Lifestyle magazines case study booklet


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Lifestyle magazines case study booklet

  1. 1. AS Media Studies MS1 REPRESENTATION AND REPRESENTATIONS 1 | Blackpool Sixth Form AS MEDIA STUDIES Blackpool Sixth Form College MS1: Responses and Representations Magazine Case Study This case study will focus on two magazines that you will refer to as case studies in the summer exam, so keep it safe. Additional material for this unit can be found on the Film and Media Lab as well as the shared area on the network.
  2. 2. AS Media Studies MS1 REPRESENTATION AND REPRESENTATIONS 2 | Blackpool Sixth Form The emergence of men’s lifestyle magazines • Magazines have always been popular with men. The problem is that the publications were somewhat divided between niche market ‘specialist’ publications such as What Car, Hobby Electronics or Angling Times ‘Top shelf’ pornography magazines such as Playboy, Penthouse and Men Only • There was no ‘general interest’ magazine to parallel the numerous magazines aimed at women. • Although a gap in the market was evident to publishers, the ‘glossy’ magazine was considered feminine, and ‘real men’ didn’t need a magazine to tell them how to live. A brief history of modern male lifestyle magazines 1980 The Face, i-D and Blitz are launched featuring fashion, design and music for trendy young men and women. 1986 Arena is launched by The Face editor Nick Logan for ‘the slightly older style-conscious men’. 1988 GQ (Gentlemen’s Quarterly) launched featuring expensive but stylish living and fashion. 1991 Esquire launched into a market which was seen as catering for ‘posh blokes and advertising executives’. 1994 Loaded launched and has since become recognised as the cornerstone for modern British ‘lad’ culture and established an infamous readership of twenty- something, beer-drinking, football-loving, sex obsessed male stereotype. 1995 Maxim & Men’s Health launched 1996 FHM launched with an emphasis on sex and humour By 2000, market researchers Mintel reported that the UK men’s magazine market had grown to ten times its 1993 size and had begun to open a significant market in the US. The launch of Zoo and Nuts marked a more focused attempt to target the perceived male desire to access pornographic content rather than content that deals with ‘issues’ relevant to men. More traditional male lifestyle magazines such as GQ and FHM continue to exist however. Like all print media, there has been year on year decline for the male lifestyle magazine. Digital editions are available for FHM and GQ. TASK What are your perceptions of male lifestyle magazines? Make a short list of other ‘Lifestyle’ magazines.
  3. 3. AS Media Studies MS1 REPRESENTATION AND REPRESENTATIONS 3 | Blackpool Sixth Form TASK What are the ‘Top 100 Magazines of 2012’?. Are any of these are lifestyle magazines aimed at women? Comment on their popularity/sales and compare these to other magazines on the market. Magazine advertising and gender Before any discussion of gender in lifestyle magazines can be considered, it is important to be clear on the difference between sex, gender and sexuality. • Sex refers to a person’s biological sex: whether they are male or female. • Gender refers to the role or behaviours a person has been socialised into according to their sex, whether they are masculine or feminine. • Sexuality refers to a person’s sexual preference: whether they are heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. The issue of gender is not static. Acceptable behaviour for each sex changes over time. Contemporary ideas of masculinity and femininity will be different to those of previous generations. For example, your grandmother would probably not, enter a pub alone and order a pint of beer, whereas young women today may well do just that. In our society there are certain attributes and behaviours which are seen to be more appropriate for one sex than the other. The following opposing lists illustrate how men and women are seen to be different: MEN are / should be: WOMEN are / should be: masculine feminine dominant submissive strong weak aggressive passive intelligent intuitive rational emotional active (do things) communicative (talk about things) empty Men and women are also seen to like different things. For example: MEN like WOMEN like
  4. 4. AS Media Studies MS1 REPRESENTATION AND REPRESENTATIONS 4 | Blackpool Sixth Form cars / technology shopping / make up getting drunk social drinking with friends casual sex with many partners committed relationships This behavior reinforces PATRIARCHY (meaning male dominance). Dicussion: Do we live in a patriarchal society? There are several other behaviours and attributes you can probably think of that are stereotypically male or female. However, it is also clear that these neat lists are not truly representative of what men and women are really like. You all probably know a woman who likes cars and can be aggressive or a man who doesn’t drink and cries at weepy romantic comedies. These stereotypes exist, to a certain extent, because they are easier than getting to know every man and women in the world personally. Advertisers are especially prone to using stereotypes to sell products for the same reason. They assume that all women or men are similar to make targeting audiences a simpler process. We can use advertising as a starting point when considering representations of gender in lifestyle magazines. By looking at how alcohol and food are sold to male and female audiences it is clear to see how gender stereotypes are employed and perpetuated by advertisers. The gender stereotypes used in magazine of advertising make assumptions about men and women that may or may not be true. They are likely to be true of some men and some women but there will be very few people who fully conform to the magazine’s neatly packaged feminine woman and masculine man. Readers today are more sophisticated than ever before and are likely to be aware that not all of a magazine’s content does relates to their lives and likes. ‘Postmodern’ readers may well take parts from several magazines to create a mix and match magazine that is perfect for them. For example, a young man may choose whether to read Loaded or Maxim according to the cover star, subscribe to Four Four Two and sneak a look at his mum’s Women’s Own; a young woman may enjoy the serious articles in Marie Claire but ignore the fashion, subscribe to Total Film and sneak a look at her brother’s Bizarre. Both readers are conforming to parts of the gender stereotypes presented to them but are also moving outside of them. In order to effectively study gender or any other demographic such as race or class, generalisations need to be made about people who are all
  5. 5. AS Media Studies MS1 REPRESENTATION AND REPRESENTATIONS 5 | Blackpool Sixth Form different individuals. In the case of gender in lifestyle magazines we can conclude that magazines target their audience according to gender in order to appeal to a specific audience that is still broad enough to ensure high sales, to ensure continued readership and to attract certain advertisers by being able to guarantees a certain ‘type’ of reader. In doing this the magazines are using gender stereotypes but also perpetuating them. Consider the following questions: • Is it nature or nurture that makes young women want to wear make-up and young men want to drink and fight? • To what extent does the content of magazines like those mentioned here encourage men and women in their choices? Lifestyle Magazines Imelda Whelehan (2000) argues that magazines like FHM, Loaded and Maxim: • Are an attempt to override the message of feminism • promote a ‘laddish’ world where women are sex objects • dismiss changes in gender roles with an ‘ironic’ joke She goes on to say that ‘it is impossible to ignore the growth of this image and its depiction of masculinity…its prevalence offers a timely warning to any woman who felt that gender relations were now freely negotiable’ Imelda Whelean (2000) When looking at lifestyle magazines it is essential that we consider what attracts a consumer to the product. TASK • Apply Whelan’s comments a cover of FHM. • In regards to Cosmopolitan, how might we go about applying Whelan’s? To what extent does the magazine reinforce patriarchal representations of women?
  6. 6. AS Media Studies MS1 REPRESENTATION AND REPRESENTATIONS 6 | Blackpool Sixth Form Text 1: FHM FHM is a men’s ‘Lifestyle’ magazine. Lifestyle magazines literally offer their readers a certain ‘lifestyle’; in other words a model to base their lives: what to wear, eat, drink, how to spend their leisure time, where to go on holiday, what kind of car they should drive, where they should live etc. To do this successfully, magazines need to be able to make their readers identify with the lifestyle on offer, but at the same time offer them slightly more than they have. The magazines offer both guidance and aspiration. The way this works for successful magazines is to have a clear sense of the target audience and to adopt an appropriate mode of address. What kind of lifestyle is FHM trying to promote? All lifestyle magazines are trying to make a profit by ‘selling’ particular types of audiences to advertisers. The revenue, which lifestyle magazines get from advertising, is far more important than the income they receive from the cover price and individual sales. As new magazines come on to the market they are increasingly trying to narrow down the market (narrowcasting) and provide advertisers with more and more detailed reader ‘profiles’. What concerns advertisers is reaching their target audience, i.e. those people most likely to buy the product. Demographics are very important, i.e. the social profile of the audience in terms of class, gender, age etc. The audiences with the most disposable incomes are more attractive to advertisers; these people tend to be younger and more middle-class. Advertisers are less interested in old working-class people with small disposable incomes. Explain the target audience for FHM. Look through the magazine and write a detailed profile of the FHM reader, include age, income, social class, interests and hobbies, hopes and aspirations etc. FHM Content analysis ‘FHM understood how men communicate, and principally that’s through humour…In a group of men there’s no-one more respected than the funniest guy. Whatever men are like on the outside, on the inside we’re just a seething mass of insecurities and we are simply unable to do things in the house very well.’ Mike Soutar, Editor of FHM, 1999 TASK Look though the contents pages of FHM Which features communicate to the reader in the way that Soutar suggests?
  7. 7. AS Media Studies MS1 REPRESENTATION AND REPRESENTATIONS 7 | Blackpool Sixth Form Which features highlight insecurities? How do the advertisements fit into the suggested ‘lifestyles’ of the magazine? Gender in Lifestyle Magazines Theory Edwards (1997) suggests that the primary role of men’s magazines is to • Encourage and perpetuate spending amongst its readers • Emphasise consumption as a means to join a new style elite • Make this need more desirable through high-profile advertising and visual attention paid to commodities THEREFORE, masculinity can be defined in terms of commodities, leading ultimately to masculinity being defined in terms of how one looks and not what one does. You are a man through what you buy! In fashion photography, new codings of masculinity can be seen. • Menswear is seen primarily in terms of utility i.e. a product with a function • The suit symbolises masculine sexuality as well being a uniform of masculinity • Women are used as objects for men to look at which highlights the ‘laddish’ masculinity of the male • Although some models may look introspective, vulnerable and even feminine, the image is regarded as masculine Task • Choose three advertisements from FHM and apply the approaches identified here. Key terminology for discussing audience and representation Hegemony: The theory that those in power maintain domination through cultural influences rather than force. Ideology: A set of ideas, or a world view, which produces partial and selective versions of reality often to protect the interests of the powerful social groups. Preferred Meaning/Reading: The ways in which texts are constructed to encourage the reader towards a dominant or consensual interpretation. Hypodermic needle Model: A theory which asserts that the media are powerful
  8. 8. AS Media Studies MS1 REPRESENTATION AND REPRESENTATIONS 8 | Blackpool Sixth Form agents of influence, capable of ‘injecting’ ideas and behaviour directly into relatively passive audiences. Task: • Apply each one of these theories to examples in a magazine Encoding/Decoding (Stuart Hall & David Morely): Audiences vary in their response to media messages because of social position, gender, age, ethnicity, occupation, beliefs etc. TASK • Discuss the different readings of a lifestyle magazine. • What is your reading of this magazine? TEXT 2 COSMOPOLITAN COVER ANALYSIS OF MAGAZINES TASK Analyse the cover page of the magazine. • Remember that the cover is an advert for the magazine itself as well as for products dealt with inside. • What does the photograph tell us? Is it offering an ideal image of femininity / masculinity? • What camera angle and shot size have been used been used? Why? • How are the models posed and why? What connotations does the clothing offer? • What is the connotation of the colour used? • How does the language used anchor the meaning of the image? • What is the mode of address of the cover lines? • Are there any innovative design features? • What sort of reader is the cover addressing? E.g. singe, married, progressive/regressive views?
  9. 9. AS Media Studies MS1 REPRESENTATION AND REPRESENTATIONS 9 | Blackpool Sixth Form • What issues does the titles highlight about the target readers’ main concerns? Do they play on feelings of inadequacy and anxieties? Is there a promise of pleasure or fulfillment if we buy? TASK Answer the following question in 750-1000 words How do magazines target their readership by gender? Refer to specific examples you have studied. This question is asking you to consider the role of gender in producing magazines; to consider how magazines use gender roles and stereotypes to appeal to their readership; and how audiences respond to and are affected by the representations of gender within magazines. You will need to give specific examples from Cosmopolitan and FHM • What is the purpose of FHM? • Give some facts about FHM. Is their formula successful? • Give some examples of how gender is represented in FHM. Key idea here is to consider the range of representations in the magazine and the use of stereotypes. Why does FHM (or indeed any media) use stereotypes? • Having established that using gender representations is a key factor in targeting and appealing to a readership you can then go on to discuss the way gender is portrayed in FHM and in other magazines in more detail. This is when you can introduce different readings or interpretations of the magazine, and if you have not already done so bring in theory. • What does Cosmopolitan offer to its readership? • Explain how Cosmopolitan gives both progressive and regressive views on how women are represented. •
  10. 10. AS Media Studies MS1 REPRESENTATION AND REPRESENTATIONS 10 | Blackpool Sixth Form Possible inclusions: • FHM as a progressive force; advice magazine, offering different lifestyles and possibilities to its readership. FHM offers a more modern take on traditional male identity – advertising and editorial that focuses on appearance clearly shows this. • Link between what you read and identity. How much does FHM play a role in defining people’s gender identities? Does FHM create male or ‘lad’ subcultures? • Negative aspects of representation; does a magazine like FHM just offer men fantasy and tradition in its use of dominant male/willing female? • Masculinity in crisis: to what extent are FHM using gender representations as a kind of backlash against feminism and the erosion of traditional male identity? • Images of women in Cosmopolitan encourage women to appear pleasing to the ‘male gaze’. • Cosmopolitan offers its readers a progressive representation of women and encourages them to challenge traditional patriarchal ideologies. Specific theorists that may be useful; • Edwards – crucial in this essay as he sees the primary purpose of men’s magazines as selling. Is this why men’s mags target by gender? Ultimately you need to decide why gender is used. There are sociological and consumer reasons – debate them. Revision questions 1. What is the difference between a ‘new man’ and a ‘new lad’? 2. What is a ‘new woman’? 3. Define ‘laddism’ and the role that the ‘lad’s mag’ plays in this sub-culture. 4. What is feminism? 5. Compare one other male lifestyle magazine to FHM. What are the differences and similarities?
  11. 11. AS Media Studies MS1 REPRESENTATION AND REPRESENTATIONS 11 | Blackpool Sixth Form 6. Why might we argue that magazines like FHM are more than just ‘pornography’? 7. Men’s lifestyle magazines are said to highlight male insecurities. What is meant by this? 8. Edwards highlights the importance of consuming as a means to join a ‘new style elite’. What is meant by this? 9. How does Cosmo challenge traditional patriarchal views of women? 10. How might Cosmo be seen to be ‘failing’ to fully challenge traditional stereotypes and not truly represent feminism?