Week 5 Lecture: Representations on Radio: Discourse and Power

We explored the ideas of representation and discourse this week, mainly focussing on Simon Frith’s work about ‘Rock and Sexuality’. During the lecture, we also talked about ideas of discourse and stereotyping in the music and radio industries.

The work of Frith can be defined as outdated because it was written in the 70s. Part of what he says still applies to modern music and media industry. In particular, he discusses the man and women in the rock industry and how is difficult for women to enter into a purely dominant-male environment without sexualizing themselves. I think that rock music is in a collapse today, but females are still being marginalized with artists like Katy Perry and Rihanna relying on sexual references and sexualised images in their performance and videos.

He emphasizes how the representation of sexes differs while saying that – “In rock conventions, the collective notion of fooling around refers explicitly to male experience; failing in love refers to the expectations of girls. (p. 376) That reflects to which audiences what music is focused to and explains why boys form the core of the rock audience. Nevertheless of the stereotyping issues it possesses particular values that are inherent in the normative of culture.

In case of stereotypes as an example we can mention the famous rapper Curtis Jackson aka 50 Cent – a rapper, actor and businessman. 50 cent has been accused of being a stereotype and supporting the idea that Black American males from his neighbourhood are gangsters. The problem here is that gangsta rap was defined as glorifying drug trafficking, violence and misogyny. 50 cent stereotypes that (at least in his media format). We must notice here the difference; representation stereotypes themselves are not the real people. To reinforce the stereotype Curtis Jackson starred in a biographical movie “Get rich or die tryin” which reinforces that being a stereotypical figure provides certain advantages.

The author is reasoning on the topic of the medium as a delivery source of the ideological message. He explains that particular genres are serving to the particular groups i.e. kids, the students, male workers. He stresses that soft pop music is belonging to female part of the audiences while showing on their environment places that usually are at pretty, clean industrial. “That music usually provides women workers with aesthetic symbols of their domestic identity” (p. 379) The male-aimed pop music is expressing “Maleness” work both manual and intellectual, displaying physical as well as spiritual desire. “The excitement of cock rock is suggestive not of the home privacy and rather of the boozy togetherness of the boys who are, in Thin Lizzy’s classic song, “back in town”” (p.380) displaying the temperament of the man.

Frith, S & McRobbie, A, (1990). “Rock & Sexuality”. In: Simon Frith & Andrew Goodwin (ed), On Record: Rock, Pop & the Written Word. 1st ed. UK: Pantheon Books. pp.(371-389).


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