Representation within television

Part of this weeks task is to analyze a fictional tv program in order to see if the representation within the program can be seen as meaningful based on Mary Beltran’s criteria.

One of the readings for this weeks task, looked closely at the representations seen within television.

Representation. In: Television Studies: The Key Concepts. Routledge, 2002: 198-201.

Representation within television. Linked to the issues of depicting reality, because although it attempts to show reality in a realistic way, we must remember that it is a mediated form. Which means that it is the representation of society from the perspective of the producers.

However television still attempts to ‘reflect reality’.
Representations make meanings.
Centered on the notion of stereotypes.
Inorder to understand representation we must also explore ‘power and ideology’
The term ‘representation’ can be used in a number of ways….
  1. ‘to represent’ could mean the straight forward ‘re-presentaion’ of the world, this term enthuses the fact media text is a construction.
  2. Politician as a ‘representative’ of the people.This understanding can lead to thinking about how social groups are shown on television. For example how stereotypical representations may come about. It implies that media representations are a reflection or distortion of something ‘true’ or ‘real’.
“‘distorted’ representations of specific groups of people are those which attribute certain characteristics to the group as a whole.”- we can apply this to events as well as groups of people.
These representations can be very negative as they are seen as “narrowly and damagingly stereotypical”.
The tv producers attempt to counter these criticisms of stereotyping is to give a wider range of ‘positive’ representations. For example roles played by women and ethnic minorities have been seen to becoming more significant status and authority. Such as skins in season 6 where Frankie is seen to take on a more violent role as she ends up in a lot of fights. This is not a position you would tend to see women in, in society.
These representations attempt to resist stereotypes.However it might not be enough to simple revers the stereotype.
Our social identity and position may lead to different understandings of the same event. Negotiation, oppositional, preferred readings of the audience.
Richard Dyer (1985a), looked at how representations worked. Noted number of questions that could be used in order to look at the sense that representations make of the world. “Who represents whom and in what way?”
He also examined the question of ‘Pleasure’, what pleasures are offered by a text and to whom?
He links it with a sense of self and the process of identification. (When we watch tv, we become absorbed into the characters roles or position in the narrative)
“In order to engage the viewer, media representation must provide something pleasurable” But from whose point of view is a the scene being shown from?
Do all audience members get pleasure from something in the same way?
Given social differences it is unlikely that all viewers would be equally at ease with the range of representations shown on television.
Issue of point of view and identification links back to questions of power and therefore ideology. Who has the right to speak? And who is silenced? When considering representation we must not forget that the producers are the ones with the power, in how they construct the media text.

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