The Hypodermic needle theory
The ‘Hypodermic needle’ or Magic Bullet as it is also called is a term given to a theory on influencing messages from the media. This particular theory originates in 1930’s behaviorism although today it is thought to be obsolete.
The ‘Hypodermic Needle Theory’ refers to a message being projected into an audience’s mind to influence their behaviour. The John Carpenter film “They live” has a very interesting take on the Magic Bullet theory, the film’s premise revolves around aliens that use a signal that dulls the human mind and tricks them into behaving the way they want them to behave. The film also makes several comments on national consumerism that was rampant.
Uses and Gratification Theory
This theory makes the assumption that audiences actively seek out media to satisfy their own desire to increase their knowledge, social interactions, sense of Identity and entertainment. The best way to this analyse this theory is to break it down into four different reasons why people actively seek out media.
Knowledge: according to the uses and gratification theory a person in search of information would look for things like the BBC news, David Attenborough Animal Documentaries, Debate shows like Question time. There are categories of media that serve the desire for information in almost every possible category. (gardening-Ground Force, cooking-Jamie Oliver, Social affairs-Panorama and so on and so forth) Increase in knowledge is the elimination of ignorance and creates a sense of security. Films like GI Joe Retaliation offer the age old fight back against tyranny doctrine which is a common theme in western ideology. A person could probably take the idea of fighting for one’s freedom from this movie.
Intergration and Social interactions: This is the practice of gaining insight into one’s own culture but also developing an empathy for the culture of others. It also creates a basis for different peoples to connect. However on a negative note, it can be seen as a replacement for friendship and healthy social interactions. Jules Verne is a prominent figure in western science fiction which people could identify with although the film Journey 2: the Mysterious Island will not reflect the original novel even though it makes explicit reference.
Entertainment: People use media for the purposes of entertaining themselves, this includes television programs, films, and video games. Some people want to entertain themselves in order to escape the realities of daily life; this is called escapism. People also seek entertainment in order to relax and/or fill time, depending upon your interests there is almost always something to provide you with entertainment. For example a person with artistic values may be interested in cultural programs. However other people may be seeking an emotional release and seek out a dramatic program with situations that they can relate to. Both films that I will examine are purely popcorn flicks with little interest in enlightening or changing your view of the world.
Identity: Audiences can sometimes use the media to find a sense of identity with themselves or another group of individuals. People may be searching for a model to live their life by. Examples of this include Fashion shows, Weight-loss programs and dramas that display aspects of regular daily life that they can relate to, examples include Gok Wan’s How to Look Good Naked (Fashion), Super-Size vs Super-Skinny (Weight-loss/gain) and Soaps like Emmerdale and Coronation Street (Drama). A sense of identity means gaining insight into oneself so some audiences look for characters they identify with which can in turn help them understand themselves better. The negative side of this is that sometimes people can be negatively influenced by media which can lead them to believe they are someone they are not. GI Joe Retaliation is very much American values in practice (Fighting against oppression ‘American Revolution’)
Trailer Analysis and Comparison:
GI Joe Retaliation is the sequel to the 2009 film “GI Joe the Rise of Cobra”, It is an action adventure film based on the “GI Joe” toy line from “Hasbro”. The trailer portrays this genre well with plenty of gunfire, explosions and swordplay (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0MtG42yy4E&feature=relmfu) so that the viewer knows exactly what kind of film they are viewing.
Narrative: The films trailer narrative (story line)seems to pick up on plot points established in the previous movie, namely the villain Zartan impersonating the American president and in this trailer he orders the destruction of GI Joe with extreme prejudice. Only three characters survive and they leave the scene of a massacre where a lot of soldiers were killed implying they are going to get revenge on Cobra. Cobra takes over the White House which means they control the American government. Storm Shadow a villain from the previous film comes back to life after he was supposedly killed at the end of the last film. The remainder of the trailer is just a compilation of action sequences. The trailer ends with a big reveal that Bruce Willis is staring in the movie. The overall narrative of the trailer suggests a revenge plot where the remaining GI Joes get back at Cobra for taking over America and killing their allies.
Target Audience: The target audience for this films seems to be fans of GI Joe, action movies, Bruce Willis and young teenagers. Men and women who grew up with GI Joe, Action Man and Bruce Willis films would probably watch the film with their children. Today’s younger audience would probably connect with the Ninjas and Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) since they both feature heavily in current popular culture. The Rock was a very popular wrestler on WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and Ninjas feature frequently in Television programming (Naruto and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and video games (Ninja Gaiden and most fighting games).
Effectiveness: I believe this trailer succeeded in doing what it set out to accomplish which was to entice an audience to watch their film. The reason I believe it achieves its goal is because the various clips featured in the trailer appeal to a very wide audience. The trailer’s darker tone in comparison to the first film sets new expectations and gets the audience interested again with its new cast and characters. Celebrity endorsements feature heavily in this film because of Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis staring together in the same film, which would be a dream come true for many action fans.
Audience Theory: This trailer doesn’t seem to be conveying any sort of moral message except in the opening when a non-diegetic voice asks a rhetorical question: “You wanna make a difference? Risk your life for a better world.” This could be interpreted as a ‘hypodermic needle type’ trailer. This trailer seems to be content to not challenge you mentally with philosophies or complex morals, but instead it indulges your suspension of disbelief and you lose yourself in it. According to the ‘Uses and Gratification theory’, this trailer is merely entertainment that people are actively looking for. There is an element of American national pride in that the Joes are trying to liberate the country from Cobra’s take-over (which could be perceived as an echo of the sentiments of the 2nd World War e.g freedom vs tyranny). This creates a sense of identity for the majority of American audiences and audiences in other countries who fear the threat of hostile occupation.
Classification: The film is being given a PG-13 rating in America so I believe it is safe to assume that under the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) this film would receive a 12A rating as that is the closest thing Britain has to a PG-13. Under a 12A I expect to see bloodless violence and use of weaponry that is not available to the general public; this is backed up by the content in the film’s trailer. There is no use of offensive language in the trailer. If this film were a 15 rated instead of 12A they could depict stronger violence with brief glimpses of gore and harsh language (for example ‘Fuck’). This course of action is more likely to restrict the audience rather than increase it. It would attract a lot more adults however GI Joe is a brand synonymous with children so a 15 rating would deny that audience.
Personal views: I believe this will be a very action packed film among a lot of other action packed films. A unique argument I can make is that it feels like there are two films being shown at some points in this trailer. What I mean by this is some scenes don’t look like they are part of the same film. An example of this would be the scenes with the GI Joe soldiers and military technology contrasting with the scenes of ninjas wielding swords. This gives me a jarring feeling that perhaps this film will have a lot of content but little cohesion to tie it all together. This makes me cautious about raising my expectations in case I’m disappointed when I eventually see it. This can have both positive and negative effects on the audience: some will love the amount of content and others will think its just a disjointed mess.
Semiotics: A lot of dark colours are used in this trailer which I think gives it a very gritty look and could appear more realistic to the audience. The heavy use of shadows and dark colours are reminiscent of American Gulf War/Taliban War films: e.g Jarhead, Black Hawk Down and The Hurt Locker. Another thing present in war films is the large number of vivid explosions set against dark backgrounds. There is a technological theme throughout the trailer but there is also a minor Oriental theme going on in a Japanese building and a women who is blind folded and fighting with two Katana swords.
In terms of camera angles there are a lot of facial close ups which convey emotions (particularly desperation and determination) and motion shots which might suggest to the audience that they are in for a roller coaster ride with this film. They have a lot of distance shots and wide angles for more open territory like the mountains and the desert to suggest a variety in locations to the viewers. The camera switches between clips at a very frantic pace so audience gets the impression that the film of action and variety in that it shows different things happening in different context (one minute a woman is in a dress; the next there is a sword fight going on).
As mentioned there is a contrast between the old and the new: ninjas with swords and men with computer technology, however they sometimes merge with ninjas on motorbikes and fighting on mountains with safety cord. The colour and lighting seems to constantly switch back and forth between bright and well lit to dark and gritty. The scenes of the mountains give a feeling of awe this is in contrast to the dark man-made structures.
There are a number of signs in this trailer including the representation of a hostile takeover in the Cobra flags unfurling on the White House, which reminds me of Nazi Germany and that infamous symbol of conquest: the swastika. The wording in the trailer’s title has ashes blowing off it could represent a phoenix rising from the ashes which can be seen as symbolic of the revenge theme of the plot.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is an adventure film based on the original Jules Verne novel of the same name minus the ‘journey 2’ part. It has a lot of fantasy elements such as the giant and miniature animals and the city of Atlantis. There is a lot of comedic moments among the characters both visual and verbal. This film has a science fiction theme with lost continents and exploration of the unknown.
Narrative: A man (The Rock) and a kid are looking for mysterious island after receiving a radio call from the kid’s grandfather with the co-ordinates to the island’s location. They go to some kind of Pacific island (possibly Hawaii) and meet a girl and some fat man who owns a helicopter and get them to take them to the co-ordinates. The helicopter gets caught in a storm and comes crashing down, they all wake up on a beach and soon find out they are on the mysterious island. They encounter strange creatures like miniature elephants and giant butterflies before meeting the kid’s grandfather (Michael Cain). They discover the city of Atlantis and the mountain of gold then the grandfather says they will be famous but there are many dangers on the island. They then discover that the island will sink in about two to three hours.
Target audience: This is definitely something parents can take their children to although I’m not sure how much the adults would enjoy it although they may be swayed by some humour which children would’nt understand. Adults may be tempted to the cinema through Michael Cain whom many people admire. Those who enjoy Jules Verne novels will most likely have mixed opinions towards this film.
Effectiveness: The trailer has basic humour which will probably appeal more to younger viewers (and Americans). It shows that it is definitely a fun filled adventure with giant monsters and perils. We see a large land mass with a lot of eye-popping colour and variety plus we see all the actors and characters they portray in the film. However this trailer is full of cliches such as the pace of the music and how it becomes faster and faster until it reaches its climax when the final title appears. This has been done countless times before, other trailers have used this style more creatively like Jurassic Park or sometimes not at all, like Back to the Future. There are too many titles imposing themselves too many times onto the screen interupting sequences of movie foootage. The pace of clips is too frantic just like GI Joe Retaliation so if we blink we could miss them. Compare this with the King Kong 2005 trailer which never flashes it’s clips by too quickly or unnecessarily. This trailer gives far too much of the plot away (e.g finding Grandpa and that the island is going to sink beneath the waves) and doesnt create any tension or suspense because the audience will know its coming when they see the film. In conclusion I think this is a very uninspired trailer that does not generate enough mystery to entice a more mature audience.
Audience Theory: This trailer definitely lives up to the ‘Uses and Gratification theory’ as there is no moral message being conveyed into the viewer’s mind and this trailer seems to only exist to provide entertainment.
Classification: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is rated PG for some adventure scenes and brief mild language. If this were a 12A film they could potentially have more adult content although it would have to be suitable for young teenagers. An example of such could more obvious sexual innuendos and references. You could potentially have more violent actions although they must not be glamourised. This could attract a potentially larger audience because it would appeal to adults and young teens although there is a risk that you would lose the younger audience.
Personal views: I liked the vast majority of colour in the trailer, something GI Joe lacked. The jungles, the ruins and the underwater caverns are reminiscent of levels from video games like Donkey Kong Country. Combining the talents of Sir Michael Caine with the awesomeness of the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) was great casting. However I didn’t like the lack of any mystery or suspence. The trailer gave too much of the plot away and the frantic pace of the music and clips left me irritated. If I was the one making the trailer, I would have not shown any of the Island to give it more mystery and focus on the teenager and the man gaining the co-ordinates to the island and meeting the girl and fat man so that they can follow the co-ordinates until they run into the storm and wash up on the beach. Then when they are about to get off the beach, the title screen would appear and the trailer would end.
Semiotics: There is a lot of variety in the colours, with greens, reds, browns, yellows and blues. They were all very bright colours which was a direct contrast with GI Joe which had very dark and murky colours which created a sinister atmosphere. Journey 2 appears more innocent and fun for its target audience with wholesome colours and attractive visuals (again for its target audience). It was obviously fantasy which is the direct opposite of GI Joe’s technological and Oriental themes and visuals. There are signs of romantic attraction between the boy and the girl such as they look at each other in different scenes (like in the scene when the boy takes off his shades the first time he sees the girl) and the Rock is aware of this and tries to give him advice on how to attract females. They are all dressed in a very casual summer manner and the environment of the island is very colourful which indicates that this film isn’t taking itself too seriously, which is a direct contrast with the military uniform style of GI Joe Retaliation. This tells the audience that this film takes itself more seriously and it suggests the characters are trained and conditioned for combat so violence is inevitable.
The Fat hispanic man seems to be the primary source of comic relief as evidenced in many scenes (He has chickens as a security system for helicopter, He sniffs his own arm pit, he gets defaecated on, he wears a Hawaiian shirt and owns ukulele). GI Joe Retaliation has no humour or potential romance in it’s trailer so the audience probably won’t expect any when they see the film. They also make direct reference to the book “The Mysterious Island” written by Jules Verne by showing a pristine copy on screen, Other than the title location the trailer gives little to no evidence of following the source material which could put off the most extreme Jules Verne fans.
In conclusion both these trailers have their target audiences and they are designed to specifically attract said audiences. GI Joe Retaliation uses depictions of various forms of action with flashy special effects and pyrotechnics to let us know that it is trying to attract action movie fans. It uses recognisable actors like Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis who are household names in the action genre to reinforce this point. In my opinion the trailer succeeds in attracting the audience it intended which would be older children, young teens and adults mostly of the male gender.
The 2nd trailer Journey 2: the mysterious island was a more humorous and light hearted trailer that seems to aim for a much younger audience. It has a lot of bright colours and fantastical scenery and creatures. Like GI Joe this trailer has some star power in the form of once again Dwayne Johnson but in this trailer he is accompanied by the great Sir Michael Caine. The target audience is a lot younger than that of action oriented counterpart and I think it won’t appeal to a more mature teens and adults.
My final opinion is that GI Joe Retaliation will ultimately prove to be the more succesful film as it provides an exciting trailer with lots going on and appeals to a much wider audience as I specify in my analysis. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island just doesn’t sell itself as well and just comes off as mediocre with basic attempts at humour and bland characters.