FACULTY OF CREATIVE, CULTURAL & ACADEMIC STUDIES
BTEC National Diploma in Media
Advertising pt 2 – week 34
Analyse representation and genre
Unit 5.4 – Be able to develop responses to media products. Apply textual
analysis to own and other products with emphasis on genre and narrative
All media texts tell a kind of story and narrative is the way of organizing this
process of telling stories – how these stories are shaped, structured and then
potentially decoded and understood.
As most plots have a similar structure they can be analyzed easily.
Advertising often has a simple before and after structure “before using the
product I was like this, now I am like this!”
Often the key elements of adverts narrative have become deliberately
ambiguous or self-referential or ironic or parodying other media products.
These are all indicators of a postmodern media product. It is said that we live
in postmodern times because everything that we say or think has already
been said or thought! This could well be true if we apply it to media products
and maybe why so many products are crossing genres in order to try and be
new and exciting.
What is certainly true is that audiences learn about the codes and
conventions of a genre through familiarity and that is how they understand
texts and decode them correctly. Essentially we can see what are the
common patterns within a genre and choose to use them or not in our
If each genre has its dominant codes and conventions then they must all
represent things and people in certain recognizable and repeated ways. This
process of representation (or re-presenting of something) helps to keep
ideology in place. Ideology is a set of ideas or beliefs about something.
Media texts may help to legitimize or make normal certain beliefs and ideas
about something through the way they represent something. For example; an
advert for shower gel that shows a strong powerful male successfully pulling a
more passive female helps to legitimize the ideological belief that men need to
be strong and women weaker. Or, an advert for car insurance showing a
young person having a near accident with an old person may help legitimize
the ideological belief that older people have less of a place within society.
As you can see, advertising could be full of these representations because
sometimes its simply easier to work within the typical genre conventions than
to try and break the mould. One way of staying within the mould is to use
stereotypes which is just an over simplified representation of a particular
group or people. Its easy to use stereotypes but harder to break them!
Finally it must be remembered that audiences are generally though of as
active and sophisticated. We are good at recognizing the codes of genres
and we begin to anticipate them. This is pleasure of the text; there is, for the
audience, creation of tension in trying to anticipate what is going to happen
followed by pleasure of getting it right or sometimes pleasant surprise at
getting it wrong (particularly in postmodern times when we think we have seen
it all!). We know things are going to happen like they do because it’s a
convention of that particular narrative or genre.
1. Using at least one of the adverts provided you must correctly and
substantially describe the codes and conventions of the genre. You will
explore any narrative present paying particular attention to issues of
representation (class, age, gender, race etc) and how that may tie into
societies wider held beliefs, or ideologies.
2. Using your own advertising product contrasted against one other (you
may use the same one and some of the analysis completed from task
1) you will compare and contrast the two products. You will identify how
each piece works the genre and how this may help the audience to
respond to it. For a really good grade you will be justifying your
analysis with examples from other products and will show evidence of
further learning and linking of representational issues to ongoing
arguments within society