Free Essay. Media Semiotic Analysis with Embedded Research

Published: 2023-03-08
Free Essay. Media Semiotic Analysis with Embedded Research
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Research Analysis Movie
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 933 words
8 min read

Semiotics refers to the study of the sign process, that is, any form of conduct, activity and any process that involves signs. Therefore, semiotic analysis involves semiotic concepts and models that aim to understand, analyze and interpret signs, the interaction of sign and the sign system and the meaning of signs. The paper is premised on the Semiotic analysis of the film Murderball.

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The Film to be decoded

As noted in the introductory paragraph, the film to be decoded is Murderball by Dana Adam Shapiro and Henry-Alex Rubin. It lasts for about 88 minutes, with the primary issues revolving quadriplegics playing a full-contact rugby match in wheelchairs. The superstar overcame unimaginable obstacles to secure a chance to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. Quad rugby was played by the U.S team, between the years 2002 and 2004 in the Sweden and Paralympics Games in Athens. Most young men with spinal injury, played this tumbled, rough sports in special wheelchairs (McDonald 210).

The film is both intriguing and at the same time, transgressing some of the social norms. It offers a leeway into the lives of the disabled and their families who talk frankly about their feeling in public, injuries, competitiveness, sex lives, and love of the game. The director of the film has employed the use of different signs and signifiers (symbols), metaphors, imagery, and other stylistic elements to ensure that the primary message is driven to every audience (Bispo, Renato, and Vasco n.p) It is a film with different interpretations depending on how one offers criticism.

Social Significance of the Film

The film decodes stories of the 2004 U.S. Quad Rugby Team, portraying individual histories of many players and provide accounts of living with disabilities. The film "Murderball" dispelled many stereotypes mostly attributed to disabled individuals, casting them in an accurate light not commonly seen by many (Rubin and Shapiro n.p). As such, its social significance is on transgressing the societal norm and bringing a new order of reality by imaging the disabled as being abled and in need of opportunity for expression.

What the Sign means in line with Burke's Pentad

The discussion of the sign from the dimension of Burke's Pentad informs of the structure of dramatism that the film takes. It is through dramatism that metalinguistic approaches to stories are advanced in the bid of predicting the conduct of human beings. The agent covers the performer of actions. The scene connotes where and when. The why question falls under purpose. The how question connote agency. The last issue is the act that covers everything, and answers the question what? In the diagram attitude is also noted as the derivative of the agent.

Therefore, the signs are as follows: the agent pertains to the main character who is Mark Zupan, and other minor characters in the cast, such as Andy Cohen, Bobby Lugano, and Scott Hogsett. The scene was based in Athens, and the main aim (purpose) was to be a hard sell something that later changed following its successes. The performance involved the disabled in a wheelchair (agency). The what question (act) is based on the flow and plot developments with the storyline revolving Mark Zupan.

How the film represents the Topic

The representation of the topic of semiotic analysis is based on the ease the film allows in the analysis of concepts and models that aid in understanding, analyzing, and providing the interpretations of signs, the interaction of signs, the sign system, and the meaning of signs. For example, Mark Zupan's physique can be argued in correlation with the societal view of the disabled from the dimension of the signifier and the signified, where the signifier is the society and the signified is Mark Zupan (Lindemann n.p).

Explanation of the Sketch

The film represents a time and era when there were stereotypes and prejudice against the disabled (historical context). On the part of the cultural context, the society shared in the prejudices, but Mark Zupan transgressed the norms (Rubin and Shapiro n.p). The film influenced the politics of the time with political voices bringing forth debates on promotion of the affairs of the marginalized societies.

Questions emanating from the Film

Considering that the film revolves around Mark Zupan, should he be considered as the only agent-based on Burke's Pentad, or should the film be considered to have many agents even though they played minor roles?

Should the discussion of the signifier and the Signified be used extensively instead of different literary techniques considering that there are direct correlations of societal stereotypes and prejudice against the disabled and how they are viewed in different forums? Does semiotic analysis effectively deconstructs the film and puts it within the literary discourse?

Thesis statement

The film is unparalleled as an exposition of ideas about masculinity. Athleticism and sexuality are, therefore, key components of culturally constructed masculinity. The power of the sport and the film overturn stereotypes of disability as chastened. They are both fascinating on how the disabled may embrace the stereotype of sexism to neutralize the stigma of disability and restore cultural stature. As such, the thesis statement is on the semiotic representation of the film Murderball in bringing out how the disabled transgressed the societal and cultural norms.

Works Cited

Bispo, Renato, and Vasco Branco. "Designing out stigma: the potential of contradictory symbolic imagery." Include 2009 (2009).

Lindemann, Kurt. "Murderball." Disability Studies Quarterly 26.2 (2006). Retrieved from

McDonald, Ian. "Situating the sports documentary." Journal of Sport and Social Issues 31.3 (2007): 208-225. Retrieved from

Rubin Henry, and Shapiro Dana. 2012. The Film Murderball. Retrieved from

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