Being that this IS a media student’s blog at the heart, something recently was said (not towards me, but in general) about the notion of ‘soft subjects’ in GCSE, A Level, and at degree level. This isn’t news to me, as I’m fully aware of the social stigma certain subjects get, and Media is a particular scapegoat for these ‘concerns’. Here is my “professional” (quotations because take that as you wish) opinion on why Media (and by extension most subjects that aren’t Science or Maths based) ISN’T a soft subject.
So this is where I began my interest in Media as an academic subject. Firstly, the stereotype is, all you ever do is sit and watch films and say why you think ‘that film were good’.
The truth is: My Media exercise book (which is STILL in my cupboard at home) was full of media debates and theory considering the role and representation of women in Media, basic narrative and cinematography theory, deconstructions of texts from newspapers to film trailers. Basically, this is English 101, but you’re writing about media that isn’t English Literature based. As well as this, we created a film trailer, posters and promotional material (all looking at codes and conventions of said material), and wrote countless essays on debates and theory.
Again, the stereotype is, you watch films, and write shitty reviews
The truth is: We looked deeper at narrative theory, media debates and controversy issues in codes of practise. Countless hours were spent looking at the way we present different social/sexual/ability/gender groups. Essays, creation of different media materials, 2 short films, one documentary in nature. For a finished 5 minute (which is very crude but watchable HERE) piece this took months of planning, location scouting, actors, and interviewees found, and negotiated with. Plus hours of editing (literally hours, sometimes staying after school until 6/7 on a regular basis).
Media Production BA (Hons)
This time, people expect you to make a film. The stereotype is you make films. But how much effort must that take compared to physics reading, right?!
The truth is: We make films, but God is it hard work. A 90 second video (My first project for uni, watchable HERE) took 3 full days of recording, negotiating access with Central Perk, getting permission from customers, and a solid 10/15 hours of editing in 3 weeks. As well as this, we presented a rough cut and completely changed the direction of the video, meaning an extra 5/10 hours of editing was needed. While other subjects are ‘reading’, we are out filming on location, making phone calls contacting locations, interviewees, and actors, or spending hours holed in up edit suites. Then after this, we also have to read about media issues and debates, advanced theory surrounding camera work, narrative conventions and theory, and writing essays from these seminars. Not only this, but there is hours of problem solving when using new software or hardware, when people and places let you down, or unavailable. Most of this isn’t done from the comfort of home either.
At the end of the day, the notion of soft subjects is ludicrous. Different subjects are hard/easy for different reasons, and judging one on the idea that because it isn’t about math or scientific reading and formula, it’s not worth doing. If you must know, I’ve recently been reading the book ‘Impure Cinema: Intermedial and Intercultural Approaches To Film’. Hmm, doesn’t that sound fancy.
Personally, I felt obliged to write this for the students whose parents shy them away from such subjects due to their age-old view of ‘soft subjects’. What you should do is not worry about people thinking you’re doing the ‘simple’ subjects. Some of us can’t perform maths equations ad lib. But then again, those who can can’t write blog posts as amazing as this (Hah.) So if you’re worried about it, don’t be. Follow your heart. It’s what I did. And I’m just as busy/miserable as the Maths Students.