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Theory and Theorist For Media Studies A2

This is the theory revision I created for my A2 Media group a couple of years ago. There is some general narrative theory, Media theory Laura Mulvey etc and Racial Representation theory, Stuart Hall, Paul Gilroy, bell hooks etc. This was based on Media and Collective Identity focusing on the representation of black culture in British Film and American Music Videos.

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Theory and Theorist For Media Studies A2

  1. 1. Media Theory Revision This contains all the theory we have gone through over the past year.
  2. 2. Revision Tips  Go through the different theories and make notes as to how you can apply these to both your course work and the case studies we have been through in class.  Note: with section A you must make references to films you gained ideas from to gather the ideas you demonstrated in your work.  For section B you must make references to both the films and the music videos and any other media that you feel with support your arguments throughout your response.
  3. 3. Laura Mulvey  The Male Gaze  Film represents women as passive objects of male desire.  Audiences are forced to view women from the point of view of a heterosexual male even if they are indeed; heterosexual women or homosexual men.
  4. 4. John Berger  “Men look, women appear”  Women are there solely for the objectification of women within all platforms of the media. (Think of examples of different magazines, films, TV shows or websites where this is evident, how are women represented in your production?)
  5. 5. Bell hooks  The colour codes: Lighter skinned women are considered more desirable and fit better into the western ideology of beauty.  Black women are objectified and sexualised in hip-hop reflecting the colonialist view of black women (sexually disposable).  Commodified blackness, a mediated view of black culture that is considered the norm.
  6. 6. Stuart Hall  The media and therefore audiences often blur race and class. Often associating particular races with a particular class.  Audience reception theory; audiences read/understand a particular text according to their cultural upbringing.  Western (white dominated) cultures. Continue to misinterpret ethnic minorities in the media due to underlying racist tendencies. Ethnic minorities are often represented as ‘the other’.
  7. 7. Stuart Hall: Slave Figure Black Characterisations in the Media Hall outlines three base images of the 'grammar of race' employed in 'old movies'. The first is the slave figure which could take the form of either the 'dependable, loving… devoted "Mammy" with the rolling eyes, or the faithful fieldhand… attached and devoted to "his" master' (Hall, 1995:21).
  8. 8. Stuart Hall: The Native The second of Hall's base images - the native (ibid:21). Their primitive nature means they are cheating, cunning, savage and barbarian. In movies, we expect them 'to appear at any moment out of the darkness to decapitate the beautiful heroine, kidnap the children …
  9. 9. Stuart Hall: The Clown/Entertainer The last of Hall's variants is that of the clown or entertainer, implying an 'innate' humour in the black man (ibid:22). Interestingly, the distinction is never made as to whether we are laughing with or at the clown; overt racism is rare in the media rather, says Hall, it is 'inferential' (ibid:20).
  10. 10. Tricia Rose  Hip Hop gives black female rappers a voice introducing female empowerment.  Hip hop gave audiences an insight into the lives of young black urban Americans and gave them a voice.
  11. 11. Paul Gilroy  Black music articulated diasporic experiences of resistance to white capitalist culture.  Employs the notion of ‘diaspora’ and how ethnic minorities (particularly black people) experience dislocation from their homeland. E.g. feeling as if you do not totally belong in Britain but you also are considered ‘English’ in the Caribbean, Africa or Asia etc
  12. 12. Michael Eric Dyson  Political rap didn’t get the support that it deserved when it was prominent in the 80s and early 90s.  Therefore it reverted to the flashy, sexualised, criminal rap which we know today, as through displaying this it became more prominent and more mainstream.
  13. 13. Kobena Mercer  Black gay film opens up audiences to the understanding of the dual exclusion (being gay and black).  But through directors such as Isaac Julian they introduce a varied representation not just pigeon holing into the ‘black’ or ‘gay’ stereotype.  Audiences are exposed to diverse representation displaying verisimilitude rather than ‘stereotype’.
  14. 14. Kobena Mercer Link: id=1g2yO_Za3TUC&pg=PA325&lpg=PA325&d q=kobena+mercer+on+the+black+gay+experie nce&source=bl&ots=BpevtesnkJ&sig=FTi8ovl- LowMJMNOrH_eP2Yui8I&hl=en&ei=DwfnS8Lb NISROJTrnfgG&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=resul t&resnum=2&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAQ#v=onepag e&q&f=false
  15. 15. Jacques Lacan  The Mirror Stage: Where infants see their reflections in the mirror and see it as a superior reflection of themselves that they must aspire to.  The ideal-I  Seeing iconic rappers who are successful ‘young black males’ may see them as a superior reflection of themselves they could aspire to. Particularly those iconic figures whom have struggled through a deprived childhood e.g. 50 Cent and Biggie Smalls (Notorious BIG).
  16. 16. Michel Foucault  'Archaeology' is the term Foucault used during the 1960s to describe his approach to writing history.  Archaeology is about examining the discursive traces and orders left by the past in order to write a 'history of the present'.  Archaeology is about looking at history as a way of understanding the processes that have led to what we are today.  Therefore when analyzing your contemporary case studies you need to take into account those past representations and how they have contributed to what we have today e.g. Birth of a Nation 1913, Blaxploitation films (70s), The slave trade (colonialism) etc.
  17. 17. Audience Reception Theory  A preferred reading (or dominant system of response) is a way of understanding the text that is consistent with the ideas and intentions of the producer or creator of the product. This may lead to an acceptance of the dominant values within the text.  With a negotiated reading (or subordinate response) the individual has a choice as to whether or not they accept the preferred reading as their own. Audience members may read the text though the filter of their own personal agenda. Although there may be an acceptance of the dominant values and existing social structure, the individual may be prepared to argue that a particular social group may be unfairly represented.  In an oppositional reading (or radical response) individual members of an audience may completely reject the preferred reading of the dominant code and the social values that produced it.  An aberrant reading is where an entirely different meaning from that intended by the maker will be taken form the text. This could be when individual members of the audience do not share, in any way, the values of the maker of the text.
  18. 18. Hypodermic Theory  The theory suggests that the mass media could influence a very large group of people directly and uniformly by ‘shooting’ or ‘injecting’ them with messages designed to trigger a response.
  19. 19. Moral Panic  A moral panic is the intensity of feeling expressed in a population about an issue that appears to threaten the social order.
  20. 20. Narrative Theory  Todorov: Equilibrium, disequilibrium, new equilibrium  Levi Strauss: Binary Oppositions  Roland Barthes: Enigma Codes  Propp: Characters/roles often found in narrative
  21. 21. Todorov’s Narrative Theory 1. Equilibrium 2. Disruption of equilibrium 3. Recognition of this disruption 4. An attempt to repair the equilibrium is made 5. Equilibrium is restored OR a new equilibrium is established
  22. 22. Propp’s Narrative Theory  Hero: Individual(s) who's quest is to restore the equilibrium.  Villain: Individual(s) who's task is to disrupt the equilibrium.  Donor: Individual(s) who gives the hero(s) something, advice, information or an object.  Helper: Individual(s) who aids the hero(s) with their set task.  Princess (Prince): Individual(s) which need help, protecting and saving.  The King: Who rewards the hero.  Dispatcher: Individual(s) who send the hero(s) on their quest.  False Hero: Individual(s) who set out to undermine the hero's quest by pretending to aid them. Often unmasked at the end of the film.
  23. 23. Levi-Strauss: Binary Oppositions Argued that meaning in narrative is based upon binary oppositions. He observed that all narratives are organised around the conflict between such binary opposites.  Good Vs Evil  Human Vs Nature  Black Vs White  Protagonist Vs Antagonist  Humanity Vs Technology  Man Vs Woman  Human Vs Alien
  24. 24. Roland Barthes: Enigma Code Refers to any element of the story that is not fully explained and hence becomes a mystery to the reader. The purpose of the author in this is typically to keep the audience guessing, arresting the enigma, until the final scenes when all is revealed and all loose ends are tied off and closure is achieved.
  25. 25. Books  David Gauntlett. Media Gender and Identity: An Introduction. 2002.  Dan Laughey. Key Themes in Media Theory. 2008  Stuart Hall. Representation: Cultural Representation and Signifying Practices. 1997  Bell Hooks. Black Looks: Race and Representation. 1992  Tricia Rose. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. 1994
  26. 26. Books  Hall, Stuart (1995), 'The Whites of Their Eyes - Racist Ideologies and the Media' in Dines, Gail and Humez, Jean M., Gender, Race and Class in Media - A Text Reader, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, London and New Dehli.  Hooks, bell (1991), Yearning - race, gender and cultural politics, Turnaround, London.  Gilroy, Paul (1983), 'Channel 4: Bridge or Bantustan?', Screen, 24, 130-136. Cited in Ross (1996), p.130.  Ferguson, Robert (1998), Representing Race - Ideology, Identity and the Media, Arnold, London, New York, Sydney and Auckland.
  27. 27. Notes  Some of the theorists have videos on Youtube which are very useful in understanding their theories and concepts in relation to representation and audience reception.  Link the views of the theorists to all sections of the exam. Mostly to section 2 (which will be based on your case-studies).
  28. 28. YouTube Clips • Stuart Hall Representation • Bell hooks Rap • Bell hooks Commodified Blackness • Michael Eric Dyson Hip Hop’s commodity fetish • Paul Gilroy Contemporary Racism
  29. 29. Why does hip-hop display the representations it does? Hip Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes
  30. 30. Beyond Beats and Rhymes Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6