Researching the Visual
Representation. in: Television Studies: The Key Concepts. Routledge, 2002: 198-201
Representation is closely linked to issues surrounding depicting reality. Can Tv give a true representation of reality? It is more like a reflection of reality. This is due to the simple fact that even programs such as the news is produced, and thus can be given from the perspective of the producers. For example news shown in different counties focus upon the stories from different perspectives, or at least from the perspective of the elite who have the most to gain or loose form the news.
Whether a tv program sets out to reflex reality or not, ‘it always engages in a process of representation’.
Research has looked into the way representations make meaning. With a lot of focus being placed upon stereotypes.
Power and Ideology- who has the power and what message are they trying to portray in their representations.
‘to represent’ ‘re-prsentation’
What we see is a construction, it is highly edited.
‘representative of the people’ – suggests that what we seen represent us or ‘stand in for us, the consumers’
‘This understanding of the term, lead to thinking about how social groups are shown on television’
‘Media representations are a reflection or distortion of something ‘true’ or ‘real’.’
‘Negative representation’ -focus upon one attribute or characteristics of a group can lead to stereotyping.
As a means to counter the arguments for negative representation and stereotypes, they offer a wider range of ‘positive’ representations.
However is reversing the stereotype enough? Some writers argue not.
Our own social identity and position might effect our understanding of an event, this suggests that people will not have the same reading of a representation. This brings in the ideas of ‘negotiated’ ‘preferred’ readings of media texts.
Richard Dyer (1985a) -outlined an approach to help readers understand how representations work.
- noted number of questions that could be asked regarding the sense that representations make of the world.
- who typically represents whom and in what ways. (power and Ideology)
- suggests ways in which students of media might analyse specific examples of stereotypical representations.
- also examined the questions of ‘pleasure’ – what pleasures are forced by a text and to who?
- links with a senses of self and the process of identification.
- how we become absorbed into a characters role or positioning the narrative
- inorder to engage interest media representations must provide something pleasurable.
- Whos point of view is it shown?
- Do audience members all get pleasure from something in the same way?
Power and Ideology
- who has the right to speak?
- who is silenced in these representations?
The system of power offers legitimacy to some meanings and marginalizing others.
- predominance of white middle-class males in media industries could lead to some views being over-represented of tv. They are then seen as normal or ‘common sense’. Representations seen as ‘ideological’
Stuart Hall (1997a)
- need to see representations as constitutive.
- do events really have a fixed true meaning?
- representation cannot capture the real event, because what is being represented (the initial event) is dubious in the first place.
- Reality is not fixed or known
- Reality has no fixed meaning until it has been represented.
- Hall argues’ reality does not exist meaningfully until it has been represented’ ‘nothing meaningful exists outside of discourse’ (1997a)
The task of television studies is to try to understand how meanings are produced through practices.