Theory of Representation;

An approach to representation recognises the public, social character of language. It acknowledges that neither things in themselves more the individual users of language can fix meaning in language. Things don’t mean: we construct  meaning, using representational systems – concepts and signs.

Representational systems consists of the actual sounds we make with our vocal chords, the images we make on light-sensite paper with cameras, the marks we make with a paint on canvas, the digital impulses we transmit electronically. Representation is a practice, a kind of ‘work’, which used material objects and effects. But the meaning depends not on the material quality of the sign, but on its symbolic function. It is because a particular sounds or word stands for, symbolises or represents a concept that it can function, in language, as a sign and convey meaning – or, as the constructionist say, signify.

– Representation, Stuart Hall [page 11]

“Meaning depends not on the material quality of the sign, but on its symbolic function “- this particular line stood out to me from this extract that I took from Stuart Halls book. It is saying that its not actually what is being shown in public media but what it is symbolising and trying to convey. For example the ‘Blurred Lines’ music video by Robin Thicke the material quality doesn’t come across as strong as what the symbolic reasoning of what the song is actually about, advocating sexual abuse and lowering women to just a sexual being.

In what I am going to research I do believe that it relies probably more heavily on the material of it physically as it is looking at what makes a role model and role model to a specific audience, so things such a songs, music videos, advertisement, photographs, tweets etc. These are all things that their fans are looking up too which has enticed them into being their fan and admiring them. Although what is being put out there is probably not a true version of themselves it is a representation of what their PR/marketing/team want them to be portrayed as to the public to either entice them more, get more jobs or roles within the industry and or get more publicity so that even more people are talking about them or what they have done.

3.3 Entertainment as a capitalist industry

The higher valued place on the ‘character’ over the ‘stereotype’ stems in part from the function which the latter play in the mass-produced formulae of the entertainment and consumer industries. The perception returns us to the question of power. 

– Representation, Stuart Hall [page 343]

This exert that I have taken out talks about how companies only care for the money they are making out of programmes and not really for what their consumers want. It follows on to say how there was as study done on the programme Dallas – ‘The aim is simply to rake in money, loads of money and people try to do that by means of all these things – sex, beautiful people, wealth and you always have people who fall for it. to get high viewing figures’  (quoted in Ang, 1895, p. 91) Representation, Stuart Hall [page 343]

That last quote I have typed out really stands out because it also applies to celebrities and their endorsements. Celebrities don’t do certain things just to do them for fun but everything they do it is either for publicity, for more money, for more viewings, to be talked about in the press more and like stated about ‘try do that by means of all these things – sex, beautiful people, wealth…’. It is exactly the same concept within the TV industry except of course they are using fictional lives (unless if it is a reality programme).

‘3.5 The gendering of cultural forms: high culture vs mass culture’ Representation, Stuart Hall [page 345]

Representation, Stuart Hall [page 345]

This table above taken from the book shows us that ‘…the codes for representing reality, the gendering of genera is not fixed once and for all. Rather, shifts in the gendering of genres may well indicate struggles over defining what counts as masculine and feminine in the construction of social reality.’ Representation, Stuart Hall [page 346}. This table is basically showing what is counted as culturally gendered. This links in with my research as if you look onto the ‘mass culture/entertainment’ list all the listed are what women look to within the media industry and where they find their role models and idols….romanticised stereotypes, glamour, fantasy, soap opera…’ etc.

Overall from reading this book by Stuart Halls I have understood that on a whole and conclusion that ‘things don’t mean: we construct  meaning, using representational systems – concepts and signs.’ Representation, Stuart Hall [page 11}. Everything that we see/are shown we are constructing our own meaning through the way it is represented to us. Everything could have a different meaning if it was said, shown, portrayed in a different way or light but everything is aid, shown, portrayed in the way the media/PR/agents/managers etc want us to see it therefor the majority of celebrities are constructed in a way to keep their fans and the public interested and intrigued to want more from them.


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