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Learning outcomes. Aims/Objectives. You will be able to describe what representation is. Be able to identify the types of groups that are represented? You will be able to discuss representation in your products. Key media concept Representation recap:. 1. What is representation?

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aims objectives
  • You will be able to describe what representation is.
  • Be able to identify the types of groups that are represented?
  • You will be able to discuss representation in your products
key media concept representation recap
Key media concept Representation recap:
  • 1. What is representation?
  • 2. What are the groups that representation covers?
  • 3. How can you analyse representation in media products? What would you look for?
  • 4. What is one theory you could apply to representation?
  • 5. Can you describe what that theory is about?
  • Representing is about constructing reality, it is supposed to contain versimilitued and simplify people’s understanding of life.
  • Representation refers to the construction in any medium (especially the mass media) of aspects of �reality� such as people, places, objects, events, cultural identities and other abstract concepts. Such representations may be in speech or writing as well as still or moving pictures.
  • The term refers to the processes involved as well as to its products. For instance, in relation to the key markers of identity - Class, Age, Gender and Ethnicity (the 'cage' of identity) - representation involves not only how identities are represented (or rather constructed) within the text but also how they are constructed in the processes of production and reception by people whose identities are also differentially marked in relation to such demographic factors. Consider, for instance, the issue of 'the gaze'. How do men look at images of women, women at men, men at men and women at women?
how we need to analyse representations
How we need to analyse representations?
  • Richard Dyer (1983) posed a few questions when analysing media representations in general.
  • 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 whom?
  • 4. What does it represent to us and why? How do we respond to the representation?
how do you think the following groups are represented in the media
How do you think the following groups are represented in the media?
  • You should be prepared to discuss in response to the question, how these technical elements create specific meaning to the audience about this representation.
  • • Gender• Age• Ethnicity• Sexuality• Class and status• Physical ability/disability• Regional identity
types of representations
Types of representations
  • Remember the media is generally run by white, middle to upper class western men. So you could argue both a Feminist and Marxist viewpoint in your production of your horror film. Representation to some extent is based on stereotypes here are some examples of those that exist.
  • Men generally are the main characters and are seen sometimes as isolated and alone. The hero can be both the antagonist and protagonist.
  • In a film, women in a narrative usually play the role of what Propp coined the “helper” or an object, think James Bond’s Miss Money Penny and his other women. And Men are the predominate focus in TV dramas.
  • How are men and women represented are women seen as inferior. Women are represented around their beauty, physical appearance and also represented by their relationships.
  • What stereotypes are present are men and women represented as equal, superior or inferior? What are the binary opposites present in the characters.
  • Age is often shown around a binary opposite focused around positive and negative stereotypes of young and old.
representation ethnicity stereotypes
Representation ethnicity-stereotypes

Analyse how society sees these different ethnicities, this can also be linked to social class and status.

Black groups-stereotypes, criminals, drugs pushers, positive: good at sports and good singers

Asian groups:-work in corner shops, waiters, commit fraud. Positives: traditional, hardworking and family orientated.

Muslims: negatives, shown as extremist, violent, religious. Positives, pure, holy and trustworthy.

White group: Depends on social class, i.e. white working class can be seen as racist, again analyse the binary opposite.

class and status
Class and Status
  • Remember most TV is aimed at a working class audience, this means that most characters will be working class to middle class. Exceptions include aspiration dramas i.e. Sex in the City where although America does not have class system these characters have high status, this is also similar to Made in Chelsea and some period dramas which shows wealth.
  • Remember when analysing these texts think how society sees these people. Northern people are generally seen as poor and people from down south as rich.
  • Analyse the juxtaposition, the binary opposites the inequalities the powerless and the powerful.
4 stereotypes
4. Stereotypes?
  • 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 society.

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 true.

  • 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 evidence.
  • 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 recognition.

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 redemption.

  • This is a particularly interesting potential use of stereotypes, in which the character is constructed, at the level of costume, performance, etc., as a stereotype but is deliberately given a narrative function that is not implicit in the stereotype, thus throwing into question the assumptions signalled by the stereotypical iconography.
how have you created representations
How have you created representations?

I want you to consider the following questions throughout this presentation, which we will discuss at the end:

1. In your own narrative, have you followed conventional Hollywood constructions of men and women or have you challenged these and how?

2. How have you shown men and women? If you have no men why not? Remember representation is also about not representing people.

  • Marxism
  • Feminism
feminism gender
  • One theory which can be applied to representation is feminism
  • What do you think feminism is?
  • How does the media represent feminists? In a positive or negative light?
  • Why?
feminism what it is
Feminism what it is
  • 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 rights.
the media and women
The media and women
  • Masculinity and femininity are socially constructed.
  • Ideas about gender are produced and reflected in language O’ Sullivan et al (1998).
  • Watch this clip what do you think?
horror and women
Horror and women
  • How are women portrayed in horrors do you think based on your research?
  • Think about what these two theorists have said?
laura mulvey 1975
Laura Mulvey (1975)
  • Particularly in relation to 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
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 male spectator”

poster and magazine covers
Poster and magazine covers
  • 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”.
those who break the mould
Those who break the mould
  • Women who break this mould are represented to be dangerous and devient, and having qualities that are not female, think about how the final girl is shown, her name is usually non gender specific, and has male characteristics.
  • Character examples Boys dont Cry (Hillary Swank)
feminism and narratives
Feminism and narratives

When analysing representation using feminism they say women are constructed using the following focus:

Beauty ( within narrow conventions)

Size/ physique

Emotional (represents women as emotional rather than intellectual beings)

Relationships (women are represented around their relationships i.e. as being part of a context i.e. family, friends, rather than independent beings, think Sex and the City Carrie and her friends, in contrast Mr Big is alone and independent.

  • In a drama, women in a narrative usually play the role of what Propp coined the “helper” or an object, think James Bond’s Miss Money Penny and his other women. And Men are the predominate focus in TV dramas.
  • Think: How many police dramas have women as the lead character?
a man s place
A man’s place
  • To analyse women’s representations we have to look at how men are represented men are shown as being:
  • Strong: physical and intellectual
  • Powerful
  • Sexually attractive based on intellect and power rather than how women are judged physical appearance
  • Independence (of thought and action)

Men in narratives can also be shown to be represented as isolated or the lone hero i.e.the characters Matt Damon played in Bourne or or Liam Neeson in Taken or James Bond.

Women in contrast are judged on their relationships with others i.e. the helper role, or the princess. This is more likely in the genre of action films, where the lead characters are nearly always men.

How many action films can you think of where women are the centre character? Does this mean genre is sexist?

men in narratives
Men in narratives

Men in narratives are often the main character in Hollywood films, and if they are shown to be part of a family unit, this is usually in the resolution part of the narrative and is an important part of the equilibrium. Remember if we use Todorov’s narrative then the equilibrium stage is about returning to the natural order. In this order Men represent the patriarchal society, as head of the family, this means women are subservient,

As John Berger said “Men act, women appear” (Berger 1972)

laura mulvey
Laura Mulvey
  • Mulvey argues that various features of cinema viewing conditions facilitate for the viewer both the voyeuristic process of objectification of female characters and also the narcissistic process of identification with an ‘ideal ego’ seen on the screen. Mulvey draw on Freud’s early work.She declares that in patriarchal society ‘pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female’ (Mulvey 1992, 27). This is reflected in the dominant forms of cinema.
  • Conventional narrative films in the ‘classical’ Hollywood tradition not only typically focus on a male protagonist in the narrative but also assume a male spectator. ‘As the spectator identifies with the main male protagonist, he projects his look onto that of his like, his screen surrogate, so that the power of the male protagonist as he controls events coincides with the active power of the erotic look, both giving a satisfying sense of omnipotence’ (ibid., 28). Traditional films present men as active, controlling subjects and treat women as passive objects of desire for men in both the story and in the audience, and do not allow women to be desiring sexual subjects in their own right. Such films objectify women in relation to ‘the controlling male gaze’ (ibid., 33), presenting ‘woman as image’ (or ‘spectacle’) and man as ‘bearer of the look’ (ibid., 27). Men do the looking; women are there to be looked at. The cinematic codes of popular films ‘are obsessively subordinated to the neurotic needs of the male ego’ (ibid., 33). It was Mulvey who coined the term 'the male gaze'.
  • Mulvey argues “traditionally, the woman displayed has functioned on two levels: as an erotic object for the characters within the screen story, and as an erotic object for the spectator within the auditorium”
mulvey continued
Mulvey continued
  • Mulvey distinguishes between two modes of looking for the film spectator: voyeuristic and fetishistic, which she presents in Freudian terms as responses to male ‘castration anxiety’.
  • Voyeuristic looking involves a controlling gaze and Mulvey argues that this has associations with sadism: ‘pleasure lies in ascertaining guilt - asserting control and subjecting the guilty person through punishment or forgiveness’ (Mulvey 1992, 29).
  • The sadistic gaze of the male, forces the woman into masochistic acceptance of the gaze, forcing her to accept the guilt of causing the gaze in the first place – reinforcing male hegemony. Yet, if the sadistic gaze forced the female into a masochistic submissive role the whole binary would unravel. The two sadists would never allow the woman to assume the masochistic role, even a role she is forced to accept.
critics of mulvey
Critics of Mulvey
  • Counter-argument against Mulvey's thesis may ultimately come about because she doesn't account for the female 'gaze' and only relates to the male 'gaze'.
  • Also it does not take into account other issues such as race, sexuality will also negotiate how the final girl is perceived.
the role of horror from 1970s to present
The role of horror from 1970s to present
  • Horror films have a very usual relationship with feminism, because in the 1970/ 1980s it was easy for feminist to point to Slashermovies because of their bloody nature where violence was generally against women to say that these films generally were a backlash against feminism. Also in other films, male characters were often shown to commit violence because of women are their unequal relationship with women i.e. films like Psycho (1960) where the main character has issues with his mother. Further, because of the largely male audience, and the use of camera angels and lighting it was argued that the murders of these women is often shot from the male point of view or the gaze shot, forcing the audience to take part in the murders voyeurism, The crime of the female is her arousal of the killer and the male audience, the male gaze.
final girl
Final girl
  • In 1992, Carol clover published Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film - which changed how people viewed female roles within horror.
  • Clover looked at the horror genre, and in particular Slasher, occult, rape revenge genre from a feminist perspective. She found that although these films are seen to offer a sadistic pleasure to their viewers, Clover argues that these films are designed to align spectator not with the male antagonist, but with the female victim which she coined as the final girl theory. Final girl refers to the last girl or woman alive which is left to tell the story.
  • Examples of this include Final Destination, Scream, Texas Chain Sae Massacre and I know what you did last summer.Crucially, Clover suggests that in these films, the viewer begins by sharing the perspective of the killer, but experiences a shift part way through to identify with the final girl.
  • The final girl is seen as sexually unavailable, has no vices almost virginal. The final girl also has an androgynous name like Sydney or Parker. She remains virginal and pure whilst her friends pair off and have sex (anyone who has sex in the woods or a car must die in a horror film). Essentially, the final girl is the one to make it to the end of the film.
final girl continued
Final girl continued
  • The reason she is non sexual, or some would say has similar traits to a teenage boy is because it allows for male audience to identify with the character at the end. Men would find it difficult to identify with a final male, because of the way the final girl is terrorised, but i Thus, the viewer identifies with the fright of being attacked, as opposed to the gratification or satisfaction of the murderer as he attacks.
  • "The Final Girl, on reflection, is a congenial double for the adolescent male. She is feminine enough to act out in a gratifying way, a way unapproved for adult males, the terrors and masochistic pleasures of the underlying fantasy, but not so feminine as to disturb the structures of female competence and sexuality" (Clover, pg. 51)
  • Often the final girl lifts up a male object such as a knife chainsaw, this allows the male audience to identify with the phallic element of the story.

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 naturalised.

What is important is that, in Marxist terms, the media’s role may be seen as :

Circulating and reinforcing dominant ideologies (less frequently) undermining and challenging such ideologies.


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 worth.

  • David Gauntlett (2002) argues that “identities are not ‘given’ but are constructed and negotiated.”

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 individualism.

  • 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.”
your own productions
Your own productions
  • 1. In creating your representations of male and female, have you followed a typical Hollywood narrative explain how you have or how you haven't? Consider Todorov’s 5 stage narrative?
  • 2.Using Propps character what roles do the men and women have do these challenge traditional narrative uses or do these follow the typical conventions of Hollywood?
  • 3. Have you followed horror conventions and used a final girl does she have these qualities or have you gone against this?
  • Think about how you have constructed your characters in their personality traits the way you use camera angles, high low, POV, mise-en-scene and editing, consider your storyboard, how have you shown these characters, are they from their from the perspective of the male gaze or from the final girls perspective
  • 4. Do you agree with Mulvey’s view or Clovers view of horror and why?

Practice Time: Think of this question as the first part of your revision...

“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.

key words to mention in th e exam if this concept comes up
Key words to mention in the exam if this concept comes up.
  • Representation: stereotypes, ideology, hegemonic representation, binary opposites i.e. inferior or superior, rich or poor able or disabled.
  • Micro and macro analysis: how micro elements technical, symbolic create over representations in the genre, consider both shared and individual conventions.
  • Metaphor: A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible
  • Verisimilitude: how realism is created i.e. stereotypes
  • Juxtaposition: opposites, allows for you to see the differences i.e. light dark, old or young shows two contrasting things.