Perspectives in Media
To reinforce basic representation
To have a basic understanding of how
to evaluate your coursework against
key representation theory.
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 left
out in order to give a preferred
representation (the preferred syntagm) (Levi
Richard Dyer (1983) posed a few questions
when analysing media representations in
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
4. What does it represent to us and why?
How do we respond to the representation?
In terms of your coursework you will be
looking at representation in terms of :
Ideologies and Representation (MARXISM)
A hegemonic view of society fundamental
inequalities in power between social
groups. Groups in power exercise their
influence culturally rather than by force.
Concept has origins in Marxist theory -
ruling capitalist class are able to protect
their economic interests.
Representations are encoded into mass
media texts in order to do this reinforce
dominant ideologies in society.
Tim O Sullivan et al. (1998) Ideology refers to
a set of ideas which produces a partial and
selective view of reality. Notion of ideology
entails widely held ideas or beliefs which are
seen as common sense and become
What is important is that, in Marxist terms, the
media s role may be seen as :
Circulating and reinforcing dominant
(less frequently) undermining and challenging
Links to Roland Barthes (1973)
Myth ideologies work through
symbolic codes mythic in the
sense of having the appearance of
being natural or commonsense .
Judith Williamson (1978) detailed that
advertisements (film posters, adverts for
music texts you created) draw heavily on
myths they use cultural signifiers to
represent qualities which can be realised
through the consumption of the product.
(fulfilment of needs Maslow).
In the case of magazine texts and adverts
they are encoded specifically to represent
an aspirational lifestyle offering audiences
images of an ideal self and ideal partner
Rosalind Brunt (1992) details that
ideologies are never simply ideas in
peoples heads but are indeed myths that
we live by and which contribute to our self
In terms of documentaries how are our
national, regional identities, historical
identities constructed through the
mediation of a text?
David Gauntlett (2002) argues that
identities are not given but are
constructed and negotiated.
Marxist Louis Althusser (1971)
looked at the way audiences were
hailed in a process known as
interpellation. This idea is the
social/ideological practice of
misrecognising yourself based on a
false consciousness mediated by
In terms of music videos do we aspire to
emulate the artists shaman as defined
by Carlsson (1999) through the
Does this lead to a further analysis of sub-
cultures representations in videos
actually provide identities - ideological
basis for fans. Sarah Thornton (1995)
described subcultural capital as the
cultural knowledge and commodities
acquired by members of subcultures raised
their status and helped them differentiate
key to representations.
Michel Maffesoli (1985) identified the idea
of the urban tribe members of these
small groups tend to have similar
worldwide views, dress styles and common
behaviours leads to the decline of
Look at the idea of the Collective Identity.
David Gauntlett (2007) argues that
Identity is complicated. Everybody thinks
they ve got one. Artists play with the idea
of identity in modern society.
Gender and Ideology (FEMINISM)
Masculinity and femininity are socially
Ideas about gender are produced and
reflected in language O Sullivan et al
Feminism is a label that refers to a broad
range of views containing one shared
assumption gender inequalities in society,
historically masculine power (patriarchy)
exercised at right of women s interests and
Particularly in relation to music video and
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 gaze
in order to provide erotic pleasure for the
male (vouyerism). Women are therefore
objectified by the camera lens and
whatever gender the spectator/audience is
positioned to accept the masculine POV.
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
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 .
In terms of magazine covers of women,
Janice Winship (1987) has been an
extremely influential theorist. The gaze
between cover model and women readers
marks the complicity between women
seeing themselves in the image masculine
culture has defined .
In Slasher movies the psychopath is finally
stopped by a character, which Carol J.
Clover(1992), calls the Final Girl .
The Final Girl is always a pure, innocent
girl who abstains from sex and may be less
attractive than the other female characters.
The message here is clear, in horror
movies, if you are a women, Sex = Death.
Barthes (1972) view on sexualisation of
females in texts is this:
Striptease is based on contradiction.
Woman is desexualised at the very moment
when she is stripped naked . He is
suggesting it is clothes that sexualise her
more loads of evidence of this in pop
videos. Can this be subverted in your texts
by your representations or not?
Paul Willis (1990) states, based
on a postmodern return to
feminism, that pop stars are
symbolic vehicles with which
young women understand
themselves more fully...shaping
their personalities to fit the
stars alleged preferences .
It can be argued that we can also have a
gay male gaze (Steve Neale, 1992).
Images which show men in passive,
submissive, sexualised poses lying down,
looking up at the camera so that the viewer
is dominant can be described as
homoerotic. In this case the male subject
will have hands behind their heads in a
pose which could suggest relaxation but
could also be read as submissive and non-
REPRESENTATIONS OF REALITY
In a media saturated world, the distinction
between reality and media representations
becomes blurred or invisible to us (Julian
Modern period came before people were
concerned with representing reality, but
now this gets mixed around and we end up
with pastiche, parody and intertextuality.
For example, Daniel Strinati (1995) details
that reality is now only definable in terms
of the reflections of the mirror .
Jean-Francious Lyotard (1984) and Jean
Baudrillard (1980) share the belief that the
idea of truth needs to be deconstructed
so that dominant ideas (that Lyotard
argues are grand narratives ) can be
Baudrillard discussed the concept of
hyperreality we inhabit a society that is
no longer made up of any original thing for
a sign to represent it is the sign that is
now the meaning. He argued that we live in
a society of simulacra simulations of
reality that replace the real. Think
We can apply this to texts that
claim to represent reality
documentary, news. Merrin
(2005) argues that the media do
not reflect and represent the reality
of the public but instead produce it,
employing this simulation to justify
their own continuing existence .
We often judge a text s realism against our
own situated culture . What is real can
therefore become subjective.
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 as shots of football grounds,
public houses etc.
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
of media texts e.g we know who is good
and who is evil.
First coined by Walter Lippmann (1956) the
word stereotype wasn t meant to be
negative and was simply meant as a
shortcut or ordering process.
In ideological terms, stereotyping is a
means by which support is provided by one
group s differential against another.
Orrin E. Klapp's (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 are those who
do not belong, who are outside of one's
Richard Dyer (1977) suggests Klapp s
distinction can be reworked in terms of the
types produced by different social groups
according to their sense of who belongs
and who doesn't, who is 'in' and who is not
Tessa Perkins (1979) says, however, that
stereotyping is not a simple process. She
identified that some of the many ways that
stereotypes are assumed to operate aren t
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
They are not always rigid and unchanging.
Perkins argues that if stereotypes were
always so simple then they would not 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 to real
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
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 will be a
tale either of sordid decline or of inspiring
He suggests this is a particularly interesting
potential use of stereotypes, in which the
character is constructed, at the level of dress,
performance, etc., as a stereotype but is
deliberatIey given a narrative function that is
not implicit in the stereotype, thus throwing
into question the assumptions signalled by
the stereotypical iconography.
As part of stereotyping to create meaning
in factual texts such as news, television
theorist John Hartley (1982) argues that
aspects such as the presenters voices are
stereotyped in order to create shorthand
meanings for audiences at a particular but
of drama, action, light-heartedness etc.
This means they are personalised and this
personalisation creates characteristics
which become stereotyped for the
Representations in media texts are often
simplistic and reinforce dominant
ideologies so that audiences can make
sense of them . Evaluate the ways that you
have used/challenged simplistic
representations in one of the media
products you have produced.