GCSE English Major Coursework Assignment: Media
“A critical analysis of selected election literature and party political broadcasts from the general election, Thursday 7th June 2001”
I have been asked to analyse different pieces of election media. I will examine some Party Political Broadcasts and some written literature, i.e.: leaflets, pamphlets or newspaper articles. All the material I will cover is targeted at people who are above the age required for the electoral role, 18 years plus. However, different pieces of media are targeted specifically at a certain age group or interest, or social group inside that range.
Election literature is a relatively cheap and widespread form of communicating a party’s information. Election literature is the the leaflets and pamphlets that you are handed or posted. They can, within reason, contain anything that the party wants, and in any format they choose. For example, there is a conservative leaflet that is in the form of a newspaper, and another conservative piece of literature in the form of a standard leaflet. There are green party leaflets in the form of handouts.
The socialist alliance literature is for John Moleyenux, and is in the form of a single sided A5 leaflet. The colours are a mix of red, white and a pinkie colour.
The eye is drawn to a large picture of a child, he is smiling and pointing. It is like the classic recruitment poster you see in the media, that came from the war, of the man in the hat, pointing, with a caption that goes some thing like “we need you”, or the equivalent. Also, you are meant to be sympathetic for the child because children can’t vote and adults can.
The child in the picture is of mixed-origin, which is the party saying that they are very freethinking.
The leaflet has a newspaper feel, with a headline, logo, titles, text and pictures all in the fashion of a newspaper. It is nothing fancy, it isn’t glossy or posh. It appears that against other election literature that it may have been cheaper to produce, but I believe that makes people feel that it is more honest. That is also like a newspaper, because they are printed on cheap paper.
The whole newspaper display, I think, is because of what news represents. When you watch the news on television, you rarely question how truthful or up to date it is, because the news is honest and up to date. These are the morals that the party wants to convey, and a newspaper feel would then be the obvious choice of styles to get these ideas across.
There are three key points displayed, which are all issues that people can relate to, one of which is a rhetorical question, and the last two are mocking attacks on the Labour party.
An interesting point is that there is no picture of the candidate, which is to make the reader feel as though they would be voting for the party and its ideas not for the candidate.
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“Our NHS” is very national; it is ‘ours’ and belongs to us all, feelings of pride are evoked in the reader. Because it is ‘our’ it means that by right we should have a say in what happens to it.
“Tax the rich” has consultations of Robin Hood, there’s a connection between nationalization and Robin Hood, i.e.: taking from the rich and giving to the poor.
I think that the aim of the leaflet is to mock the other parties and obtain votes. It does this quite successfully, but at the end of the day, your only going to vote for a party if you believe in the morals. People, wont just read a piece of paper then change the party they believe in.
The Green Party leaflet, for Kevin Jacks, of Havant is also an A5 sheet, but with writing on both sides. It is: green, yellow and white with black text.
Again, there is a picture of a child on the front, for the same reasons as on the Socialist Alliance leaflet. This child is reaching for a balloon, fashioned as the earth. The balloon is just a little bit out of his reach, and is as though ‘the perfect world is just out of reach’. Balloons are associated with happy events such as parties or weddings. The balloon ties in with the logo, which shows the earth, as a flower but it only has some of its petals. The petals that are there vaguely resemble flames. Balloons and flowers are both very fragile things.
The green party leaflet is more colourful than the Socialist Alliance leaflet, and it gives the impression of the party having more money and support, since, you need support to have money to be able to afford glossy leaflets.
The slogan is split in two, with a picture in between. The picture splits the question and the answer.
“Election communication” and “hotline” give a sense of urgency and of professionalism. This is one of the qualities of the party and it is therefore important that these are portrayed in the leaflet.
You get the impression from the style and words used in the writing that this party is very ahead of its time. It makes out that its morals will one day be considered standard, but that day will be too late. It presents the future as dangerous unless you vote green.
It is aimed at educating, freethinking eco-workers. It isn’t really aimed at winning over new votes, but more at securing votes they already have.
Election literature is forced upon you. If it comes through your letterbox then you at least have to glance at it to see what it is (hence the bright colours used on most of them). Election broadcasts are different in this sense because the viewer knows when they are on and chooses whether or not they want to watch them.
Different broadcasts are aimed at different groups in society, and they are aimed at a point in time where they will catch the majority of the group watching television.
The Liberal Democrats election broadcast focuses on class sizes, tuition fees and public transport. It is clearly aimed at parents, probably working parents that use public transport to get to work. It is presented by Charles Kennedy, the party leader.
Their slogan is “a real chance for a real change”. It has alliteration and repetition, so it is catchy and memorable. It works on two levels, because it also mocks the other parties by saying that they are incapable of changing anything.
In the beginning of the broadcast there is a catchy background tune, this follows throughout until the final climax at the end when the song changes to “New Beginning” by Stephen Gately. The title of this song ties in with the slogan I mentioned earlier.
In one of the memorable image from the broadcast, we see a woman in a crowded train. At this point there is no music, just ambient noises of a train and its passengers. The ambient noise is loud and very exaggerated, as were the amount of people. There was ambient and relevant noise in all of the memorable images and moving film we are shown.
This broadcast has a very seventies pop video feel. There are lots of pop-up boxes or picture-in-picture. All of the pictures had a big bright yellow border that faded out to the picture below it. Yellow is the parties colour so it ties into the parties identity, as does the fact that the little pictures show different points of view, since they are liberal. Yellow, is said to represent priority.
There is one especially memorable image of the OAP on the train. There are quite a few visual effects in operation here. The camera angle for example, it is high up and titled to the left, as if there is no other place to put it. It also has the feel of, 'what they didn't want you to see' because you imagine it being hidden up in luggage on the luggage shelf. The picture is not in full colour, or black and white it is sort of a smoky feel. This adds to the idea of a hidden camera, and also shows that train may be full of cigarette smoke. Some, and only some, of the film is in slow motion, showing the instability and unreliability of the depicted train service.
Charles Kennedy presents some of the broadcast in person, but in scenes such as the train scene he cannot, so either he appears in a picture in picture box or does a voice over. It is mainly the latter. It is a like 'the voice from above' when he does a voice over, it has a very godly feel.
There is a scene that uses many of the visual effects that are used in the train scene. In this scene we see a chid who stands out amount her classmates because she has a different colour jumper. She has her hand up and her pen down to tell the teacher that she is finished but the teacher is busy helping someone else at the back of the room. This scene is meant to demonstrate the class size issue, and when the voice over mentions that class sizes are to be reduced, some of the pupils disappear, however, more than are supposed to be removed are removed.
All of the pupils are cramped together and are drawing, but all there work is overlapping each others. The camera is high up in the corner, as per the train scene and creates a feeling that there is nowhere else to put i.
The second broadcast is one of the several conservative broadcast.
This broadcast is relatively short and only focuses on to main issues: tax and their 'keep the pound' campaign..
It has no visual presenter but instead has a voice over. The voice is no-one familiar. He speaks in the style of a news reader in some parts and as a documentary narrator in others. The thing about both of these types of program is that they are very factual. If you hear something on the news then you do not question if it is true, and generally the same goes for documentaries. That is why they have chosen the news reader feel, because it gives of a sense of truth, and the viewer would believe what is being said. The other thing about the news is that it is very up to date. The news is all about what is happening and what is relevant now. That is another feature that the election broadcast is meant to portray.
In the background of the broadcast there is a very somber, eerie music. It is quieter in some parts than others, this creates a feeling of uncertainty. To go with the music there is a constant clock ticking and Big Ben chiming in the background. The clock ticking symbolises that time is running out, this parallels with the news reader style voice-over. The chimes of big Ben are only heard during the part about the Euro, this is because it is meant to make us feel patriotic.
There are quite a few memorable images in this broadcast. One such image, to do with the Euro, is of three pound coins, in a display case next to other English heritage paraphernalia such as a grand farther clock. The coins are highly polished, in the background there is thunder, and as always, rain. The whole scene reminds me of the queens jewels because the coins are on a velvet pillow with a plaque that reads: "The pound: circa 1800-2002". The whole scene would create a feeling that people do not want the Euro because they down want to loose the English identity through loosing the English heritage.
Shortly after this scene there is another scene of lots of pound coins running away down a silver chute. The image gives off a very clinical idea because the chute is polished silver, like the kind you get in factories. Also I don't think that anyone likes to see money burn, but that is what is practically happening here. The money is being thrown away by the thousands. It is very emotive. Also the pound coins are all new and polished, and the queens head is showing on each one.
Another of the memorable images, although short, is quite effective. You see the image of this man filling up his car with petrol. Then you see the petrol meeting going up and it is measured in Euros. Throughout this scene the camera doesn't stop moving and the objects that aren't in focus are blurred slightly and colour drained The idea being to create confusion in the viewer.
This conveys the parities thoughts, text is show at the bottom of the screen. It fades in quickly and fades out slower. The interesting thing to note is that it is white and has a very small, almost unnoticeable, black glow around the text. This adds to the whole feeling.
The final broadcast I am going to cover is a green party election broadcast. This focuses on: transport, making the streets safe, chemical pollution, animal welfare and justice.
It is presented by a female voice over. Females are stereotypically more thoughtful, kind and sensitive. That's why she is female so that the viewer thinks that the party is sensitive.
You could argue that it is presented by children because there are often images of children giving there views on the issues that are raised in the election broadcast. Children are the future and they are supposed to be innocent and unbiased and I think that is why they are used so much in election communication.
The background music is very repetitive. It is the consistent echoing ding. It is drum and base, which is a very natural music form. The green party are also, a very natural party.
There are quite a few memorable images in this broadcast aswell. Alot of these revolve around the mistreating of animals. Quite often people care more for animals than for humans because animals, like children are small, fragile an, innocent and unable to make decisions for themselves. All the animals in this broadcast are baby animals, either kittens, puppies or piglets.
You can see an image of some dirty pigs, that cant run free, then some clean pigs running free, then of some sausages. Now, this is highly emotive because when people see the pigs running free they think that it is 'sweet' but then they see sausages and make the connection between the 'cute little piggies' and the dead pigs meat being prepared.
There are quite a few visual effects at work here, one of which is where things are blurred and bought to focus, and the reverse of that. This is confusing for the viewer.
I think that the whole presentation had a camcorder sort of undercover feel. It is like 'the footage they don't want you to see' again. It makes it feel real and evidently honest. It can be completely staged and still appear to be real.
Both forms of election communication are successful in informing people of the party’s information, the advantage of leaflets being that they can be much more localized.