Representation in the media Representation in the Media By definition, all media texts are re-presentations of reality. This means that they are intentionallycomposed, lit, written, framed, cropped, caption ed, branded, targeted and censored by their producers, and that they are entirely artificial versions of the reality we perceive around 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.• However, it is important to note that without the media, our perception of reality would be very limited, and that we, as an audience, need these artificial texts to mediate our view of the world• In other words we need the media 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.
• Generally, audiences accept that media texts are fictional to one extent or another - we have come a long way from the mass manipulation model of the 1920s and 1930s. However, as we base our perception of reality on what we see in the media, it is dangerous to suppose that we dont see elements of truth in media texts either.
The study of representation is about decoding thedifferent layers of truth/fiction/whatever. In order tofully appreciate the part representation plays in amedia text you must consider:• Who produced it?• What/who is represented in the text?• How is that thing represented?• Why was this particular representation (this shot, framed from this angle, this story phrased in these terms, etc.) selected, and what might the alternatives have been?• What frame of reference does the audience use when understanding the representation?
Representation- 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? Many objects, not just humans, are represented by the media as being particularly masculine or feminine - particularly in advertising - and we grow up with an awareness of what constitutes appropriate characteristics
Here are some typically Male/ CharacteristicsMale FemaleTough FragileHard SoftSweaty FragrantWhat other Typically Male/ Female Characteristics can youthink of?
How might the following objects be gendered throughadvertising, given that both sexes will use the product?
A Sports car A Diving Watch Bottled Beer Toilet Paper DeodorantA Smartphone A Hi-Fi System Running Shoes A Video Game An Airline
• Feminism has been a recognised social philosophy for more than forty years, and the changes that have occurred in womens roles in western society during that time have been nothing short of phenomenal. Yet media representations of women remain worryingly constant.• Does this reflect that the status of women has not really changed or that the male-dominated media does not want to accept it has changed?
Representations of women across allmedia 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 as being part of a context (family, friends, colleagues) and working/thinking as part of a team. In drama, they tend to take the role of helper (Propp) or object, passive rather than active. Often their passivity extends to victimhood.• Men are still represented as TV drama characters up to 3 times more frequently than women, and tend to be the predominant focus of news stories.
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:• Strength - physical and intellectual• Power• Sexual attractiveness (which may be based on the above)• Physique• Independence (of thought, action)
• Male characters are often represented as isolated, as not needing to rely on others (the lone hero).• If they capitulate to being part of a family, it is often part of the resolution of a narrative, rather than an integral factor in the initial equilibrium.• It is interesting to note that the male physique is becoming more important a part of representations of masculinity. Serious Hollywood actors in their forties (e.g. Willem Dafoe, Kevin Spacey) are expected to have a level of buffness that was not aspired to even by young heart-throbs 40 years ago (check out Connery in Thunderball 1965).
• Increasingly, men are finding it as difficult to live up to their media representations as women are to theirs.• This is partly because of the increased media focus on masculinity - think of the burgeoning market in mens magazines, both lifestyle and health - and the increasing emphasis on even ordinary white collar male workers (who used to sport their beergut with pride) having the muscle definition of a professional swimmer.• Anorexia in teenage males has increased alarmingly in recent years, and recent high school shootings have been the result of extreme body consciousness among the same demographic group.
Your Task:• Pick a Character from any TV drama• Choose a marketable product that they could have been chosen to be the face of• Produce a magazine advert featuring your TV drama Character along with a 200 word paragraph that explains why they will be suitable for promoting this commodity- making sure your explanation focusses on gender representation.