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What is Representation?

Archetype- An Often- repeated character type or representation which is instantly

recognisable to an audience.
Attitude, Beliefs and values- Terms commonly used when discussing the audience for media
products and the factors influencing the reception of media messages.
Attitudes are the positions people adopt in relation to a particular issue, e.g. being for
or against foxhunting.
Beliefs are deeply held views e.g. A belief in the principle of human equality or a
belief in God.
Values represent the moral or ideological structure within which beliefs and attitudes
are formed.
Closed text- A media text that is anchored in such a way as to restrict the number of ways it
can be interpreted e.g. an image of diseased lungs with the caption smoking kills
Connotation- a meaning attributable to an image beyond the obvious denotational level.
Such meanings may be metaphorical, symbolic or culturally generated and will vary
line with the cultural background and attitudes, beliefs and values of the individual
viewing the material.
Conventions- the expected ingredients in a particular type of media text.
Demographic- Information concerning the social status, class, gender and age of the
Audience Profiles use demographic information.
Denotation- The first and simplest level of meaning of an image
E.g. A picture of a rose represents the rose flower and reminds the viewer of the real
Dialogue- That which is spoken by actors/ presenters.
Dominant Ideology- the belief system that serves the interests of the dominant ruling elite
within a society, generally accepted as common sense by the majority and reproduced in
mainstream media texts.
Ellipses- the removal of shortening of elements of a narrative to speed up the action.
Empathy- the ability to share the emotions or point of view of a group or individual.
Empathy involves recognising shared experience rather than sympathising from a
detached position.
What is Representation?

Encode- the process of constructing the media message in a form suitable for transmission to
a receiver or target audience.
Enigma- a narrative structure that involves the creation of riddles or problems to be solved by
Suspense and horror stories use enigma to retain the attention of an audience.
Icon- a sign resembling the thing it represents.
An icon can also be an image representative of an ideology or religion.
Iconography- the distinguishing elements, in terms of props and visual details which
characterise a genre.
Genres are said to be recognisable through their characteristic iconography.
E.g. The iconography of gangster films include smart suits, guns and fast cars, while
Westerns have horses, dozen locations, clapboard houses and men in hats.

Ideology-nkey concept of a set of attitudes, beliefs and values held in common by a group of people
and culturally reproduced within that community to sustain its particular way of life.
Ideologies can be described as dominant, subservience, or opposition all depending on their
status within a society.
E.g. Capitalism, Communism, Christianity and Islam.
TIP Ideology is present in all media texts. You can explore it by assessing the attitudes,
beliefs and values within the text and the
Incidental Music-the use of music to punctuate for a specific events or action, or to provide a
sound background.
Intertextuality- the practice of deliberately including references to one text in the narrative of
another, either as homage to the text referred to or as a device intended to engage the interest of
the audience by appealing to their prior knowledge and experience of media texts.
Intertextuality can generate levels of meaning for the viewer and anchors a current text
within texts of similar or related genre.
Linear Narrative-a sequential narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end-in that order.
Linear narratives provide a straightforward, sequential representation of events leading to a
single resolution. As such, easily accessible to audiences and are the dominant form in
mainstream media representations.
What is Representation?

TIP Linear narrative are increasingly challenged by the non- linear, which is more reflective
the random experiences of life and the complexity involved in the viewers construction of
meaning, e.g. Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997).

Male Gaze- term used by Laura Mulvey in her essay Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema (1975)
to describe what she saw as the male point of view adopted by the camera for the benefit of an
assumed male audience.

Mode of address-in narrative studies, the way in which media texts talk to an audience.
In audio-visual texts, this can be in the form of a voiceover where an unseen narrator
addresses the audience. The narrator could be one of the texts characters and provide
insight into what occurs on screen us.
In film noir, the private detectives voice often provides a running commentary on the
action, from his perspective.
TIP fans of the cult movie Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) dispute which of the two
versions of the film, one with lead character Deckards (Harrison Ford) off-screen narration
and one without, is the most successful.

Narrow Casting- the targeting of a small, carefully defined social group for a media product; the
opposite of broadcasting.
Multichannel television allows for narrow casting in line with viewer interest, e.g. The
History Channel

Negotiated Reading-a reading of a text which assumes that no absolute meaning exists and that
meaning is generated and negotiated by what the reader brings to the text in terms of attitudes,
values, beliefs and experience.
The term is part of Stuart Halls encoding/decoding model along with dominant and
oppositional readings.
TIP a negotiated reading emphasises the position of the subject or audience member.

Oppositional Reading- a reading of a media text that rejects the ideological positioning and
apparent meaning intended by the producers of the text and substitutes a radical alternative
What is Representation?

Parallel Action- the narrative technique of showing two or more scenes happening at the same time
by cutting between them.

Parody-: the imitation of one media text by another for comic effect.

Pastiche- a media text made up of pieces from other texts or of imitations of other styles.
The term is often used to describe an unoriginal, derivative text that it can be used
positively if the pastiche involves a deliberate homage to other works.

Patriarchy-male domination of the political, cultural and socioeconomic system.
Under patriarchy, male perspectives and male achievements are valued and
rewarded at the expense of the female. Female contributions to society are ignored
and women are culturally and economically invisible, being defined solely by the
relation to men.
Patriarchy is an important assumption behind some feminist film criticism, which
sees the male domination of film discourse is evidenced in the male gaze.

Pleasure-a motivating factor in the consumption of media texts.
Positioning-: the locating of a media product in a marketplace with regard to audience and socio
economic, political and cultural factors.
Five television was position to aim at a modern mainstream young audience and this was
reflected in its presentation of news programmes and its choice of presenters.

Racism-practices and behaviour involving social and economic discrimination, based on the false
assumption that one particular ethnic group or race is culturally and biologically inferior to another.
Concerns have been expressed about the role played by the media in sustaining and
reinforcing race stereotypes
Reaction Shot- the shot devised for an interview between two people, usually showing an
interviewer responding to the interviewees answers by nodding or reacting in some way.

What is Representation?

Realism-a film and television style that attempts to represent the real world.
Concepts of realism are governed by recognisable codes and conventions which change over
time. Black and white newsreel images of the 1930s and World War Two carried strong
messages and, as filmed reality, define a period in which they were constructed. Rare
colour footage of the same period shocks the viewer with its sense of immediacy and
newness, making the events in fresh and the passing just like the present.
In the film Schindlers List (1993), Spielberg chose classic monochrome film and a
1930s/1940s treatment style to replicate the realism of newsreels he remembered from his
youth. The only colour image is of a young girl in red, a symbolic victim representing the
whole holocaust.
TIP Remember that film images are never real, they are only ever representations of the

Representation- key concept of the process whereby the media construct versions of people,
places and events in images, words or sound for transmission through media texts to an
Sexism-representations that discriminate on the basis of sex, especially against women, which is
seen to derive from a sustain patriarchy.
Some feminists would see any media representation of women confirmed a stereotype as
sexist, for example, the display of womens bodies as sex objects in Lads Mags for the
entertainment of men.

Stereotype-the social classification of a group of people by identifying common characteristics and
universally applying them in an often oversimplified and generalised way, such that the classification
represents value judgements and assumptions about the group concerned.

Sign-a term to describe the combination of the signifier and the signified, where the signifier is the
physical object and the signified is the mental concept or meaning that the signifier conveys.
A photograph of a rose makes the viewer think of the flower
There are different categories of the sign to explain the relationship with what is described
as their object.

Social Realism- the representation of characters and issues in film and television drama in such a
way as to race serious underlying social and political issues.
What is Representation?

Subjective Shot-a type of shot in which the camera is positioned as if looking at the world through
the subjects eyes.
E.g. The opening title sequence of Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976) shows the world
through the eyes of driver Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) as he views the streets through the
rain on his windscreen. The image is blurred and distorted, as is his view of the world.

Superimpose-the appearance of writing/symbols or images on top of an image so that both
are visible at once, increasing the amount of information the viewer has in one shot.
Transgressive-a practice which transcends conventional approaches and either subverts these
existing ways of working or challenges their value.

Verisimilitude- seeming to be like or to be connected to the real.
The term is important in many media genres because it determines the level of
audience engagement and willingness to engage in suspension of disbelief.