Why Media Studies? Why Now? 

Freyberg High School began offering Media Studies as an option for Year 12 students in 2018, with this subject now offered to both Year 12 and Year 13 students as an NCEA and University Entrance pathway. Our Media STUDIES courses are complimented by a NEW extra-curricular opportunity - the Freyberg Fleapit Film Makers Club - which focuses on PRODUCTION of media. In 2021, Freyberg's Fleapit Charlatans 48 Hour Film Festival team were recognised as Regional Finalists in the Taranaki area, for the short film 'Clock, Work', which is available to view below.

As we grow this department, we empower ourselves as critical change-agents in a global community. We behave as 21st century individuals who are creative communicators, collaborators and citizens. We strive to uphold moral character and have high expectations of others – with a focus on media producers - to also do so. We value autonomy, risk-taking and conflict as a positive process for change. We challenge dominant ideology and demonstrate social agency. We are media- AND future-focused, because we understand the power that the media has in society, and acknowledge our responsibility to look at the impact that the reciprocal relationship between media and society is having upon the future and future generations.

Year 12 Media Studies at FHS

​​​​​​​In Year 12 Media Studies, we begin our journey of discovery regarding the role of the media in the world that we occupy. We will inquire, communicate, think critically and creatively, collaborate and develop as learners and citizens of the 21st century - both developing our character and ourselves as conscious global citizens, and strengthen and flex our critical thinking skills. We will explore the cyclical relationship between media and society (dystopian genre); issues of representation in media texts; the development of a media genre; ethical issues in the media (cancel culture); narrative as it is developed in media texts; and the creation of written media texts (feature articles).

Year 13 Media Studies at FHS

​​​​​​​In Year 13 Media Studies, we will discover more about the role of the media in the world that we occupy. We will continue to inquire, communicate, think critically and creatively, collaborate and develop as learners and citizens of the 21st century - both developing our character and ourselves as conscious global citizens, and flex our critical thinking skills. We will explore the cyclical relationship between media and society through critical lens (psychological horror genre); issues of representation in NZ media texts; the development of a media genre; semiology in media texts; a significant development in the media (social media algorithms); and the creation of written media texts (film reviews).

Thinking of JOINING US in Media Studies? Read Below...

The media shapes our understanding of the world, reflecting and communicating aspects of our public and private lives and contributing to the creation of personal, social, cultural, and national identities.

Discover how to make sense of the media...

Media studies challenges and empowers students to analyse and interpret media content and to become more informed and think critically about the media and its role in everyday life.

The media is often controlled by powerful corporate interests. Media makers interpret events and shape how we view the world. Students learn to recognise the things that influence the media.

The media is constantly changing. The progress of technology, mobility, connectivity, and digitisation is generating new channels and media formats. Students are increasingly participating in this dynamic new environment. Through active engagement with the media, they will deepen their awareness of the nature and purpose of these changes.

Create and innovate...

Students develop and project their creativity, learning how to entertain and influence audiences and communicate powerfully using media technologies.

Students contribute to New Zealand culture, expressing their ideas and identities by creating their own media products. They learn to appreciate the aesthetic values of media products and their wider historical and cultural context.

Media studies prepares students for the future...

Students develop the skills to become informed, discriminating citizens in a constantly changing, interconnected world. Through media studies, students explore career pathways in the rapidly growing information, knowledge, entertainment, and communications industries.

SOURCE: Media Studies TKI Curriculum Documents Click here 

Have more QUESTIONS? Ask a current Media Studies student OR contact Whaea Stacie for more information!

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Freyberg High School 13ME 2021

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Freyberg High School 12ME 2021

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​​​​​​​HOD Media Studies | Stacie Nicholls

Year 12 Media Studies Teacher

​​​​​​​Fiona Gledhill​​​​​​​

Year 13 Media Studies Teacher

​​​​​​​Stacie Nicholls

Extracts of Student Work Produced in FHS Year 12 AND Year 13 Media Studies 2020...​​​​​​​

Year 12 Media Representation Extract...

 Similarly, the American television drama, Devious Maids further develops this representation of Latinas through their five central protagonists. The show is highly commended for including a majority Latina cast, however, in implementing these characters into such a setting and having such a primary focus on their being Latina, the show allows itself to delve heavily into stereotypes within the first few episodes alone. In the first two episodes titled as the ‘Pilot’ and ‘Setting the Table’ respectively, the character of Valentina is used by the text to portray Latinas in a hypersexualised manner. In the pilot episode, the young maid by the name of Valentina attempts to impress her employer’s son, Remi (who - it is also important to note - is a white male). In a scene where Valentina is making tea so that she might gain his attention, she undresses until she is only in her underwear, and although she eventually puts on a cute dress before going outside to deliver him the drink, this moment is drawn out. This deliberate choice to depict the character in such a way sends messages to the viewers about her sexuality. Dressing her in such a way for this scene does not develop the plot nor have any impact on later scenes, it simply exists to showcase the young Latina’s body. Then, in a later scene, Valentina’s mother, who similarly works as a maid and saw Valentina talking to Remi outside, buys her a maid’s uniform. When Valentina questions the reasoning behind this, her mother replies that, ‘Those people, in that house, need to be reminded of what we’re there to do.’ She then goes on to say that rich boys are not worth it, informing the audience that she is referring to Remi, and we can understand that she believes he sees her as a body, not as a person in herself. In an act of rebellion, Valentina then alters the outfit so that it is much more flattering, clinging to her hips and exposing her cleavage. In doing this, this media text is normalising and encouraging the idea of Latina sexualisation, and this is particularly addressed as Remi checks her out as she walks past in her newly customised outfit. Even though the show is trying to be progressive, when viewers see this kind of behaviour from a Latina character, they then come to expect these women to be playful, to be flirty, to be overtly sexual and to do so for the entertainment and pleasure of men. Especially white men, such as Remi, who then begin to see them as exotic beauties. In costuming this girl in this way the audience is becoming normalised to the sight of femininity and sexuality regarding Latinas, even from an early age as she is only supposed to be around 19 years old, and convincing viewers that this is just how it is. That Latinas are sexual bodies designed specifically for men. Likewise, the dialogue sequence between Valentina and her mother, although calling out this way of thinking, still leads viewers to believe that society treats Latinas in such a way, and if so many people think it, it must be true. Especially when Valentina so actively rebels against her mother. The representation of Latinas in the media, with a particular focus on the aspect of their hyper-sexualisation which is promoted through these productions, implies that all Latinas should look and act a certain way. When we see Gloria and the outfits she is put in on Modern Family, and when we see Valentina excessively flaunting her body for the attention of a man on Devious Maids, society is being told that it is okay to see Latinas in this way and that it is okay to view them as sexual objects. While it is great that modern television can incorporate Latin Americans as central characters, allowing young girls to see someone they identify with on the big screen, by incorporating such stereotypical ideas these shows are missing the point. As stated by a New York University Global Affairs graduate, Marisa Ahuja, ‘Latin women are much more than hyper-sexualized, feisty women who flirt with their bosses. Perpetuating the stereotype only prevents people who don't know enough about the culture to see BEYOND it. Yes, Latin people know there is more to us than that, but this show [Devious Maids] won't be watched by Latin people only.’ (Defillo, 2013) Essentially, the more that these stereotypes are produced within a media context, the harder it will be to detach these ideals and beliefs from society’s perception of female Latin Americans. These stereotypes then come to dictate the perception and experiences of real Latina women through objectification and commodification. As Hannah Lipman explains in her paper exploring the impact on the male gaze on Hispanic women in film, 'The white male gaze towards Hispanic women situates the gaze towards the women in a sexual and racial objectification.' (Lipman, 2014) The film industry uses Latinas as a collective, as sexual objects for male pleasure and in doing so, treats them as if they are mere objects. If Gloria and Valentina are dressed in sexual ways within media and have clear characteristics of Latina identity, then their sole purpose must be as sexual objects. 

Year 12 Cancel Culture Ethical Issue Extract...

Sameer Hinduja, Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Centre explains that, especially in situations in which the accused person is actually innocent, “Retaliation against those who are cancelled is sometimes more offensive than the exposed behaviour of the offender themself.” This is definitely true in Charles’ case, considering his only proven crime was being slightly arrogant.

This was seen again when Caroline Flack became a target of cancel culture, when her boyfriend claimed she had physically assaulted him. Despite Flack’s boyfriend retracting his claim, thousands of people online came to the brash conclusion that she was guilty. Due to the nature of cancel culture, this generated online bullying and misguided accusations, which is thought to be a prominent cause of her suicide.

Community organiser and author, Asam Ahmad puts this down to the “thrill” of hating a stranger online, and states that, “One action becomes reason to pass judgement on someone’s entire being.” Cancel culture thrives when individuals jump to conclusions, and any hesitance can be viewed as lack of empathy for the victim.

In reality, we know that we can show compassion for victims without making premature accusations, as shown in society’s fundamental belief of innocence until proven guilty. Cancel culture instead enforces self-righteous attitudes, making individuals feel as though they have a moral high ground; disguising immorality as heroism. Therefore, cancel culture, which excessively fuels the court of public opinion, can be used as a dangerous weapon.

The implications of this are detrimental, with the already exponential political and social divide being furthered by cancel culture. Those involved in these online battles don’t even attempt to understand one another, placing everyone in an echo-chamber. This causes both online and offline conflicts. Simply attacking a person or ideology is not a particularly effective way to bring about change without bringing forth compromise. Instead, this alienates people and causes tension between them.

This is why call-outs are ineffective, and should instead be replaced by a form of call-in, or justice culture, in which people are privately held accountable and offered the opportunity to change. Actress Jameela Jamil claims that “criticism should become impactful dialogue and actionable change,” acknowledging that cancel culture does not unite people, but tears them apart.

These are the rationales that ultimately question the ethics of cancel culture. Is the occasional cancel culture success worth ruining the lives of good people? Especially considering its sexist, racist and anti-LGBT undertones? Education, accuracy and compassion are being replaced by division, unfairness and hate. The impacts of this online culture are too protrusive in the offline world, which determines that cancel culture, whilst beneficial in some circumstances, does more harm than good. Acknowledging the irony, perhaps it is time we cancel ‘cancel culture’.

Year 13 New Zealand Media Representation Extract...

Whenever an idea, experience, community, race, culture, or other societal group is presented in the media, it is a re-presentation of this concept or collective. Media texts can only depict a particular version of reality - and this version is impacted by the media creator's own thoughts, background, perspectives, and values. This is why consumers end up viewing media texts with a bias; they are being forced to view the re-presentation of reality from a particular perspective - the perspective of the producer, which could be influenced by a range of agendas. In New Zealand, there is a particular issue with the over-re-presentation of the 'she’ll be right' attitude through various media texts, and this has shaped how the people of New Zealand react to mental health challenges and 'difficult conversations' regarding this. The song 'She'll Be Right' - both the original[1] and the version now sung by five-year-olds in primary school[2] - and the media persona 'Fred Dagg'[7], portrayed by satirical comedian John Clarke, are examples of a 'carefree Kiwi' stereotype, where New Zealanders are depicted as being laidback in situations that would usually encourage emotional distress and mental health challenges. This stereotype was re-emphasised by stamps produced and distributed in 2007[14] by NZ Post and other retailers. Tourism advertising displayed both locally and internationally also portrays this same attitude. The problem with Kiwis being constantly portrayed as laidback, carefree, or idyllic, is that there is now a pressure to always be this way, or risk not fitting into society (i.e. being rejected; every human's second-worst fear, according to this article[3]). When the media is constantly pushing this attitude into the faces of New Zealanders, they are forced to buy into the common 'happiness ideology'. However, the 'she'll be right' attitude is actually causing severe damage to Kiwis across the nation[17], as there is a stigma around the discussion of anything that does not fit into the requirements of a 'Kiwi attitude'. In essence, we have a situation where about half of all New Zealanders are suffering or will suffer from some form of mental illness[5], or are otherwise being affected by the 'she'll be right attitude', because nobody actually wants to discuss what is going on in their minds, and it's easier to push aside your problems than it is to confront them. Sigmund Freud's 'Pleasure Principle' stated that humans strive to fulfil basic needs and avoid pain in all situations[6]. When the media is encouraging said avoidance of pain through the continuous reinforcement of the 'she'll be right' attitude, a certain form of almost emotional laziness becomes second nature to the population.

The phrases 'no worries, mate' and 'she'll be right' are both common colloquialisms in New Zealand. The latter can be traced back to this song from the 50s[1], and the media persona Fred Dagg[7], created in the 70s. People who frequent media texts in the way that Fred Dagg and Peter Cape - author of the song 'She'll Be Right' - did will always end up having an influence on the people viewing the media and also the media itself. Fred Dagg, at the time, was quite the media celebrity. He was played by satirical comedian John Clarke, and is quoted as having said 'she'll be right' in response to the economic recession that took place in 1970s New Zealand[8]. Lyrics from the song 'She'll Be Right' depicts an attitude that no matter what the situation everything would work out okay. In these lyrics Peter Cape says that even if you're about to skewered by an angry boar, it's alright:

"When you're huntin' in the mountains and your dogs put up a chase, And this porker's comin' at you and he doesn't like your face And you're runnin', and he's runnin', and he's crowdin' on the pace, Well don't worry mate, she'll be right, She'll be right, mate, she'll be right. Don't worry mate, she'll be right. You c'n get y' feed of pork when he slows down to a walk, So (And) don't worry mate, she'll be right."

Undoubtedly the 'she'll be right' attitude existed before the song was written and definitely before Fred Dagg was created - but these were perhaps the first and the biggest portrayers of the concept in mainstream New Zealand media. Hearing Peter Cape's song and listening to Fred Dagg's reassurances and dark humour pushed the idea that everything would work out if Kiwi's didn’t worry. In response to challenging situations, Fred Dagg especially chose to make light of whatever scenario was at hand. Being a media persona, he was a role model for many people; thus, him modelling this laidback, nonchalant attitude as his trademark meant that New Zealanders took this as gospel, and the idea of pushing issues away and deciding that 'she'll be right' (even if she won't) became more prevalent. It's very common for Kiwi men to represented as masculine and unemotional - and this would have contributed to the stereotype that all Kiwis are nonchalant even in the most difficult situations. The problem with characters such as Fred Dagg is that their trademark dark humour - saying 'she'll be right' and cracking a grin when asked about the failing economy - has become an accepted part of Kiwi society. It's almost a cornerstone of New Zealand culture, and the media has continued to play off this concept. Much of our tourism advertising presents Kiwis as happy people, surrounded by bright colours and cheery sayings. When these are displayed internationally, people come expecting a certain something from Kiwis, which creates a pressure on New Zealanders to meet those expectations. Te Ara - a New Zealand website focused on history - wrote that Fred Dagg was created by John Clarke specifically to satirise current events. Whether this was a deliberate move on behalf of his agent or another media worker cannot be determined. However, the persona was created, accepted by New Zealanders, and then Fred Dagg's attitude continued to be portrayed in New Zealand media. While the news displayed the latest updates on the economic recession, Fred Dagg ran around making light of it all.  "With his black singlet, gumboots, Kiwi accent and laconic sense of humour, Fred Dagg was seen as a typical rural 'hard case' character, and gained a cult following."[8] This quote shows that satire was appreciated by New Zealanders historically and also proves the dark humour aspect of Kiwi humour likely originated from characters such as Fred Dagg being shown in the media. According to this report from an ex-Massey University student[9], satire - especially political satire - is "thriving in the hands of the younger generation." Satire being largely used in politics implies that when New Zealanders don't understand a situation they turn to some form of dark humour, to make light of it so they don't have to think too hard about it; the same situation goes for mental health. To quote this Stuff article[10], "By staking out a playful space to meditate on emotions that are actually upsetting (like the dread and anxiety of living in a thoroughly postmodern world), millennial surrealism intermixes relief with stress and levity with lunacy." This quote demonstrates how millennials - a.k.a. the up-and-coming creators of today's media - use satire to make light of situations in which they should really be confronting negative emotions like anxiety. Basically, when it comes down to it, Kiwis make jokes instead of confronting their mental health issues; we are stuck in a loop where this is part of the culture, but it's damaging the people.

Watch BELOW the Fleapit Charlatans 2021 48 Hour Film Festival entry, 'Clock, Work'. Recognised as a Taranaki Regional Finalist!