305MC Essay Plan

Essay question: Choose a current issue/debate/controversy and analyze how it is informed and determined by power, spectacle and memory within contemporary mediated culture. (3,000-3,500 words)


Madeleine Mccann

Date of event:

3 May 2007 (Date of disappearance) – Investigation still ongoing.

Key Facts

  • disappeared on the evening of 3 May 2007 from her bed in a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, a resort in the Algarve region of Portugal, sparking what one newspaper called “the most heavily reported missing-person case in modern history.”(Telegraph.co.uk, 2008)
  • January 29, 2009, it is reported that nearly £2 million was raised for the official fund to find Madeleine in the first 10 months after she went missing, Companies House accounts show. (ITV News, 2014)
  • May 12 – Mrs McCann publishes a book about her daughter’s disappearance on Madeleine’s eighth birthday. Scotland Yard launches a review of the case after a request from Home Secretary Theresa May supported by Prime Minister David Cameron. (ITV News, 2014)

The Spectacle and the carnival

“It is material , it degrades the abstract and the ideal and celebrates the body and the life of the people” – Bakhtin on the carnival

 A spectacle is something you watch, not something you take part in.

We are going to apply these ideas to the Madeleine Mccann case.


A spectacle is something big and impressive. Spectacle impresses us. In sporting events we are emotionally invested in them. This is applicable to the Madeline Mccann case as due to the media coverage a lot of us are emotionally invested in it.


Sometimes the spectacle is something we know to be false. We know the match is fixed but we still engage.- Roland Barthes

The spectacle is not a collection of images it is a social relation between people that is mediated by images” – Guy Debord

This will be applied to the Madeleine Mccann case by discussing whether the media representations and the relations they have formed with the audience are the whole truth.

 Spectacle lodges in the memory

It is distinctive, it is out of the ordinary, it is different from everyday life. This is specifically applicable to the Mccann case, hence the attention brought to it. I will further explore how this spectacle lodges in the memory.

 Spectacle and Theatre

Theatre engages the mind then the emotion, spectacle engages emotion and overrides the mind.

I will be looking at the Mccann case in terms of Aristotle’s poetics: Tragedy, pity and fear, catharsis, purging/discharge of negative emotion


The power relations amongst these following elements will be explored in how they make sense, knowledge and truth: Meanings and metaphors, representations, social practices, material circumstances, forms of subjectivities

We will see how these discourses shape, determine, and produce reality.


Discourse allows and limits topics to be constructed in a certain fashion.

Who says what to whom, when, how, why and to what effect?” – Stuart Hall


The introduction will introduce the issue in the news I will be discussing as well as a brief introduction into  what the rest of the essay will be about.

Paragraph 1

  • Introduce the story which I will be discussing briefly.
  • Outline the narrative of events

Paragraph 2

  • Speak about the facts of the disappearance.
  • How was the story presented to the public and why.
  • Speak about the reactions to the story

Paragraph 3

Introduce the meanings of Power, Spectacle and memory.

Paragraph 4 

  • Speak of how power, the spectacle and memory works in compliance with the modern media’s coverage on this issue.

Paragraph 5

  • Perform a critical evaluation
  • Draw a conclusion on the issue due to the information presented.


ITV News, (2014). 2007-2014 timeline of events in search for Madeleine McCann. [online] Available at: http://www.itv.com/news/central/2014-05-08/2007-2014-timeline-of-events-in-search-for-madeleine-mccann/ [Accessed 13 Nov. 2015].

Telegraph.co.uk, (2008). Master of media circus for Madeleine McCann. [online] Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1902515/Master-of-media-circus-for-Madeleine-McCann.html [Accessed 13 Nov. 2015].

Michel Foucault – The Subject and Power

Michel Foucault – Sara Mills

Owen Jones – Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

Imogen Tyler


Remaking A Spectacle For Society


Guy Debord’s film was the subject for scrutiny this week, with a remake being undertaken by everyone in our seminar group. We were each given a 4 minute section to recreate, this being our section:

The first section showed images of war and showed soldiers engaged in battle. I wanted to mirror this section to show the continuity over time and how war is still a very large part of our society even if it isn’t quite as prominent as latter days. This was done by adding in images of an army preparing for war rather than engaging in battle.

The next section just had writing. Whilst it is assumed that the text on the screen was the same as the subtitles, we decided to translate it. The text actually uncovered some added meanings to the film so the decision was made to add the literal translation into the remake as an image to further compliment the message.

The next images we saw in the original were images of beauty shown in the media. The voiceover speaks of memory and how art makes the world seem a much more beautiful place. So, we added in 70’s iconic and beautiful women as an overlay to match the theme of outward facing beauty in the media. We felt this was the most effective way to convey the message.

We then see a scene in which a man and his wife are speaking to each other about their issues. The main message we took from that scene was reliance on external substances to fix an issue. We thought we would drill in this idea by using images from an LSD study and overlaying the subtitles from the original scene which were oddly fitting. I feel this effectively conveyed the underlying theme we found in the original scene.

Then, at the end we used images from the Royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William as Debord was speaking about specialists of power of the spectacle. We thought the Royal Family in particular fitting this criteria to a tee.


Here is the original film in it’s entirety, the section of our remake was the 12-16 minute marks.