Tuesday, 6 December 2016

FILM big row over Barbie movie casting

The Barbie doll is an icon of feminist struggle - an actual woman with the Barbie shape wouldn't be able to walk with the crippling back pain she'd suffer. Makers Mattel finally updated the doll with some new body shapes and skin colours recently, but now its an actress who's facing heat - for being too fat for the role in a live-action barbie movie ... and she's come out fighting.
Amy Schumer says trolls' backlash over Barbie casting shows she’s right for role.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Mind the gender Gap: ad sparks fury

A point we'll raise frequently in Media is how gender is socialised or encoded from birth, with established commercial, retail logic and expected behaviour and aspirations signified through the prevailing binary of toys and clothing.

This Gap ad is an especially clear example of this, putting the future scholar (boy) in an Einstein tee-shirt but the 'social butterfly' (girl, presumably aspiring to become reality TV or gossip mag fodder) in a showy splash of pink...

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Ad enough of stereotyping women

A useful overview of the common stereotypes of gender used in advertising.
Unilever, the firm responsible for brands such as Dove, Lynx and Magnum, has promised to shake up its portrayal of women, after a research project the company carried out found that just 3% of women in adverts are shown in professional, managerial jobs; 1% are shown as being funny and 2% intelligent. 
During the two-year research project, 90% of women Unilever spoke to felt they were presented as sex objects in the adverts and 30% thought adverts were made for the male gaze. Curiously, however, just 40% said they felt that women in adverts did not represent them. Which leaves 60% who presumably think: yep, I too get extremely excited by a reduced-price gateau. 
So, without further ado. Here are 11 top female stereotypes found in advertising – all of which we should really see the back of.
Read Eleven women in adverts who are past their sell-by date for more...

Monday, 9 May 2016

Photographer depicts impact of male gaze in daily life

The photographer's work, Boundaries, is edgy material; relevant to but not suitable for younger teens.

For A-Level or Year11 students, especially if also studying Art, this could be an interesting reference to widen the filmic or other mass media textual analysis you undertake.
According to The Huffington Post, 1 in 4 women will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime. Is this a result of mainstream media’s beligerent objectification of women? Many suppose so. After all, the brain cannot differentiate between what is real and what is imagined. 
As a result, it has become almost normal for the average female to be viewed as an object, rather than a person worthy of respect and a glance above breast-level. 
The photo series “Boundaries” seeks to expose just this. Reports GOOD, the controversial compilation, created by photographer Allaire Bartel, draws attention to the oppression of male entitlement that women feel on a daily basis in everyday life.
See the FilmsForAction article for more.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Agents of SHIELD clip

From S02 E18

Here's a starter to get you going with analysis; you can use the additional screenshots (or your own) to continue analysing the use of media language (how meaning has been created) in this scene, referencing sound, editing, camera, miss-en-scene...


There are mixed messages from the framing and mise-en-scene here. The framing carries connotations of a peephole, a classic horror or voyeurism signifier (seen in Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho for example). The two shot might connote a bond, perhaps romantic, between the two seated, and the wood cabin could be 'read' (using Stuart Hall's term) as relaxed and romantic. The voyeuristic framing and shadow suggest otherwise though, and, despite the relaxing diegetic ambient sound of birds cheeping, the large room and high windows could be read as ominous, making the characters vulnerable.

Rather than cut from the opening long two shot to a tighter two shot to reinforce any sense of a bond between the two we get a panning shot instead, which seems to signify the distance or difference between the two rather than closeness of similarity, although the dialogue through most of this scene presents a very different reading. It is notable that we do not see the man in this pan, just his arm as he plays a move, but we do get a medium shot of the young woman, suggesting that she is a more important character or protagonist than him.

The backgammon set is a clever device to connote the competition or even battle between these two; despite the appearance of bonding and dialogue to support this, the editing and framing throughout this scene, which mostly relies on shot reverse shot with medium shots or medium close-ups (avoiding two shots) connotes a sophisticated battle between the two. A Ludo set or some other more childish game would not have carried such connotations, but backgammon is a sophisticated game more likely to be played by intelligent adults.

So...take up the analysis from here. I have provided screenshots in narrative order below, but that does not mean you have to analyse these in narrative order - you may wish to consider editing across several scenes, then sound (etc) for example.

Several more shot reverse shot, then, with the male saying "you're about a million miles away" we get a two shot:

Representation: mix of normative and counter typical elements for woman? Conventional male - designer stubble significant? Jumper? Short hair? Tight MCU when he says "dinner with my parents can stress me out too", denoting young starting point of target audience? [uses and gratifications: identify with, aspirational]

Two shot returns with "I'm sure he was going to have some twisted surprise" (dialogue suggesting a foreshadowing? setting up narrative enigma if we think so)

Sad music flares up: "he doesn't exactly belong here" says man ... but emotion is not his... Consider his framing and compare with woman's: light v dark?
Unbuttoned top...

Woman: "its nice having someone normal to talk to"; man laughs; then this:
Visual pun: "you hit me!" then cut to boxing - consider framing of blond woman...

Several tightly framed shots then...
Intriguing representation issues - do compare their outfits for one ...

Verisimilitude? Clearer costume shot. Uses and gratifications in less muscular woman winning? "Its not like I can benchpress a small hatchback" ... stereotyping...?

Costume design + representation issues clearer now?

There's quite a lot going on here...
Wow, makeup perfect...

Music building tension...
Dialogue and music designed to work with cut to new scene. Consider verisimilitude (genre signifiers?) and miss-en-scene generally; a binary pair (e.g. look carefully at hair - small details...)? Is there a masculine role here?


Friday, 8 April 2016

Semiotics of the mini skirt over history

NB: the article contains some moderate strong language and is an opinion piece, provocatively written.
In 2015, a city in Alabama proposed that the miniskirt be banned. Council members argued that it was really all about respect. They argued that God just wouldn't be a fan. "I prayed about this," one of them said.
Just months later, a Kansas state senator told his female staff that miniskirts were simply not up to code in the office. He said that they were inappropriate, he'd seen women dressed provocatively in this manner before and he considered it all very distracting.
Clearly, the miniskirt and the women who still boldly wear them are powerful. And as it turns out, when you look back in history, they really always have been powerful — and a symbol of how much of it women have.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Women Not Objects campaign

What does advertising stand to do? Sell an idea? Product? Brand? This can’t be so bad. But it’s what is used and how it’s used that makes advertising such a detriment to our society. Women have long been the focus for selling things. Tall and skinny, perfect hair and smooth skin — these are all what we’ve been told time and time again are what makes something desirable, from a bottle of perfume to a run on the beach. There’s no doubt this facade is see-through. We flip through the pages of magazines, turn the TV channel, scroll past an ad on Facebook, and know that what we see is “touched-up.” But we continue to remain brainwashed by this nonetheless. We make our future feel grim when we allow ourselves to believe we cannot meet these expectations set by our society.
Women have become objects. Big lips, thigh gaps, revealing clothing, and so much more are making young women the focus of sexual desires. These ideals are continuously making it difficult for women to walk down the streets by themselves safely. They are making it impossible to feel beautiful without a threat coming their way; without feeling like they’ll ever be enough.
Last year, a quarter of a million teens alone underwent cosmetic surgeries. What is this saying about the culture we have created for women?
Be aware that the video linked in the article has 1 use of strong language and some disturbing images, as it frankly tackles the social impact of the normative sexualisation of females across our media, not least advertising.

Can such campaigns work? Media content won't be transformed by this, but it will increase awareness of the issue and maybe lead to more single issue campaigns such as the anti-page 3 campaign that has seen topless, often teen, models removed from The S*n, with Murdoch himself tweeting that this was maybe an idea beyond its time.

The difficulty of addressing such issues without being censored by the very same media that are being protested against is notable, with social media offering a distribution outlet independent of the old media giants (all of which are gradually being dwarfed by the new media giants though!)

(The S*n hasn't exactly gone PC; it recently invited readers to submit cleavage selfies for a boobs of Britain competition. Unilad reported on some of the satirical responses this generated, often men photographing their chests; as with the video, be aware that there are sexualised images, and that comments, as with so much of social media, are often crude. See this UniLad article)

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Right hand WOman on TV sofa

Great example of the invisible hand of ideology. A TV host spoke out against the TV habit of placing the man in a man/woman chat/news show setup on the left, seen as the senior position within the industry (and unconsciously by the audience is the idea).

BBC Breakfast seating bias due to 'misogyny', says ex-Countryfile host.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Pink products cost 37% more in UK

...and women's products are priced 7% higher than men's equivalents in the US too...
In December, an investigation by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that in a study of nearly 800 products – from toys to personal items like shampoo – many were priced differently for men and women. Men’s razors went for $14.99, for example, while the same razors marketed toward women were being sold for $18.49. A pink Radio Flyer children’s scooter in pink was double the price of a red “boys’” version. In total, the investigation found that of the products they looked at, items were priced on average 7% more for women than those for men.
A report this month on products in the UK found something very similar: when it came to the same products marketed differently for men and women, there was a whopping 37% difference in price. Beauty products, toys, everything. It doesn’t even get better as you age: adding insult to injury, women are even charged more for adult diapers.