Representation The way the media re-presents stories and events Reality is always represented - what we treat as 'direct' experience is 'mediated'. Representation always involves 'the construction of reality'. However, without the media, our perception of reality would be very limited, and that we need these artificial texts to mediate our view of the world, to make sense of reality. Therefore representation is a fluid, two-way process: producers position a text somewhere in relation to reality and audiences assess a text on its relationship to reality.
<ul><li>All texts, however 'realistic' they may seem to be, are constructed representations rather than simply transparent 'reflections', recordings, transcriptions or reproductions of a pre-existing reality. </li></ul><ul><li>Representations which become familiar through constant re-use come to feel 'natural' and unmediated – especially if they are not challenged </li></ul><ul><li>Representations require interpretation - we make judgements about them. </li></ul><ul><li>Representation is unavoidably selective, foregrounding some things and backgrounding others. </li></ul>
Key Questions <ul><li>How are groups and identities represented in the media? </li></ul><ul><li>Often according to: </li></ul><ul><li>Age </li></ul><ul><li>Race </li></ul><ul><li>Class </li></ul><ul><li>Gender </li></ul><ul><li>Sexuality </li></ul><ul><li>What programmes represent each of the above groups? </li></ul>
The media provides ways for us to imagine particular identities and groups which can have an effect on: <ul><li>how these groups are understood by others </li></ul><ul><li>how people experience the world </li></ul><ul><li>why people are marginalised or accepted </li></ul><ul><li>why some people appear threatening and others normal </li></ul><ul><li>It becomes important to understand that different media forms will present different groups in a variety of both negative and positive ways. </li></ul>
Negative and Positive Representation <ul><li>Stereotyping : </li></ul><ul><li>When the media suggest that x or y is typical of a particular group and the relevant group as a whole should be treated accordingly. </li></ul><ul><li>It can become political; for instance the Macpherson report suggested that the police were “institutionally racist” because of their belief that a black person was more likely to commit a crime than a white person. </li></ul>
Hoodies rob bingo granny Four Teenagers Charged With Burglary Ban Binge-Drinking Teens Asbo-Man Strikes AGAIN! extracts: sun vs guardian:
‘ Traditional’ film stereotypes: Native Americans as scalping, war-dancing, ‘red’-blooded murderers Mexicans as drug-smuggling corrupt bandoleros Irish as thieves and terrorists Black men as pimps, criminals or generally “lowlife hoods” Gay Men as promiscuous, utterly camp and obsessed by appearance (Extract)
Representations of Black People in Cinema <ul><li>Crude, Overtly Racist – DW Griffith: Birth of a Nation </li></ul><ul><li>Noble yet unrealistic – Sidney Poitier; teachers, strict parents, etc </li></ul><ul><li>Far wider representations, from the criminal to the professional. More likely to be negative but in a positive way </li></ul>
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. However, these are juxtaposed alongside negative representations of black people, some of which seem deliberately designed to inflame the fear and hatred of other cultures, often these representations come from within black culture itself.
Representations on TV Often juxtaposes representations in order to represent (or attempt to represent) fullness of roles in society Think of a soap opera or drama serial you have seen recently: What social or ethnic groups are represented in the programme? How ‘realistic’ are those representations? Are there any gaps or absences?
How do you change negative representations? Often can be as simple (or as complex) as changing mechanisms of power and opening up the production process to previously excluded groups. Representation of African Americans changed sharply with arrival of Spike Lee as major director and in particular his film “Do The Right Thing”. (extract from dtrt)
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