On February 2, 2014 Phillip Seymour Hoffman best known for his diverse and odd roles in many movies like Magnolia, Synecdoche, New York and Savages passed way from what was expected as a drug overdose, most likely from heroine. Hoffman had secured many awards and accolades for his roles in theatre and film. In analysis of CBC news coverage and National Post’s online article created within hours of each other, narrative structure and discourse are used to create meaning. The reports plot a story of Hoffman’s life and his death and is finished with a plethora of other famed individuals reminiscing about his acting career.
Discourse is explained though many mediums and is focused around the social construction of meaning. O’Shaughnessy and Stadler (2012, 172) state that discourse is a:
…collective discussion or interplay of meanings and idea circulating around a particular subject, incorporating these different modes of expression and instances of communication
Discourse tends to bring together a range of ideas and voices into overall discourses, especially with globalization in existence and social media outlets providing an audience with instant access to a powerful collection of resources. Narratives or stories are simple ways to make sense of an experience. Narrative is shared by all societies as humans understand and relate experiences through storytelling. Narrative is defined as “ a sequence of events taking place over a given period of time that are linked, mainly through cause and effect” O’Shaughnessy and Stadler (2012, 259).
Television and print media have a diverse influence on discourse because of the generally large amount of exposure it is given. I have chosen to analyze and discuss the news story of the recent death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, more specifically drug and celebrity discourses. Drug abuse has created a discourse of being a constant theme within the ranks of actors for many decades. Stints in rehabilitation and other programs have become a daily occurrence in a world filled with no consequence for actions, high payed and famed actors. The death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who is regarded as one of the best actors of his generation has created a discourse around the fact his death was caused by a heroine overdose. The drug discourse is quite apparent upon a deeper look into the article, the fact that media tries to hide his cause of death, which was likely caused by drugs is used in both articles. Print and televised news present an awareness to narcotics and drug abuse but often times hide it when dealing with actors who do not carry a career of controversy they focus on other discourses surrounding the individual in this case celebrity discourses. Specifically in the case of Hoffman’s death with media focuses less on the story of his death and rather on the fact he was a celebrity.
A narrative analysis takes a peak at different media sources and aims to gain some sort of intelligence of different...