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Character representations


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Character representations

  1. 1. Character Representations Eleni Papaioannou
  2. 2. Introduction In this presentation I will explore the different representations of the main character Bea in terms of gender, age, class and ethnicity. I think it is important to do this as by planning out the smaller elements of her identity, my actors will have a better understanding of their characters and can perform them to a higher and more realistic standard. I also want my characters to be conventional and fit with the representations of characters found in psychological thriller films so I will explore this too.
  3. 3. Gender Stereotypically in the media women are presented as weak and inferior to men. From theorist Theodor Adorno’s perspective, the “culture industry” or mass media force these dominant identities onto audiences and they are forced to accept and conform to them. This is something I considered when planning out the character of Bea. I wanted to conform slightly to the conventional representation of women. This is shown by Bea’s vulnerability and insecurity as she is being attacked by hallucinatory Justin. Also the fact that Bea struggles to see the difference between reality and illusion also conforms to the gender stereotype that women are inferior to men as the male characters such as Justin and Dr Edwards are able to see things from a rational perspective. There is clear contrast in the ideologies of the male and female characters. Bea is represented as irrational and victimised whereas Dr Edwards and Justin are represented as helpful and logical. This also links to linguist Deborah Tannen’s theory on language and gender. She believes that males and females belong to different sub cultures and speak differently as a result. For example men use language as a tool to give advice (a logical and rational thing to do) whereas women use language to give empathy to one another. This difference is clearly highlighted in the two contrasting ways Bea and Justin confront their problems. From Tannen’s perspective, Justin takes a stereotypically masculine approach by offering help and trying to find a logical answer to Bea’s distress. However Bea takes a stereotypically feminine approach by rejecting the advice and instead pushing it away. Bea doesn’t feel she has another female to talk to about her problems which is why she isolates herself from society.
  4. 4. Gender One could argue that Bea breaks the stereotypical representation of women. By rejecting the help of Justin she is showing how she doesn’t want to be restrained by a patriarchal society where she is the victim in need a male assistance. However it is clear to the audience that Bea does need help as her hallucinations grow stronger and she becomes even more mentally unstable. It could be argued that although Bea does try to break the stereotypical representation, all she does is prove that she is a victim in need of patriarchal dominance.
  5. 5. How does my character compare to others? Psycho was a film I looked at briefly in my research. The main female character is Marion Crane and she is presented as the victim character as she is violently killed by Norman. However she also breaks the gender conformities of women at the time as she has sex outside of marriage which would have been very unconventional. Even in the 1960s when the film was released, women characters both conformed and rebelled against gender stereotypes which is what I have done in the representation of my female protagonist Bea. Hayley shows a differing representation of women as she takes a more dominant approach in the narrative. Hayley uses her femininity and sexuality to her advantage to lure in her male victim. She then shows her power and authority by torturing him. Her actions go heavily against the gender stereotype. I would say, although Bea’s actions aren’t throughout the film, she still does show her power. This is in the final scene when Bea kills Justin as she believes by doing so she will now have control of her life again. Even though she thought wrong, her intention still shows her to be a dominant character.
  6. 6. Age Youths are often represented negatively in the media and as a moral panic to society. A moral panic is defined as a mass response to a group (young people) that becomes a threat to society. This dominant identity as Adorno says is forced upon audiences by the mass media and leaves society with this stereotype of young people. In terms of the psychological thriller films I have analysed, young people have been a common age group that are represented. However they do not conform to this stereotype always. One example of this is Split where Casey and her friends are kidnapped by a man with multiple personality disorder. Casey is vulnerable and victimised with Dennis (the kidnapper) being the creator of distress not the teenagers.
  7. 7. Age However in other psychological thriller films such as, Circle, there are a variety of representations within teenagers and young adults. The first representation we are given is of the student on the left (he is not given a name). He is represented as being cruel and selfish as he suggests that if they have to choose who to kill, they should start with the elderly and leave the young ones like himself to stay alive. He clearly doesn’t have any care or remorse and represents young people as only thinking of themselves. However Circle explores more representations of young people. One teenage boy shows a selfless attitude that binary opposes that of the student. He is willing to give his life to save a child despite him himself still being young. Circle has a pluralistic representation of young people that in some places does conform to the stereotypes but in other ways does not. From this I can see that psychological thriller films explore a wide variety of representation of young people which is also what Bea does with her character.
  8. 8. Age One could argue that Bea does conform to the typically representation of young people as she presents a danger to society by killing Justin. However, Bea only does this because of the growing strength of her mental illness that causes her to not think in a rational way.
  9. 9. Class Bea comes from a middle class background as from my research, this was the conventional class of the protagonist characters. Some examples of this include Inception, Gone Girl and The Gift. The main characters in these films live in large and expensive houses and have a more luxurious lifestyle in comparison to others. Since the main target audience of psychological thriller films is middle class people, it also makes sense for the characters to be from the same background as this will add as sense of realism to the film. It will also mean the audience are able to see the film from Bea’s perspective more as they may feel more able to connect and understand her as they have a similar lifestyle.
  10. 10. Ethnicity Racial stereotypes are dominant in the media and are usually socially constructed. A great example of this would be Middle Eastern Muslims who are represented as being a threat to society because they are supposedly terrorists. This stereotype is not true but the media have the power to shape and alter people’s perceptions of different ethnicities and racial groups. Different ethnic groups are beginning to be represented in the media however they tend to be more negative in comparison to the representation of white people.
  11. 11. Ethnicity White people have a more positive representation in the media. They are often portrayed to be: • Intelligent • A Hero • The Protagonist • Powerful • Strong I wanted to conform to these stereotypes because the target audience of my film is middle class who tend to be white British people. Therefore my character’s ethnicity will be similar to my audience which would make the film more relatable and they will have a better understanding.
  12. 12. Ethnicity Bea does conform to the representation of white people being intellectual as she is from a middle class area and goes to a well established school where she can achieve a high standard of education. She is also the protagonist of the film which also conform to the stereotype of white people playing the lead roles in films. However there are elements of Bea’s character that do not conform to this stereotype. For example mental illness has connotations of being weak and vulnerable which is the opposite of the powerful representation that is often displayed. White people are also seen as the hero but due to the psychological thriller genre of my film, it becomes harder to draw a clear line between who is the hero and who is the villain. Bea could be argued to be the hero as she kills Justin who she thinks is trying to kill her. However this isn’t true and she ends up killing an innocent man by mistake which could make her a villainous character. The blurred lines shown in the film do not conform to the stereotypical representation of white people.