Politics of Representation: Media, Culture & Identity - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1416 Words
Date:  2023-05-01

Introduction

The discussion in regards to the politics of representation has provided an insight into nature as well as the effects of media and culture (Durham & Douglas, 28). Culture is represented as a field that identifies the meaning which provides a positive or negative description of gender, sexuality, religion, class as well as race. The media have been portrayed as competent creators of gender identity, role models, values, and norms.

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As a result, the audiences are positioned to behave in diverging ways. The critics of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other biases have accepted that cultural representations are never that pure as they contain negative, definite as well as ambiguous descriptions of diverse social groups and depict certain groups as inferior to other groups (Durham & Douglas 34). The work done by black artists has been considered as blatantly political as well as radical.

As a result, it is rarely linked to an oppositional political culture. Thus, it is easy to ignore the political message in their work. For instance, even though a rap song narrates about coming into critical political consciousness, the essential notion of blackness and stereotypes will be the main point of focus.

In the majority of the films, blackness, particularly a black male body, is portrayed as a sign of 'primitiveness,' wildness, as well as the suggestion that black people have secret access to intense pleasures of the body (Durham & Douglas 26). Again, the black color in most media indicates criminality, particularly in America. Misconceptions have often been manufactured and disseminated through various media channels such as the use of the term 'brute' to refer to a black male.

Furthermore, Durham and Kellner note that "It was this black body that was most "desired" for its labor in slavery. Also, it is this body that is most represented in contemporary popular culture as the body to be watched, imitated, desired, and possessed." The authors also state that "rather than a sign of pleasure in daily life outside the realm of consumption, the young black male body is represented most graphically as the body in pain" (Durham & Douglas 20).

A feministic political economy may also be essential in providing insight in regards to the politics of representation in terms of gender and social status (Durham & Douglas 36). For instance, the notion that male audiences are overvalued reflects the sexism of the male gender and especially the patriarch system. Similarly, over-valuing the upscale audience indicates the classism of capitalism.

Even though these assumptions may stem from the illogic of prejudice, they are used to shape corporate decisions in such a way that the company structures markets as instruments of oppression instead of spaces of liberty. Therefore, restructuring markets to support the liberation of the minority gender and races may be difficult as it would undermine the interests of capitalism, which profits from disparities in income as well as oppressive social relations (Durham & Douglas 34).

The media can be used to analyze the issue of race, sexuality, gender as well as desire. For instance, Bell Hooks points out the interconnection between gender, race, class, among other markers of identity concerning subjectivity. Hooks challenges the other feminists to realize and address how race and class depict both men's and women's experiences.

The author also ties the cultural construction of the 'other' as an object of desire to commodification and consumerism as well as the issue of racial subordination. She states that "Today white youth desire contact with the other. For some, that contact is based on imperialism and affirmation of white power, while others want to move beyond that whiteness and transgress boundaries (00:21:55)

The Colonial Discourse Discussed by Stuart Hall's Analysis of Representation in Media, and Chandra Talpade Mohanty's Analysis of "Under the Western Eyes"

According to Durham and Kellner, the media has more influence on cultural ideologies and ideas as compared to schools, families, and religion combined. For instance, media is essential in modern culture, for it has numerous effects on the overall life aspects of human existence, such as views. Furthermore, Benshoff and Griffin note that the media usually uses encoding and decoding to pass messages to consumers.

The encoding phase typically involves creating ideological meaning into the text that may include further editing, such as which character passes which message or what lesson the text is supposed to teach. It is majorly focused on turning several of individuals into some communication. A 'medium' such as the email, phone call, face-to-face meetings are essential in sending some coded messages.

Decoding, on the other hand, comprises the reception of the text. If a message becomes too apparent, the audience may view it as propaganda or may be interpreted as below consciousness. For instance, if a film has an imbalance where men are favored more than women in terms of main characters, the audience may interpret the message as men are more important or can do more important things as compared to women (Durham & Douglas 39).

Chandra Mohanty also explores the issue of power, nation, and identity. She challenges the coding of "third world women" from a western feminist scholarship as a reminder that the third world is a diverse, more complex as well as multiform as compared to the dominant constructions (Benshoff & Griffin 42). She notes that to understand the present, one must first understand the history as well as the impact of imperialism, corporate, and globalization on the culture.

She also questions, "Can we talk about anticapitalist struggle without understanding the importance of the race, gender, colonial legacies in that struggle? To me, that is a crucial question" (00:02:15). As an answer, she noted that "one way to think about this question is, in the world we live in now, how does the colonial traffic in the imperial?

It seems to me that imperialism, militarism, and globalization - corporate, capitalist, neoliberal globalization - work hand in hand" (00:02:18). She further pointed out that there is a need to understand how those three systems, as modes of operation and practices, interconnect with and sustain each other and how at the heart of some of those practices are gendered, racialized, heteronormative sexual politics and ideologies.

Just like the other authors, Mohanty challenges the concept that the category of woman can be discussed without acknowledging the idea of class, racial locations, as well as an ethnic grouping. She further objects the elision between women as an introduction to visual pleasure or material subjects of their history (Benshoff & Griffin, 2011). She also presents essential methodological as well as theoretical concerns that may compel the people to challenge their powers and power irregularities.

Her work also serves as a reminder that political changes have consequences that go beyond a country's borders. Therefore, the coding and decoding of information is an essential tool in the discourse of power. How people interpret, encoded messages can result in a change of control.

Furthermore, decoding a message may translate to the transference of power from one point to another such that if a film has more male characters that are more interesting, the audience will interpret the message as men are more important or more exciting as compared to the women (Benshoff & Griffin 11). However, the emerging groups such as the feminists and the LGBTQ supporters have used the media to try and sway power from conforming to one rigidity to shift power and accept the other minority groups. As a result, power will shift from the dominant group to the minority group.

Concisely, in his Encoding/Decoding, Hall has suggested that the visual representation primarily in the contemporary world of the media comprises codes that carry specific ideological messages. As such, Hall argues that such codes indicate how daily social life is classified and rendered (Benshoff & Griffin 31).

In understanding the maps of meaning, the reader should decipher some ideological meanings that are embedded in such media representations. Thus, decoding and encoding are essential in distinguishing the various encoding media content as well as the decoding tasks that ought to be conducted by those who are subjected to the media content (Benshoff & Griffin, 29).

Works Cited

Benshoff, Harry M., and Sean Griffin. America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality at the Movies. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Cambe, Marie. "bell hooks, Eating The Other: Desire and Resistance Presentation." YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-WUKfMfUfY.

Durham, Meenakshi G., and Douglas M. Kellner. Media and Cultural Studies:Keywords. Blackwell Publishing, 2006.

Wasiyo, Khaitsa. "Chandra Mohanty's 'Under Western Eyes.'" YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EDFA-bKq1

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Politics of Representation: Media, Culture & Identity - Essay Sample. (2023, May 01). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/politics-of-representation-media-culture-identity-essay-sample

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