The concept beingrepresented changesdepending on who is creating the text.
Any representation is a mixture of: • 1 The thing itself.• 2 The opinions of the people doing the representation • 3 The reaction of the individual to the representation• 4 The context of the society in which the representation is taking place.
RepresentationBy definition, all media texts are re- presentations of reality.
This means that they are Representationintentionally composed, lit,written, framed, cropped,captioned, branded, targeted andcensored by their producers, andthat they are entirely artificialversions of the reality we perceivearound us.
When studying the media it is vital to remember this - every media form, from a home video to a glossy magazine, is a representation of someones concept of existence, codified into a series of signs and symbols which can be read by an audience.
Representation – is very political • Media representations - and the extent to which we accept them - are a very political issue, as the influence the media exerts has a major impact on the way we view the world. By viewing media representations our prejudices can be reinforced or shattered.
What is the study of representation?The study of representation is aboutdecoding the different layers oftruth/fiction/whatever.In order to fully appreciate the part representation plays in a media text youmust consider:
Why was this particular representation (this shot, framed from this angle, thisstory phrased in these terms,etc.) selected, and what might the alternatives have been?
Analysing RepresentationThe analysis of different sorts of representationforms an important part of Media Studies.The factors of representation most commonlyaddressed are• Gender• Race• Socio-economic status• Disability
Gender• Gender is perhaps the basic category we use for sorting human beings, and it is a key issue when discussing representation.• Essential elements of our own identity, and the identities we assume other people to have, come from concepts of gender - what does it mean to be a boy or a girl?
GenderMany objects, not just humans, arerepresented by the media as beingparticularly masculine or feminine -particularly in advertising - and wegrow up with an awareness of whatconstitutes appropriatecharacteristics for each gender.
What are typically masculine characteristics?•Tough•Hard•sweaty
Gender What are typically feminine characteristics?• Fragile• Soft• fragrant
Gendering ObjectsHow might the followingobjects be gendered throughadvertising, given that bothsexes will use the product?•A sports car•Bottled beer
Representations of femininityRepresentations of women across all media tend to highlight the following:• beauty (within narrow conventions)• size/physique (again, within narrow conventions)• sexuality (as expressed by the above)• emotional (as opposed to intellectual) dealings• relationships (as opposed to independence/freedom)
Women are often represented asbeing part of a context (family,friends, colleagues) andworking/thinking as part of a team. In drama, they tend to take the role of helper or object, passive rather than active.
Representations of femininityThe representations of womenthat do make it onto page andscreen do tend to bestereotypical, in terms ofconforming to societalexpectations.
Femalecharacters whodo not fit intothe mould tendto be seen asdangerous anddeviant.
Representations of Masculinity• Masculinity is a concept that is made up of more rigid stereotypes than femininity. Representations of men across all media tend to focus on the following:
Representations of MasculinityMale characters are often represented asisolated, as not needing to rely on others (thelone hero). If they capitulate to being part ofa family, it is often part of the resolution of anarrative, rather than an integral factor in theinitial equilibrium. It is interesting to notethat the male physique is becoming moreimportant a part of representations ofmasculinity
Increasingly, men are finding it as difficult to live up to their media representations as women are totheirs. This is partly because of the increased media focus on masculinity - think of the burgeoning market in mens magazines, both lifestyle and health.
RaceRepresentation of race in the media can consist of the same sort of rigid stereotypes that constitute gender portrayal. However, stereotyping of race is seen as more harmful than stereotyping of gender, as media representation may constitute the only experience of contact with a particular ethnic group that an audience (particularly an audience of children) may have.
• Racial stereotypes are often based on social myth, perpetuated down Race the ages. Thus, the media depiction of, say, Native American Indians, might provide a child with their only experience of Native American Indian culture and characters, and may provide that child with a set of narrow prejudices which will not be challenged elsewhere within their experience.
• The need for a more accurate portrayal of the diversity of different races is a priority for political agendas, but, as ever, it seems as though it will take a while for political thinking to filter through to programme and film-making.
Race• In recent years, the success of actors such as Denzel Washington, Whoopi Goldberg, Laurence Fishburne and Morgan Freeman in a diversity of roles has meant that black characters in movies and on TV are no longer stock types.
Some of the time.However, there aremany negativerepresentations ofblack people,portrayals whichseem deliberatelydesigned to inflamethe fear and hatredof other cultures -how positive arepresentation is thearchetypal African-American gangsta?Yet these arerepresentationscoming from withinblack culture itself...
Attention is now being paidto the representation ofother ethnic groups - notablyAsian Americans and Latinos.