Sunday, 31 October 2010

How does Calvin Klein represent females in the above advert? Are they objectified or sexually empowered?

Calvin Klein could be seen as representing females in a number of ways with this advert. Initially you can see Laura Mulvey's idea of the male gaze simply because we are seeing an idealized woman; we as females think this is what men expect their 'perfect' woman to look like. Another thing that links with this is that the emphasis is predominantly on her body and of course the underwear advertised, whereas stereotypically women focus on faces; so you could argue that the advert is mainly for men, even though it is a woman’s product being advertised. Another thing you notice is that her hair is damp and her body is most probably oiled up to create a look of being wet which if we look further into it makes us think she has just got out the shower. Adding this to what she is wearing suggests she is likely to be going out, more likely in the evening to a party or on a date because her underwear isn’t exactly ‘casual’. We deduce that she is unlikely to be going out alone, and that in fact she is probably going out with a man. This sends the message to those who see the advert that Calvin Klein is associated with people who attract the opposite sex and possibly means women would aspire to be like this and buy Calvin Klein underwear to get a man.

You can also pick out other things deemed to appeal to men. She’s wearing high heels which make her legs look slimmer, and also she is wearing suspenders which are associated with sexiness, yet the ones she’s wearing are tasteful because they are plain and stylish and black which can be seen as a sexy colour. Her hands placed on her hips draw attention to the underwear advertised and also a certain region that would appeal to men. On her hands we also see no wedding or engagement ring, showing that she’s available.

However, you can also clearly see how this could be taken as sexually empowering for women. For example; even though the lack of wedding ring shows availability, it also shows independence and suggests she doesn’t need a man in her life to be successful. Her stance in itself is powerful; she has her legs apart which is a dominant, more masculine pose. It is also a low angle shot, so we are looking up at her, which again shows dominance. Although the hands on hips draws attention to where men would look the actual positioning shows an attitude that could be more threatening than inviting. Looking at her face we see that the look is reminiscent mostly of Trevor Millum’s seductive pose and the Marjorie Ferguson’s invitational or romantic/sexual poses. Her head is turned away from the camera and her eyes are closed which add a sense of mystery to her; making her seem superior to the male viewer. This also keeps the attention on the product advertised. Looking at her bra, we see that it is quite a basic, plain one, and with it being black as well, it could be classed as masculine; which once again shows how she is empowered. Finally looking at the Calvin Klein logo, we see it is positioned behind her, showing superiority. This tells us that Calvin Klein is promoting the idea that if you wear their products you too could be a powerful attractive woman like Eva Mendes. On the other hand, it is also positioned around the area that they are trying to draw men’s eye-line to, so you could see it as them objectifying her instead.

Overall,  I think Calvin Klein are just trying to market the product to both genders, which is why although there is some possible objectifying of women with the fact that she is wearing very little and is essentially an idealised woman, that men would most definitely be attracted to. This could encourage men to buy the underwear because they want their partners to emulate this woman. This links to Laura Mulvey’s suggestion of how men look at women. Similarly, women would see this advert and want to be as much like this woman as possible, and would compare themselves to her- again like Laura Mulvey’s male gaze theory in how women view other women. It empowers women because of the power we can see and how she clearly is in control. Women would aspire to be like her, so would ideally go out and buy Calvin Klein underwear to achieve this.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Stereotypical Representation of Regional Identity

We had to choose 1 character from a British TV drama and explain why they are a stereotypical representation of the area we studied in our Prezi presentations, so I had to look at Regional Identity.
The first programme that came to mind was Gavin and Stacey simply because a lot of the story is based on where they live and how they are very different. I chose to do Stacey.

Stacey is a typical Welsh girl. She is what you would describe as bubbly and very talkative. The Welsh typically have really strong accents which is very true in Stacey's case, she also speaks very quickly; which is again stereotypical of welsh girls, and this idea that they are quite loud and talkative. They are also known to be very patriotic and often family based, with a local community who all know each other. In Gavin and Stacey we see this with Stacey living on a street full of Terrace houses and knowing all her neighbours such as Dorris next door. She is also very proud of being Welsh. Apart from the city areas of Wales such as Cardiff, we tend to associate the Welsh with being a little old fashioned and a bit lower class. We see this from where Stacey lives and how the house isn't really newly decorated. But also from her bedroom which is still quite childish;which again shows the strong sense of family. The clothes Stacey wears also reflect this idea that Stacey isn't from a wealthy region. They aren't particularly fashionable and probably aren't majorly expensive; they are more casual and what you could describe as 'last season' so we see how she stereotypically doesn't hold fasion as a priority and also that she isnt really materialstic in reality, even though she does enjoy nice things. She also mentions on a few occasions certain 'bargains' she has picked up in shops. Another thing that is key to the Welsh stereotype is the language. Although Stacey doesn't speak Welsh she uses a lot of colloquial language which is associated with the Welsh and there are some references to the language throughout the programme which also shows the patriotic nature. 
We also see the sense of community and the lower class life from the transport Stacey uses around Barry. Instead of a car like most women on their late twenties, she takes the public bus everywhere which suggest that she possibly cant afford a car or that she simply doesnt need one as she rarely travels anywhere that the bus doesn't; she has no desire to travel out of Barry which suggests lack of career ambition and how she is content with where she is and how family and her life is her main priority in life and what she wants.

This video shows how everyone knows everyone in Wales and also shows the colloquial language Stacey uses:

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Trevor Millum (1990's)

  • Cool/level
  • Eyes less wide
  • Expression is less reserved but still self-confident
  • This is very similar to Ferguson’s invitational pose, however there is less focus on the positioning of the face and its angles. 

  • Nymph like
  • Active
  • Healthy
  • Vibrant
  • Outdoor girl
  • Often smiling/grinning

  • Concentrating
  • Engaged in business in hand
  • Mouth closed
  • Eyes object directed
  • Sometimes a slight frown
  • Hair often tied back or short style 

  • Deliberately ridiculous
  •  Exaggerated
  • Acting the fool
  • Pulling faces

  • A neutral look as of a dummy, artificial, wax like 
  • Features may be in any position - but most likely to be with eyes wide open and a smile
  • Looks remain vacant and empty with personality removed

Marjorie Ferguson (1980's)

She identified 4 types of facial expressions on magazine covers:

Chocolate Box:

  • Half/full smile
  • Lips together/ Slightly parted
  • Full/ Three- quarters of face to the camera
  • The chocolate box look is blandly pleasing, the uniformity of beauty and devoid of uniqueness.

  • Emphasis on the eyes
  • Mouth shut with hint of a smile
  • Head to one side or looking back to the camera
  • The invitational look has emphasis on the eyes, mouth shut with a hint of a smile, and head  to one side or looking back to the camera.


  • Full face
  • Wide open, toothy smile
  • Head thrusts forward or chin thrown back
  • Hair often wind blown
  •  The super smiler look is often aggressive, with a look at me attitude.

  • Includes male/female 'two somes'
  • Dreamy
  • Heavy lidded
  • Overtly sensual/sexual
  • This look shows possible or definite availability

The Male Gaze

Typical Representation of the male gaze
Laura Mulvey: 

A criticism of filming. Suggests men deliberately create women to look a certain way. The concept of the gaze is one that deals with how an audience views the people presented. Audiences view charcters from the perspective of a hetrosexual male. Features of the male gaze include the camera lingering on the curves of the female body and anything that happens to a woman is presented largely in the man's reactions to this event. It degrades the woman to the extent of making her an object or posession. Female viewers must experience the narrative secondarily by identification with the male. The gaze suggests that women are weak and defenceless when we know this isn't true.
There are three parts to it:
  • How men look at women
  • How women look at themselves
  • How women look at other women
Men looking at women: 
Men tend to look at the 'curvy parts' of women. Like the idea that men don't tend to look women in the eyes, but at other parts of their bodies. Even the camera focuses more on a womens body sometimes. 

Women looking at themselves:
Women are made to look at themselves in a negative way, picking fault with parts of their appearance when they see how women look in the media; when they have been airbrushed. It triggers a lack of self esteem and makes women aspire to be like models in magazines or on TV. They become reflective. 

Women looking at women:
Of course women can also look at women in a sexual way. But mainly they judge and compare themselves to other girls. For example you would look at a girl if you liked what they were wearing, but in a way where you compare what you are wearing, or if you would like something similar instead of the way men look at women. 

We watched the video of Scouting for Girls 'She's so lovely' to see an example of the male gaze:

Mr Smith asked us all questions about the video to compare the boys and girls results and show the male gaze 'theory'. Unsurprisingly the girls scored higher than the boys, even with less of us. This showed how the girl in the video distracted the boys and thus proved the male gaze.

Leon Festinger

Stereotypes shape public opinion. They are narrative shortcuts which orientate the audiences expectations. Some people argue that stereotypes are fixed and unchanging. This is known as mass audience hypodermic theory; stereotypes unconsciously inject a belief about people into our mind to manipulate our opinion of these people. For example, the idea that teenagers are bad.

Festinger believes we resist changing our opinions unless faced with overwhelming evidence against what we believe. Cognitive dissonance is when our 'brain' encounters new ideas and rejects them because they don't match our expectations.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Representation, Prezi Presentation

We were put into pairs in our class and asked to each design a Prezi presentation on a specific area of representation out of the seven areas. We had to apply these to British TV and film to how certain groups of people are stereotypically presented. 
7 different areas: 
Class and Status
Physical Ability/Disability
Regional Identity

The presentations were shown and we wrote notes about them:

A baby has two different stereotypical sides. The first we saw was how they whinge and are always crying, but we also saw how they can be cute and cuddly. Old people can be seen and whinging moaning older people, or as very wise and someone to go to advice for. Although the age difference is extreme, you can link them together in that they are both helpless and in need of care, which shows a symbolic code between the two. Teenage stereotypes were linked to anti social behaviour and we saw Vicky Pollard as an exaggerated example of this. But then we also looked at opposing pictures showing teenagers hard at work.

The clothing worn by characters is usually one of the most important things we associate with that character from the very beginning. We associate black teens, such as Thomas from skins, to be unapproachable because of the clothes he wears. However in Hollyoaks the character of Calvin goes against this stereotype because he is dressed no different to anybody else, implying that he is in fact no different. When we see any type of Indians or Indian culture (in Eastenders for example) we associate them with a very traditional culture. They have very controlling parents and very often we see arranged marriages that the person isn’t committed to. However, other programmes such as Hollyoaks chose not to reflect the ethnicity of an Indian family so traditionally towards their culture.  Camera Shots: Looking at this is England, we see how the  ethnicity can affect the filming, For example, a lot of shots are filmed from below which suggests that the audience should in fact be intimidated by these people of look up to them. This could mean how the 'skinheads' were viewed around the time. We also see shots of the setting which shows us stereotypically council houses and estates; this is what we imagine the life of these people to be like and where they live or come from.
TV dramas sometimes go against stereotypes to create a storyline or just to increase interest in the character. In Hollyoaks Calvin is a black police officer, which goes against his stereotype as not only is he working, but he is in the police which oppose ideas that black people sit around all day and are criminals. A particular storyline that goes against ethnicity was Syed in Eastenders who found being gay difficult to accept, simply because of his religion and how it is not acceptable. Because of this being so against his religion it created a dramatic storyline as to what would happen. 

We have a preconceived idea that gay men are very feminine and wear tight fitting clothes, however this isn't necessarily true and yet this is how the media presents them. We also have a view that all lesbians are butch, but we saw that Lindsay Lohan was an exception to this since she is very much not a stereotypical lesbian.  We see settings of Gay pride parades with lots of feminine men and masculine women, which indicate to us that this is how they are. Particular character traits, such as those by Neil's dad in the Inbetweeners imply he is gay when in fact he is not. This includes things like being a drama queen. We watched a clip of Billy Elliott which showed how we immediately associate more feminine things with being gay, like Billy's dad assumes when he sees he is in ballet class. Many plots in shows follow a distinct pattern where the character discovers their sexuality, tells people, and then deals with reactions. The media make a big focus on sexuality and how it can be the person you least expect, which is why it makes a good storyline. In particular it draws attention when a teenager is gay.

Lesson 2:

When we see babies, stereotypically they are either crying or shown as being cute. They are sometimes the lead character and if they are it is usually aimed at children of a similar age. Kids of a slightly older age are usually shown as more mature than they actually are, and have things that most children don't have. This is usually because the makers want to encourage children to aspire to be successful and have these things. However it could be criticised as it forces expectations to act older on younger children.
When we think of the 12-14 year old age on TV we see them with action packed lives, with lives that people there age would aspire to be like.They are also stereotypically lazy so they are portrayed with action packed lives that hypodermically give children ideas of what we want them to be. 

Older teenagers are usually split into 'status groups' and in TV comedy is used to put teenagers off becoming certain stereotypes such as the Vicky Pollard 'Chav' stereotype. There is also programmes such as Skins which glamorize the idea of being a 'drop out' and taking drugs. A criticism of this is that it puts pressure on teenagers to behave a certain way in order to be 'cool'. However the main audience of Skins is middle aged men.
Looking at Hollyoaks as an example of young adults (20ish) we see that they are all very good looking and glamorous. This is probably because it makes teenagers want to grow up in the sense that when they do their lives could be like this.

Looking at Eastenders you can see example of people in there 30's or 40's, such as Tanya, Max and Jack Branning, who symbolise sophisticated, successful people who again younger people or even people of that age want to be like. the women wear more demure clothes than younger women or teenagers, as this is what we expect, and the men wear expensive suits that show masculinity and power. 
When we see the elderly on TV we either think of them as weak and helpless, like we saw a picture of war heroes with a blanket covering their legs; which is similar to how a child sometimes has a blanket with them.You can also have the 'kooky' old lady or man, or a wiser old person, who people go to for advice. 

This is represented very stereotypically, for example we see the disabled sign and immediately recognise it, yet a disabled person doesn't actually look like this. 
We watched a clip from the TV programme 'Spazticus' made by disabled people.
The clothing of disabled people  is usually comfortable or what we would describe as 'housewear' which shows them as vulnerable and weak. Their houses are very often seen as untidy and dirty to show how they cant really do any housework or that they are just incapable. They also generally live in bungalows that are undecorated. The camera angle very often looks down which makes them look small and is also demeaning; the carer is also very often in shot with them which shows how they cant manage on their own. A criticism of how disability is shown on TV would be the focus they put on the disability. They make this a key interesting thing about the character; they focus on the disability over the person itself.Also they very often associate disability with being in a wheelchair, and that not only are they physically deficient but also mentally when this is obviously not always the case, and is very patronising to people who are disabled.  The only real character traits that disabled people have are that they are either very stupid or very evil. A main example of how disability is shown, is Andy from Little Britain.

We were shown the typical signs of gender and how they are binary opposites. We then looked at how men and women compare in a patriarchal society that can be seen in some TV dramas
            Men:                       Women:        
           Trousers                    Skirts                
Strong                      Weak
Short hair                   Long hair
More money              Less Money
  Working                   Housewife
Bigger                       Smaller
In old films we see women who are helpless and waiting for a 'hero'
We see how even now men are the person to lean on, they are often shown as very stoic and show little emotion. Women are shown as dramatic. We were shown an example of stereotypical men in Fight Club. We see how men are portrayed as angry and aggressive, whilst women cheer them on. 
We also see even in soaps men in fights. This is a criticism as it shows violence, and potentially fuels a violent society. It perpetuates the violent stereotype of British men. In soaps we also see how most businesses are owned by men.
There is also the idea of the male gaze, where viewers are frequently invited to identify with male characters and to objectify females. Women are filmed predominantly by men so we see women through men's eyes. 

Representations of men across all media tend to focus on the following:
Strength - physical and intellectual power.
Sexual attractiveness (which may be based on the above)
Independence - of thought, action

Representation of women across all media tend to focus on the following:
Beauty (within narrow guidelines; looking a certain way is looking beautiful)
Size/Physique (again within narrow guidelines or expectations)
Sexuality (as expressed in the above)
Emotional - as opposed to intellectual
Relationships - as opposed to independence/freedom

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Viewing Habits Questionnaire

We did a questionnaire in class asking eleven different people questions about their viewing habits and thoughts. I worked in a pair with Izzy and our results were: Audience Viewing Habits

Looking at theour results we found that almost everyone was unaffected by whethere the film was American or British however you can see that everyone watches more American films. This could be because of how vast the American film market is or to do with the type of films they produce. You can see that most people watch films because of the advertisment or 'hype' surrouding them, making us want to see them more, however this isnt always the case. We found that nobody just downloaded films onto their computer to watch; they instead prefer to stream if they do watch films online. Most people watch film trailers online before the film is released which shows the impact the internet has had on the marketing of films.

Narrative Codes

For this lesson we looked at Roland Barthes, who was a semiologist. He said that narratives are like a ball of string. 
If the story is 'open' then it can be unravelled in a lot of different ways, and can lead to different things. This is seen in a lot of soaps such as Eastenders.
If it is 'closed' then there is only one obvious thread to pull on. This is often seen in children's programmes, since they almost always have happy endings. 

Barthes also said that you have to fill stories with narrative codes. Examples of these are: 

Action code: Implies a further narrative action scene. Eg: a man draws a gun. 
 Enigma Code:  Element in a story that is not explained, it raises questions that demand explanations. The audience is intrigued as to what will happen.
Semantic Code: Any element in a text that suggests a particular, often additional meaning by way of connotation. Like if it is saying one thing, yet implying something else. 
Cultural code: Any element in a narrative that refers 'to a science or a body of knowledge' The cultural code tends to point to our shared knowledge about the way the world works. So although we would immediately recognise Santa and all the things associated with him in our culture, other places around the world would just see a 'man in a beard and red suit'. You should always refer to this.  
Symbolic codes: It is quite a grey area between binary opposites. For example in the Eisenstein montage the dramatically sounding noises suggested a negative atmosphere and linking this to religion tell us symbolically that religion is bad. It is very difficult to explain, but links to what Levi-Strauss argued; that narrative structures have binary opposites. So good could not exist without bad simply because if there wasn't one then we would not know the other to be an actual thing.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Is Max Fischer a stereotypical teenager?

When asked to describe a teenager, there are several stereotypes that spring to mind. In Britain, the word teenager is often associated with ASBOs, ‘Hoodies’, binge drinking, smoking, drugs, graffiti, vandalism and other sorts of anti-social behaviour.  There are other stereotypes that differ from this, such as Goths, nerds, wannabes and emos; however there is a general idea that teenagers are disrespectful, naive and conform to the same ideas. There are supposedly ‘cliques’ into which teenagers fit in and this idea is shown a lot in American teenage films, such as Mean Girls, 10 things I hate about you, The breakfast club, Clueless and Juno. However, it can also be seen in British films such as St. Trinian’s or the TV series Skins and it has translated into people’s perceptions of teenagers today.

Looking at the montage of Max it is pretty much obvious from the start that he does not fit into the teenager stereotype. After watching it several times you can clearly see the clues Wes Anderson leaves for us to grasp what the character is like and how un-stereotypical he is.  The very first shot of the school book shows pictures of bees on the cover. This indicates that Max is a ‘’busy bee’ or the ‘bees knees’ of the school, which links with younger schools and it reminded me slightly of stickers you used to get as rewards when you were younger for finishing first. Whether this was intended by the director or not it also links in with who we see surrounding Max in the montage.
In the vast amount of clubs he takes part in, either the majority of other members are clearly younger than him or he is on his own. This tells us not only that Max doesn’t really fit in with his age and that he is lonely but also that he actually probably sees himself as above his fellow students, which could explain why he chooses to mix with those younger than him; because in his head this supports the idea of him being superior.
Another thing that is obvious after watching it a few times is how Max is almost always in the centre of the shot. This and the fact that he plays a main role in almost every club lead us to think that these clubs very much revolve around him. You could also view this as Max thinking he is superior. For example the first club shown is the Yankee review and Max as the publisher walks in the middle with two boys on either side. It is also in slow motion for a few seconds which reminded me of the programme Entourage. Although this programme aired after Rushmore was released, Entourage carries off this shot to show how ‘cool’ the characters are and this is how Max views himself in the clubs he is part of.

However when around people his own age, or older like on the lacrosse shot we see him take a lower position on the screen, suggesting that in reality he is socially below them.

From the montage we also see how Max dislikes who and what he is, which although can be seen as typical teenage behaviour, what he dislikes is very un- stereotypical. The best example of this would be how he is Russia in the model united nations. He wants to emulate the country who at the time were the most powerful along with the US, interestingly he doesn’t choose to be America; this could be because he doesn’t fit into its society. Russia was also communist, so we see that Max likes to be in charge and the most superior, which is also shown by the two countries on either side of him (Mexico and India) which are clearly not the most powerful of countries.  This is also seen with his clear interest in France, from being overly appropriately dressed for French club to the beret he frequently wears. This shows how he thinks of himself as cultured, which again makes him different to the stereotype.  So overall, in this montage we are not given the impression that Max is a stereotypical teenager.