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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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
White people have a more positive representation in the media.
They are often portrayed to be:
• A Hero
• The Protagonist
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.
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.