two-dimensional view of the world, offering no new, exiting or challenging ideas to a young, fresh, and keen audience. Nothing is questioned or debated, instead the utmost is done to maintain a 'socially acceptable' equilibrium, it fully participates in helping to construct an illusion of a perfect, organised, mono-cultural world, and seems to have no moral or ethical problem in doing so. With this in mind, one has to question the magazine s worth. ?? ?? ?? ?? Beth Connolly Media Independent Study 2005 ...read more.

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