Key Media theory A2 MEST 3 revision
Feminism • One of the first groups to draw attention to representations within the media • Feminisits of the late 1960s/1970s questioned how the representations of women in the media drew on hegemonic discourse of women; women as homemakers/domesticated, mothers, carers etc. • Feminists argue that social divisions in society and therefore represented in the media continue to benefit men in terms of work, educational opportunities, wages and continued access to political and economical power. • A CHALLENGE TO MARX?
Emphasis on sexuality and physical appearance was explored within Laura Mulvey’s influential 1975 work ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ • Mulvey argued that mainstream Hollywood film was the product of a male-dominated and controlled industry and that in such texts: • Men controlled the action and were responsible for moving the narrative along • Women were represented as passive objects of the male gaze • Pleasure in viewing comes from voyeurism, narcissism and scopophilia
There are challenges to Mulvey’s point of view: • Pirates of the Caribbean: At The World’s End • Casino Royale • Kill bill Vol 1 & 2 • The representation of women has improved but there are arguably still some superficial and stereotypical representations of women present in the media (isn’t that true of men too though??).
Gammon and Marshment (1988) suggest that in recent years a number of texts have represented men as objects for the female gaze. • Stress the importance of the audience’s role in the construction of meaning in media texts and emphasise the range of interpretations that any text offers. • LINK: Discourse/Semiotic/Stuart Hall
Post-feminism Equal pay, equal rights, increase in women in both higher education and the workplace leads to the argument that feminisim is no longer necessary In a post-feminist era it is argued that many media texts take a playful and irreverent attitude to the traditional gender divisions of the past Judith Butler (1999) suggests that gender is not the result of nature but is socially constructed
Media and culture therefore offer men and women a range of ‘scripts’ for gender roles, which audiences both interpret and perform in their everyday lives • Butler argues there are a number of exaggerated, disruptive ‘tongue-in-cheek’ representations of masculinity and femininity which draw attention to the idea that gender is socially constructed and cause what she refers to as ‘gender trouble’ • E.G. Amy Winehouse – subverts expectations
Queer theory Judith Butler’s exploration of gender trouble link to queer theory which sees the challenge of the construction of ‘normal’ heterosexuality and how the media has limited the representations of gay men and women. Hollywood construct and portray images of ‘normal’ happy heterosexual couples whereas homosexual couples are often represented in terms of sin or sickness.
Queer theory challenges the traditionally held assumptions that there is a binary divide between being gay and heterosexual, and suggests that sexual identity is more fluid. • Also suggests that there are different ways of interpreting contemporary media texts, by looking at the fluidity of gender represenations • E.G. Finding Nemo – single father role
Interpreting media texts using queer theory can also be applied to contemporary texts where heterosexuality is dominant • Arguably there have been a number of changes in attitudes to homosexuality in recent years that give some credibility to queer theory’s suggestion that there is a more open and fluid approach to sexuality. • LINK: Post-modernism – there are no ‘boundaries’ to our society anymore – nothing is new.