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Media Theory Revision Guide

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 stereotypes

The whore stereotype is a highly sexualised version of womanhood. In contrast, Madonna stereotypes emphasise innocence and incorruptibility as a socially desired female ideal.

Male gaze

A stylised depiction of women that invites viewers to take erotic pleasure whilst viewing the female form. The female gaze is constructed through invitational poses and passive body language.

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