Modern media is full of different content aimed at attracting wide audience and directed towards attaining different goals. The variety of content sources is also significantly large and has a tendency to grow. As a result, an average user of media content has to develop the abilities to sort various kinds of information and find the most relevant sources. This aspect is important for the creators of the content because they want to know the tastes and the motives of the audience. Such information allows focusing on the key interests of the selected audience as well as the key features of the genre of the chosen content. In case the creators of media content produce a valid and relevant product, its ratings rise bringing social recognition and popularity. This paper analyzes a drama film Beasts of No Nation produced in 2015 as an example of a narrative-based content. The paper focuses on such aspects as features of the film, its audience, topic and themes, features of drama genre, and representation of different inequalities. This research allows creating a comprehensive profile of the selected content improving the individual skills of the future content-creator. It is possible to state that each media product has to bear specific features to meet the expectations of the audience and become popular.
Content and Its Theme
The drama under analysis depicts a story of a child in the middle of a civil war in a fictional country in Africa. Its main theme is the destructive effect of war on people’s lives because it mainly shows the killings, suffering, broken families, famine, rape, and humiliation caused by a military conflict. The protagonist of the story is a young African boy named Agu from a peaceful family that lives in a small village. The war comes in the village and Agu’s life in a form of soldiers of the government who kill each citizen due to the rebels support suspicion. Having lost his family, the boy escapes from the soldiers and spends a plenty of time wandering around the African jungle searching for food in attempts to survive. One day, he meets guerilla forces that accept Agu as their member and train him to fight against the militaristic government. Thus, being motivated by the will to pay back for his family, the boy becomes a merciless rebel soldier gradually becoming a “beast.”
The content of the film exposes the ugly moral aspects of the civil war and animal instincts of its participants. Thus, initially, the soldiers of the government of the unnamed African country are displayed as extremely brutal killing the whole population of the village including children and women. However, it appears that the rebels are not fighting for the wellbeing of the country either because their morality is just a convenient cover for malice. For instance, the victim of the first murder committed by Agu is a civilian who works as an engineer. Moreover, the rebels act similarly to the government’s forces killing the population of different villages taking their food and raping the women. At the same time, all members of the rebel forces are drug addicts, and some episodes give the viewers the hints that their leader, the Commandant, is a pedophile. Lastly, the rebels, except the Commandant, realize that they become the beasts acting so brutally, and they decide to surrender to the UN forces. The ending of the film is open as Agu goes swimming in the ocean with other children willing to start a new life.
Content and Audience
The film targets the mature audience as it has numerous episodes of murder and other inappropriate violent content that is not allowed to be displayed to the younger audience. At the same time, the drama genre focuses mostly on people who search for some psychological conflicts in films and prefer reflective thinking to entertainment. The topic of the film, which is a civil war, also may attract the interest of people keen on psychology, military service, politics, and other fields of knowledge. Therefore, the audience of Beasts of No Nation is mostly intelligent and properly educated individuals fond of analyzing the depicted events. The film addresses the audience by depicting dramatic events that stimulate compassion, appeal to other emotions, and raise questions about global, interpersonal, and inner conflicts. Therefore, the analyzed film perfectly suits the genre of drama as it serves as a stimulus for deep emotions. It is important to note that more accurate definition of the film genre is a military drama as it displays the clash of civilian and military combat realities.
Content and Representation of Inequalities
The media content under analysis reflects a variety of inequalities ranging from social status to gender discrimination. Thus, one of the primary conflicts depicted in the film is the aggression and brutality of military forces against peaceful civilians. It demonstrates that people carrying weapon have a destructive power that allows them oppressing the others and bypassing the aspects of gender, age, education, occupation, etc. For example, in one of the episodes, Agu, an uneducated young boy, murders with machete a grown-up male engineer who has a family. Furthermore, the film depicts gender inequality because in several episodes, women are shown as either an object of rape or prostitutes and servants, whereas nearly all males are the source of malice. Moreover, one of the prostitutes is framed by the Commandant as a murderer of his successor and eventually killed because no one cares about the lives of the prostitutes. The only woman left unharmed is Agu’s mother who escapes before the military approaches the village. Furthermore, an episode giving a hint for the Commandant’s sexual intercourse with Agu indicates the presence of pedophilia and children abuse. Basically, the fact that children serve as a weapon of the rebels is the most obvious display of their abuse. Therefore, the conflict in the analyzed media content is intensified by numerous deviations and violation of equality making it relevant to the genre of drama. As a result, the audience willing to watch a dramatic film is exposed to numerous episodes forming a comprehensive picture of the evil of the civil war. At the same time, positively depicted happy ending gives the viewers a relief cherishing their hopes for better future of the protagonist and his country.
Summarizing the presented information, the drama Beasts of No Nation has the features typical of the genre that make it a desired product for the selected audience. Thus, the viewers watching it would enjoy a full range of different emotions evoked by civil conflict involving a young African boy as an active participant. The movie also unfolds a variety of topics such as civil, age, and gender inequalities that intensify the conflict. Therefore, the analyzed narrative-based media content fully achieves its goals and can be regarded as the icon of the genre. Such investigation is useful for current and future specialists in media content as it targets specific audience and meets its needs.