Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Analysing the representations of the ‘law’ in the 2 extracts from The Wire and A Touch of Frost.

Representation is the way media ‘re-presents’ different characteristics of real, everyday life for example, certain events, issues and various occupations and what they entail. By the media showing these stereotypes it helps the audience to get a quick and quite common understanding of that particular person/group. Some of these are like visual shortcuts that are repeated which make people believe that they are accurate representations. The way they show these representations is by relating them to features like, race, gender or social role. In this essay I will be analysing the representations of the law in two extracts, ‘The Wire’ and ‘A Touch of Frost’ by looking at these main features in the opening of both extracts.

In TV drama shows police forces are almost always represented to be good people, and are looked up to or seen as role models for others. The police forces are there to solve crimes, seize the criminals in the hope to send them to prison. In many shows we can always tell who is the cop/detective and who the criminal is, this is because they are represented in a certain way which allows the audience to recognize them. The criminals are also represented in a way which allows the audience to identify them from the police. This is where the main features are used to create a certain type of person. This could include things such as mise en scene, of which costumes, lighting, props, characters and anything else put in the frame.

In ‘The Wire’ the opening shows a crime that has taken place, there is low lighting which suggests that it is at night which is when most crimes occur. We can see that it is in the middle of the street and from the conversation between the cop and the victims’ friend we can infer that it was related to a gang. This is a big issue in reality nowadays, as many young teens are portrayed as gang members or simply as hostile people. The victims’ friend looks quite young which tells us this crime could be related to this real life issue of gang violence and teenagers. In this opening we also see a sort of establishing shot from behind the cop, this shot shows us the uniform police documenting the scene of the crime and an ambulance for the victim. This is a good representation of police, as we see them trying to clear the area as soon as possible, also the ambulance and flashing lights all allow the audience to link it further with real life situations.
The costumes used in this opening also relate to real life detectives. In this screen grab we can see the two main characters in the opening. The way they are dressed shows us that it is from a stereotypical point of view, with the cop in a leather jacket and trousers and the victims’ friend in baggy jeans a hat and a scruffy jacket. This opening could be seen as representing the victim and his friend in a negative way. This is because they are young black males, and are associated with gang crime. Some people may believe that this representation is accurate because they may have seen this in real events. The Wire shows how the law works with gangs, or in this case the victims’ friend, to get information that will help the investigation. We see this in this scene where the cop is talking to the victims’ friends as if he knows him, which suggests that he is a friendly person and also represents cops in that perspective as well.

In ‘The Touch of Frost’ British TV drama the opening shows police detectives and uniform police working together to complete an operation.  It is set in day time as the lighting is quite bright which tells the audience that it is unlikely a crime in going to take place. From the first 50 seconds it is not clear of what is going on in the scene, as there are two things happening at once and we cannot tell who is who. As the opening progresses we see that it is a plot to arrest the criminals involved in the crime. We see the uniform police jump out of the van and arrest the two men pushing the van. These criminals are portrayed in a stereotypical way as they are wearing jeans and a leather jacket, which is typical in British crime dramas.  Once the character in the van gets out we can clearly see that he is a detective, from his costume as he is wearing trousers, a long smart coat which underneath we can see he is wearing a shirt and tie, also he is wearing a hat. As he is dressed quite smartly it suggests that he is a detective, the audience would also infer this from the extract. The various police cars and vans outside the scene show that the police are using much more force as they are raiding a big crime. This represents the police in an aggressive manner, and shows their determination to arrest the criminals. We can clearly see the contrast in extracts, in this opening the detective shows anger and dislike towards the criminals, especially the main criminal character, which shows the police in a negative way.

In conclusion, ‘The Touch of Frost’ is quite the opposite of ‘The Wire’ opening, as in that extract the police and the criminals worked together. Furthermore ‘The Touch of Frost’ opening is much faster paced and has a lot more going on, whereas ‘The Wire’ opening was much slower and showed the detective working using a different technique. In addition I believe the law is represented in a positive manner in both extracts. This is because the police are shown as good people, and are trying to do the right thing in both extracts.