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Vehicle Strand Questions of Representation. What is a Representation?  B&S Ch. 4  can be pictorial, textual, filmic, etc  can be of an object, event,

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Presentation on theme: "Vehicle Strand Questions of Representation. What is a Representation?  B&S Ch. 4  can be pictorial, textual, filmic, etc  can be of an object, event,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Vehicle Strand Questions of Representation

2 What is a Representation?  B&S Ch. 4  can be pictorial, textual, filmic, etc  can be of an object, event, individual, group, etc  as vehicles, media convey representations  representation is re-presentation  representations are not ‘transparent’  partial, varied, rare, etc: constructed

3 Remember Semiotics  meaning is all about difference  syntagm = collection of signs  signs are selected from paradigms  syntagm = thus set of author’s choices  choices inform audience’s understanding of text  e.g. The Matrix scene (syntagm): set, costume, actor, dialogue, music  key terms: representation, stereotype, feminism, post-feminism, irony

4 Stereotypes  stereotypes are part of representation  help show how representation works  stereotype = a simplified representation of a group of people thought to share characteristic qualities  term derives from printing (typography): a duplicate element used instead of the original to print identical, unvarying copies

5 How do Stereotypes Work?  categorise (distinguish)  focus on a characteristic  often negative  absolute difference not spectrum

6 E.g. Media Studies students:  distinct group of students  watch lots of television  lazy and work-shy  Media Studies students and no more

7 Stereotypes as a Bad Thing…  Prejudice  grain of truth: Media Studies students do watch more TV?  but limited and limiting

8 Specific Objections (1) we are all individuals different from one another unique, special, distinctive (2) we each belong to many groups similar to lots of others gender, ethnicity, interests

9 Are Stereotypes Necessary?  William James: reality is a “great, blooming, buzzing confusion”  generalisations are useful  details give us a general picture  we need generalities, patterns, types  a degree of prejudice – “pre-judging” is inevitable and necessary  the danger lies in adopting stereotypes uncritically.  What does the stereotype say about the stereotyper?

10 Representations of Gender  extended example: gender  sex: physical characteristics, sex organs, hormones, chromosomes  gender: culturally formed characteristics, in addition to the physical body

11 Sex vs. Gender E.g. women  child-bearing is a matter of biology (sex) child-raising is a convention (gender) E.g. men  facial hair is a matter of sex facial grooming is a matter of gender  NB this distinction not entirely straightforward (cf. Judith Butler)

12 Gender and the Media  media representations mostly concern gender (not sex)  representations of gender have tended to perpetuate sexism & stereotypessexism  we’ll be focusing on women (representations of men in Case Study?)

13 Washes Whiter

14 Representations of Women Feminist Critiques (1) women are under-represented in strong roles or positions of authority: e.g. lead characters in films and TV (2) women are stereotyped: e.g. housewife + mother: Whiter, Oracle e.g. victim: Bella in Twilight e.g. sex object: woman in red e.g. girlfriend: Trinity?

15 “Post-Feminist” Responses (1) things have improved more positive, strong representations: e.g. Trinity, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Buffy, True Blood, Kill Bill, The Hunger Games, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, True Grit, The Black Widow (The Avengers)…

16 “Post-Feminist” Responses (2) sexy isn’t subordinate: woman can be sexy and modern professionals e.g. Sex and the City

17 Post-Feminism Responses (3) the representations are often ironic gap between expectation and actuality  juxtaposition of ‘girly’ and ‘powerful’ e.g. Black Widow, Trinity, Buffy  makes the film fun  we shouldn’t take these representations too seriously

18 Sex and the City

19 Criticisms of Post-Feminism (1) these aren’t positive images at all  we’ve simply reverted to traditional stereotypes: e.g. Sex and the City: winging gossips, obsessed with shoes, make-up and men e.g. Desperate Housewives: needy, manipulative etc.

20 Criticisms of Post-Feminism (2) powerful, proactive women still have to be sexually attractive: e.g. Buffy, Trinity, Beatrix, Black Widow (And why does “strong” so often mean violent?)

21 Criticisms of Post-Feminism (3) irony disarms critical reflection: ‘its only a joke, chill out, its ironic’  ‘irony’ stops us thinking

22 The Representation Project The Representation Project is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change. Interactive campaigns, strategic partnerships and education initiatives inspire individuals and communities to challenge the status quo and ultimately transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation or circumstance can fulfill their potential. Apply the representation test to The Matrix…

23 Summary  Representations re-present  Particular and partial  Stereotypes = negative generalisations/ can be dangerous  Gender example. Feminist criticisms: women are under-represented and stereotyped  Post-feminist criticisms: women are well- represented, ironic

24 Environment Strand Virtual Identities and Discarnate Man

25 “The discovery of the alphabet will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves… You give your disciples not truth but only the semblance of truth; they will be heroes of many things, and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing.” Socrates, Phaedrus, in McLuhan and Fiore, 1967, p. 113

26 Discarnate Man  discarnate man (and woman)  ‘carnate’ derives from carnatus (fleshy) = having a physical body  ‘discarnate’ = without physical body  with electronic media (television, radio, telephone, etc.) the “sender is sent”  you are represented elsewhere (everywhere) instantly  we become discarnate online

27 Discarnate Man “Discarnate man, deprived of his physical body, is also deprived of his relationship to Natural Law and physical law. As a discarnate intelligence, he is as weightless as an astronaut, but able to move very much faster. Minus the mesh of Natural Laws, the user of electronic services is largely deprived of his private identity … The discarnate TV user lives in a world between fantasy and dream” McLuhan, 1978

28 Online Discarnation  email  forums  blogs  social networks  chat rooms  online games  Second Life, Active Worlds…  “Moral panic”? (see Stanley Cohen, Folk Devils and Moral Panics)

29 Second Life: Be Yourself, Free Yourself (from your body?)

30 Discarnate Effects  discarnate man “has a very weak awareness of private identity … and has been relieved of all commitments to law and morals” (McLuhan)  losing body = loss of personal identity  we become distanced from acceptable conventions of behaviour

31 Virtual Identities  McLuhan is pessimistic about discarnate man  Daniel Chandler more positive: ‘Personal Home Pages and the Construction of Identities on the Web’  homepages are used positively for identity construction  Today: FaceBook, Twitter, blogs etc.

32 Writing and Identity  process of writing = thinking  through writing you work out your thoughts and self e.g. diary, letter, essay ‘ How the devil do I know what I think till I see what I’ve written?’ E. M. Forster, novelist (1879-1970)

33 Dynamic Text Online  websites are dynamic, changing: (1) nonlinear: hypertext you can link wherever you like (2) unfixed: open to revision editable and fluid  ideal for revising your thoughts and ideas  all about identity construction

34 Public and Private  blogs, social networks etc. = online publishing  you publish a ‘virtual self’  audience = potentially global  personal becomes public  you let the world into your home (page)  part of today’s ‘confessional society’

35 Inauthentic Identities?  are online identities thus less authentic? (as McLuhan might suggest)  even if you don’t lie, you can hide the bits you don’t like  the medium allows you to wear a mask

36 Benefits of Online Identities Unaware of rejection/ indifference of ‘audience’ Marginalised groups can escape prejudice

37 But… Privacy a topical issue in media and communication studies e.g. GCHQ; snappening; celebrity nude photos… Trolling vs. free speech? Everybody talks, but who listens? Inauthenticity and lack of validity e.g. Catfish

38 Fear of the New  the end of face-to-face interaction?  the end of identity and ethics?  Socrates feared the move to writing  new technologies = new environments = old fears: For every enhancement an obsolescence Loss of authentic speech, knowledge, identity

39 Potential Identities  online communication allows participants to experiment with identities  empowering and liberating  see Sherry Turkle’s Life on Screen

40 Summary  online communication changes how we relate to one another  changes our experience of ourselves  McLuhan: discarnate and unethical?  Chandler: active shaping of identity?

41 For next week: Read Branston and Stafford: chapter 14, on Audiences Forum Assessment Deadline! 1.00pm Friday 31 st October

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