A consideration of melodrama and current affairs : mimesis, nemesis and the melodrama, 'the search for certainty in the eye of fate : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Media Studies at Massey University
Melodrama, a type of theatrical performance existing from the beginnings of drama to today's Current Affairs programme, is the drama of the division between the Self and the Other as; the self and other people, (them and Us), or the Self and the ultimate Other (God). Melodrama is also the drama of the Self against the exigencies of fate. While both Tragedy and Comedy each in their own way explore what it means to be human, Melodrama is the drama of being human in the world. Melodrama actualises the desire of the Self to make sense of what is happening in the world, and happening intrapsychically. (Hence the subtitle 'Melodrama Fiction and Faction The Search for Certainty In the Eye of Fate'.) Melodrama is the exploration of the triumph of virtue over vice, of courage over disaster, of hope over experience. It is this polarisation within the Melodrama that gives it its Manichaean character. The psychological force which creates awareness of, and acting out of these divisions, is the dramatic impulse mimesis. The bridges between early drama and the Melodrama are ritual, and myth, embodied in their early written form, the epic. Classical eighteenth and nineteenth century Melodrama, with its presentation of a divided universe, is a motivating force in today's Current. Affairs programmes. It infuses today's Current Affairs debates and documentaries as the accompanying video demonstrates. In discussing the Melodramatic form I have considered polarisation and propitiation as psychological imperatives, with ritual representation as the structure for the primary dramatic form, and excess as the dramatic mode. To demonstrate the existence of Melodramatic concepts and elements in Current Affairs programme I have analysed New Zealand produced pre-recorded television Current Affairs From TV One and TV Three for the two weeks 30th June - 7th July - 18th- 22nd
August 1996. These weeks were chosen at random and the programmes broadcast during them analysed. My final analysis focused on Holmes, The Tuesday Documentary, and 60 Minutes, TVNZ; and Ralston, Inside New Zealand, and 20/20 TV3.