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How we used representation theory


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How we used representation theory

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How we used representation theory

  1. 1. Representation is the process by which the media re-presents society though the use of genre and technological. There are a number of theorist who have a variety of views on how representation is used in mass media. As a group we were given the task to create a 90 second teaser trailer for an original Neo-Noir film. Together we came up with the idea of a man called Sam, who wakes up with no memory of who he is or what happened to him. He then comes into contact with a women named Mary who claims to be his wife who then explains who he is and what happened to him. After explaining that he was an undercover police officer investigating a drug cartel who was found out and was thought to have been beaten to death but really was just beaten unconscious to such a point where he lost his memory Mary begins to ask Sam to go out and kill people she claimed where a threat to them as they knew he was still alive. As the story develops Sam become more sceptical of whether he is being told the truth or not and begins to question Mary until he finds out that Mary is the leader of another rival drug cartel and was just using him to weaken her rivals. She eventually kills himand the filmends with her taking over the territory of the rival cartel. One of the representation theorists is Stuart Hall, who discusses the concept of hegemony. Cultural hegemony is the concept that people of power in the higher classes who have control of media production produce media texts that instil desired messages and construct the realities of those in the lower classes who consume said texts. The theory actually links closely to Karl Marx’s class theory, with the proletariat acting as the lower class and the bourgeoisie being the media producers. This theory connotes that the representations portrayed in the media will become accepted stereotypes. For example, using Noir as a case study, the stereotype of women being objects and the preconceptions of how women should look were established by the representations of femme fatales such as Kitty Collins, The Killer (1946, Siodmack) and Lynn Bracken, L.A. Confidential (1997, Hansan). To this extent our filmdoes not follow the Hall theory as none of the members of the group hold a position of power however we are in a position to produce media texts but rather than instil stereotypes of classic femme fatales whose dominance is based on their appearance we represent Mary as being dominant based off of her power and intelligence. Another theorist who firmly supports this view of women being sexualised in cinema is Laura Mulvey. Her Male Gaze theory discusses the concept of how the voyeurism of men is focused upon when the story is being written and the ideas of how characters are to be represented. However, she develops on this point by discussing how certain representations are used to satisfy the narcissismof all men. According to Mulvey, men are so narcissistic that they take pleasure in seeing other men in power, hence why in films like Drive (2011, Refn) the only characters of power are male, Driver and the Mob bosses, whilst the only female character is passive and is in need of help from men, Irene. However, we decided to go against Mulvey’s theory and instead invert the roles of character based off of their gender. Rather than being in a position of power and control Sam, the male protagonist, is vulnerable and completely trusting of the character who possesses the real power in Mary as he has no choice. We also go against Mulvey’s theory by limiting the ways in which we sexualise Mary by not having her in revealing clothing. Some theorists however take a much more simplistic approach to representation theory. Daniel Chandler is the mind behind the general theory, which connotes that all media texts,
  2. 2. no matter how realistic they appear to be, are in reality just representations of society rather than bold, transparent reflections of society. He theorises that the constant re-use of representations in media result in said representations becoming ‘normal’ and accepted as being truthful. For example, in almost all films of the past there has been either a male protagonist or a male in a position of power, despite whatever flaws they may have. This had led to the patriarchal view that men should be in power at all times. We have the representations of Lou, Nightcrawler (2014, Groly) and J.J. Gittes, Chinatown (1974, Polanski) to thank for this stereotype as despite their character flaws, being a terrible person and a dumb lug respectively, they still feature as protagonists. However, in our text we present a different view and don’t offer either a realistic representation or bold, transparent reflection of society, instead we present a world where women possess power over men who are completely vulnerable and have no real escape or choice. A contrasting theory to this is the concept of Pluralism in main stream media. It is argued that media is democratic thanks to 3 factors. The first being the quantity of media consumed by a variety of groups in order to keep all these audience members happy they will have different representations of the same thing in order to satisfy the views of the audiences. And thirdly, the fact that all of these representations of the same thing exists create an accurate, unbiased representation of society. An example of this is that in order to keep female viewers happy, more female characters are being featured in film Noir. The likes of Amy Dunne. Gone Girl (2014, Fisher) replacing the likes of Deckard, Blade Runner (1982. Scott). With our text we are appealing to the modern, feminist audiences who would enjoy to see Mary having the level of power and control she has over Sam. To conclude, I believe that the most accurate of these theories is the pluralist theory. Which therefore means that the theory I find least accurate is the hegemony theory as the two contrast one another. I believe that the pluralist theory is accurate as if it were not true then genres would never be developed and examples of hybrids wouldn’t exist as there would be no need for change as audiences would ask for change as they wouldn’t know better or have a choice. However, whilst I believe the pluralist theory is the most accurate in terms of general mass media, the theory most applicable to our text is the Laura Mulvey Male Gaze theory as it is most applicable to the Noir genre and the conventions we’ve tried to subvert.