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Representation: Main Presentation

December 1, 2010

Download Link: representation-100627083041-phpapp01

•Textual Analysis
•What is Representation?
•There are all kinds of pipes!
•Describes the signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation people know and understand the world and reality through the act of naming it. Signs are manipulated in order to make sense of the world.
•To look like or resemble.
•To stand in for something or someone
•To present a second time to re-present
•What does this mean?
•This means that media texts are intentionally composed, lit, written, framed, cropped, captioned, branded, targeted and censored by their producers, and that they are entirely artificial versions of the reality we perceive around us.
•So why do we pay attention to these biased interpretations of reality?
•It is important to note that without the media, our perception of reality would be very limited, and that we, as an audience, need these artificial texts to mediate our view of the world, in other words we need the media to make sense of reality. Therefore representation is a fluid, two-way process: producers position a text somewhere in relation to reality and audiences assess a text on its relationship to reality (your job).
•Signs make help us decipher what exactly is being re-presented.  Signs are the smallest piece of meaning we can use to decode        meaning.  Almost anything can act as a   sign and more than one sign makes up a   code. For example:
•   Glasses + bowtie + pocket protector

= Nerd

•Signs and Codes you need to use
•Camera shots, angles, movements and positions.
•Why is understanding Representation Important?


•Cultural beliefs or a way of looking at things.
•Often thought of as common sense.
•Things we believe are true but aren’t necessarily true.
•Media creates and nurtures these ideas creating possible false truths for us to identify with.
•Textual Analysis
•Literally means analysing text and in our case the text will be a 5 minute clip from a television drama.
•Denotation and Connotation.
•What lies beneath the text.  What ideologies are being created or reinforced?
•How are they portraying the world and different social groups?
•What social groups are
we concerned with?
•Class and Status
•Physical Ability/Disability
•Regional Identity
•Find a partner.

Write a list down of all the ways in which you believe a particular social group can be represented.

•Representation of Women
•Feminism has been around for over 30 years yet media representations of women are worryingly the same.

Representations of women across all media tend to

highlight the following:

•beauty (within narrow conventions)
•size/physique (again, within narrow conventions)
•sexuality (as expressed by the above)
•emotional (as opposed to intellectual) dealings
•relationships (as opposed to independence/


•Representation of Women
•Women are often represented as being part of a context (family, friends, colleagues) and working/thinking as part of a team. In drama, they tend to take the role of helper (Propp) or object, passive rather than active.
•Often their passivity extends to victimhood. Men are still represented as TV drama characters up to 3 times more frequently than women, and tend to be the predominant focus of news stories.


•Representation of Women
•The representations of women that do make it onto page and screen do tend to be stereotypical, in terms of conforming to societal expectations, and characters who do not fit into the mould tend to be seen as dangerous and deviant.
•Representation of Women
•America seems to expect its women to behave better than their European counterparts – British viewers adored the antics of Patsy & Edina in Absolutely Fabulous, but these had to be severely toned down (less swearing, NO drug taking) for the US remake, High Society (which was a flop).
•Representation of Women
•Discussions of women’s representation in the media tend to revolve around the focus on physical beauty to the near-exclusion of other values, the lack of powerful female role models, and the extremely artificial nature of such portrayals, which bear little or no relation to the reality experience by women across the planet.
•Representation of Men
•’Masculinity’ is a concept that is made up of more rigid stereotypes than femininity. Representations of men across all media tend to focus on the following:
•Strength – physical and intellectual
•Sexual attractiveness (which may be based on the above)
•Independence (of thought, action)
•Representation of Men
•Male characters are often represented as isolated, as not needing to rely on others (the lone hero). If they submit to being part of a family, it is often part of the resolution of a narrative, rather than an integral factor in the initial balance.
•It is interesting to note that the male physique is becoming more important a part of representations of masculinity. ‘Serious’ Hollywood actors in their forties (eg Willem Dafoe, Kevin Spacey) are expected to have a level of ‘buffness’ that was not aspired to even by young heart-throbs 40 years ago (check out Connery in Thunderball 1965).
•Sean Connery Thunderball (1965)
•Representation of Men
•Increasingly, men are finding it as difficult to live up to their media representations as women are to theirs. This is partly because of the increased media focus on masculinity – think of the growing market in men’s magazines, both lifestyle and health – and the increasing emphasis on even ordinary white collar male workers (who used to sport their beer-gut with pride) having the muscle definition of a professional swimmer. Anorexia in teenage males has increased alarmingly in recent years, and recent high school shootings have been the result of extreme body consciousness among the same demographic group.
•Representation of Men
•As media representations of masculinity become more specifically targeted at audiences with product promotion in mind (think of the huge profits now made from male fashion, male skin & hair care products, fitness products such as weights, clothing etc), men are encouraged (just as women have been for many years) to aspire to be like (to look/behave in the same way) the role models they see in magazines. This is often an unrealistic target to set, and awareness of this is growing.
•Representation of Age

We quickly deem other people too old, or too young, or criticise them for being immature or fuddy-duddy (conservative and dull). We criticise mature women for going about as mutton dressed as lamb, and young girls for tarting themselves up as jail bait.

•Representation of Age
•Thanks to the media, we appear to live in an age obsessed world: a world obsessed with youth and its attendant beauty. Old people are often subject to the most rigid stereotypes of all (old = ugly, weak, stupid). The future looks pretty bleak for all of us.
•Representation of Age
•Things are changing, however; as the baby boomers of the 1950s and 1960s move on towards their ‘Third Age’, they demand the same consumer comfort they have always done, and also demand the right to see themselves fairly represented on TV.
•Representation of Age
•There have been some high profile representations of the elderly in recent years US sitcom The Golden Girls is perhaps one of the most famous, centering on 4 female characters all determinedly over 50 (and it can make Sex & The City look like Sesame Street.
•Representation of Age
•Soap operas too have their part to play in eroding stereotypes – usually because the audience of soaps has a relatively high ‘grey’ segment. Old people can provide a deeply comic element to television whilst balancing the humour with frightening vulnerability and pathos. We’re all going to die, after all.
•Representation of Age

What are some common representations of age, are negative representations always dealing with the elderly or can it spread to all ages?

•Common Representations of Age
•Rebellious teen
•Senile old woman/man
•Cradle robbing woman
•Male in a mid-life crisis
•Middle-age woman clinging to her youth
•Silly old man
•And the list goes on.
•Representation of Ethnicity
•Ethnicity, like sex, is a set of genetically defined, biological characteristics. However, like gender, it is also a set of culturally defined characteristics. Representation of race in the media can consist of the same sort of rigid stereotypes that constitute gender portrayal. However, stereotyping of race is seen as more harmful than stereotyping of gender, as media representation may constitute the only experience of contact with a particular ethnic group that an audience (particularly an audience of children) may have.
•Representation of Ethnicity
•Racial stereotypes are often based on social myth, perpetuated down the ages. Thus, the media depiction of, say, Native American Indians, might provide a child with their only experience of Native American Indian culture and characters, and may provide that child with a set of narrow prejudices which will not be challenged elsewhere within their experience.
•Representation of Ethnicity
•The need for a more accurate portrayal of the diversity of different races is a priority for political agendas, but, as ever, it seems as though it will take a while for political thinking to filter through to programme and film-making.
•Representation of Ethnicity
•Most work on Race & The Media has concentrated on the representation of black men and women. This has partly been because there is a strong African-American counter-culture which provides viable alternative role models and demands that they are represented.
•Representation of Ethnicity
•In recent years, the success of actors such as Denzel Washington, Whoopi Goldberg, Laurence Fishburne and Morgan Freeman in a diversity of roles has meant that black characters in movies and on TV are no longer ‘stock’ types.
•Representation of Ethnicity
•However, there are many negative representations of black people, portrayals which seem deliberately designed to inflame the fear and hatred of other cultures – how positive a representation is the archetypal African-American gangsta? Yet these are representations coming from within black culture itself…
•Representation of Ethnicity
•Attention is now being paid to the representation of other ethnic groups, notably Asian Americans and Latinos, who represent a much larger proportion of the US population than their TV coverage would suggest. Things are changing – on the one hand the success of John Woo and Ang Lee in Hollywood is pushing the boundaries back for Asian Americans, and the Latin Music Explosion of 1999 has led to much wider acceptance of Latino performers.
•Common Representation of Ethnicity

African decent

-“Token black guy’’
•Common Representations of Ethnicity

Asian decent

•Martial artist
•Obsessed with electronics
•Quirky or weak
•Lack emotion
•Women can be seen as ditzy in some cases
•Common Representations of Ethnicity

Latino decent

•Silly/not taken seriously
•Illegal aliens
•Involved in drugs (dealing/taking)
•Sex symbols (Antonio Banderez, Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek).
•Common Representations of Ethnicity

Middle Eastern (Arabic) decent

•Very religious
•Physically strong
•Strict/stern/not a push over
•Villains/rarely seen as heroes
•Common Representations of Ethnicity

White British/American

•Powerful: physical/intellectual
•Often the hero
•Serial killer
•In charge (dominant race)
•Lead role
•Representation of Sexuality

How is one’s sexual orientation constructed?

There are many types of sexual orientations out there, our main focus will be on:

– Heterosexuality (most common type)

– Homosexuality (gay and lesbian)

Sexual orientation is biological, although sceptics think it is based on choice.  What we are concerned with is how is sexual orientation expressed?

•Representation of Sexuality

Heterosexual Women

•Loving/Respectable/average (monogamous)
•Frigid (uncomfortable)
•Pure (virginal/naive)
•Alternative (‘gold digger’, ‘pregnant teen’, ‘cougar’)
•Representation of Sexuality

Heterosexual Men

•Respectable (monogamous)
•‘Ladies Man’,  ‘Heart throb’
•Bumbling man who has trouble talking to women
•Representation of Sexuality

Homosexual women (Lesbian)

•Embarrassed (In the closet)
•Representation of Sexuality

Homosexual Males (Gay)

•Embarrassed (In the closet)
•Representation of Sexuality

Important points to consider

•Gender closely ties in with sexuality.
•Sexuality is often expressed through physical means; clothes, props, setting, acting.
•Understanding how a particular characters gender is constructed will help you analyse how their sexuality is being represented.
•Class and Status
•How is class represented?
•What are status symbols?
•How is a certain class being misrepresented?
•Is there another class being represented in a better light?
•Is class being linked to race?
•Representation of Class and Status
•Lower class
•Lower middle class
•Working class
•Upper middle class
•Upper class
•Status Symbols
•Clothing or lack of it
•What are status symbols used for?
•To establish class
•To silently assert power over those who aren’t quite as fortunate or successful.
•To fit into a stereotype or set of individuals.
•Physical Ability/Disability
•Who are we talking about
•Those who are physically disabled (paralysed, deaf, blind, amputees).
•Those who are limited in how much they can do due to morbidly obese, cancer, aids, etc).
•Those who are in good shape i.e. star athletes, superheroes, average person, one with special abilities.
•Questions to ask yourself
•Are there any disabled people represented within the show?  Why or why not?
•How are these people being represented? Are they victims?  Does everyone have pity on them?  Are they treated like everyone else?
•What part do they have within the show, is it a crucial role?
•Questions to ask yourself
•What message are you getting about this specific disability or ability being represented in the clip?
•Are the actors within the show actually disabled?  If not why do you suppose they chose not to use an actor with a disability?
•Is it right for actors to pretend to be something they are not.  Can this be compared to the times when white men wore black makeup to play black men in minstrel shows.
•Regional Identity
•This constitutes the representation of individuals from a certain geographical area.
•The most importand question to ask yourself is: How are these people represented?

Do these things contribute in a positive or negative way representing this certain area of the world.

•Regional Identity
•How do you define a region?  à a show will do this for you.
•They may be talking about regions that are very close to one another or very far.
•A good example is the OC most of the characters are from Newport while Ryan the outsider is from Chino (represented as a nearby working class/ghetto area).
•Regional Identity
•Places to consider are London and New York.  These cities are often portrayed in TV Dramas.
•Being someone who does not live in either of these cities you can base your ideas on who the people who live there are on depictions you have seen from television and film.
•This is why considering regional identity is important.  This maybe the only way people can begin identifying with other from different areas in the country or world.
•Regional Identity
•For instance, Friends takes place in New York, how do these characters represent New Yorkers or how do certain settings and situation represent life in New York?  Does it seem true to the city they are living in or are they masking/misrepresenting the city.  Or are they only concentrating on one tiny part of the population that lives within New York?
•Regional Identity
•This is very interesting to analyse when the creator is an outsider, a stereotypical representations can easily be formed; Rumble in the Bronx.


From → Presentations

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