Media Theory Revision Guide

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All A level theorists covered alongside revision summaries and exam practise exercises.





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Objectification and victimhood in Riptide

van Zoonen

2 Exemplar ratings

In Riptide, women are constructed as both objectified and victimised. The microphone sequence, for example, initially conveys a glamorous and perfected female ideal. The performer’s costuming and make construct a conventional female star-based presence, her demure body language authoring a sexualised image that reflects traditional female beauty standards.

Riptide, however, is a music video that is very much aware of itself as a media product - its imagery steeped in intertextual allusions to horror films, westerns and the action genre. The deterioration, too, of the microphone lady and her ensuing struggle to sing the words of Riptide adds an ironic complexity to her performance. The video here acknowledges the idea that objectified femininity is a problematic and dangerous presence in the media. The performer's deterioration clearly constructs a subversive take on female objectification, positioning the audience to feel sympathy via her collapsing gesture codes and the increasing anxiety of her performance - the closed frame darkness that envelopes the performer further suggests an inability to escape the abuse caused by her objectified presence.


A representation that depicts someone as an object of sexual gratification. Usually used to describe the sexualised portrayals of women.

Media terminology used

Subversive representation

A media representation that challenges or undermines an idea or set of ideas that are widely held within society. van Zoonen called upon women to create subversive representation of femininity to undermine patriarchal ideologies.

Closed frame composition

A composition that traps a character within a frame - usually used to connote claustrophobia or isolation or to suggest entrapment.

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Media Theory for A Level
The Essential Revision Guide