Teen labels represented in Mean Girls Film:

This is a very clear case of stereotyping. As the tour of the lunchroom is given, the groups are defined by the tables and the labels that Janice gives them. By labeling these groups, Janice is then passing on preconceived ideas about the people who sit at each table. It is reasonable to assume that groups can be formed and that the groups may share SOME of the same characteristics and personality traits, but it is a stretch to assume that all of the people sitting at a particular table perfectly fit that stereotype. Although I wouldn’t say Mean Girls is deliberately trying to promote the idea of labelling and stereotyping amongst teens, I think it’s certainly over exaggerating the element of social structure in school; by creating the idea that teenagers conform to labels/stereotypes so much so that they ONLY socialise with other people who share the same personality traits. I really like the way in which stereotypes are represented in this scene of Mean Girls, I think it’s very effective as it’s from the point of view of a teenager; it shows that stereotypes amongst teens aren’t solely created by adults and the media. Teenagers give each other these stereotypes as well!

The impact of youth stereotyping: Media Awareness Network

Youth Stereotyping and Its Impact

youth stereotyping“Stereotypes of a group of people can affect the way society views them, and change society’s expectations of them. With enough exposure to a stereotype, society may come to view it as a reality rather than a chosen representation.

The media can be a powerful tool in creating or reinforcing stereotypes. An example is the public perception that youth crime is on the rise, or out of control.

This impression has been created largely through media coverage of alarming stories about high school shootings, property crimes, and incidents involving so-called youth gangs.

Statistics tell a different story. According to Statistics Canada, incidences of youth homicide have been on the decrease for years. There were 30 youths accused of homicide in 2001 – the lowest level in over 30 years and 18 fewer than the average of 48 over the past decade.

Between 1987 and 1997, the rate of youth charged with property offences, the most common kind of youth crime, dropped steadily.

Prompted by sensational headlines, politicians and lobby groups have called for tougher measures to deal with young offenders and to combat a perceived increase in youth crime. This despite the fact that young offenders already receive stiffer jail sentences in certain cases than adults who commit similar crimes (Statistics Canada, 2000).

“An important issue is how adults treat me just because I’m a teenager. Sure there are bad ones out there but I’m not one of them. It doesn’t just hurt but it’s disrespectful when security figures follow me around like I’m some kind of loser or criminal.”

Canada’s Teens, Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow

Negative stereotypes not only affect how adults see teenagers, they influence how teenagers see themselves. The feeling that the rest of the world doesn’t respect or understand you does little to encourage a positive sense of self-worth.
Other minority groups in society — such as blacks, native people, women, gays and lesbians — have all experienced the effects of negative stereotyping and lack of positive images in the media.

Many of these groups have lobbied successfully to educate the media about issues that concern them, to challenge stereotypes, and to provide more balanced coverage of their communities.

One youth from Montreal, aged 15, sums up the feelings of many teens: “Today’s youths are intelligent but some adults don’t seem to think so. We are people too. Youths are discriminated against and that’s not right. To get through to young people, you have to listen to them, trust them, and respect them. The way I look and the music I listen to does not make me a “bad” person. I am my own person.” (Canada’s Teens: Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow)”

I really agree with the statement that this article makes regarding how stereotypes amongst young people can affect the way in which teenagers see themselves.  If you are constantly being told that all teenagers are violent and prone to committing crime then perhaps this will encourage teens to conform to this stereotype. If you spend your entire childhood feeling put down by the media and the adults around you, then you may feel that you’re only worthy of the negative stereotyped views that you are being associated with! Not only does stereotypes amongst teens affect the way in which teens feel about themselves, but it affects the way in which teens regard one another! Certain teen subcultures; gangs etc, are represented in a very negative way in the media. It could be argued that these subcultures are the reason why teens are stereotyped. This view could cause tension between teens who feel they are being negatively represented for something they do not conform to.
In addition, I also feel strongly that teenagers do get discriminated against! It seems that the stereotypes amongst teens and the negative representations of teens in the media isn’t taken as seriously as other stereotypes.
I feel that getting the point of view of a teenager for the article works very well in favour of getting the point across that it is unfair to stereotype teens. It’s refreshing to hear a teenagers perspective on the matter, the media tends to portray teens in a negative way without having their opinion on the matter conveyed. When stereotypes for teens are voiced in the media it’s always adults giving their opinions regarding the matter, when really it makes more sense having teenagers point of view.

YouTube research:

I was researching online trying to find a selection of different videos about teen stereotypes to help give us ideas for our documentary. I came across this teen-made video about stereotypes. Although the stereotypes shown in this video are more broad than specific labels such as ‘Emo’ or ‘Chav’ I feel the video was very well made. The idea of using pen and paper to write down the stereotype and have someone hold it was used in this video, and worked very effectively. The video had no audio apart from a song which I also felt worked well as it ensured the viewer has to engage with what is going on in the video in order to understand the message being put across.

I think it is very helpful researching different teens who have similar ideas to ours, and the ways in which they express their views. Although some of the videos I have come across haven’t been documentaries, I think it’s still important to research how different people express their views and the ways in which the media enables us to do this easily! YouTube is the dominant provider of online video, and a fantastic way to research other peoples ideas on stereotypes/labels amongst teens.

Un-edited label definition reading shots: First trial; ‘DRUGGIE’, ‘BIMBO’, ‘EMO’.

I could not upload the video straight to my blog as the size was too large so I made myself a YouTube account and uploaded the video onto there instead. (link above)

These are the first shots that we have taken for the label definition reading section of our documentary. We filmed these 3 clips in the photography studio, the audio on the video is poor because we have not yet edited the separate audio recording onto the video. The video has not yet been fully edited; when we have finished editing we will have much better audio synched to the video.                                          The above video only shows 3 teens reading out 3 definitions, however, we will be using more than 3 for our final documentary this is just a taster, we decided to practice using the signs and definition combination to see if it worked effectively, and we really like the effect. I think the signs work very well, I like the visual impact; the viewer will have something to look at instead of just listen to, visual footage sometimes makes more of an impact that sound. I also think using the studio was a very good choice as it contributes massively to the quality of the footage as the lighting is very flattering, there is no background noise which makes audio recording quality sound better, and there is nothing disturbing in the clip to distract the viewer (background movement), it’s a very simple head-shoulder shot. Furthermore, we decided to use teenagers who fit the roles that they are reading out, in the slightest way; ‘BIMBO’ was read out by a blonde, attractive female. ‘EMO’ was read out by a female with red hair, wearing dark eye-makeup and clothing, and ‘DRUGGIE’ was read out by a male. We didn’t want to be stereotypical in our filming and film a typical ‘bimbo’ reading out the definition for a bimbo, but we though it would be visually more effect if we got someone blonde and female to read it out.

Potential ideas for ending of documentary:

 

(My own photography)

Obviously we won’t be doing an ending for our documentary because we will only be filming the first 5 minutes of a documentary, however, we though it would help our development to think of the sort of ending we would like if we had the chance to film an ending. We decided that we are potentially going to prove that ‘labels’ and ‘stereotypes’ shouldn’t be given to those that don’t agree with it, if a person is perfectly happy to be labelled as a ‘chav’ then of course that is fine, but if someone is being stereotyped because of the was they look, dress, act etc they should not be categorized as any one label just because other people think that they should. For the ending of our documentary we would want to create something with strong visual impact, something that really got our point across that stereotypes and labels cannot be justified, teenagers shouldn’t be attached to a word, a meaningless label that hold negative connotations simply because they decide to behave or dress in a certain way; just as homosexual people shouldn’t be labelled as ‘puff’ or people with mental illnesses be labelled as ‘spaz’. For our ending we decided we would have our two main teenagers, that we would have followed for a duration of time, getting to know what they get up to in their free time how they behave, how they regard school/education, their family, their friends, what they think about the labels and stereotypes that teens in the 21st century are associated with, how they feel the media’s portrayal of teens effects the way they are regarded by the rest of society etc. and have them both holding a sign with a label written on it (but not the label they are associated with). For example, we would be following a ‘geek’ and a ‘chav’, the chav would be holding a sign with ‘GEEK’ written on it, and the geek would be holding a sign with ‘CHAV’ written on it. I think this would create a good visual impact, it makes a strong statement without actually saying anything. It’s also quite comical because geek and chav are complete opposite stereotypes, if we wanted to make our ending even more visually striking we could get the chav dressed in stereotypical ‘geek’ clothing, visa versa. An ending like this would really convey a strong message as it’s saying that the teens don’t care! They won’t conform to a stereotype/label just because society thinks they should. It’s showing that labels mean nothing, they’re simply words, labels can change just as clothes can change.

Experimenting with camera techniques:

As photography students me and Bianca had an upper hand with using cameras. As a class we visited the photography studio where the rest of the class were taught a few skills on how best to achieve professional footage through the use of lighting, framing etc. We were given time to experiment different techniques using the photography studio. We mainly focused on experimenting with different lighting and seeing the effect of using different lighting techniques.

1. Close Up: A close up is where the camera lens is zoomed up very close to the subjects face, this is an effective shot if you want to emphasise the persons facial expression.

2. Fully lit: This is achieved by shining all lights on the subject and background, too much lighting can cause a slightly ‘white’ effect on the skin making the features less visible. Too much lighting can be visually distracting, therefore it is best to use medium lighting for interviews to avoid a shiny skin effect.

3. Only Subject lit: In this process only the subject is lit, making the background appear black. This is quite an effective process as it really makes the subject stand out. However, black background can often detract colour from the subject making them appear washed out. It’s n0t the most flattering form of  lighting.

4. Half face lit: This effect is created by lighting only half the subjects face, the lights are directed only from one side of the face while the other side is left in darkness. This can be a nice effect if you are trying to create something mysterious.

5. Silhouettes: Silhouettes are created when the backdrop is lit instead of the subject. It creates a quite eerie black outline of the subject but none of the facial features are visible, if the subject were sitting forward we would be unable to make out anything but her body shape and hair.  Silhouettes can be used in  documentaries if a subject wants to keep their face anonymous.

We also experimented with different framing:
-having the subject framed in the middle; most common framing, having even space either side of the subject.
-having the subject framed more to one side; having a large amount of space one side of the subject.
-close up; only the subjects face is visible in the frame
-far away shot- there’s a lot of background visible the subject appears far away from the camera
-focusing solely on one part of the body – the subjects hands; this is an effective shot if you want to create intensity and drama. Not being able to see someone face when they are speaking is very unusual focusing of someones body language can tell you a lot about what they are saying
-full body shot; the subjects full body is visible in the frame, you have to be zoomed out quite a bit to achieve a full body shot. – most interviews are shot with the interviewee sitting down.
-waist upwards shot; only the subjects face and waist is visible; most common shot used for interviews.

Title sequence:

Through much planning we decided to film our title sequence in Alexandra Palace in North London; we felt this would be a good place to film as it is a well known London landmark and a quite beautiful spot to film. We didn’t want our title sequence to be too complicated therefore we kept it short and snappy. We had the two teenagers that we would be following for the first part of the interview standing next to one another holding written signs with their labels on. We wanted to capture something very natural and not forced. The subjects were simply asked to talk to one another, they laughed and joked not taking us filming them too seriously which meant we were able to capture something very natural. We asked them to stand on the stairs as we were able to capture background scenery from this angle, I feel the blue railing on either side works quite well with the framing of the image, the subjects are placed directly in the middle of the screen with room above them for the title “Label Me”.

Below is a still image of what the title sequence looks like: