Masked Discourses : Political Ideologies in Contemporary Superhero Films

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Title: Masked Discourses : Political Ideologies in Contemporary Superhero Films
Author: Munoz Gonzalez, Rodrigo Antonio
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Sosiaalitieteiden laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för socialvetenskaper
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2017
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Viestintä
Media and Communication Studies
Medier och kommunikation
Abstract: This investigation analyzes the ideological representations of superhero films produced during recent years based on a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) approach. The figure of the ‘caped crusader’ has a long history of media production; the narratives of these characters have expanded from comic books to a variety of media outlets (Coogan, 2006; Reynolds, 1994), including recently streaming services such as Netflix. Thus, it becomes essential to understand the meanings contained in these stories, and how they are depicted. The purpose of this study is to understand the operation of political ideologies at a textual level in media products that are often targeted to global audiences. With this, it is intended to discuss the discursive concordance, negotiations, or critiques that these products might realize upon a certain political hegemony. Moreover, it reflects on the mode in which certain contemporary events are translated in popular narratives and how they affect them. Hence, this research is founded upon a qualitative basis. Regarding the empiric materials, a sample of films is selected to undertake the general aim of this research. The sample consists in two trilogies of recent films that tell the story of Batman and Captain America respectively. The first superhero forms part of a rich media production tradition; from live-action and animated TV series, to proper films, Batman unfolds a vast narrative universe that have gained audience attention and loyalty. The second ‘masked hero’ implies a path to perceive how an American hegemony is depicted in a group of films. The hero was created as a propagandistic effort of the United States during the Second World War (Dittmer, 2005, 2013). In this sense, it is important to identify whether or not the ideological charge of the character has prevailed in recent treatments. Superhero films comprise many social meanings. This research considers the character of the superhero as part of a contemporary mythology that thrives in mainstream popular culture. It analyzes the relationship between ideology, considered as a semiotic matrix that enables the production, reproduction, and consumption of certain meanings in a given society, with cinema. This effort broadens the comprehension of political ideologies in films by developing a systematic approach to the study of ideology in media based on a CDA perspective. It unravels a deep and detailed account of the discursive operations that moor an ideology in a text.
Subject: superheroes
popular culture
critical discourse analysis

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