representation by yaoyufang


									G235: Critical
Perspectives in Media

Theoretical Evaluation
of Production

Question 1(b)
•   You will be able to describe what
    representation is.
•   Be able to identify the types of groups
    that are represented?
•   You will be able to discuss
    representation in your products
          Big question

 • The media does not represent and
construct reality, but instead represents
•   Representing is about constructing reality, it is supposed to contain
    versimilitued and simplify people’s understanding of life.

•   Representation refers to the construction in any medium (especially the mass
    media) of aspects of reality such as people, places, objects, events, cultural
    identities and other abstract concepts. Such representations may be in speech
    or writing as well as still or moving pictures.
•   The term refers to the processes involved as well as to its products. For
    instance, in relation to the key markers of identity - Class, Age, Gender and
    Ethnicity (the 'cage' of identity) - representation involves not only how identities
    are represented (or rather constructed) within the text but also how they are
    constructed in the processes of production and reception by people whose
    identities are also differentially marked in relation to such demographic factors.
    Consider, for instance, the issue of 'the gaze'. How do men look at images of
    women, women at men, men at men and women at women?
• Richard Dyer (1983) posed a few questions
  when analysing media representations in
• 1. What sense of the world is it making?
• 2. What does it imply? Is it typical of the
  world or deviant?
• 3. Who is it speaking to? For whom? To
• 4. What does it represent to us and why?
  How do we respond to the representation?
How do you think the following
groups are represented in the
•   Types of people:
•   Class
•   Age
•   Gender
•   Ethnicity
•   Sexuality

• How are men and women
  represented in films?
• What roles do men and
  women have in films?
• What do they look like,
  which seven character
  types are they?
Representations of sexuality
        in cinema

• How are gays/lesbians represented?
• What roles do gay/lesbian characters
  have in films?
• What do they look like, which seven
  character types are they?
• How is ethnicity represented?
• What roles do these characters play in
• Which seven character types are they?
Representation - Definition
• How the media shows us things about
  society – but this is through careful
  mediation. Hence re-presentation.
• For representation to be meaningful to
  audiences there needs to be a shared
  recognition of people, situations, ideas etc.
• All representations therefore have
  ideologies behind them. Certain paradigms
  are encoded into texts and others are left
  out in order to give a preferred
  representation (Levi – Strauss, 1958).
•    In terms of your coursework you will be
     looking at representation in terms of :
Ideology – refers to a set of ideas which
produces a partial and selective view of reality.
Notion of ideology entails widely held ideas or
beliefs which are seen as ‘common’ sense and
become naturalised.

What is important is that, in Marxist terms, the
media’s role may be seen as :
Circulating and reinforcing dominant ideologies
(less frequently) undermining and challenging
such ideologies.
• Rosalind Brunt (1992) details that
  ideologies are never simply ideas in
  peoples’ heads but are indeed myths that
  we live by and which contribute to our self

• David Gauntlett (2002) argues that
  “identities are not ‘given’ but are
  constructed and negotiated.”
• Michel Maffesoli (1985) identified the idea
  of the “urban tribe” – members of these
  small groups tend to have similar
  worldwide views, dress styles and common
  behaviours – leads to the decline of
• Collective Identity
• David Gauntlett (2007) argues that
  “Identity is complicated. Everybody thinks
  they’ve got one. Artists play with the idea
  of identity in modern society.”
 2. Gender and Ideology (FEMINISM)
• Masculinity and femininity are socially
• Ideas about gender are produced and
  reflected in language O’ Sullivan et al
• Feminism is a label that refers to a broad
  range of views containing one shared
  assumption – gender inequalities in society,
  historically masculine power (patriarchy)
  exercised at right of women’s interests and
• Particularly in relation to film –
  objectification of women’s bodies in the
  media has been a constant theme.
• Laura Mulvey (1975) argues that the
  dominant point of view is masculine. The
  female body is displayed for the male gaze
  in order to provide erotic pleasure for the
  male (vouyerism). Women are therefore
  objectified by the camera lens and
  whatever gender the spectator/audience is
  positioned to accept the masculine POV.
John Berger ‘Ways Of Seeing’ (1972)
“Men act and women appear”. “Men
  look at women. Women watch
  themselves being looked at”.
“Women are aware of being seen by a
  male spectator”
• Jib Fowles (1996) “in advertising, males
  gaze and females are gazed at”.
• Paul Messaris (1997) “female models
  addressed to women....appear to imply a
  male point of view”.
• In terms of magazine covers of women,
  Janice Winship (1987) has been an
  extremely influential theorist. “The gaze
  between cover model and women readers
  marks the complicity between women
  seeing themselves in the image masculine
  culture has defined”.
• In Slasher movies the psychopath is finally
  stopped by a character, which Carol J.
  Clover(1992), calls the ‘Final Girl’.
• The ‘Final Girl’ is always a pure, innocent
  girl who abstains from sex and may be less
  attractive than the other female characters.
  The message here is clear, in horror
  movies, if you are a women, Sex = Death.
• ‘In a media saturated world, the distinction
  between reality and media representations
  becomes blurred or invisible to us.’ (Julian
  McDougall, 2009).
• Modern period came before – people were
  concerned with representing reality, but
  now this gets mixed around and we end up
  with pastiche, parody and intertextuality.
  For example, Dominic Strinati (1995)
  details that “reality is now only definable in
  terms of the reflections of the mirror”.
• Jean-Francois Lyotard (1984) and Jean
  Baudrillard (1980) share the belief that the
  idea of ‘truth’ needs to be deconstructed
  so that dominant ideas (that Lyotard
  argues are “grand narratives”) can be
• Baudrillard discussed the concept of
  hyperreality – we inhabit a society that is
  no longer made up of any original thing for
  a sign to represent – it is the sign that is
  now the meaning. He argued that we live in
  a society of simulacra – simulations of
  reality that replace the real. Remember
• We can apply this to texts that
  claim to represent reality – social
  realist films?
• Merrin (2005) argues that “the
  media do not reflect and represent
  reality but instead produce it,
  employing this simulation to justify
  their own continuing existence”.
• We often judge a text’s realism against our
  own ‘situated culture’. What is ‘real’ can
  therefore become subjective.
• Stereotypes can be used to enhance
  realism - a news programme,
  documentary, film text etc about football
  hooligans, for e.g, will all use very
  conventional images that are associated
  with the realism that audiences will identify
  with such as shots of football grounds,
  public houses etc.
           4. Stereotypes?
• O’Sullivan et al (1998) details that a
  stereotype is a label that involves a process
  of categorisation and evaluation.
• We can call stereotypes shorthand to
  narratives because such simplistic
  representations define our understanding
  of media texts – e.g we know who is good
  and who is evil.
• First coined by Walter Lippmann (1956) the
  word stereotype wasn’t meant to be
  negative and was simply meant as a
  shortcut or ordering process.
• In ideological terms, stereotyping is a
  means by which support is provided by one
  group’s differential against another.
• Orrin E. Klapp's (1962) distinction between
  stereotypes and social types is helpful.
• Klapp defines social types as representations
  of those who 'belong' to society.
• They are the kinds of people that one
  expects, and is led to expect, to find in one's
  society, whereas stereotypes are those who
  do not belong, who are outside of one's
• Richard Dyer (1977) suggests Klapp’s
  distinction can be reworked in terms of the
  types produced by different social groups
  according to their sense of who belongs
  and who doesn't, who is 'in' and who is not
• Tessa Perkins (1979) says, however, that
  stereotyping is not a simple process. She
  identified that some of the many ways that
  stereotypes are assumed to operate aren’t
• They aren’t always negative (French good cooks)
• They aren’t always about minority groups or those less
  powerful (upper class twits)
• They are not always false – supported by empirical
• They are not always rigid and unchanging.
  Perkins argues that if stereotypes were
  always so simple then they would not work
  culturally and over time.
• Martin Barker (1989) - stereotypes are
  condemned for misrepresenting the ‘real
  world’. (e.g. Reinforcing that the (false)
  stereotype that women are available for
  sex at any time) . He also says stereotypes
  are condemned for being too close to real
  world (e.g. showing women in home
  servicing men, which many still do).
• Bears out Perkins’ point that for
  stereotypes to work they need audience
• Dyer (1977) details that if we are to be told
  that we are going to see a film about an
  alcoholic then we will know that it will be a
  tale either of sordid decline or of inspiring
• This is a particularly interesting potential use
  of stereotypes, in which the character is
  constructed, at the level of costume,
  performance, etc., as a stereotype but is
  deliberately given a narrative function that is
  not implicit in the stereotype, thus throwing
  into question the assumptions signalled by
  the stereotypical iconography.
  Think of this question as the first
       part of your revision...

“Representations in media texts are often
  simplistic and reinforce dominant
  ideologies so that audiences can make
  sense of them”. Evaluate the ways that you
  have used/challenged simplistic
  representations in one of the media
  products you have produced.

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