An interpretation of reality!

Shahbaz Ali – BDC

What is representation?
 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.

What is representation?
 By definition, all media texts are re-presentations of

reality.  There is an ‘Intention’ behind their construction. i.e. they are intentionally composed, lit, written, framed, cropped, captioned, branded, targeted and censored by their producers.  They are entirely artificial versions of the reality we perceive around us.

.A. Gender and Ethnicity 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.  In relation to the key markers of identity – Class.G.E. Age.What is representation? C.  The term refers to the processes involved as well as to its products.

What is representation?  When studying the media it is vital to remember this - every media form is a representation of someone's concept of existence. . codified into a series of signs and symbols which can be read by an audience.

What is representation?  It is important to note that without the media. and that we. Producers position a text somewhere in relation to reality and audiences assess a text on its relationship to reality. as an audience. our perception of reality would be very limited. two-way process.  We need the media to make sense of reality. need these artificial texts to mediate our view of the world. . Therefore representation is a fluid.

Mediated Representation .

such systems ‘position’ their subjects. .  Systems of representation are the means by which the concerns of ideologies are framed.Representation is “natural”  A key in the study of representation concern is with the way in which representations are made to seem ‘natural’.

recordings.  Reality is always represented .  All texts. are constructed representations rather than simply transparent 'reflections'. transcriptions or reproductions of a pre-existing reality.  Semiotics foregrounds the process of representation. Representation always involves 'the construction of reality'. however 'realistic' they may seem to be.what we treat as 'direct' experience is 'mediated' by perceptual codes. .Representation and Semiotics – I  Semiotics and content analysis (quantitative) are the main methods of formal analysis of representation.

.  Representation is unavoidably selective.we make modality judgments about them.Representation and Semiotics – II  Representations which become familiar through constant re-use come to feel 'natural' and unmediated. foregrounding some things and backgrounding others.  Representations require interpretation .

'accuracy' and 'distortion'). . whereas constructivists focus on whose realities are being represented and whose are being denied.  Both structuralist and poststructuralist theories lead to 'reality' and 'truth' being regarded as the products of particular systems of representation .every representation is motivated and historically contingent.Representation and Semiotics – III  Realists focus on the 'correspondence' of representations to 'objective' reality (in terms of 'truth'.

media texts extend experience of reality. .  Every time you see a wildlife documentary.Extension of reality  By giving audiences information. you extend your experience of life on this planet. or read about political events in a country on the other side of the world. or watch a movie about a historical event.

. because the producers of the media text have selected the information we receive.  The editors and journalists decree which aspects of the news events we will read about. then our experience is restricted.Restriction of reality  However.  The movie producers telescope events and personalities to fit into their parameters.

True Lies  Truth or Lies?  Media representations .are a very political issue. as the influence the media exerts has a major impact on the way we view the world. .  By viewing media representations our prejudices can be reinforced or shattered.and the extent to which we accept them .

audiences accept that media texts are fictional to one extent or another (we have come a long way from the mass manipulation model of the 1920s and 1930s. .True Lies  Generally. as we base our perception of reality on what we see in the media. it is dangerous to suppose that we don't see elements of truth in media texts either.  The study of representation is about decoding the different layers of truth/fiction/whatever.)  However.

Important questions  In order to fully appreciate the part representation plays in a media text you must consider:  Who produced it?  What/who is represented in the text?  How is that thing represented?  Why was this particular representation (this shot. and what might the alternatives have been?  What frame of reference does the audience use when understanding the representation? . etc) selected. framed from this angle. this story phrased in these terms.

and it is a key issue when discussing representation.  Essential elements of our own identity. and the identities we assume other people to have.Gender And Media Representation  Gender is perhaps the basic category we use for sorting human beings. not just humans.particularly in advertising . are represented by the media as being particularly masculine or feminine .and we grow up with an awareness of what constitutes 'appropriate' characteristics. . come from concepts of gender what does it mean to be a boy or a girl?  Many objects.

Male Tough Hard Sweaty Female Fragile Soft Fragrant .Gender And Media Representation  Construct a list of typical male and female characteristics.

Gender And Media Representation  How might the following objects be 'gendered' through advertising. given that both sexes will use the product?  a sports car?  a diving watch?  deodorant?  cigarettes?  a hi-fi system?  trainers? .

Gender And Media Representation Sports car .

Gender And Media Representation Diving watch .

Gender And Media Representation Deodorant .

Gender And Media Representation Cigarettes .

Gender And Media Representation Role Models  Media heavily moulds our conceptions of what it means to be male or female.  These different role models may at first glance appear to be very varied. do they actually represent enough of a range of men/women?  Are we simply given variations on a stereotype that become sub- stereotypes in themselves?  By adopting role models and parading them through the media as people it is desirable to 'be'. are we stunting individual growth? .

Does this reflect that the status of women has not really changed or that the male-dominated media does not want to accept it has changed? .  Media representations of women remain worryingly constant.Gender And Media Representation Femininity  Feminism has been a recognized social philosophy for more than forty years. and the changes that have occurred in women's roles in western society during that time have been nothing short of phenomenal.

within narrow conventions)  sexuality (as expressed by the above)  emotional (as opposed to intellectual) dealings  relationships (as opposed to independence/freedom) .Gender And Media Representation Femininity  Representations of women across all media tend to highlight the following:  beauty (within narrow conventions)  size/physique (again.

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

 Characters who do not fit into the mould tend to be seen as dangerous and deviant. more recently. High Society (which was a flop). Think of Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) in Fatal Attraction or. in terms of conforming to societal expectations. . but these had to be severely toned down (less swearing.Gender And Media Representation Femininity  The representations of women that do make it onto page and screen do tend to be stereotypical.  America seems to expect its women to behave better than their European counterparts . particularly in the movies.British viewers adored the antics of Patsy & Edina in Absolutely Fabulous. Teena Brandon/Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) in Boys Don't Cry. And they get their comeuppance. NO drug taking) for the US remake.

Gender And Media Representation Masculinity  'Masculinity' is a concept that is made up of more rigid stereotypes than femininity. action) .physical and intellectual  Power  Sexual attractiveness (which may be based on the above)  Physique  Independence (of thought. Representations of men across all media tend to focus on the following:  Strength .

Gender And Media Representation Masculinity  Male characters are often represented as isolated. . it is often part of the resolution of a narrative.  If they capitulate to being part of a family. as not needing to rely on others (the lone hero). rather than an integral factor in the initial equilibrium.

 Bollywood actors in their forties are expected to have a level of 'buffness' that was not aspired to even by young heart-throbs 20 – 30 years ago. .Gender And Media Representation Masculinity  It is interesting to note that the male physique is becoming more important part of representations of masculinity.

 This is partly because of the increased media focus on masculinity .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. both lifestyle and health . . men are finding it as difficult to live up to their media representations as women are to theirs.think of the burgeoning market in men's magazines.Gender And Media Representation Masculinity  Increasingly.

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