What are the 10 Things I Hate About You ? Sign : The smallest unit of meaning in semiotics Oppositions : Contrasts or antitheses that inform texts and thus generate meaning Syntagm : An ordering of signs, a rule-governed combination of signs in a determined sequence • Micro: things that occur within that larger narrative • Macro : looking at whole narrative structure Paradigms : A group of signs so similar that they may be substituted for one another in a syntagm ••••• 10 Things I Hate About You was, and still remains, one of the most popular films to come out of the 90s teen rom-com genre. Adapted from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew , the film brings a classic play into the modern age with a message that’s all about loving who you are despite what others think of you. In this paper I will syntagmatically and paradigmatically analyze this classic 90s teen rom-com as a text by using some of the important signs and oppositions in order to define how the text generates meaning. SIGNS For any piece of media, one of the most important signs is its title. Seeing as it is adapted from the play Taming of the Shrew , the title 10 Things I Hate About You provides an interesting rhyme that is meant as an homage to the Bard himself.
The title comes from the final poem read by the films main character, Kat. In this scene Kat reads an original sonnet that shares the same title as the film. In it, she names the things she hates about Patrick, her love interest who turned out to be only “going out” with her because he was paid to. Thus the films title is a secret homage to Shakespeare as not only does it rhyme with Taming of the Shrew , but stems from a sonnet in his style. Grunge Fashion Kat’s fashion acts as an important sign system within the text. Kat is a self identified feminist who strives to be an individual, never doing things just because everyone else is doing them. This connects to the 90s fashion movement known as grunge. Grunge originated as a part of the alternative movement in Seattle, the movement started with Generation X as a reflection of their frustration with the capitalist upswing spilling over from the 80s. The main features of the fashion movement included anything bought from a thrift store, heavily featuring items such as maxi skirts, sneakers and sandals, plaid shirts and earth tones. This was the 90s version of rebel and misfit fashion as it rebelled against the materialistic society which had been formed by the previous generation. Grunge fashion is based on the idea of going against the norm, against what society expects of you and achieving individuality through style. Ultimately, the philosophy of the movement was being known as an individual rather than adhering to what is expected. This is strongly tied to the ideals which Kat so lives by, and so the decision to dress the character in the grunge style acts as an external signifier of her internal beliefs.
Music Music also plays an interesting role within the text. At the beginning of the films 3rd act,
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- Spring '08
- The Taming of the Shrew, Romantic comedy film, Kat, Patrick Verona