A condition, episode, person or group of persons
emerges to become defined as a threat to
societal values and interests; its nature is
presented in a stylized and stereotypical
fashion by the mass media
Stanley Cohen (1972)
Cohen’s Moral Panic
Study of the representation of mods and rockers
from the 1960s
Although Cohen points to the ways in which the media amplify
anxieties and events and create a moral panic, the demonization of
youth in this way can only come about if there is some kind of
collective identity to which to point.
In this case a ‘mod’ and a ‘rocker’. Two different identities formed
through a collective wearing certain clothes and listening to certain
types of music.
Rockers: rode motorcycles, wore black leather and listened to rock ‘n’
Mods: rode scooters, wore suites
and listened to south, rhythm
and blues, and ska
You can also see how certain
subcultures of youth were demonized
in the 1980s;
The punk era
• Everything you see or hear in ALL types of
media has been carefully SELECTED and
CONSTRUCTED in order to create meaning
•Media representations often reflect the
dominant ideologies of the society in which
they are created
“HOODIES AND ALTAR BOYS”
The word most commonly used by newspapers to
describe teenage boys was "yobs" (591
times), followed by "thugs" (254 times), "sick" (119
times) and "feral" (96 times).
Other terms often used
included "hoodie", "louts",
Research showed the best chance a teenager had of
receiving sympathetic coverage was if they died.
Who makes these media representations of
Can this ever be a fair portrayal?
Let’s look specifically urban youth
• What do these people wear?
• What music do they listen to?
• What do they do in their spare time?
• Where do they live?
• Any other character traits/ appearance?
What is meant by stylized and
stereotyped representations ?
Camera Angles/ Shots:
High Camera Angle
Low Camera Angle
Hand Held Camera
Point of View
Eye Line Match
Diegetic Sound (in the world of the
film)- dialogue, ambient sounds,
Non-Diegetic Sound (not in the
world of the film)- Soundtrack,
voice over, etc.
Everything that is on the screen-
TECHNICAL CODES AUDIO CODES
Questions to consider
• How is youth represented in this
• How do technical codes, audio codes and
symbolic codes work to create meaning?
• Can you apply Cohen’s theory that
representations are stylized and
stereotyped (through media language)?
Going from the Macro to the Micro
How to structure your answer
Historical context- how has youth been represented in the
past? In this case through newspapers and news
broadcasts. Apply Cohen’s theory of moral panic
Contemporary examples- how is youth represented now? In
this case through newspapers (the student riots) and TV
(Top Boy). Can you apply Cohen’s theory? What about
other theorists you have looked at? Barthes, Gauntlett, etc?
What are the wider social implications (the macro)
How are representations stylized and stereotyped? Engage in
a detailed examination of Top Boy (the micro)
How is identity formed? How might different groups of people
interpret these representations?
The future?- what is the future for representation of youth in
the media? Do dominant representations inform identity?
Analyse the way in which the media represent
one group of people that you have studied.