Week 7 – Race and Representation

7 Mar

Race and Ethnicity in UK Film and TV

– 1936; BBC first transmitted television on 2nd of November. However it was first in the 1950’ that it became installed on a wide-scale basis. This is important to the topic because at the same time there was a serious increase of immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, and the presence of media in people’s everyday life helped produce a divide between life and art, and between media and the Black-British ethnicity.



– 1958; Tension in Nottingham and Notting Hill. Notting Hill Race Riot – series of racially-motivated riots. Because of the end of war there was an increase of Caribbean immigrants coming to Britain. The White Defence League urged residents to ‘Keep Britain white’. During this summer there were attacks on black people. Majbritt Morrison was one of those attacked during the riots. She later wrote a biography called Jungle West 11 which was an account for her events.


– 1955; TV documentary, Special Enquiry: Has Britain a Colour Bar? BBC special enquiry investigates racial prejudice. Suggested a culture difference rather than racism. Is relevant to the topic because it was the first full-length television documentary to deal with any problems faced by Black immigrants in Britain.  


– 1953-1961; Asian Club. Relevant because it was the first programme to recognise that a time for specific racial audience should be created. However in this programme the difference of the Asian immigrants was always central and focused on in the show.


– 1966-74; BBC sitcom Till Death Do Us Part. This was a programme that raised debate amongst the public about representations of race. You could either understand it as very racist or anti-racist, or even something in between the two. The creator Johnny Speight said that the main character’s bigotry was something he was actively working against.


– 1982; Formation of Channel 4. This was relevant because black programming got built into the structure of Channel 4. For the first time someone actually appointed to broadcast programmes for a British audience that were non-White, they provided an alternative to the already existing programmes. The remit required them to make the programmes suitable also for minority groups.



Week 6 – Race and representation

5 Mar

Why do we not commonly talk of ‘white’ as racial marker?

– ‘White’ is not commonly talked of as a racial marker because white people look at other races as different while whiteness is the norm. As Dyer says: “Other people are raced, we are just people” (Dyer, 1997).

– Whiteness needs to be made strange instead of being seen as a norm. Dyer says that “white people need to learn to see themselves as white, to see their particularity. In other words, whiteness needs to be made strange.” (Dyer, 1997)

– Seeing whiteness as a norm has been going on for so long that as a white people and the majority in the western world, you do not really question it much or think about it much.

– “Whiteness is only racial when it’s ‘marked’ by the presence of the truly raced, that is, non-white subject” (Dyer, 1997). Over history ‘white’ has been seen as a dominant race. Even in Africa where statistically there are more black people than white people, white people have been dominating through the years because of colonisation etc. Even in Asia you find young girls who strive to be more ‘white’ and western. This is proof that whiteness is what most people see as ‘normal’ and dominant, even though this is not the way it should be.


‘Friends’ is a very popular TV series that is based only around white people. Their ‘whiteness’ is evident not only by their skin colour, but also by how they speak, dress and behave which is quite stereotypically white.

During 10 seasons only once did a black person play any kind of important role in the series at all. That happened in season 9, around 2003, where one of the main characters, Ross, got a girlfriend who was a black woman. In the same year, we are not completely sure weather before or after this, an American actress, Holly Robinson Peete, came out and said that she felt so strongly about the lack of colour in the TV show that she called for a boycott of the show.



21 Feb

“The public sphere presents ‘a realm of our social life, in which something approaching public opinion can be formed’ (Habermas, 1974)” (Papacharissi, p. 3). The public sphere gives individuals an area where they can freely talk about, discuss and identify problems in society that are of mutual interest. By taking action this way, their discussion can influence political actions. Papacharissi stresses in her article “The Virtual Sphere 2.0: The Internet, the Public Sphere and beyond” that we must not confuse public sphere with public space. She says that “while public space provides the expanse that allows the public sphere to convene, it does not guarantee a healthy public sphere” (p. 5).

In her article Papacharissi gives examples of ways which the Internet enriches democracy. One of her examples is the case of YouTube. She says about this that “these commercially public spaces  may not render a public sphere, but they provide spaces where individuals can engage in healthy democratic practices, including keeping check on politicians, engaging in political satire, and expressing/circulating political opinions” (p.23). She says that YouTube also sustains audiences by having a content that ranges from “catching a politician in a lie to impromptu karaoke” (p. 23). A public sphere can be created by the Internet, and because there is more freedom to debate, this will initially make people more politically involved and motivated to inflict their opinions upon the world. Different mediums such as YouTube, blogs, forums etc. give people the opportunity to explore and unite political ideas. While the newspapers inform us of the politics, the Internet makes us an more active audience whose voices matter. This helps enrich democracy.

Another example of Internet use that enriches democratic process is Twitter, which is an online network service directed towards social use. Nowadays even Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have their own Twitter accounts where they tweet about both personal and political issues.By using Twitter they are reaching a massive audience, including young people and this might help them in their political debates. Millions and millions of people tweet everyday and it has become a way for people to express their own thoughts and opinions both politically and personally. It does not seem to be many regulations with Twitter. People, especially public people such as celebrities, frequently receive abuse from other people who tweet about them. An example of this is Tom Daley and the artist Adele who has both been victim to severe personal abuse. Concluding one can therefore say that Twitter is helping to enrich democracy because it enables people to freely participate in political and social debate, but without regulation there might be consequences.



21 Feb


1st scene:

– When Brandon is out with the group and drinking, he is being encouraged by John Lotter to stand at the back of a truck and be dragged along by it.

– Even though this is dangerous and he is most likely scared by it and questions it, he still goes along with it. This is an example of him demonstrating his masculinity by showing off. None of the women participate, so it is obviously a masculine act.

– After he does this he seems to be accepted by the other males in the group, especially John. In this scene John’s dominant role as a man is very evident.


– Even though Brandon is also trying to be masculine, John is still the dominant symbol of masculinity that Brandon aspires to.


2nd scene:

– When Brandon is getting dressed. He wraps his torso so to hide his breasts, he puts on male clothing and at the end he stuffs his boxers to achieve a manlier exterior.

– We found this scene to be a bit of a contrast, because before getting dressed we see his body, which is a very petite, female body, even for a woman.


– When he wraps his torso, his movements are very sensual which is stereotypical for a feminine woman. But then by dressing himself he transforms from this femininity into a masculine figure that does not resemble a woman in any way. 



– Laura Mulvey’s argument is that the gaze many films offer is the male gaze, as if the camera is male and is looking at the characters.

– This encourages voyeurism and gets a response from the audience.

– The film is seen through a transgender gaze, where Brandon is being seen as both female and male. He is being viewed through his own and Lana’s perspective of him. This forces the audience to adopt this transgender gaze; because of the way women look at him. They see him as male, whereas he sees himself both as male and female.


– Brandon’s gaze is mostly directed at Lana, because he wants to appear masculine to her in order to interest her. We don’t see Lana as being objectified by Brandon, but he is rather looking at her from a transgender gaze. For example, he looks at her face and eyes etc.

– The transgender gaze makes audience interested in Brandon’s experience rather than uncovering his secret, because we are already aware that he is really a woman.   

Week 3 – Feminist and Queer Approaches to Media Studies

7 Feb

Post-feminism can be understood as ‘after feminism’ and is a reaction to the second-wave feminism. The idea behind it is that feminists achieved what they set out to do and that now it is time to take a step back and that some of the feminist ideas are out of date.

One can discuss the fact that feminist ideas are no longer as relevant today because in the modern society we live in women are a lot more equal to men than they were before the first movement. Although there are still certain aspects of society where men are still superior to women, for example the church’s recent vote against female bishops in the UK (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/25/women-bishops-church-of-england), and how much men earn compared to women employed in the same field, feminism is easy to cast aside as more irrelevant because women now have the right to vote, to and education and to generally be independent. It is still important to remember that women still have rights to fight for, but because they are now equal to men in what one can call the most important aspects, it is no longer something we constantly strive for.


Because the negative stereotype surrounding feminism, girls generally do not like being seen as feminists. This is because people today mainly think of angry women who hate men, who burn their bras, who strive to be as independent as possible and therefor distancing themselves from any kind of femininity. In the text “Post-feminism and popular culture” by Angela McRobbie, it says that feminism is becoming undone. She says: “If we turn attention to some of the participatory dynamics in leisure and everyday life which see women endorse (or else refuse to condemn) the ironic normalisation of pornography, where they indicate their approval of and desire to be pin up girls…” (McRobbie, p.355). Women today willingly choose to engage in what can be seen as demeaning activities. One can argue that using their sexuality and feminism to empower themselves and make society see them. An example is the girls band Pussycat Dolls who in their music video “I don’t Need a Man” are very provocatively dressed and dancing in suggestive ways, while singing about not needing a man to be happy and that they would rather be free (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBsEF7Qx09o). ImageBy presenting themselves in this way and generally appearing as sexual, one can say that at least they get attention, but then again one can question if it is the right kind of attention? More celebrities doing this is implying to young girls that this is the modern feminist approach, and they are therefore contributing to feminism being undone. As it says in the text mentioned above “we are witness to a hyper-culture of commercial sexuality…”  (McRobbie, p. 356). This seen in relation to the Pussycat Dolls and other celebrities such as Beyonce and Lady Gaga (who also use their sexuality and feminism to a certain degree to make their point through their music), is in opposition with older feminist ideas. The original feminists ideas of independently making income is by having a career, preferably a respectable one, while the media business and the people in it are using commercial sexuality to make money, often featuring women at the front. 

Week 2 – Ideology, class and the media

7 Feb

Ideology is collective ideas that a large group all agree on. Social class is a set of concepts that centres of social stratification where there is a certain hierarchical social system which the people are divided into. Examples of class are upper-class, middle and lower-class. Agency is when individuals have the capacity to act independently and make their own choices based on their own free will, while structure is the individual being influenced by society, social class, ethnicity etc. Structure is social arrangements in our society that determine how we will act. The difference between structure and agency might be discussed because it is not completely clear to what extent people act out of free will or because they are influenced by the social system they live in. It has been compared to the nature/nurture debate, which is based on a difference between environment and biological factors.

In relation to the example of the Jeremy Kyle Show, we see ideology at play. The show positions audiences to basically blame the victims for behaving the way they do and this applies that these people are to blame for the flaws in society. Although the guests or victims on the show are often blamed, the audience is at fault too. They are the ones who are continually watching the shows and keeping them alive and encouraging them. On this TV show one can distinguish class by using binary oppositions because the contrast between the guests and the host as well as the audience is usually quite big. An example of this is how we see the host usually respectably dressed in a suit with an understandable dialect, while the guests’ appearances are not as appealing. This is also argued in the article “Fearing the Freak: How Talk TV Articulates Women and Class” by Elizabeth Birmingham, who says about women on talk shows “Often,
she is simply overweight, or otherwise not fitting cultural definitions of attractive, which diminish a speaker’s




credibility, particularly when the alternative “sanctioned” story is narrated by and attractive “expert” wearing a suit and tie…” (Birmingham, p. 135). This is also making the audience feel more superior to the guests, resulting in them watching it even more. The working-class people on the shows and mentioned in the article are enforcing the “negative” image of themselves by being loud, rude and aggressive. This is not a fair portrayal of them, because on shows like the Jeremy Kyle show they are constantly being provoked and aggravated. They have to physically sit in front of cameras and listen to people verbally attacking them and being aggressive can often be their way of responding and protecting themselves. What we see on these shows is not necessarily the complete truth. Producers and the people working behind the scenes have the power to manipulate the programmes as well as the guests so the viewers will interpret what they see in a certain way. By using repetition they are inviting the audience to enjoy a familiar format because they already know the outcome. Birmingham says that “Television itself, as a tool of consumerist society, is an inherently undemocratic medium that continually articulated the hegemonies of the status quo” (p. 134). Through TV people become influenced by what they see without actively taking charge of what they are actually exposed to, which one can relate to the notion of structure/agency. Some people are more passive than others. In the article she concludes that the hierarchy of class is emphasised through these TV shows.

Week 1 – Ideology in media

29 Jan

Hi, we are Jess, Lauren, Nae and Thea.

Jess is from Essex and is studying Media Studies and Creative Production, Lauren is from Manchester and is studying Media Practise, Nae is from Japan and is studying Media Studies and Thea is from Norway and is an English Literature and Media Studies student. We all enjoy studying media because it is such a powerful industry and is so much a part of the society and the world we live in. Media is present in ever day life and follow us everywhere we go. There is so much controversial debates surrounding the term ‘media’ and we are interested in learning more about how to engage in the media.

Ideology can be described as a set of ideas that people follow and conform to. These can be divided into two categories dominant and subordinate. Dominant ideologies are a set of ideas or rules that that the masses agree upon such as respect your elders and don’t kill others. Subordinate ideologies offer a lot more debate and can be questioned with no clear binary between wrong and right, for example euthanasia arising the question whether killing someone suffering is still wrong. 

The media constructs and creates certain sets of ideologies to attract their target audiences and create a meaning within a text, for example the news. During the student Imageriots different broadcasters represented the students in different ways, positive and negative to construct ideologies within their audiences surrounding the morality of their behaviour by often presenting them as council house thugs. This type of control is referred to as the ISA, where the elite control the masses through an ideological state apparatus rather than through a recessive state apparatus which includes physical force.