MS3 Investigation


  • Representations are entirely constructed versions of reality.
  • Representations shape our identities and form our desires by giving us images to identify with ,representations are made of signs and symbol 
  • When studying the media it is vital to remember this – every media form, from a home video to a glossy magazine, is a representation of someone’s concept of existence, encoded into a series of signs and symbols which can be read by an audience.
  • 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.
  • However, because the producers of the media text have selected and constructed the information we receive, then our experience is restricted.
  • By giving audiences information, media texts extend experience of reality.

Gender is one of the basic categories we use for sorting human beings, and it is a key issue when discussing representation (along with race, culture, age etc.).

Many objects, not just humans, are represented by the media as being particularly masculine or feminine – particularly in advertising – and we grow up with an awareness of what constitutes ‘appropriate’ characteristics for each gender

Feminism has been a recognised social philosophy for more than thirty years, and the changes that have occurred in women’s roles in western society during that time have been nothing short of phenomenal. Yet media representations of women remain worryingly constant. 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?
•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/freedom)
Typical feminine: fragile, soft, fragrant
  • 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 victim-hood.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Masculinity: If they revert to being part of a family, it is often part of the resolution of a narrative, rather than an integral factor in the initial equilibrium.

  • It is interesting to note that the male physique is becoming more important a part of representations of masculinity.

Semiotics is the science of signs. It is concerned primarily with how meaning is generated in film, television, ads and other works of art, or in any language system, and how information is encoded in them.

Male gaze theory:

Mulvey’s 1970’s analysis of the male gaze
Mulvey argues that in film women are objects to be gazed on as the camera acts as the masculine eye from a male viewpoint – looking at women in a way that reflects masculine desires.
Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the early James Bond films
‘Bond girls’ were little more than eye candy for the male viewer.
The early Bond women were represented as sex objects and even given names which indicated their limited ‘use’ within the narrative: Pussy Galore (Goldfinger, 1964) and Honey Rider (Dr No, 1962) are perhaps the most memorable.
  •  men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female.–JOHN BERGER
Now I will look at the sexualisation of women and the representation of gender in action adventure films, to see how are women typically portrayed in action adventure films, in terms of :
Erotic distraction,Sex object,Damsel in distress,Victim

Action adventure film:


1896: Alice guy becomes one of the first film directors. The males at her company agree to let her ‘play’ with their camera and she later becomes the head of their production company.
1918: For the first time women can vote thanks to the Representation of the People Act (UK)
1960: The contraceptive pill is introduced in England and America
1967: The Abortion Act is introduced
1970: The Equal Pay Act is introduced and demands equal pay for men and women doing the same job
1973: Season of women’s cinema at the national film theatre, London.
1979: The first female Prime Minister is elected – Margaret Thatcher
2002: Halle Berry becomes the first black woman to win an Oscar for best actress in a Leading Role for Monster’s Ball
The best action actress
1.Milla Jovovich, in The Fifth Element (1997),  Resident evil (2010)
Resident Evil: Afterlife Poster
2.Angelina Jolie, in  Jane (Mr. and Mrs. Smith),Evelyn Salt (Salt), Elise (The Turist),
Mr. & Mrs. Smith Poster
3.Kate Beckinsale in underworld awakening
Kate Beckinsale in Underworld
4.Keira Knightley Domino Harvey, Domino (2005)
Keira Knightley in Domino


A pull quote from  NY Times, in an article reviewing offerings at the annual Berlin Film festival:

 [ “My point is not that these movies are interchangeable, or that their similarities betray a lack of imagination on the part of their makers. A genre is not a formula but a paradigm, an endlessly variable model that can be adapted to different temperaments and circumstances. Directorial acumen, agile screenwriting and sensitive acting distinguish the run-of-the-mill from the genuinely interesting.” ]


  • Genre is a means of categorising texts that share similar features.
  • Genre is a collection of paradigms with audience expectiation. Audience get pleasure from recognising key conventions of a particular genre,allowing them to predict narrative outcomes and to anticipate chareaters’ behavior , and  slight varriation from that genre.
  • All media is mediated, classified and regulated.
  • For producer: establishing the genre of a media text allows producers to attract audiences to products. G is made in mkting material eg posters ,trailers.
  • For audience: recognise the features of a genre and are attracted through recognition, repetition of conventions , and therefore expectation of what is to come.

Genre-Sub genre- Hybridity

Hybridity texts that exhibit features of more than one genre.

Theory: repetition and difference, systems of expectation, classification,conventions ,standardised practice, paradigms, intertextuality.

  • repetition and difference: Genre is established through repetition which enables audiences to recognise conventions and relate them to specific genres and programmes. But the emphasis on sameness does not work when we come to audiences’ enjoyment of genre. Genreare no longer seen as sets of fixed elements,constantly repeated, but as woking with ‘repertoires of elements’ or fluid systems of conventions and expectations.In the other words, genres are fluid and changing ,and adapt to the canges in society and audiences.
  • standardised practices :for the owners of media industries, they are a profitable part of making genre products.
  • paradigm(codes of convention): iconography  , structure(disequilibrim , enigma)  , theme
  • intertextuality: the variety of ways in which media and other texts interact with each other,rather than being unique or distinct.
  • classification: media products are classified by makers, viewers(consumer),and reviewers. BBFC: E /U /PG /PG12 /12 /15 /18 /R18 . e.g. Hereafter is 12A
  • Conventions are the —–repertoire of elements that texts belonging to the same genre havein common.—–they are the aspects that an audienceexpect to see in a specific media text.——-Help audiences to recognise the genre . (hand-held cameras –realism–ducumentary)—-grouped under headings of character, narrative events, iconography , setting, technical and audio codes.
  • Iconography: related to the objects, costumes and backgrounds. these help to define the genre and raise audiences’ expectations.costume and cloting are important. Props and objects can give information about cultural differences.


  1. Ways of categorising texts-balance between industry and audience perceptions and needs
  2. Woking with iconography
  3. Genre definers- iconographic moments
  4. Mainstream and alternative texts(?)
  5. Genre and social ideologies
  6. Significance of genre for meida producers
Conclution: producers of media texts are constantly looking for new formats or to manipulate existing formats in order to maintain and attract audiences. These mutations are also closely related to how audiences respond to specific genres and their changing expectations linked to social and cultural change.

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