Major global events of 2016: Year of shocking surprises
When history looks back at 2016, a couple of words will stick out most prominently: Trump and surprise. Donald Trump, real estate mogul and reality TV star, surprised everyone - reportedly even himself - by winning the 2016 US presidential elections after polls and experts tipped Hillary Clinton for the job.
But even before that there were other I-don't-believe-this moments over the past 12 months,
How Trump won the election: volatility and a common touch
The former Apprentice host has pulled off the most astonishing victory in US history, harnessing a disgruntled electorate to beat an unpopular opponent
It is one of the most astonishing victories in American political history. It will leave millions in the US and beyond in shock, wondering what is to come, and asking: how did Donald Trump do it?
Trump was the first reality TV star – and the first non-politician since Dwight Eisenhower – to win the nomination for president of a major political party. He was the first to spend part of his campaign denying sexual assault allegations and clashing with the family of a fallen soldier and a Miss Universe. At 70, he is the oldest person in history to be elected US president.
A simple message
Trump copied and recast Ronald Reagan’s promise to make America great again. In four words it captured both pessimism and optimism, both fear and hope. The slogan harks back to a supposed golden age of greatness – the 1950s, perhaps, or the 1980s – and implies that it has been lost but then promises to restore it. It went straight to the gut, unlike rival Hillary Clinton’s website manifesto and more nuanced proposals.
It was an appeal to the heart, not the head, in a country where patriotism should never be underestimated.
Chris Matthews, a host on MSNBC, said in September: “A lot of this support for Trump, with all his flaws which he displays regularly, is about the country – patriotic feelings people have, they feel like the country has been let down. Our elite leaders on issues like immigration, they don’t regulate any immigration it seems. They don’t regulate trade to our advantage, to the working man or working woman’s advantage. They take us into stupid wars. Their kids don’t fight but our kids do.”
“It’s patriotic. They believe in their country. .... [There is a] deep sense that the country is being taken away and betrayed. I think that is so deep with people that they’re looking at a guy who’s flawed as hell like Trump and at least it’s a way of saying I am really angry about the way the elite has treated my country. And it’s so deep that it overwhelms all the bad stuff from Trump. It’s that strong. It’s a strong force wind.”
Misogyny, racism and nihilism
Trump was wildly ill-disciplined. There was outrageous behaviour and offensive statements that alienated women, African Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, disabled people and, ultimately, believers in constitutional democracy. In any normal year, such a volatile package would have been disqualifying. But while those voices were amplified in the media, there were plenty of people who agreed with him. Some could not stomach the idea of a female president. Some proved that racism has not withered away, but rather in some cases has intensified, since the election of the first African American president.
A majority (56%) of white Americans – including three in four (74%) of white evangelical Protestants – said American society has changed for the worse since the 1950s in a recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.
Trump was the ultimate protest vote with obvious echoes of Brexit. Film-maker Michael Moore told NBC’s Meet the Press in October: “Across the midwest, across the Rustbelt, I understand why a lot of people are angry. And they see Donald Trump as their human Molotov cocktail that they get to go into the voting booth on November 8 and throw him into our political system. I think they love the idea of blowing up the system.”
How Donald Trump is like Ronald Reagan
Trump and Reagan shared a common goal, American greatness
Britain Votes to Leave E.U
LONDON — June. The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, also known as the EU referendum and the Brexit referendum, took place on 23 June 2016 in the United Kingdom (UK) and Gibraltar to gauge support for the country either remaining a member of, or leaving, the European Union (EU) under the provisions of the European Union Referendum Act 2015 and also the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. The referendum resulted in a simple majority of 51.9% of people voting in favour of leaving the EU. Although legally the referendum was non-binding, the government had promised to implement the result and it initiated the official EU withdrawal process on 29 March 2017, which put the UK on course to leave the EU by 30 March 2019.
Britain has voted to leave the European Union, a historic decision sure to reshape the nation’s place in the world, rattle the Continent and rock political establishments throughout the West.
Britain will become the first country to leave the 28-member bloc, which has been increasingly weighed down by its failures to deal fully with a succession of crises, from the financial collapse of 2008 to a resurgent Russia and the huge influx of migrants last year.
Britain’s vote to leave the EU was the result of widespread anti-immigration sentiment, rather than a wider dissatisfaction with politics, according to a major survey of social attitudes in the UK.
Findings from the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey show Brexit was the result of widespread concern over the numbers of people coming to the UK – millions of whom have done so under the EU’s freedom of movement rules in recent years.
Writing 'Black Mirror'
When we discuss ideologies evident in media narratives we must differentiate between those held in the time and place of production of a text and those held in society at the time and place of the consumption of that text. The reading of a text may vary according to time, place, culture, gender age or the consumption context Media texts are products of society and when examined in sequence, can illustrate changes in that society. Different societies may be built on different ideologies and therefore read tests differently.
Nosedive’, dir Joe Wright, 2016 the first episode of the third season of the tech dystopian series Black Mirror also reflects how audiences from differentperiods of time engage with, consume and read media narratives differently.
According to Statistica one the defining phenomena of 2016 reshaping the world is the world-wide accessibility to the internet and most pertinently the use of social media. The region with the highest penetration rates of social networks is North America where 70% of the population had at least one social media account. As of 2017 81% of the United States population had a social networking profile. This demographic, exposed to President Trumps strategic use of social media, business and social platforms such as Uber and the Peoples App and China’s move to rate its citizens through a social credit reflect how ideological and social contexts impact on the audiences reading of the text.
Nosedive takes social media to an Orwellian conclusion with its app called 'Rate Me' that has absolute market penetration. The 'Rate Me' app allows people to rate every interaction both online and offline out of 5. This leads to a world separated into people who are absolutely controlled by the app and those who joyously remove themselves from what has become civilised society. The text in presenting an examination of the potential cycle and outcome of social media engage the audience through either a preferred or negotiated reading of the text. A contemporary audience familiar with the unprecedented and rapid rise of social media is positioned to identify with the narrative presented in Nosedive, as opposed to an audience preceding the rise of social media.
A satire on acceptance and the image of us we like to portray and project to others’’ – creator Brooker describes the successful yet concerning episode. Nosedive is perhaps a heightened version of modern society, were through social media we are undeniably careful of the choice of words used around certain company or consider the correct way to project a comment in the most positive way. These are undeniable ingredients purposely included to make a contemporary audience immersed in social media not only think about our behaviour as an individual but collectively as a nation. This is distinct from an audience devoid of experience with social media who would be positioned to perhaps have an oppositional reading of the text given its dystopian view of the future.
Black Mirrors’ Nosedive was released at the height of the Unites States election campaign in 2016 resulting in Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump copied and recast Ronald Reagan’s promise to make America great again. In four words, it captured both pessimism and optimism, both fear and hope. The political positions of United States President Donald Trump (referred to as Trumpism)have elements from across the political spectrum merging populism with plutocracy and authoritarianism.
Trump also proposed sizable income tax cuts and deregulation consistent with conservative (Republican Party) policies, along with significant infrastructure investment and protection for entitlements for the elderly, typically considered liberal (Democratic Party) policies. His anti-globalization policies of trade protectionism and immigration reduction cross party lines
During this period, the cultural and social landscape of America had embraced social media as a major platform of communication engagement and identity. Nosedive” explores the consequences of integrating seemingly arbitrary social rankings into everyday life—in this world, where your number dictates which jobs you can get, which neighbourhood you live in, and even which cars you can rent.
The prevalence of social media is championed by Trump himself who uses Twitter as a platform for political commentary, opinion and announcements. Unlike Blade Runner, Nosedive is set in contemporary society as we follow the protagonist Lacie, on the journey to her idea of success. There are extreme gender regressive notions which are portrayed through the overall aesthetics of the episode, which resonate with the infamous Trump tapes which marked him as misogynist. Both the male and female characters, dressed in their perfectly mismatched shades of salmon and baby blue, prance around a clear 1950’s inspired architectural community which paints the picture of the nuclear family, and all that entails. The colours used - blue for boys, pink for girls - combined with female and male interactions causes for one to feel confused by the idea of regression contrasting with when the episode is supposed to be set, the future.
Preceding Trump the election of the nation’s first black president back in 2007 raised hopes that race relations in the U.S. would improve, especially among black voters. But by 2016, following a spate of high-profile deaths of black Americans during encounters with police and protests by the Black Lives Matter movement and other groups, many Americans – especially blacks – described race relations as generally bad.
Nosedive also explores how the American social system affects people of colour. The mise en scene employed in the text largely consists of pastels, soft pinks and peaches, milky mint green, but it is also very white.
In the episode, the majority of service roles like baristas, airline booking agents, car rental attendants, airport security—apparently associated with lower rankings—are played by people of colour. The one person we see being down voted out of a job and into oblivion was a black character, who desperately attempts to make himself more likable by buying smoothies for his co-workers, as if he had no choice but to engage in a self-fulfilling prophecy of poor ranking and servitude. Nosedive suggests our society marginalizes and devalues people of colour as an unconscious by product of that very system.
Nosedive” is both dystopian fiction and acute social satire. Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard) lives in a version of America where every tiny interaction is ranked by the people involved on an app that syncs with augmented-reality contact lenses (or retinal implants, it’s unclear). The minute you see someone you can also see their ranking, meaning that reality has morphed into a pastel-coloured nightmare of aggressive cheeriness, as citizens attempt to out-nice each other and bump up their ratings.
Of course, a lot of this already happens. Many governments including the U.S. already spy on their citizens, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram collect an overwhelming amount of information on you, as does Google. The Peeples App gave users the capacity to rank any person around them on a star system. Globally in China Zhima Credit, a "personal credit" rating associated with Alipay, the main form of mobile payment in China is set to become mandatory for all citizens by 2020. The Chinese government has described the system as a method to improve trust nationwide and cultivate a culture of “sincerity.”
The episode aims squarely at the anxiety stoked by a social media and obsession with quantification. For anyone who’s ever made conversation with an Uber driver specifically to upgrade a passenger rating, or wondered why a tweet isn’t getting more likes, or even checked a credit score, “Nosedive” surely radiates shivers of anxiety and a dystopian view of social media. Its setting in a Truman Show-style universe that seems designed explicitly for Instagram. Nosedive is perhaps a heightened version of modern society, however there are undeniable ingredients purposely included to make one not only think about our behaviour as an individual but collectively as a nation.
Writer, Brooker heightens aspects of real life within the episode for dramatic purpose and entertainment, not to completely leave the audience with an uncomfortable feeling of regret towards our world. The defining moment at the end of the episode where the audience observe Lacie through subjective camera shots and rhythmic editing utterly let go of the repression and built up emotion which allows for a closure where the audience can reflect that although technology, social media and overall modern society can at times be overwhelming, it’s how we as humans utilise them in moderation that counts.
Questions from the VCAA SAMPLE EXAM 2018
Narrative and ideology
Question 1 (3 marks) Describe the relationship between audience engagement and the construction of media narratives.
Question 2 (4 marks)Explain how ideology can shape media narratives.
Question 3 (6 marks)Explain why audiences from different periods of time engage with, consume and read media narratives differently. In your response, refer to one of the narratives that you have studied this year.
Question 4 (7 marks)
Analyse how the relationship between two media codes and/or conventions convey meaning in another narrative that you have studied this year.
Question 5 (10 marks)
Media narratives can convey ideology through the selection and application of media codes and conventions.
Analyse how media codes and conventions convey ideology in the media narratives that you have studied this year.
Black Mirror and Ideology
The seductive dystopia of “Black Mirror.
Ideology and Black Mirror
Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker
Donald Trump one year on: How the Twitter President changed social media and the country's top office
Is Donald Trump like Ronald Reagan
Donald Trumps use of Social Media
BLACK MIRROR’ MEETS REALITY: CHINA MOVES TO RATE ITS CITIZENS USING A ‘SOCIAL CREDIT SYSTEM’
Black Mirror is coming true in China, where your 'rating' affects your home, transport and social circle
Inside China's Vast New Experiment in Social Ranking
When social media advertising is driven by liberal ideolog
Black Mirror’s ‘Nosedive’ Skewers Social Media
A new poll reveals which piece of Black Mirror tech the public wants to use the most
Black Mirror Creator Charlie Brooker Thinks Technology Is Making Us Miserable
‘Black Mirror’, a title that refers to the ‘cold, shiny screens’ of the devices we are so attached to; an implied message that technology reflects the darkest elements of humans today. Charlie Brooker, the genius behind the show, outlines the concept with stating ‘they’re all about the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes time if we're clumsy’. Each episode, unrelated to one another in every sense from narrative to characters, vary in time period, also. Some episodes are set vividly in an imaginative, futuristic world yet, the most disturbing ones, are set today; shining an unsettling spotlight on the way we live as of now.
‘Nosedive’, series three - episode one, does just that as we follow the protagonist Lacie, (Bryce Dallas Howard), on the journey to her idea of success. There is extreme gender regressive notions which are portrayed through the overall aesthetics of the episode. Both the male and female characters, dressed in their perfectly mismatched shades of salmon and baby blue, prance around a clear 1950’s inspired architectural community which paints the picture of the nuclear family, and all that entails. The colours used - blue for boys, pink for girls - combined with female and male interactions causes for one to feel confused by the idea of regression contrasting with when the episode is supposed to be set, the future.
"A satire on acceptance and the image of us we like to portray and project to others’’ - Brooker describes the successful yet concerning episode. Upon the first viewing, one may feel outraged by such a world. Sickeningly-sweet, fake loners who roam around a pastel-coloured hell in seek to desperately maintain or improve an acceptable rating and acceptance from others in society. How sad must one be within themselves that the medicine to uplift them is another’s approval? To fuss over why a certain tweet has not got as many likes as you first had hoped; to have anxiety whilst waiting for your crush to match you on Tinder; or considering what mark you wish to score your Uber driver the entire journey, are aspects your independent, self-assured life would never consist of… right? Wrong. Nosedive is perhaps a heightened version of modern society, however there are undeniable ingredients purposely included to make one not only think about our behaviour as an individual but collectively as a nation.
In ‘Status Anxiety’, Alain De Botton (2004) states, that ‘those without status remain unseen, they are treated brusquely, their complexities are trampled upon and their identities ignored’, categorising them into nonsensical/absurd terms of ‘somebodies’ and their inverse as ‘nobodies’. In Nosedive, your rating determines your status. Drop below a 3.5 and you are considered an outcast - unable to rent certain cars, denied access to certain buildings or even catch a flight to leave the country. Nosedive could not support De Botton’s statement more. But what makes us a ‘somebody’ opposed to a ‘nobody’? What doors does that open for us or perhaps keep us out of? One of low status should not be read in material terms alone although typically we associate the benefits of high status to wealth. At no point do we see characters interact with the idea of money. Buying a simple coffee and cookie is exchanged with a rating to the barista and an extra cheery goodbye! Lacie’s coworker, blacklisted by colleagues after a breakup, is categorised as an absolute ‘nobody’. We see hints of his journey to rock bottom throughout the episode where he essentially begs Lacie along with others to rate him higher simply so he can access his office. Humiliated and scared of what is to come for his low rated life now, it is tortuous to watch what status, and lack of it, can oppose on someone.
‘In traditional societies, high status may have been inordinately hard to acquire as what mattered was one’s identity at birth, rather than anything one might achieve in one’s lifetime. What mattered was who one was, seldom what one did’ (De Botton, 2004). The concept of ‘Nosedive’ and rating one another which then opens doors to more opportunities challenges De Botton’s statement. In this world, one is not luckily gifted with status, it is earned. One can not commend Lacie for wanting a better life for herself, having goals and ambitions. Her dream of living in a certain area with a beautiful home is not absurd. Securing false friendships and repressing true emotions and thoughts to appear as a perfect human is, however. De Botton then justifies that ‘status anxiety is the price we pay for acknowledging a public difference between a successful and unsuccessful life’ and that the ‘fear that one might fail and disgrace ones self in the eyes of others is only a natural consequence of having ambition’.
Repressing ones true thoughts and feelings to achieve comfortable happiness appears utterly ridiculous to a modern society, especially due to the amount of technology accessible to us, which allows us to have the freedom of speech at the click of a button. Yet still, we are undeniably careful of the choice of words used around certain company or consider the correct way to project a comment in the most positive way. Something the characters in ‘Nosedive’ are no stranger of. Lacie even practices her greetings every morning in the mirror to perfect the perkiest introduction possible. There are countless reasons why us as humans do this. It could be said the most significant though, is the fear of rejection and our constant crave for love and acceptance. ‘’No more fiendish punishment could be devised, were such a thing physically possible, than that one should be turned loose in society and remain absolutely unnoticed by all members thereof. If no one turned around when we entered, answered when we spoke or acted as if we were non-existent things, a kind of rage and impotent despair would before long well up in us, from which the cruellest body torture would be a relief.’’ William James, The Principles of Psychology, (Boston, 1890). James highlights an important point that perhaps the attention of others matters to us simply because we are affected by a congenital uncertainty as to what our own value is. To support this, Botton expresses ‘there is something sobering and absurd in the extent to which we are cheered by attention and damaged by disregard’. The absence of love, to be ignored, rejected causes an emotion so incomprehensible that one would do all in their power to avoid - even if that may be to repress and subdue your true being.
Rejection leading to absence of love inevitably leads to loneliness. In a modern society where we’re more connected than ever before, with social media being the most powerful way to communicate, it does make one wonder how our time has been called ‘the age of loneliness’. The platforms available to us from Facebook, Twitter to Instagram allows for convenient connection but are we truly creating a link between relationships? The word ‘social’, connoting a group of people genuinely connecting, is ironically shown with the characters in ‘Nosedive’. A brief encounter in an elevator with Lacie and coworker consists of one another checking the other's profile accounts to see what they have been up to instead of simply asking and conversing - something that is not unattainable or unusual to happen in todays society. The “social” network has been linked to a surprising number of undesirable mental health issues, which aside from the feeling of loneliness, includes depression, low self-esteem, and bitter jealousy. According to studies and new research from the psychologists at Brigham Young University/ The University of Utah it has been said that social isolation and the feeling of loneliness increase a person’s chance of premature death by 14 percent - nearly double the risk of early death from obesity (The Huffington Post, 2016). Worrying figures for a modern world where the thought of feeling lonely is absurd due to our accessibility of ways to connect.
Although appearing negative, we must not forget what technology and social media really has brought us. Black Mirror may explore the murky relationship between humans and screens but it is in no way a bash against it. If anything, a celebration of what our modern society has become. Brooker heightens aspects of real life within the episode for dramatic purpose and entertainment, not to completely leave the audience with a uncomfortable feeling of hate towards our world. The truly beautiful moment at the end of the episode where we see Lacie utterly let go of the repression and built up emotion allows for an ending where one can go away feeling that although technology, social media and overall modern society can at times be overwhelming, its how we as humans utilise them in moderation that counts. Technology is exciting, but lets not drown in eagerness to the point where we lose sight of what is important.
De Botton, A. (2004). Status anxiety. 1st ed. New York: Pantheon Books.
Forbes.com. (2016). Forbes Welcome. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2016].
Williams, Z., Kingsley, P., Stuart, K., Hern, A., Elan, P. and Parkinson, H. (2016). Reflections on Black Mirror – by those for whom science fiction became reality. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2016].
The Huffington Post. (2016). Why Loneliness Is A Growing Public Health Concern -- And What We Can Do About It. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2016].
YouTube. (2016). Black Mirror: Bryce Dallas Howard and Alice Eve Discuss Their Chilling Social Media Episode. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2016].