Why are the Media called the Media?
Because they MEDIATE our view of reality. Reality Producers Texts Audiences
Constructions of Reality How might the following media construct rather than reflect reality?
TV News programme (by selecting which stories to “run” and which to ignore).
Representation – some definitions
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.
Representation – some definitions
Representation is the ability of texts to draw upon features of the world and present them to the viewer, not simply as reflections, but more so, as constructions (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2002). Hence, the images do not portray reality in an unbiased way with 100% accuracy, but rather, present ‘versions of reality’ influenced by culture and people’s habitual thoughts and actions (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2002).
Representation – some definitions
In a world dominated by print and electronic media, our sense of reality is increasingly structured by narrative. Feature films and documentaries tell us stories about ourselves and the world we live in. Television speaks back to us and offers us ‘reality’ in the form of hyperbole and parody. Print journalism turns daily life into a story. Advertisements narrativize our fantasies and desires.
Representation of Social Groups
We often analyse representations in the media according to categories such as:
Ideology An ideology is a belief system that is constructed and presented by a media text. Media texts represent the world in order to support a dominant ideology.
For example, newspapers often promote the dominant ideology of patriotism through their representation of race and nationality.
Some Dominant Ideologies Capitalism. The production of capital and consumption of surplus value as a life goal. Patriotism. To love, support and protect one’s country and its people. Marriage and family. The “right way” to live is to marry an opposite-sex partner and have children.
Male superiority. Men are more suited to positions of power, and more suited to decision-making at work and at home.
Dominant Ideologies around the world Many dominant ideologies are extremely culture-specific. For example: Christian fundamentalism as a political force in the USA Shariah law is some Muslim countries The principle of individual freedom in the Netherlands
Dominant ideologies are central to people’s belief systems. It is often difficult or impossible to challenge them effectively.
Hegemony Hegemony is the way in which those in power maintain their control.
Dominant ideologies are considered hegemonic ; power in society is maintained by constructing ideologies which are usually promoted by the mass media.
Examples of hegemonic values The police are always right It is important to be slim A credit card is a desirable status symbol Mass immigration is undesirable The poor are lazy and deserve their hardship Men are better drivers than women
It is important to wear fashionable clothes
Antonio Gramsci (January 22, 1891 – April 27, 1937) was an Italian political theorist. A founding member and onetime leader of the Communist Party of Italy, he was imprisoned by Mussolini's Fascist regime. He is renowned for his concept of cultural hegemony as a means of maintaining the state in a capitalist society.
Gramsci’s Theory of Cultural Hegemony It means that a diverse culture can be ruled or dominated by one group or class.
That everyday practices and shared beliefs provide the foundation for complex systems of domination
Gramsci and Hegemony
In "advanced" industrial societies hegemonic cultural innovations such as compulsory schooling, mass media , and popular culture have indoctrinated workers to a false consciousness.
Stereotypes Stereotypes are characters in a media text who are “types” rather than complex people. Stereotypes are often defined by their role, such as “bad cop” or “nice old lady”. Children’s media texts often use stereotypes so a young audience can identify quickly with the characters.
Stereotypes are usually negative representations, considered to be too reductive. Many are considered offensive, such as a “drunken Irishman”, a “fanatical Muslim” or an “over-emotional woman”.
Extension/restriction of our experience of reality By giving audiences information, media texts extend experience of reality. Every time you see a media text, you extend your experience of life but in a second-hand way (vicarious).
However, because the producers of the media text have selected and constructed the information we receive, then our experience is restricted.
Process and Product … but also how they are constructed in the process of reception
Representation involves not only how identities are represented (or rather constructed ) within the text...
The Gaze A technical term in Media Studies.
Refers to how an audience views the way people are represented in the Media.
Forms of the Gaze The gaze can be characterised by who is doing the looking: the spectator's gaze : the spectator who is viewing the text. This is often us, the audience of a certain text,
intra- diegetic gaze , where one person depicted in the text is looking at another person or object in the text, such as another character looking at another,
Forms of the Gaze extra-diegetic gaze, where the person depicted in the text looks at the spectator, such as an aside, or an acknowledgement of the “fourth wall”. the camera's gaze , which is the gaze of the camera, and is often equated to the director's gaze.
Intra-intra-diegetic gaze , such as Bart & Lisa watching Itchy & Scratchy in The Simpsons.
Representation as Process
Analysing an Image for Representation Tone. Friendly or “edgy”? A positive or negative portrayal of the subject? Is the subject of the image the subject of the text, or merely used to accompany it? Does the image attempt to REFLECT or CONSTRUCT reality? Is the image associated with a commodity or brand? Does the image PORTRAY a commodity or brand? Use of colour and lighting. Realistic or “ideal”? Representations of lifestyle: realistic or aspirational about: 1. Material wealth 2. body image/beauty 3. social/personal relationships
Assumptions or stereotypes regarding class, race, gender, age or sexual orientation
“ Because it’s a Jungle Out There”
“ Sony PSP – Now in White”
The Sophie Dahl “Opium” Ad Expensive, aspirational accessories Exposed nipple – a broken taboo Purple velvet – connotes royalty & luxury
Idealized female form enhanced using Photoshop
I’ll be there for you!