Media Theory Revision Guide

"...essential for all media students"

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





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van Zoonen

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Formation - like a number of other female led contemporary music videos - constructs a version of femininity that van Zoonen would argue reinforces patriarchal ideologies.


Scenes within the video clearly objectify Beyonce through the use of explicit costuming and sexually provocative dance routines. Conversely, other moments depict Beyonce in a more passive and innocent manner - demure fourth wall breaks with innocent white costuming are followed by sequences that feature Beyonce’s daughter in a way that reinforces traditional female stereotypes of motherhood.

This contrary depiction of Beyonce as both a madonna and whore figure invites the male gaze. Beyonce is eroticised yet also pressed into a submissive set of patriarchally aligned representations that reduces women to an inferior social status. 

Patriarchal ideology

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

Media terminology used

Madonna/whore stereotype

Two common depictions of femininity that are considered problematic. The whore stereotype is a highly sexualised and objectified version of womanhood. The madonna stereotype offers the opposite connotations - suggesting that the ideal woman ought to be innocent or uncorrupted.

Male gaze

A term coined by the film theorist Laura Mulvey that refers to the routine objectification of women by media products. Mulvey tells us that media products routinely depict women to male audiences in a highly sexualised way - framed to invite male audiences to take sexual ownership of women.

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Media Theory for A Level
The Essential Revision Guide