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Media Theory Revision Guide

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




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Active masculinity: Jerome, Pierre and Simon

van Zoonen

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Van Zoonen argues that the media reflects patriarchal norms and values via the construction of active masculinity, by placing male characters at the centre of stories in ways that reinforce real-world masculine power as a social norm.

Undoubtedly, The Returned reinforces van Zoonen’s arguments: Jerome’s centre-framed composition during the episode’s opening scene invests the show with a central male presence. 

Jerome’s later command of the parent survivor’s group further reinforces the character’s presence as an alpha male narrative focus, with high eyeline compositions and active dialogue constructing him as a clear authority figure in the show’s rural community.

Jerome’s superiority over the more feminised presence of Pierre during the meeting constructs a further critique, perhaps, of fragile masculinity, but even Pierre, as emotive as he is, is invested with social authority via his doctor status - a job that allows him to demonstrate a natural authority over Claire and Camille when he conducts his examination later in the episode.

Simon, interestingly, reinforces another male power stereotype, his aloof pursuit of Adele signifying his status as a lone-wolf male whose central concern is to hunt down his female counterpart. 

The male characters of The Returned, in this way, occupy the public spaces of the show, while their female counterparts are marginalised as home-centred figures who await the help and assistance of their respective males.

Lone wolf stereotype

A representation of masculinity that constructs males as independent and disconnected from any family or social ties.

Media terminology used

Active masculinity

van Zoonen suggests that media representations of men typically frame males as more active than those used to depict women. Masculine framing might emphasise movement, skill or action.

Patriarchal ideology

A set of ideas or outlooks that forward the idea that men are superior to women.

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