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Representation in Media

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This PowerPoint explains representation in media, including representation in film, and particularly the representation of character within film.

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Representation in Media
“The media do not portray reality,
they create reality.”
Including representation in film
What are media representations?
Media representations are the ways in which the media portrays
particular groups, communities, experiences, ideas, or topics from a
particular ideological or value perspective. They aren’t always
completely accurate, and they can be said to be “re-presentations”
which can sometimes go as far as to create a new reality.
A clear example of media representation can be found in beer
advertisements when they generally make out like drinking beer is a
key component of a party in order to make it fun, because by doing
this they’re creating the connotation that it’s their product that
makes the party fun, and this then helps them to promote their
product. Another example is the Disney Corporation, one of the
major producers of film and television, who represent stories and
fairy tales for children primarily in terms of White, Western, middle-
class values. Disney Land and Disney world even go so far as to
create a new ‘land’ through representation.
Why study representations in media?
Representations in media are a key part of
society, as they shape, to a certain degree, the
way we think and what we believe. This is
particularly true for adolescents, who are heavily
influenced by the media in this day and age, and
are still in a phase of learning, and so absorb what
the media portrays. However, James Tobin (2001)
argues that young students are able to resist
these representations as they can parody or
adopt creative alternatives to representations.
Studying Representation in Media
Studying media representation involves creating
new means by which we can understand reality.
As Stuart Hall argued (1997), this approach differs
from more traditional methods of analysing
representations as being totally different from
reality, or associated with one strict ‘reality’,
when in actual fact, media representation is
affected by interpretation.
Daniel Chandler argues that this new means of
looking at media representation moves away
from stereotyping – something that has always
been a major factor in the media industry.
Things to Consider When Analysing
Media Representation
• Images – images can create either a positive or negative
portrayal of a situation, as photographs in particular are
very literal and can show exactly what’s taking place, and
drawings can illustrate a mood well. It’s possible to
analyse an image in the media for signifiers to determine
whether the situation it’s representing is good or bad.
For instance, if the lighting used in a photograph is dark
and gloomy, there is a suggestion that the situation is a
negative one.
• Sound/music – often media texts represent social
‘worlds’ through their use of music. Music is used most
often in media texts to represent an area of the world,
and relies on the audience’s prior knowledge of certain
types of music to be able to make a connection.
• Intertextuality - media representations also depend on
audiences’ knowledge of intertextual links between the
current texts and other previous texts using the same
images, language, sounds, or logos.
Representation in Film
Representing Characters in Film
One of the main uses of representation in film is to
establish character, and therefore I am going to use
character as an example to show how filmmakers can
use representation within film. They can use a
number of techniques to establish and develop
characters; their choice of camera techniques, acting,
mise en scene, editing, lighting and sound all
contribute to the representation of a character.

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Representation in Media

  • 1. Representation in Media “The media do not portray reality, they create reality.” Including representation in film
  • 2. What are media representations? Media representations are the ways in which the media portrays particular groups, communities, experiences, ideas, or topics from a particular ideological or value perspective. They aren’t always completely accurate, and they can be said to be “re-presentations” which can sometimes go as far as to create a new reality. A clear example of media representation can be found in beer advertisements when they generally make out like drinking beer is a key component of a party in order to make it fun, because by doing this they’re creating the connotation that it’s their product that makes the party fun, and this then helps them to promote their product. Another example is the Disney Corporation, one of the major producers of film and television, who represent stories and fairy tales for children primarily in terms of White, Western, middle- class values. Disney Land and Disney world even go so far as to create a new ‘land’ through representation.
  • 3. Why study representations in media? Representations in media are a key part of society, as they shape, to a certain degree, the way we think and what we believe. This is particularly true for adolescents, who are heavily influenced by the media in this day and age, and are still in a phase of learning, and so absorb what the media portrays. However, James Tobin (2001) argues that young students are able to resist these representations as they can parody or adopt creative alternatives to representations.
  • 4. Studying Representation in Media Studying media representation involves creating new means by which we can understand reality. As Stuart Hall argued (1997), this approach differs from more traditional methods of analysing representations as being totally different from reality, or associated with one strict ‘reality’, when in actual fact, media representation is affected by interpretation. Daniel Chandler argues that this new means of looking at media representation moves away from stereotyping – something that has always been a major factor in the media industry.
  • 5. Things to Consider When Analysing Media Representation • Images – images can create either a positive or negative portrayal of a situation, as photographs in particular are very literal and can show exactly what’s taking place, and drawings can illustrate a mood well. It’s possible to analyse an image in the media for signifiers to determine whether the situation it’s representing is good or bad. For instance, if the lighting used in a photograph is dark and gloomy, there is a suggestion that the situation is a negative one. • Sound/music – often media texts represent social ‘worlds’ through their use of music. Music is used most often in media texts to represent an area of the world, and relies on the audience’s prior knowledge of certain types of music to be able to make a connection. • Intertextuality - media representations also depend on audiences’ knowledge of intertextual links between the current texts and other previous texts using the same images, language, sounds, or logos.
  • 6. Representation in Film Representing Characters in Film One of the main uses of representation in film is to establish character, and therefore I am going to use character as an example to show how filmmakers can use representation within film. They can use a number of techniques to establish and develop characters; their choice of camera techniques, acting, mise en scene, editing, lighting and sound all contribute to the representation of a character.
  • 7. Camera Techniques The director’s use of camera techniques can represent character, including camera movement, shot size, camera angle and focus. For example, a close up can be used to show a character’s facial expression when reacting to a particular situation, or a high angle shot can make the character appear powerless and as though someone’s looking down on them.
  • 8. Acting All actions that an actor or actress completes have been scripted by the screenwriter, and they can be used to portray a character’s personality. It’s difficult to analyse acting generally in terms of representing character, as it’s often very subtle gestures that build up a character, but for instance, a sly glance from one character to another can connote that they’ve been sneaking around and are in on something together, or a shocked look to a joke could represent that the character is easily offended. Their movement, body positioning, tone of voice and facial expressions are all key in building up character.
  • 9. Mise en Scene Mise en scene refers to everything in the scene, including colour, makeup, the positioning of props and costume – all factors which can tell the audience a lot about a character. For example, the colour of the character’s clothing can connote something about their personality – a white top could symbolise purity, a black top could symbolise negativity and a red top could symbolise love, or even anger. If a colour could represent two traits, it’s down to other aspects of representation to clarify which one it’s really trying to represent. Similarly, makeup can tell us a lot about the character being portrayed. A female character wearing a lot of makeup, for instance, could represent a ‘tart’, as stereotypically prostitutes wear a lot of makeup to try and make themselves more appealing to men, and those who sleep around are often linked to prostitutes by our society.
  • 10. Editing When films are edited, filmmakers have to think carefully about how the sequence of shots, pace of editing and use of editing techniques contribute to the narrative, development of characters and audience engagement. For example, the filmmakers could decide to linger on a particular shot, but skip more quickly past others to emphasise an action of a character which could help to represent their character.
  • 11. Lighting It’s important to remember that in most feature films, although the lighting might look normal and natural, the filmmakers have gone to great lengths to achieve a particular lighting effect as lighting always makes a significant and meaningful contribution to the narrative.
  • 12. Sound Just as filmmakers think carefully about the visual editing of the film, what you hear has also been carefully constructed. In consultation with the director, sound editors and foley artists work hard to construct the soundtrack. Every decision they make about the quality and placement of sound effects and music contributes to narrative, character development and audience engagement. Diegetic and non-diegetic sound, ambient sound and prolonged sound has to be considered, as well as the fading in and out of sound.