The Media's Influence on British Culture

Authors Avatar by jamescodtaylorgmailcom (student)


   Among recent years, the culture of the British population has been greatly influenced by media texts in a variety of different forms. Although many texts that focus on a historically-accurate Britain are still produced, and millions of people still enjoy consuming them, society has seen an exponential increase in progressive and 'open-armed' values being represented in the media.

The majority of recent productions curated for a British audience, by British institutions, have seemed to focus heavily on a contemporary view of British culture - one that congratulates itself on its multiculturalism, and therefore its accumulation of different aspects from societies all around the world. This perception of Britain adopts a typically left-wing mindset which welcomes and comforts any individual that feels they are out of place in society - no matter what their background. Conversely, older texts have tended to take on a more traditional and hegemonic idea of Britain - whereby the vast majority of its population has been born and raised within the isles of the United Kingdom - and therefore adopting societal norms such as tea-drinking, pub culture and love of football. Between these texts, their producers also emphasise the regional differences between individuals; such as the rowdiness and bluntness of Northern cities compared to the posh, quieter attitude of the South.

2006 British drama film This Is England combines both of these perceptions through an interesting use of Levi Strauss' theory of Binary Opposites. The film sees a group of young adults in 1980's West England develop a conflict with a middle-aged man, Combo, whom identifies with the second working-class skinhead movement of the 20th century. The group act as the force of good - displaying an optimistic view of the world and making decisions based on acceptance - whereas Combo and his gang act as their binary opposite - the manifestation of evil - exhibiting racist views as a consequence of their feelings toward the immigrants entering the country after the Faulklands War. Director Shane Meadows has stated that his preferred 'reading' of this text is for the audience to recognise Combo as a manifestation of old traditions and the younger characters as the pioneers for what British culture has become today. Due to this duality, Strauss theorises, the audience is able to fully comprehend and derive meaning from the relationship between the youth and Combo. This Is England made significantly less than any other films of Summer 2007, with a domestic total of £247,235, yet received rave reviews from critics. Scottish Director Gillies Mackinnon rated it the film the best of the year and the film was ranked fourteenth in The Guardian's list of 2007's Best Films, which pushed the film forward to become a cult classic. Furthermore, it became one of the most influential films to impact British culture in recent years - inspiring the public (especially the youth) to adopt a modern form of progressiveness and consequently learn towards a liberal democracy.

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An equally as accepted yet less intense representation of traditional British culture can be seen in Edgar Wright's 'Cornetto Trilogy'; films Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End. In order to incorporate the Uses and Gratifications theory and allow British viewers to identify with these films as well as appease American and other foreign audiences, Wright depicts a very stereotypical Southern England. Aspects such as pub culture, regional British demeanor (loud and blunt in the North, posh and stuck-up in the South) and individualism make frequent appearances. BBC One's Sherlock also follows this template. Due the ...

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