media theory revision feminisim post feminism and

Key Media theory
A2 MEST 3 revision
 One of the first groups to draw attention to representations
within the media
 Feminisits of the late 1960s/1970s questioned how the
representations of women in the media drew on hegemonic
discourse of women; women as homemakers/domesticated,
mothers, carers etc.
 Feminists argue that social divisions in society and therefore
represented in the media continue to benefit men in terms of
work, educational opportunities, wages and continued access
to political and economical power.
 Emphasis on sexuality and physical appearance was explored
within Laura Mulvey’s influential 1975 work ‘Visual Pleasure
and Narrative Cinema’
 Mulvey argued that mainstream Hollywood film was the
product of a male-dominated and controlled industry and that
in such texts:
 Men controlled the action and were responsible for moving the
narrative along
 Women were represented as passive objects of the male gaze
 Pleasure in viewing comes from voyeurism, narcissism and
 There are challenges to Mulvey’s point of view:
 Pirates of the Caribbean: At The World’s End
 Casino Royale
 Kill bill Vol 1 & 2
 The representation of women has improved but there are
arguably still some superficial and stereotypical
representations of women present in the media (isn’t that
true of men too though??).
 Gammon and Marshment (1988) suggest that in recent
years a number of texts have represented men as objects
for the female gaze.
 Stress the importance of the audience’s role in the
construction of meaning in media texts and emphasise
the range of interpretations that any text offers.
 LINK: Discourse/Semiotic/Stuart Hall
 Equal pay, equal rights, increase in women in both
higher education and the workplace leads to the
argument that feminisim is no longer necessary
 In a post-feminist era it is argued that many media texts
take a playful and irreverent attitude to the traditional
gender divisions of the past
 Judith Butler (1999) suggests that gender is not the result
of nature but is socially constructed
 Media and culture therefore offer men and women a
range of ‘scripts’ for gender roles, which audiences both
interpret and perform in their everyday lives
 Butler argues there are a number of exaggerated,
disruptive ‘tongue-in-cheek’ representations of
masculinity and femininity which draw attention to the
idea that gender is socially constructed and cause what
she refers to as ‘gender trouble’
 E.G. Amy Winehouse – subverts expectations
Queer theory
 Judith Butler’s exploration of gender trouble link to
queer theory which sees the challenge of the
construction of ‘normal’ heterosexuality and how the
media has limited the representations of gay men and
 Hollywood construct and portray images of ‘normal’
happy heterosexual couples whereas homosexual
couples are often represented in terms of sin or sickness.
 Queer theory challenges the traditionally held
assumptions that there is a binary divide between being
gay and heterosexual, and suggests that sexual identity is
more fluid.
 Also suggests that there are different ways of interpreting
contemporary media texts, by looking at the fluidity of
gender represenations
 E.G. Finding Nemo – single father role
 Interpreting media texts using queer theory can also be
applied to contemporary texts where heterosexuality is
 Arguably there have been a number of changes in
attitudes to homosexuality in recent years that give some
credibility to queer theory’s suggestion that there is a
more open and fluid approach to sexuality.
 LINK: Post-modernism – there are no ‘boundaries’ to our
society anymore – nothing is new.

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