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Media Theory Revision Guide

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




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Objectification and victimhood in Riptide

van Zoonen

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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 portrayal of women in the media.

Media terminology used

Subversive representation

A representation that challenges a set of social ideas. van Zoonen calls upon women to create subversive representations of femininity to undermine patriarchal ideologies.

Closed frame composition

A composition that traps a character by placing objects or people at the frame's edge. Used to connote isolation, entrapment or to emphasise the closeness of characters if coupled with a two-shot.

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