Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Representation - A definition


 By definition, all media texts are re-presentations of reality. This means that they 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. When studying the media it is vital to remember this – every media form, from a home video to a glossy magazine, is representation of someone’s concept of existence, codified into a series of signs and symbols, which can be read by an audience. However, 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.


Representation Lesson - TV Drama

Your exam will be focussing on the representation of one of the following groups of people:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexuality
  • Class or status
  • Physical ability/disability
  • Regional identity

View the three short clips and identify how the individuals have been represented according to the following issues:

Clip 1: Hollyoaks:
How are the female characters being represented according to their gender and class?
How are the male characters being represented according to their gender and class?

Identify framing, camera shots, angles, movement and editing and state how this supports your opinion of how the characters are being shown.

Clip 2: Coronation Street:
How are the female characters being represented according to their gender and class?
How are the male characters being represented according to their gender and class?

Identify framing, camera shots, angles, movement and editing and state how this supports your opinion of how the characters are being shown.

Clip 2: Waterloo Road:
How are the female characters being represented according to their gender and class?
How are the male characters being represented according to their gender and class?

Identify framing, camera shots, angles, movement and editing and state how this supports your opinion of how the characters are being shown.

Stereotype and Representation

Stereotype: A stereotype is an over-simplified representation of people, places or issues giving a narrow set of attributes. Stereotypes frequently thought to be entirely negative but this is not necessarily the case.

Sometimes stereotypes are demonstrated at their most exaggerated form through comedy.
Although this can sometimes be contentious, for the purposes of understanding some of the over-simplified features of the groups of people you may be asked to write about in the unseen clip I have included clips below.
Please note that you will NOT be given a comedy clip in the exam. Humour might be used but this is different from comedy.   
list some of the stereotypical characteristics the comedians have focussed on:

Regional Identity

Class and Status

Famous clip illustrating class divides

Ethnicity: This is ironic look at how some British people behaved in Indian restaurants

G322 TV Drama: Representation - Disability

Below is a more condensed version of the BFI report on how disability is represented in film, called "Stereotypes of Disability".
The document explains how disable people are commonly represented in film.
Read carefully and thoroughly, as it might be helpful to you in identifying key features of stereotypes such as listed below:

  • The Hero: bravery stereotype
  • The Villain: freak stereotype
  • Tragic Figure: victim stereotype 
  • Ugly.  

View the clips from the award winning film  "The Miracle Worker" 1962. The representation of the early meeting between Helen keller and her governess was interesting and shocking for it's rawness  
the family indulged her. The expectation of her abilities was possibly less. 

Ann Sullivan recognised that much of the girls behaviour was wilfulness and not lack of ability even though her disability was severe.

The film ‘Born of the 4th of July’ shows Tom Cruise playing the young Ken Kovic and how he is treated in hospital and the reactions of his family when he returns home.
View the clip and look at the production codes (film language i.e. close up, low angle etc) to analyse how he is being represented and how others in the scene are responding to him.
Does the way he is represented fall into the categories at the top of this posting? 


The clip of the film "Notting Hill" we see friends dining together. Watch the clip through 2 or 3 times and then write bullet points of how the disabled character is represented.
Is she being shown in a different way then disabled people are more usually represented in film? If so explain why you think she is. 

Click on the link to hear David Proud (the wheelchair bound character in Eastenders) discuss the representation of his character on the soap.

Disability representation on Eastenders

Click on the link to read the document on disability and film.
film and disability

Which stereotypical categories would you say the characters in the following clips fall into?
Give your reasons why.

G322 TV Drama: Representation - Sexuality

What do you consider are the vital ingredients/characteristics of a leading man or leading lady?

 List of some stars you know, past and present, and what was their appeal?

The representation of sexuality in film will be slightly different from gender representation although they are linked.
Many film stars are described as icons because they are often revered and have mass appeal. 

Here are some of the features of iconic celebrities:

G322 TV Drama: Representation - Femme Fatale: Definitions

Referenced from Wikipedia
Femme fatale
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about a type of dangerous woman. For other uses, see Femme fatale (disambiguation).
A femme fatale (pronounced /ˌfɛm fəˈtæl/ or /ˌfɛm fəˈtɑːl/; French: [fam faˈtal], with all [a]'s) is a mysterious and seductive woman[1] whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. She is an archetype or stock character of literature and art. Her ability to entrance and hypnotize her victim was in the earliest stories seen as being literally supernatural, hence the most prosaic femme fatale today is still described as having a power akin to an enchantress, vampire, female monster or demon.
The phrase is French for "deadly woman". A femme fatale tries to achieve her hidden purpose by using feminine wiles such as beauty, charm, and sexual allure. Typically, she is exceptionally well-endowed in addition to possessing these qualities. In some situations, she uses lying or coercion rather than charm. She may also be (or imply to be) a victim, caught in a situation from which she cannot escape; The Lady from Shanghai (a 1947 film noir) is one such example.
Although typically villainous, femmes fatales have also appeared as anti-heroines in some stories, and some even repent and become heroines by the end of the tale. In social life, the femme fatale tortures her lover in an asymmetrical relationship, denying confirmation of her affection. She usually drives him to the point of obsession and exhaustion so that he is incapable of making rational decisions.


G322 TV Drama: Representation - Sexuality: How Women are represented in Film

Laura Mulvey and the Male Gaze:

Binary Opposition - Definition

Binary Opposition: where texts are organised around sets of opposite values such as good and evil, light and dark.

Clip on the link below to read about this in more detail.


Enigma: A narrative device that teases the audience by presenting a puzzle or riddle to be solved.

This is when a mystery is created either relating to the narrative or the character in the story.

Remember the opening sequence from the film "Desperado" when Steve Buscemi talks about the Antonio Banderas character. The sequence cuts between interest created by the story-telling in the bar and the mystery created by the filming techniques used to obscure Banderas' identity.

The camera tilt which classically reveals a characters identity has long been a feature of Hollywood western genre.

Desperado example of Enigma

The actor Clint Eastwood often played the mysterious stranger in the spaghetti westerns he made in the 1960's

Classic example of how enigma is created in film

The Mast of Zorro

The enigma or mystery of characterisations are often used as a seduction devise in films too. A classic example of this was the film "The Graduate".

The Graduate


Intertextual (or intermedial): The chain of signification in which texts make references to one another. When one text refers to another it is called ‘intertextual’, while ‘intermedial’ describes a media form which relies on understanding an experience of other media (e.g. film and music) to make meaning. 

An example of when one media text references another can be seen in the Simpsons' clip below. 
The show is of course the animated cartoon of the simpsons family but sequence is a reference to the Indiana Jones films. This flatters the audience with a shared or "in-joke" 

The reference may quite small or subtle but the audience will understand the connotation (connected meaning).

This example of the opening titles for "Everyone Loves Raymond" uses the sound effect from the film "Jaws" and the famous camera technique (Zido) to focus our attention on the fact that Raymond's overbearing mother is about to invite herself into his house. The overly dramatic use of a reference to his mother and a horror film provokes a humorous response from the audience.


Denotation and Connotation

Semiotics: The study signs and sign systems

Denotation: What an image actually shows and is immediately apparent, as opposed to the assumptions an individual reader may make about it.

Connotation: The meaning of a sign that is arrived at through cultural experiences a reader brings to it.

This is all about associated meanings think about the connected meanings of the following colours:

Red, black, blue, green, white, purple, yellow and pink.

read the article below which talks in detail about gender and the colour pink

Observer Online Article the Connotations of Pink

Some connotations to places, people, music, colours, smells, objects and things have a commonly (universally) associated meaning for many people and then others have a very personal associated meaning (connotation) depending on our experiences.

Revision Clips and Questions: Film Language

A)   explain what is meant by diegetic sound

B)   explain what is meant by non-diegetic sound

C)   What type of editing technique is described here.
The majority of film sequences are edited so that time seems to flow, uninterrupted, from shot to shot. 

Clip 1
Name the type of editing technique used in this sequence.
Explain the effect

Clip 2
Name the type of shot (framing) mostly used in this sequence.
Explain the effect.

Clip 3
Name the type of sound edit used in this sequence.
Explain the effect.

Clip 4
Name the type of editing technique used in this sequence.
Explain the effect

Clip 5
Name the type of camera technique used in this sequence.
Explain the effect

Clip 6
Name the type of camera technique used in this sequence.
Explain the effect.

Clip 7
Name the type of sound technique used in this sequence
Explain the effect.

Clip 8
Name the type of editing technique used in this sequence.
Explain the effect.

Clip 9
Name the type of camera technique used in this sequence.
Explain the effect

Film Definition Sheets - Camera Shots

Film Definition Sheets

The definition sheets include written definitions of the following areas:-

Camera Angles, Shots & Movement

Click on the pages below to enlarge the image

Useful link below to film definitions - Dr Daniel Chandler

Useful Links - Film Analysis

Yale University Film Analysis

Dr Daniel Chandler

AS Media Studies - Exam Unit G322

Read through the above description of the exam unit, both sections A & B to reacquaint yourself with
 the exam requirements. 

Exemplar Student Essay - G322 TV Drama (Primeval June 2010)

This students response achieved a very high grade due to the following points:

  • The student answered the question. This might seem obvious but when a response is unsuccessful the student usually doesn't relate to their answer to the question and so fails to pick up points.
  • The question in this case related to gender (male/female) representation. How the men/women were shown
  • The student gave detailed examples from the clip and then discussed the way in which this made the men/women in the scene "look".
  • The student analysed (pulled apart how the men/women were shown), they did not tell the story or describe the plot which is different from analyzing the clip. Do not story-tell.
  • Finally, they gave examples of technical codes to support their argument i.e. the low angle made her look powerful.

Read through the student essay below and use the mark scheme to examine where the marks are awarded. I have typed up this response as written and included the red ticks as they appear on the original script and this would indicate where the examiner awarded a mark.
remember the marks are awarded as follows:

argument/analysis/explanation 20 marks
Use of examples 20 marks
Use of terminology 20 marks

Key Media Concepts (TV Drama)
Wednesday 9 June 2010
Duration 2 hours (30 minutes viewing clip; 45 minutes each essay)

Section A: Textual Analysis and Representation

Answer the question below, with detailed reference to specific examples from the extract only.

Extract: Primeval Series 2 Episode 3, written by Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle, dir. Jamie Payne

1.     Discuss the ways in which the extract constructs the representation of gender using the following:

·      Camera shots, angles, movement and composition
·      Editing
·      Sound
·      Mise-en-scene
 (50 marks)

The representation of gender in the clip given conveys interesting and thought provoking ideas and contrasts between characters.

The young women called Abbey, her character steers away from the stereotypical image of women, young women, she is portrayed as a strong and feisty female, this is evident in the shots where she is operating a mechanical machine, with much skill and efficiency also. A wide shot is used when we first see her to establish the scene and location (the woods and forest). The close ups also of the end of the digger fortifies the fact that Abbey is experienced in using such a machine again reinforcing her non stereotypical portrayal, she is given the impression of a tomboy. The mis-en-scene used also fortifies this point, she has a short almost boyish hair cut and wears a leather jacket that makes us think of a character like Steve McQueen or perhaps “Greece”, mainly male, strong willed characters.

The fact that she also fights the Sabre-toothed Creature, saving the man’s life shows her tenacity. The shot that this portrayed through is a continuity edit. Also the wide shot of her running after the man being chased reinstates this point again, as the man, who stereotypically is supposed to be strong and courageous is in fact running and being chased, this is a contrast to the women who is running through the forest with a gun to help him for a second time! The dark shape of the gun in her hands, reiterates, power, as a gun, is in this extract, power.

The gentleman who is in a sky blue t-shirt is portrayed as more of an intelligent man, brain rather then brawn. When the sabre-tooth attacks there is a close-up of him in the hole cowering, this goes against the usual stereotypes of a man, a contrast between him and Abbey. Despite his cowering he does show an instance of courageousness, when he lures away the creature from Abbey. Despite this brave act he still is running away from the sabre tooth tiger, a continuity edit is present when he is running and also when he uses the zip wire, close ups show fear and exhaustion on his face. The fact that he also uses his belt on the zip wire again shows his brains over brawn. The mise-en-scene of his clothes convey a more stereotypical view of the man, they are neutral and earthy colours and are dirty and strained, this helps paint more of a picture of a mans man, or someone who is not afraid of getting their hands dirty.

The non-diegetic sound of the ambient sound-track helps convey the tension and fear and also helps make the pace of the action a whole lot faster, especially in the chase scene, a combination of this music and also the fast pace of the editing raises the tempo and tension. The blurring and wipes X between each edit gives the action the impression that it is too fast to see and fortifies the fact that the creature is very fast. The music becomes slower, but is ramped up with tension as (sounds?) drove on through the scene with the man with the shotgun, creating a sense of dread and anticipation! This along with the wide shot and the man’s face, riddled with anger and malice, conveys a tension filled shot.

The man who is wearing pink attire is portrayed as more of a pretty boy, lover not a fighter, the pink colour is more common to girls, women therefore gives him an air of effeminacy. The rest of the cast wear mainly earthy colours or smart suits etc, whereas he wears feminine colours turning the stereotypical image of a man on its head. The fact that he also doesn’t have a gun and instead, quite comically pulls a spade out, whereas the other two people in the shot both have guns, one a man and the other a women, this gives the impression that the women is almost more reliable than the man wearing pink.

The wide shot showing the tree in the barn gives a very theatrical feel to it, almost tries to emulate a sense of bravado and coolness that other films use e.g. the opening shot of Reservoir Dogs. Also the fact that there are three of them may portray symbolic qualities, like the three musketeers etc.

The lady who is talking to the gentleman who breeds dogs is portrayed as a pristine, more of a stereotypical view of a lady. This is conveyed through the sequence “My Best Coat”! This provides a clear insight into her personality. She is strong whilst using words but when the man pulls out a gun a close up reveals her devastation and fear. Even the colour of the ladies “Best Coat” is white, which provides the thought of purity and pristine.

The over the shoulder shot and the cross cut editing reveals the rising anger of the gentleman breeding the dogs. He is weak when the pristine women threatens him but has much more power when he picks up the gun. The line “won’t be pushed around anymore” indicates his explosion of anger. The diegetic noise of the barking dogs also convey a sense of threat and hysteria. This shot conveys the power of a weapon and also the power of words and how gender can be powerful.

 This extract turns a lot of ideas mostly stereotypical views of gender on its head, which therefore gives the viewer an interesting watch.     

Level 4

Use of examples
Use of terminology

How to Structure Your Essay Response

Below is a visual representation of how your should alternate between example and opinion to optimise your chances of writing a thorough response.

Exam Unit G32: Exam Board Report (June 2010)

Exam Boundaries All Units

G322 - SECTION B: KEY WORDS; Institutions & Audiences

Important Keywords to use in your essay response

Click on the image below to read the key words and definitions 

Exam Unit G322 - Section B: Institutions & Audiences (case study)

Click on the image below to read in more detail

Monday, 6 December 2010

G322 - SECTION B: Institutions & Audiences: Music Week Articles Links

G322 - SECTION B: Institutions & Audiences: Music Week Articles Links

Audience consumption

32. http://www.musicweek.com/story.asp?storycode=1039852
33. http://www.musicweek.com/story.asp?storycode=1039833
34. http://www.musicweek.com/story.asp?storycode=1039822
35. http://www.musicweek.com/story.asp?storycode=1039830