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Media Theory Revision Guide

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




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Racial savagery and Serge


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In terms of racial diversity, The Returned constructs a white centric portrait of French society, a representation that is hugely at odds with the reality of contemporary, multiracial France. 

The absence of any meaningful non-white representation, perhaps, reflects the powerlessness of non-white media creators in within the French media.

Serge, as the only non-white character in the opening episode, also presents as a deeply problematic representation. As the perpetrator of extreme and indiscriminate violence, he reinforces Hall’s arguments that non-white racial groups are routinely depicted as lawless ‘others’ to civilised society.

Although Serge’s subway murder scene is short, its graphic nature and underlying sexual themes are designed to provoke a disconcerting visceral response, clearly constructing Serge as a savage ‘other’ to middle class French society. 

The lingering close-up in the final moments of the murder scene depicting Serge’s innocent victim in a blood-smeared heap, hammering home the wider potential of all immigrant others to act in an indiscriminately brutal manner.

Visceral response

An immediate reaction to a media product that produces a physical or highly charged emotional response. Visceral reactions include: fear, shock, disgust or horror.

Media terminology used

Racial otherness

The demonising of racial groups by society and their subsequent construction by the media as villainous or undesirable.

Institutionalised racism

Institutionalised racism occurs when racist ideas or actions are embedded so deeply within an organisation that they are invisible.

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