Monday, 8 December 2014

Representation of Age in Waterloo Road: Exam Style Question

In this extract from Waterloo Road a representation is constructed of a variety of ages, in a number of ways, through the use of the four areas of textual analysis: the use of camera shots, angles, movement and composition, mise en scene, editing, and sound.

The mise en scene of the school setting immediately implies to the audience that there are going to be a mixture of age groups seen in this extract, young students and more mature teachers.

In the first scene there is a tracking shot of the mature teachers shoes, they are quite old-fashioned and are a dull brown colour. This piece of costume could reflect the teachers mature age as these are typical shoes associated with someone of around 60 years old (which the teacher appears to be). The dull colour of them could also represent the stereotypical idea of mature adults being boring and not having much excitement in their lives. Furthermore, they could represent that he has an old-fashioned way of teaching- which is conveyed in his stern attitude towards the boys. The tracking shot of his feet almost creates a sense that he is an oncoming danger to the boys and their misbehaviour as it builds up tension- this infers that as a mature figure he has power and authority over the young students. This conforms to the stereotype of elders being the people you need to respect and be obedient to. This authority over youth is further established when the boys immediately try to hide what they're doing as the teacher approaches them, showing that they fear him in a way. The teachers dialogue also shows his power over the boys when he orders them to 'give it' about the camera and one of them corroborates with his request. Therefore, this mature character mainly conforms to the stereotype of someone around the age of 60 due to all of the factors mentioned.

Miss. Chowdry's naivety and inexperience, which conforms to the stereotype of those in their early thirties (which the character seems to be), are highlighted by the male teacher's use of diegetic sound- in his dialogue. For example, this is apparent when he assumes that she took out insurance on the camera, and responds in an almost shocked tone of voice when he realises she hasn't. His reaction emphasises the mature male teacher's knowledge and experience and Miss. Chowdry's lack of these qualities. The cut to her reaction to what the male teacher says, and the close-up on her regretful facial expression, further highlights her mistake and therefore her inexperience. Resultantly, Miss. Chowdry's character clearly helps to emphasise that more mature adults are stereotypically the most experienced and knowledgeable, and that younger adults are quite inexperienced in comparison.

The mid-shot of the girls walking down the corridor with one boy highlights the girls' costume and conveys that they conform to the stereotype of teenage girls caring a great deal about their appearance, as they are wearing short skirts and customized school uniforms. The mise en scene used here, such as make-up, further establishes that the characters conform to this idea. The non-diegetic use of music, which sounds like it is hip-hop, used when Amy runs after the boy in the corridor relates to this idea of youth, healthiness, and energy. Furthermore, Amy's aggressive attitude towards the boy and the vaguely aggressive sounding music relate to the stereotype of teenagers being violent. Therefore, the character of Amy clearly helps to construct a negatively stereotypical representation of teenage girls.

After this there is a scene with a student and a caretaker. The close-up on the student's face and the dialogue he uses suggests that he is truthful about wanting to help the caretaker, the close-up clearly shows his sincere facial expression. This conveys that, although the caretaker infers that the boy is troublesome in his dialogue, the boy is not entirely a troublemaker and bad- he is actually quite vulnerable and willing to change his ways. This breaks the stereotype of some teenage boys being hopeless, aggressive rebels. Both characters have a similar amount of screen time and there are a lot of reverse takes between them, this implies that they have equal power and are willing to level with each other. This breaks the stereotype of adults in their forties (which the caretaker seems to be) exerting their authority over young people all of the time. Both of these characters therefore help to break the stereotypes of different age groups, and are a more realistic interpretation of them.

Another significant moment in the extract which constructs a representation of the 13- 19 age group is the scene where it is made clear in the dialogue that a teenage girl is pregnant. This links in with a stereotypical theme related to teenagers in contemporary times- teenage pregnancy. However, the stereotype of the boy who is the father of the baby abandoning the girl doesn't seem like it's going to be apparent in this extract- the boy seems overjoyed in his dialogue, breaking the stereotype. It also breaks the stereotype of some teenage boys being uncommitted, selfish and inconsiderate, as this character appears to be caring for the girl and selfless. The girl however has an uncomfortable facial expression when the boy is acting in this way, highlighted by a close-up. The boy sat on the desk in front of the couple is put in focus at one point and is smirking, with the girl positioned behind him in the shot suggesting this expression is to do with her. These two characters seem to be inferring through these expressions that there has been some sort of romantic relation between them, that they have not informed the other boy about. This conforms to the stereotype of teenagers being uncommitted. The girls expression also implies that she is scared about her pregnancy, and that she is therefore vulnerable and sensitive- conforming to the softer and more sensitive stereotype of teenage girls. Overall, the characters in this scene both construct a representation of teenagers that are partly stereotypical and that are in other ways not.

In another integral part of the extract the stereotype of some teenage boys is adhered to. There is a stereotype of teenage boys that is that they are geeky, are almost overly eager in school, are fanatical about video games, and have awkward, nervous personalities. In a scene in the clip there is a teenage boy that is intimidated by Amy, and you can infer this through the diegetic sound of his tone of voice- which is a panicked, quivering sound. This conforms to the stereotype as it shows that he has a nervous personality, and that he may be socially inexperienced as he can't handle Amy's aggressive attitude- suggesting he's never been in a confrontation before. This idea of him being socially awkward is also established in a earlier shot- where he is walking down the corridor alone, suggesting that perhaps the character doesn't have many friends and that he is lonely. The stereotype is further constructed through the mise en scene of his costume. He has a variety of badges on his blazer- inferring that he is eager at school, intelligent and does not have a good fashion sense. Furthermore, his hair is styled in an old-fashioned manner conveying, once again, that he has little fashion sense, and that he is not like the 'cooler' teenagers who typically keep up with what is popular. Also, the use of dialogue informs the audience that the boy has asthma- which is stereotypically associated with this stereotype. All of these factors conform to the geeky stereotype, contributing to a stereotypical representation of teenage boys.

The last scene is perhaps the most significant in constructing a representation of those that are middle-aged. One of the male teachers in this age group dresses in a costume typically associated with teenagers- a T-shirt and jeans, with his underwear worn in a high up manner. There is a tilt-shot of the character, emphasising the hilarity of the moment and how he clearly looks ridiculous as the clothes he is wearing are not suited to his age group. His costume infers that he is trying to be young again, that he is therefore perhaps having a mid-life crisis, that he is attempting to fit in with the youth, and his dialogue to Miss. Chowdry infers that he is endeavouring to impress her. The fact that he believes that these clothes would impress her expresses that he is naive and gullable, and this is highlighted by the close-up on his face and his embarrassed facial expression when Miss. Chowdry tells him he looks ridiculous. This breaks the stereotype of mature adults being knowledgeable and wordly, as he looks foolish. There is further emphasis put on how ridiculous he looks through the use of non-diegetic hip-hop sounding music, that clearly shows he is foolish for trying to dress up like the youth, as he doesn't fit with the music because he is not young- whereas Amy and her attitude did fit with similar music used earlier on the extract because she is young. These factors therefore create a representation of middle-aged people being foolish by attempting to be youthful, breaking the knowledgeable, and comfortable with who they are, middle-aged stereotype.

The editing in throughout the extract cuts quickly from frame to frame, creating a fast-paced school atmosphere. This reflects the energy of the young students and also the chaotic time that the teachers have at school. This subsequently implies that the teachers have to deal with some student that are unruly- which conforms to the misbehaving teenage stereotype.

In conclusion, the extract constructs mainly stereotypical representations of a variety of age groups. However, a few characters do break the stereotypes in some ways- such as the teacher at the end of the clip.

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