Media Representations

What does this mean?

Certain individuals or groups are sometimes represented in a way that conceals or distorts the truth about them. They may be portrayed in an excessively positive light (e.g. a long-governing president who controls the official media and the way it presents him to the public), or the opposite (e.g. many Western newspapers have purposely portrayed Muslims in a negative light since the events of ‘9/11’). Think about the Daily Star articles we have already looked at.

Next, watch and read this.

Sometimes, we can’t help our own stereotypes getting in the way of our interpretation of stories or images. Look at the document below: look at the photo first, then read through the comment thread attached to see the various interpretations of the image.

The Camera Lies?

Misrepresentation is often done for political purposes, and reflects the bias already held by certain media organisations. It often results in stereotyping. This theme is clearly related to Bias; use that knowledge here.


Task 1: ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’

In January 2011 Amy Chua, a Chinese-American woman, a published writer and well-known academic, published a book entitled ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’. In this book she related her experiences bringing up her two daughters (aged 15 and 18 at the time of publication).

When the book was published, she was asked to write an article about it for the Wall Street Journal. This article was published under the headline ‘Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior’.

This resulted in a wave of articles, blogs, comments and emails, some of which supported her but most of which attacked her for her cruelty and arrogance.

What she succeeded in doing – apart from making a lot of money from a book that became a best-seller – was enforcing certain stereotypes about Chinese parenting and Western parenting.

Here’s an overview of the book and its contents. Please read both the articles and some of the comments on the thread below.

The document below contains links to various articles that were written at the time, including that first article that she wrote herself. Take one each, read it, and summarise it so that you can present it to your classmates.

Tiger Mother Links

Finally, here’s a more humorous take on the subject. What type of text is this, that makes fun of something by imitating it in an exaggerated manner?


Task 2: ‘The King’s Speech’

There are many great stories in history, which is why there have been so many great films made with historical themes. Some of the films that are mentioned in the articles below, and which you might want to watch if you have not seen them yet, are:

Lawrence of Arabia (1965)

A Man For All Seasons (1969)

Gladiator (2001)

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Robin Hood (2010)

The King’s Speech (2011)

Interestingly, almost all of the above are Oscar winners, and therefore major works in film history.

The issue here is this: Should films that feature events and characters from history, set in historical times, actually tell the truth about the events of that time?

Below are three articles worth reading:

Article 1: Yes, historical films should tell the truth.

Truth in film – For

Article 2: No, they don’t need to tell the truth.

Truth in film – Against

Article 3: Case Study: Truth and fiction in ‘The King’s Speech’.

King’s Speech – Historical verdict


Further Oral Activity: Debate

A debate is another popular oral activity that can be assessed and graded for your final assessment. We will practice here.

There will be two groups of 4; each group will be able both to debate and to listen to a debate as the audience. Each group will choose one of the two topics we have already held class discussions on; the exact motions (with which you will either agree or disagree) are below:

  • This house believes that Asian parenting methods are superior to Western.
  • This house believes that historical film have a duty to tell us the truth about the real events they portray.
Choice will be made by lucky dip or some other random process.

Each group will then divide in to two teams: the Proposers of the motion and the Opposers of the motion, or ‘For’ and ‘Against’. You will all have one period in which to prepare your arguments.

The debates will be held in the following lesson. Each group will have a chance to listen to the other and to ask questions when all the speeches have been completed. Each group will have around 30 minutes for debate and subsequent general discussion and questioning.

Your performance will be formally assessed according to the criteria for Further Oral Activity.



This is the end of this unit. However, you will come across aspects of this unit in the Unit 4 books we will read. You will also come across aspects of this unit all around you, in every advertisement, in every news source and on every TV channel. Pay attention from now on, otherwise you too are simply being controlled by powers you cannot even see!