Media Representation Essay


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Media Representation Essay

  1. 1. G235: Critical Perspectives in Media Theoretical Evaluation of Production Question 1(b) Representation: MUSIC VIDEOThe media does not represent andconstruct reality, but instead represents it?4. Representation – Definition• How the media shows us things about society – but this is through careful mediation. Hence re-presentation.• For representation to be meaningful to audiences there needs to be a shared recognition of people, situations, ideas etc.• All representations therefore have ideologies behind them. Certain paradigms are encoded into texts and others are leftout in order to give a preferred representation (Levi – Strauss, 1958).5. Representation• Representing is about constructing reality, it is supposed to contain verisimilitude and simplify people’s understanding oflife.• 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 aswell as still or moving pictures.• The term refers to the processes involved as well as to its products. For instance, in relation to the key markers of identity- Class, Age, Gender and Ethnicity (the cage of identity) - representation involves not only how identities are represented(or rather constructed) within the text but also how they are constructed in the processes of production and reception bypeople whose identities are also differentially marked in relation to such demographic factors. Consider, for instance, theissue of the gaze.How do men look at images of women, women at men, men at men and women at women?6. • Richard Dyer (1983) posed a few questions when analysing media representations in general.• 1. What sense of the world is it making?• 2. What does it imply? Is it typical of the world or deviant?• 3. Who is it speaking to? For whom?To whom?• 4. What does it represent to us and why? How do we respond to the representation?7. How do you think the following groups are represented in your music video?Types of people:• Class – In my video the class of my artist is represented in an upper class perspective, this is mainly demonstratedthrough the mise-en-scene such as the lavish bedroom and her clothing. The use of a large fur scarf and cigarette holderconnote this status. However, the video rejects that the lifestyle has a positive outcome, visible in her disjunctive andaggressive posture towards the camera.• Age – The artist in my music video is young, and arguably adheres to the stereotypes that the young are ‘careless’ and‘naïve’. For example, my artist is shown through a mid-shot tearing up flowers and has no care for the person on the otherend of the telephone (seen by hanging up).• Gender – The artist is a female and adheres to stereotypes that she takes care of her appearance, such as by applyingmake-up and with her hair in rollers, arguably to impress and be admired by other people. Although artist is shown giving apowerful stance/lip-syncing towards to camera which suggests that she is independent and not reliant on a male‘protector’• Ethnicity – The artist is represented as White British.• Sexuality -The artist is represented as a straight woman.• Disability – The artist is not represented with a disability.8. Theories• Particularly in relation to film – objectification of women’s bodies in the media has been a constant theme.Laura Mulvey (1975) argues that the dominant point of view is masculine. The female body is displayed for the male gazein order to provide erotic pleasure for the male (voyeurism). Women are therefore objectified by the camera lens andwhatever genders the spectator/audience is positioned to accept the masculine POV.The Male Gaze can be applied to my music video as the female is enhanced through mise-en-scene, such as red lipstick anda short dress in order to make her more appealing to the dominant male point of view. The camerawork enhances thisthrough the use of high angles to make the artist appear as a weaker subject in position to the audience’s gaze. However,
  2. 2. this is often challenged through the artist’s powerful stance and disregards for the camera e.g. mid-shot shows her puttingher hand in front of the camera lens. In this sense she is therefore aware of the audience’s gaze and aware that she doesnot want to be objectified by them by denying them a viewpoint.John Berger ‘Ways Of Seeing’ (1972)“Men act and women appear”.“Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at”.“Women are aware of being seen by a male spectator”This theory can be evidently applied to my music video as the artist looks at herself in the mirror and towards the cameralens through the mirror. This signifies that she is aware of being looked at and has become the object of the malespectator. In close-up shots of her looking down this supports the idea that they are aware of being seen by a malespectator as the artist wants to be perceived as feminine and desirable.Jib Fowles (1996)“in advertising, males gaze and females are gazed at”.Paul Messaris (1997)“female models addressed to women....appear to imply a male point of view”.The female artist in my music video supports this as it directly addresses the female target market as they are able tofamiliarise with them more. However, the way my artist is dressed appears to imply a male point of view as she is dressedcertainly to gain to attention of the male view. For example, as she applies lipstick and is seen with rollers in her hair thisimplies that the male point of view of women is to get ‘dolled’ up and to impress them.• In terms of magazine covers of women, Janice Winship (1987)has been an extremely influential theorist. “The gazebetween cover model and women readers marks the complicity between women seeing themselves in the imagemasculine culture has defined”.Jean-Francois Lyotard (1984) and Jean Baudrillard (1980)share the belief that the idea of ‘truth’ needs to bedeconstructed so that dominant ideas (that Lyotard argues are “grand narratives”) can be challenged.The narrative within my music video supports this belief as it rejects an entire “grand narrative” through the use ofamplification in order to represent the lyrics. For example, although a negotiated reading is evident that the artist is goingthrough a post-relationship it is challenged whether there is a resolution or whether this is actually the ‘truthful’ case.Baudrillard discussed the concept of hyperreality – we inhabit a society that is no longer made up of any original thing for asign to represent – it is the sign that is now the meaning. He argued that we live in a society of simulacra – simulations ofreality that replace the real. Remember Disneyland?• We can apply this to texts that claim to represent reality – social realist films?Hyper reality can be applied to my music video as the mise-en-scene, such as the 1950s telephone and magazine, alongsidemodern heels and location has creates a conflicting idea of whether it is entirely real. Therefore this would not representreality and instead replaces real artefacts of modern day clothing and technology.Merrin (2005)argues that “the media do not reflect and represent reality but instead produce it, employing thissimulation to justify their own continuing existence”.This can be applicable to my music video as the mise-en-scene related to the 1950s is reliant on the audience’s previouscultural knowledge associated with that time period to establish connections that it may not represent modern daysociety. However, through her powerful behaviour this would not have been seen at the time, as women were often seenas the submissive, so will be able to acknowledge that the producer encoded it as a modern day text.David Gilmore• Man the protector• Man the provider• Man the impregnator• We often judge a text’s realism against our own ‘situated culture’. What is ‘real’ can therefore become subjective.
  3. 3. • Stereotypes can be used to enhance realism - a news programme, documentary, film text etc about football hooligans,for e.g, will all use very conventional images that are associated with the realism that audiences will identify with such asshots of football grounds, public houses etc.Stereotypes of 1950s – rotary telephone/roller in hair (suggest no modern technology to style the hair)/1960smagazine/mirror with a handle/classic roses/location of bedroom is quite archaic/17. 4. Stereotypes?O’Sullivan et al (1998)details that a stereotype is a label that involves a process of categorisation and evaluation.• We can call stereotypes shorthand to narratives because such simplistic representations define our understanding ofmedia texts – e.g we know who is good and who is evil.The artist is obviously a young girl within my music video and complies with stereotypes as she is not conservative in theway she dresses and often rebels against traditional ideas, in this case through her costume. The mid-shots of her smokingalso enhance the rebellious stereotype and provide connotations that she is careless and free willed.First coined by Walter Lippmann (1956)the word stereotype wasn’t meant to be negative and was simply meant as ashortcut or ordering process.• In ideological terms, stereotyping is a means by which support is provided by one group’s differential against another.Orrin E. Klapps (1962) distinction between stereotypes and social types is helpful.• Klapp defines social types as representations of those who belong to society.• They are the kinds of people that one expects, and is led to expect, to find in one’s society, whereas stereotypes arethose who do not belong, who are outside of one’s society.Klapp’s theory that stereotypes are kinds of people who are outside of one’s society and do not belong can be applied tomy music video as the artist is represented alone. Especially in the scenes outside, with her placed on the far right third ofthe camera frame, it connotes her as an outsider from traditional expectations. Her unique styling would not adopted bythe masses and therefore does not belong to mass culture in this sense.Richard Dyer (1977)suggests Klapp’s distinction can be reworked in terms of the types produced by different social groupsaccording to their sense of who belongs and who doesn’t, who is in and who is notThe target audience may see her unique styling as something that represents her as exclusive and desirable, rather than anoutsider. The young target market of the music video would embrace this more and see her as “in” and “fashionable”.Tessa Perkins (1979)says, however, that stereotyping is not a simple process. She identified that some of the many waysthat stereotypes are assumed to operate aren’t true.• They aren’t always negative (French good cooks)• They aren’t always about minority groups or those less powerful (upper class twits)• They are not always false – supported by empirical evidence.• They are not always rigid and unchanging. Perkins argues that if stereotypes were always so simple then they wouldnot work culturally and over time.Martin Barker (1989)- stereotypes are condemned for misrepresenting the ‘real world’. (e.g. Reinforcing that the (false)stereotype that women are available for sex at any time) . He also says stereotypes are condemned for being too close toreal world (e.g. showing women in home servicing men, which many still do).• Bears out Perkins’ point that for stereotypes to work they need audience recognition.Dyer (1977)details that if we are to be told that we are going to see a film about an alcoholic then we will know that it willbe a tale either of sordid decline or of inspiring redemption.• This is a particularly interesting potential use of stereotypes, in which the character is constructed, at the level ofcostume, performance, etc., as a stereotype but is deliberately given a narrative function that is not implicit in thestereotype, thus throwing into question the assumptions signalled by the stereotypical iconography.