This chapter of The Media Student’s Book explores a key concern of media studies, the idea that media images and forms never ‘present’ the world direct but re-present it. This often happens in ways which have broadly political implications for how different groups and activities are understood and represented in public/political arenas.

Stereotyping and the idea of ‘scripts’ for actions are investigated through short sections on race and ethnicity, including imagery of US slavery; gender and disability, as well as through forms such as comedy and fantasy. The chapter should enable you to discuss 'representability', which partly involves how adequate, now, in an era of interactive and ‘social’ media is the notion of ‘positive and negative’ imagery.

The Case Study offers approaches and material for thinking how very different images and histories of migration are constructed and framed. Discourses around such instances as Somali pirates, refugees, 'the Irish' and British 'mixed race' comedians are opened up. There is also close textual analysis of the drama-documentary film In This World (UK 2002).

A Case Study on Stars and celebrities in East Asian Media is available on this website and may be useful in investigating issues of identity.

A new Case Study called Explore: Flags is now available.

Chapter Links

Richard Dyer on BFI Live

On the occasion of his appearance as part of the BFI National Library's Researchers' Tales strand in March, acclaimed author and film theorist Richard Dyer reveals the origins of the UK's first dedicated gay and lesbian film event in 1977, which grew to form what is now the BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, currently in its 24th year. Examining the attitudes of the time and the importance of having such a groundbreaking initiative, the acclaimed writer also takes a look back at key pieces of gay cinema of the period, and the political stir caused by the first programme of films

A pdf of details of his season Images of Homosexuality in the NFT booklet from 1977 is at

Case Study

Exploring the Roots of BNP support:


Some recent striking, perhaps over-compact comments on the Midsomer Murders ‘all white English villages’ controversy. It raises key questions around representing situations or locations, as well as individual characters, in genre driven media forms. The piece is by the excellent Deborah Orr, published March 17 2011.

Mark Lawson makes a thoughtful set of points on performance and representation. These are raised by a small storm about Johnny Depp playing the character of ‘Tonto’ in a new version of The Lone Ranger.
Feb 20 2011