Representations of Teenagers

February 8, 2008 by

The idea of the”teenager” as a distinct social phenomenon has been with us since the 1950’s-an intermediate world breaking up the previously straight definition between childhood and the world of work. In the present day, we are still used to media images of these young people, as evidenced in shows like Hollyoaks and Skins. How close to the truth do you think the portrayals of teenagers are in these two shows, and are they positive or negative representations?

Watch this clip from Hollyoaks to see how it deals with the issues of teenage drug users and young parents:

What kind of message does this trailer for Skins put across about British teenagers? Think about whether it is realistic in its representation, and why young people would choose to watch this programme based on such an advertisement (or, indeed, why not). 

Male Action Heroes: The Spy Film.

February 1, 2008 by

Within the spy genre, we can see how the idealised portrayal of the male hero has shifted over time, as perceptions of masculinity have altered. First, consider the following clip from the 1962 James Bond film, Dr No: 

 

During the 1960’s this kind of portrayal of masculinity was considered admirable – a man should be authoritative, composed and smooth. As we have looked at already, the hegemonic perception of masculinity changed over the next several decades to the point where characters such as James Bond, appeared old-fashioned, a throwback to an age that had gone by.

On the other hand, in the 2000’s the Jason Bourne films were praised for their more realistic, up-to-date characterisation. Jason Bourne is highly skilled and deadly, but he is also a complex and conflicted character:

 

As a result, the James Bond films faced a decision; How was the best way for the franchise to evolve and maintain its popularity with a modern audience, whilst keeping the classic Bond trademarks that made the films so distinct. The answer was Casino Royale (2007) a grittier take on the James Bond film, which received much praise from the critics. Watch the following clip for an example of this combination of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Bond.

What does it mean to be a man in the early 21st century?

January 29, 2008 by

In recent years, we have seen a number of different, rival interpretations of masculinity emerge within society-largely created and encouraged by the media ‘branding’ these groups. First New Men, then New Lads and Metrosexuals have all had their moment in the spotlight. A good example of how socially acceptable it has become to be Metrosexual would be Queer Eye For The Straight Guy (2003-07) a t.v show where straight men are advised by their gay counterparts on how to look good and organise their lives. Watch the following clip for an example:

 

But, as Phil Hilton of Nuts Magazine pointed out in the documentary Sex in The Noughties (2007) many males were not looking to become metrosexual, but rather wanted to be be able to explore and test their masculinity. Another example of this would be Brits Behind Bars (Like Queer Eye…  this is a product of Bravo T.V) Where several British men who are in danger of falling foul of the law are taken into the Arizona prison system in order to try and reform them. This idea of a shared experience as a test of masculinity could be said to correlate with what Phil Hilton said. Watch the clip and judge for yourself:

Representations of Masculinity-Disney.

January 25, 2008 by

Disney Films have been seen to encourage a particular brand of traditional-style masculinity; males must be big, strong and willing to fight. On the other hand, Sanjay Newton argues that the emphasis on these qualities to the exclusion of other values perhaps more in tune with that of ‘new men’ (sensitivity, compassion etc) could lead to an alienating effect on many young males.

Representations of Masculinity-The Western Genre.

January 25, 2008 by

Within the media, the very traditional ideal of rugged masculinity is perhaps best demonstrated within the Western genre. Actors such as John Wayne embodied this type, males who were prepared to face whatever was thrown at them in a gritty, determined manner. This clip from The Searchers (1956) is a particularly good example of this:  Over time, the Western has evolved and this can be seen in terms of the portrayal of masculinity we get in shows such as David Milch’s Deadwood. Watch the following clip. What similarities do we get between this and The Searchers, and also, what differences exist?     

Representations of Femininity-The Horror Genre.

January 25, 2008 by

Look at the two clips below. One is from Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the other is from Aliens. What differences do you see in the representation of women in these two clips?

Representations of Femininity-Changes over time.

January 25, 2008 by

The representation of femininity has changed quite significantly since the 1950’s. Women in the 1950s were expected to be at the same time both impossibly glamorous and also totally devoted to domestic duties. However, some women were starting to take advantage of the opportunities opening up to them after the restructuring of the labour force after World War II. Watch the following clip for an example of the kind of perception many in society (particularly the male hegemony/establishment) had towards these new career women: In the present day, representations of women in the Media has shifted to reflect the greater social freedoms that women have acquired over the last few decades. Nonetheless, the idealised image of femininity presented in our society is more impossible to attain than ever before, as illustrated by this clip:

Representations of Femininity-The Crime Genre.

January 25, 2008 by

Within the Crime Genre, the representation of women has altered as women, previously innocent victims or femme fatales, started to move beyond this stereotyping and actually appear as stronger, more proactive figures over time. For instance look at the clip from the 1950’s cop show Dragnet, a show which was arguably the blueprint for all subsequent detective shows on T.V. This clip demonstrates the difference between the portrayal of males and females within this genre in its early days: 

    Over time the role of women within society became more empowered (think back to the 1950’s career girl clip) and this was reflected in previously male dominated preserves such as the police force. Female officers began to make their presence felt  in what was a previously male-only environment . This following clip, from Life on Mars, is particularly useful as it shows us (in a semi-comic fashion) the differences between our own time and the 1970’s, when officers such as Annie Cartwright were making the first steps on behalf of female detectives but still had to deal with a sustained amount of ignorance and institutional sexism.  N.B: (Watch the Life on Mars: Reassessment clip on YouTube. The BBC has disabled embedding by request.) Contrast these clips with the opening scenes of Prime Suspect: Scent of Darkness. What kind of portrayal of womanhood are we getting in the form of Jane Tennison? What has moved on and what do you think has remained the same?  

Representations of Femininity-The Sitcom.

January 25, 2008 by

In the 1950’s, I Love Lucy, starring Lucille Ball, was one of (if not) the first sitcoms based around a female character ever to be shown on T.V. Watch the following clips, paying attention to the characterisation of female (as well as male) actors. Compare this to the representation of female characters we see in Sex and the City. What has changed? Has anything remained consistent?


Representation of Blackpool in the popular media – One place, many faces?

January 1, 2008 by

Recently Blackpool has been the setting for a number of drama and documentary programmes.BBC1 series Blackpool is perhaps the most well known of these. Though the series did include some moments where Blackpool was presented darkly, it focussed much on the ‘glamour and lights’ of the seafront.

BBC4 comedy Funland presented Blackpool as a dark and seedy den of pornography and exploitation – Most of the series was set in dark, dank and dingy bedsits.

Compare this with the presentation of the town as a family friendly fun place in Northwest Tonight’s ‘On the Edge’ series:

Click here for video

How can one place generate so many different representations – Is it a case that film-makers show what they want to show? Just as people are victims of selective editing, can places be so also?