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Compare the different ways in which one or more
groups are represented by the media
• Over time and in two media at least – but main body of essay has to refer to CONTEMPORARY
• Marginalisation – Gramsci + fears + Gerbner’s Cultural Effects Theory
• Late 1950s/early 60s – Angry Young Man films and CS reflecting dissatisfaction with the class
system. Yes, talk about re-presentation of existing tropes (Eley and Shields), but also about the WC
being centre stage in popular films and TV
• Talk about the differences between the representation in SNSM and CS – and why.
• Contemporary examples – more brutality and more dysfunction – Tyrannosaur (what’s it about?
Representation) – Eastenders/CS (why are they different?)
• Owen Jones’ views – influence of the Thatcher government – WC as entertainment or marginalised
– negative portrayals. Not always applicable, but use Benefit Street and Jeremy Kyle – why are they
popular/why are so many similar shows made. Eden Lake? What does Jones say? Is he right? What
about active audience theory and Gauntlett’s ideas?
• However, ideas of active audience aside, other areas of the media – e.g. newspapers have picked up
on the language of these negative representations e.g. Vicky Pollard Yob – potential negative effect –
if newspapers are seen as opinion leaders in the manner of Two Step Flow Theory (1955),
representation in Benefit Street led to Tory minister Ian Duncan Smith demanding changes in the
benefit system – but not to the advantage of those on benefits – look it up.
• Self-representation – YouTube, social networks, blogs with fan fiction – Henry Jenkins - remember,
this sort of thing doesn’t have to use sensationalist plotlines or events or situations or characters
(real or otherwise) to capture its audience
Mediated?• Mediation in this sense is not reality, but someone’s version of it – so make the point that these are
constructed texts, even so-called reality TV (e.g. The Geordie Shore episode at the Spanish airport –
the ‘cast’ were plied with drink to make the scene more entertaining, it is edited and scenarios are
created for them and some of the cast play dumb for the cameras – this, from someone who worked
on the show)
• Originally – marginalised – bring in Gramsci + Gerbner here.
• AYM films/TV – middle class directors filming stories by working class writers – influenced by other
cinema – French New Wave and Italian Neo-Realism – more experimental narrative techniques,
location filming. Jazz-inflected soundtracks from US cinema and influenced by tropes from the past
(Eley and Shields) e.g. Orwell, Brandt, D H Lawrence
• BUT – WC are front and centre – how is the representation of the WC represented in SNSM? How in
CS? Why the differences?
• How and why is rep in soaps different now?
• How and why is representation different in Tyrannosaur – what is the director trying to say about
Joseph and his life? Note that this was intended for smaller, independent arthouse cinemas – not
going for the large multiplex audiences like the more populist films like Billy Elliott or The Full Monty
etc – so how is mediation different?
• Owen Jones’ views – Benefit Street etc – what does he say? Why does he see the negative change
(i.e. Mrs Thatcher again…) But… is he mediating a view too? If the audience is truly active and
Gauntlett is right about about there being a dialogue between media product and audience? No
right answer, just a possibility. I mean, if Jones can see through this, can’t everyone else?
• The future – more reality TV type crap because it’s cheap and the competition from cable and
satellite channels and stuff on YouTube
• WC – self-representation – fansites, YouTube, social network sites – web 2.0 (Henry Jenkins) = they
can represent themselves. Big question is the audience…
Impact of Media Representation
• What is Collective Identity?
• Rep of WC has changed over time and differs to some extent depending on the medium and the context of audience
• Key point – already and image of what it meant to be WC in the national consciousness – this has been re-represented
(Eley and Shields)
• Potential effect of marginalisation – see Gramsci and Gerbner
• AYM period – no longer marginalised – explain and make reference to the way the WC are represented in SNSM and in
CS and why there are differences.
• Modern representation – different – why? Some of the same tropes, but more aggression and more dysfunction.
• Negative impact? See Owen Jones and what he thinks has happened, though you could throw in Angela McRobbie’s
comments on Eden Lake
• Potential negative impact of shows like Jeremey Kyle and Benefit Street
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/22/benefits-street-tv-programme-divided-the-nation How is
the show read? Why does he see the negative change (i.e. Mrs Thatcher again…) But… is he mediating a view too? If
the audience is truly active and Gauntlett is right about about there being a dialogue between media product and
audience? No right answer, just a possibility. I mean, if Jones can see through this, can’t everyone else? Is this a case of
Hall and Morley’s Decoding Model inasmuch we see what we want to because of our different socio-cultural
• The way newspapers spread this type of view by trvilialising incidents by alluding to these TV shows
• However – Danger of moral panic – press pick up the ideas and people clamour for change - Ian Duncan Smith –
influenced by what he saw on Benefit Street which he felt highlighted the need for benefit reform - Duncan Smith
claims: "Too often for those locked in the benefits system, that process of making responsible and positive choices has
been skewed – money paid out to pacify them regardless, with no incentive to aspire for a better life.“ But rather than
provide more money, his aim was to force people off benefit and into work.
• Impact on collective identity – If we take the Gramsci/Gerbner view – which Owen Jones, as a good Marxist, seems to
be suggesting is the case, the potential impact would seem to be negative – and we can see people do have that view,
but what if audiences are active and can decode material like this? Look at Hall and Morley, where social and emotional
background plays a greater part as to which way we understand media texts. Thomas de Zengotita! But Gauntlett
suggests a negotiation between media and audience and media is just one area that we take our ideas about identity
from – no real answer here, but show you’re aware of different sides of the debate
• What about the future? Can the WC represent themselves – this is what Henry Jenkins on self-representation in the
age of Web 2.0 sees is the future– also the future
• De Zengotita!
• Like the previous slide – but remember, it’s impossible to measure the impact
• The potential for social implications depends on how the texts are read and understood so you’d
need to consider Gramsci, Gerbner as opposed to hall and Morley – and then we have Gauntlett’s
• The Broadcasting Standards Commission to Research Audience Attitude to the British Soap Opera
(2002) found even the most fanatical viewer understood that what they were watching was
constructed and not real
• Owen Jones, however, thinks otherwise – look at the way newspapers allude to these popular
representations to shame people or whole areas e.g. Shameless Estates
• Ian Duncan Smith – the point about this, is that depends on the views of whoever is in power. IDS
thought he was doing the right thing, but in order to force people off benefits and into jobs which
weren’t always there, his government cut benefits
• What about the future? Can the WC represent themselves? Some do on fansites/blogs for
Coronation Street etc; others represent their own WC community using a mix of found and original
footage, voice-overs, interviews, music e.g. Archive for Change, based in Newcastle – the
documentary: Scotswood: Then, Now, Next. This is what Henry Jenkins on self-representation in the
age of Web 2.0 sees is the future– also the future – what could be the implications for this? The WC
can represent themselves on Facebook etc – but what about the audience? You can talk about the
number of hits on YouTube etc, but are people watching the whole text? Do people watch YouTube
differently to the way they watch the TV? Is it taken as seriously as TV? Does it have the same
impact as network TV