Practice questions – Media Text & Society Values

It is highly advised that before you undertake any SAC or EXAM that you submit as many practice questions as possible. Especially when it comes to the Unit – Media Text & Society Values. This is Part B in your EXAM and given that you need to refer to a variety of different media texts, you should get your head around the look and feel of these questions.

The booklet to the right includes different questions with assigned marks. Do as many as you can and get as much feedback from your teacher as possible.

Claire Dunphy - Modern Family 2010

Claire Dunphy - Modern Family 2016

Well written response: By Student

Media texts reflect the attitudes of society at the time of production. For example, the discourse of gender roles within the family structure has been shaped by the dominant and emerging values present in that society. These values are constantly changing and shifting depending on the society’s attitude and change in culture and history, forcing media texts to adapt accordingly. In a 1967 print advertisement for Hasbro’s board game ‘Battleships’, a man and his son are depicted playing the game whilst the wife and daughter are seen in the kitchen in the background. This image reflects the dominant value of women as the housewife while men could relax and play, ‘manly’ war-based games. This was the typical attitude of the American society in the 60’s, as women were predominantly living in that housewife role, with only 30% of the US workforce made of women.
In the 2009 sitcom, ‘Modern Family’ the dominant values in relation to family gender roles has shifted, as society in the 2000’s had progressed to accommodate the rise of women in the workforce. The leading mother, Claire Dunphy is represented as a strong, resilient women, who although currently a housewife, was a former successful businesswomen. This media representation shows the dominant value of successful working, women in the family structure, which coincides with attitudes of society in the 2000’s with 47% of the US workforce made up of women.

Well written response: By Student

Discuss how one text has been shaped by a discourse or social issue present in the society at the time it was produced. – 4 marks

In the Cosby Show (1980) the wife of the wealthy African American Doctor proves herself to be a sharp, strong-willed lady who takes no condescending gestures lightly. When asked by a houseguest to make coffee, she engages in a rant that implies that she refuses to be a servant in her own home. The time period that this text was produced in the 80’s was significant for two reasons; it was the beginning of third-wave feminism and was in the wake of the African American Civil Rights Movement. The American society was coming to terms with the adjustments brought by these movements and where wealthy women used to be assumed as Caucasian and servants to their husbands, however now they were now being represented as punchy, independent and of any ethnic background.

Claire Huxtable - The Cosby Show 1984

Meryl Streep - Devil Wears Prada 2006

Well written response: By Student

The social value of the female, ‘CEO’ has evolved drastically over the past decade in America. The difference in audience attitudes and expectations on how this representation is constructed has changed significantly. This is shown in two media texts during this time period. ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and ‘The Intern’. Set in the early 2000’s the Devil Wears Prada shows a female CEO, Miranda Prestley, her white hair and constant disappointing pout suggests that all females in power are “dragon ladies” and lonely. This is because in America under 10% of CEO’s in the early 2000’s were female. This vastly changed in 2015, where now approximately 32% of females in America are in high positions of power in the corporate sector. In the film text, ‘The Intern’ (2015), Jules Ostin in shown as more inspiring and a go-getter for women rather than the usual cold dragon-like representation. Thus proving that this social value has evolved greatly in America.

How to use the TV Series Family Ties in a response

Discuss how one text has been shaped by a discourse or social issue present in the society at the time it was produced. – 4 marks

Media texts can reflect the social values held by the society at the time it was produced. The American TV series, ‘Family Ties’ (1982 – 1989) reflects the discourse family and gender roles during the 80’s in the United States. The series represents the ‘nuclear family’, which was identified as being a married man and women with four children. Family Ties revolves around the Keaton family. This family representation was shaped by the statistic that in the 80’s, 61% of American children lived with married parents. It also reflects the rising amount of mothers entering the workforce. Elise (the mother in Family Ties) is represented as an architect. During the 1980’s women were being recognised for their capabilities and this is displayed through the fact that women in management positions had doubled since the previous decade. Family Ties has been constructed based on the social values evolving within the American society in the 1980’s.

Family Ties 1982 - 1989

SAC & EXAM QUESTIONS

Well written response: By Student

Identify and discuss both a dominant and emerging value that are evident in the texts that you studied this year – 6 marks.

Media texts can be shaped by the dominant and emerging values within society at a given time. The emerging social value of stay-at-home dads is represented in media texts more commonly from a time period starting around 2010 due to the statistic that 30% of mothers are stay-at-home and that 65% of men do the household chores. This is represented in the 2013 Toyota Camry commercial, ‘Calling all Hero’s’ which shows men carrying out household duties and looking after their children. This also results from the dominant social value of women entering the workforce as in 2010 just less than half of the workforce is made up of women and around half of mothers work. This is evident in film texts which depict women’s independence and capability such as the 2009 American film, ‘The Proposal’ in which Sandra Bullock’s character is the Chief Executive Editor of a book publishing company who appears to hold great control and power over her male assistant. Similarly, Jennifer Lopez’s character in the 2010 film, ‘The back-up plan’ is depicted as a self sufficient and independent women who owns her own pet store and decides to have a baby later in life via artificial insemination. These media texts reflect the changing roles of both men and women in the American society.

Well written response: By Student

Describe an idea, an attitude or a discourse that is evident in a text that you studied this year. - 3 marks

Acceptance of homosexuality has significantly developed over the past 10 years. In the 2012 Ray Bans print ad ‘Never Hide’, two males holding hands are being smirked at and judged by onlookers. The bold text ‘never hide’ disputes the judging looks of the spectators by empowering gay couples to be bold. This reflects the emerging attitude in society that gay marriage/couples are acceptable in a modern American society. This value has evidently evolved since the 1942 setting of the ad, in which time the idea of accepting homosexual couples was rejected by the heterosexual majority. In 2015 all US states legalised gay marriage, demonstrating the growth that has occurred in the acceptance of gay couples.

Well written response: By Student

‘How has one discourse or social issue evolved over time? In your response, compare representations from two or more texts that you have studied this year. (6 marks)

Media texts are a representation of the society to which it is set in, drawing on social issues and values relevant to such. The marriage between social issues and their influence over the overarching discourse, in this case American Families (2010-present) often show progression over time. In the 2010 film “Life as we know it,” the two protagonists are left to care for the orphaned child of their deceased friends. This unorthodox formation of family throughout the film is met with little contention from the society to which they are within, thus employing the nuclear family of today can take form in many different variations. The unconventional representation of family in “Life as we know it” within 2010 is a direct contrast to previous conventions of the typical family, as shown in the 1950’s “Coca-Cola” advertisements. In juxtaposition to the circumstantial formation of family as seen in “Life as we know it,” the 1950’s “Coca-Cola” advertisements display a typical nuclear American family of 2 kids and a stay at home mother enjoying a drink; represented to be in joyous matrimony. Between the 1950’s, the American family has progressed from 86% of families containing mutually conceived children to the American families of 2010 with only 47% holding true to 1950’s social values. This progression in discourse, conceived through a change in social values and issues over time; as dictated in “Life as we know it” and the 1950’s “Coca-Cola” advertisements display the evolution of the American family and its flexibility of today.

Well written response: By Student

Identify and describe a social value held in a particular society you studied this year. Discuss and contributing factors to the construction of this social value. – 5 marks

The widely accepted social value that there are now more women in the workforce is relevant to the discourse of gender roles within the family. In the 1970’s print ad for Kenwood mixer, the women represented is depicted as the typical housewife. The ad suggests, ‘that’s what wives are for’. This idea is evidenced by that statistic that only 38% of women worked in the 70’s. However, this social value has altered dramatically. In the 2012 film text, ‘What to expect when you are expecting’ five different families are all shown as having a pregnant mother who is working while the father is the ‘stay-at-home’ dad. Two of the expecting mothers even have their own business. In 2014, 40% of women were the primary breadwinners. In Modern Family (2009), Claire Dunphy changes from being a mum who stays at home and completes the housework and raises the children to the CEO of a large company (2016). This is supported by the fact that the 3rd wave of feminism was in 1990 and by the 2000, 40% of high level jobs were held by women.

Well written response: By Student

Define the term “emerging value.” Then give an example of an emerging value that exists in the society that you studied this year. - 4 marks

An emerging value is a belief or attitude held by a growing number of people in society. These values may eventually become dominant, or just become widely accepted in society. An emerging social value in modern day America is donor insemination later in life. Recently, we have seen more and more women who have focused on their career up to their mid 30s, and then decide to have a child. In the 2010 film text, “The Back-Up Plan,” protagonist, Zoe is reflective of this emerging value, as she plans to become a single parent via artificial insemination. In 1988, only 30 000 children in the US were born via donor insemination, however this value has grown and gained in popularity due to the increase of women in the workforce (50%). This is however still a developing value, as less than half of the western countries permit medical, artificial insemination.

Well written response: By Student

Discuss how one text has been shaped by a discourse or social issue present in the society at the time it was produced. – 4 marks

Media texts can reflect the social values held by the society at the time it was produced. The American TV series, ‘Family Ties’ (1982 – 1989) reflects the discourse family and gender roles during the 80’s in the United States. The series represents the ‘nuclear family’, which was identified as being a married man and women with four children. Family Ties revolves around the Keaton family. This family representation was shaped by the statistic that in the 80’s, 61% of American children lived with married parents. It also reflects the rising amount of mothers entering the workforce. Elise (the mother in Family Ties) is represented as an architect. During the 1980’s women were being recognised for their capabilities and this is displayed through the fact that women in management positions had doubled since the previous decade. Family Ties has been constructed based on the social values evolving within the American society in the 1980’s.

Well written response: By Student

Society’s values shape the construction and reading of texts. These values are in a state of constant evolution, and tension always exists between dominant, oppositional and emerging values. Discuss the relationship between dominant, oppositional and emerging values in society, and how they have been represented in one or more media texts that you studied this year. - 8 marks
- In your response refer to the tension that exists.

Media texts are generally shaped by attitudes held in the place and at the time of the text’s production. In the case of “What to expect when you’re expecting,” (2010), there is a clear tension between dominant, oppositional and emerging values based on the discourse of “family.” In this media text, the audience sees the clear dominant value of a nuclear family: a married couple both working and about to start a family. We also saw the widely accepted value of “stay-at-home” dads through the “Dude’s Group,” a bunch of stay-at-home dads. However, through costuming and the juxtaposition of having “hip-hop” songs play when the audience see them, which implies that stay at home dads are lame, reinforcing its still an emerging value as only 65% of men do household chores and less than a quarter of men are full-time dads. Although presented comically, its clear there is a still a slight tension between these two values, though no where near as big as the tension between the nuclear family and a large age-gap couple having kids. In the media text, a soon-to-be father and grandfather, about 50 years old is married to a 20-something. The responses of other characters to them having kids clearly depicts the tension. As in 2013 in America, only 1% of marital couples have a age difference of 20 years or more. This is clearly shown in the shock of other characters in the film. Another line in the script before the 20-something has birth, the nurse says, “oh and your father came!” This quote displays how this unusual type of family is still widely oppositional and has a lot of friction with the dominant value of a nuclear family. Another emerging value shown in this film text is an unmarried child having a child. The mother, Jules, is also older which depicts another emerging value. In the text, she is getting an interview and the dialogue suggests that this is not normal or accepted. The tension of her being unmarried is virtually non-existent, as it is widely accepted. In 2010, 40% of mothers giving birth were unmarried. This proves that it is becoming more of a social norm. To sum up, in the 2012 film text, “what to expect when you’re expecting,” displays a clear tense relationship of opposing values.

Well written response: By Student

Identify and describe a social value held in a particular society you studied this year. Discuss any contributing factors to the construction of the social value. (5 marks)

Values held by a society are represented through media texts produced at the time. The social value of homosexual parenting and the roles within family is clearly depicted in the 2009 TV series, ‘Modern Family’ as couple Cameron and Mitchell begin adopting and raising a child together in the pilot episode. In 2000 when this text was produced, the social value, homosexual parenting was increasing in popularity and acceptance. In this time period, 20% of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender men in the US were raising children therefore this incline was a confronting factor to the representation of this value.
In 2012 a print advertisement surfaced for Ray-Ban sunglasses representing two men seen in public holding hands whilst wearing the product. The caption reads in bold font, ‘Never Hide’. As more States in the US legalise gay marriage and equality, beginning with Massachusetts in 2004 and eventually nation-wide in 2015, companies produced media texts that also encourage and promote this social value. This proves the role of politics in America in the 2000’s as a contributing factor in the increasing popularity and acceptance of homosexual parenting with the American public.

Well written response: By Student

Question: Explain how a representation from another text that you studied this year was constructed. (4marks)

In the 1964 TV series, ‘Bewitched’, gender roles and family are heavily evident in Samantha and Darrin’s family. Samantha, although a powerful witch, is still seen as a housewife as this is what resonates with the 1960’s audience. She is comically shown as fixing all of Darrin’s problems, but allows Darrin to take credit as a working, equal wife was still an oppositional value within America during this time. There is a clear shift in the social values of gender roles and family in the 2010 film, ‘The Switch’ where protagonist, Kassie is a working older women who later decides to get pregnant on her own with a sperm donor. This emerging value of a single parent providing for herself is apparent and has developed since the sex revolution of the 60’s and second-wave of feminism in the 70’s. Since then the amount of women providing for themselves and working has gone from 30.3 million in 1970 to 72.7 million from 2006. Social values have clearly changed and evolved which is reflected through the shift of a women’s place within the family from the 60’s to the present day.

Well written response: By Student

Identify a dominant value relating an idea, an attitude or a discourse. Discuss how this value has been represented in at least two of the media texts that you have studied this year. - 6 marks

The idea that women hold ability to be self sufficient and independent is now considered a widely accepted and dominant view in society. Evident in the increasing amount of women raising children as a single parent and having babies outside of marriage and also at an older age, media texts are shaped to reflect this value. In the American film, ‘The back up plan’ (2010) Jennifer Lopez’s character is reflective of this, as she decides to become a single mother and undergoes artificial insemination. This is in line with the statistic which suggests that in 2010, 40.7% of births in America were to unmarried women. This reflects the idea that women are becoming self sufficient and independent and can support and raise a child on their own.
Similarly, the character Rachel Green on the TV series Friends (1994 – 2004) is depicted as being strong, successful women in Season 9 episode, ‘Rachel goes back to work’, (2003). She holds a position in a high profile company, ‘Ralph Lauren’, earning a living for herself and is reflective of the fact that in 2003, 47% of women participated in the work force. This can be compared to the pilot episode (1994) where Rachel is depicted as a weak character with no expectation to get a job and is heavily reliant on her parents for financial support. Also reflecting this social value is the Toyota Camry commercial, ‘Calling all hero’s’, (2013) which depicts men who are carrying out the household chores and taking care of their children. This demonstrates the changing role of women as in 2010, 30% of American mothers were stay-at home due to the increasing number of women in workforce.

Well written response: By Student

Identify a dominant value relating an idea, an attitude or a discourse. Discuss how this value has been represented in at least two of the media texts that you have studied this year.

The dominant social value that men are now more involved with parenting children is relative to the discourse of gender roles and family. This value is evident in the television commercial for the RACV, (2016 ) as a father figure comes rushing home with the children following him as he carries the groceries bags, supporting the notion that the growing number of dads home with the kids has risen markedly in recent years, as there are approximately 2 million males in the US who are ‘stay-at-home’ dads. Moreover, Nine Network’s ‘House Husbands,’ (2012) further accentuates the presence of this dominant value in society as the television series focuses on four modern families where the men are in charge of raising the children and the women are out in the workforce in medical pursuits. This is accompanied by the statistical evidence that outlines how approximately 50% of US mothers are working. Furthermore, the film text ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting,’ (2012) emphasises how this dominant value is present in contemporary America, as it features five women planning to be mothers, whilst running successful businesses, and five ‘stay-at-home’ dad figures who look after the children while their wives are at work. This is further supported by factual evidence that demonstrates how dominant this value is in modern America, as approximately 40% of mothers are the primary breadwinner, which is a vastly different culture, as in the 1970’s women only made up 38% of the US workforce.

Well written response: By Student

The idea of women being successful workers, self-sufficient and independent single mothers is a dominant value in a modern, western society. There is a prevalence of single mothers in western civilization, due to the increasing number of women choosing to have children outside a partnership. Nowadays, 40% of children are born to unwed mothers. Furthermore, it is a widely accepted idea that women can go into the work force whilst father’s stay at home and look after the children.
Jennifer Lopez’s character Zoe in The American film “The Back-Up Plan” (2010) reflects the dominant value of women being successful and having babies without a partner. Zoe is portrayed as a self-sufficient, independent woman determined to have a child. She is pictured alone in the large doctor’s surgery when being impregnated, emphasizing her sense of self-security and determination to have a child on her own. The audience is invited to witness Zoe’s unwavering decision to have a child as a single woman as reflective of society’s widely held acceptance of single mothers. Furthermore, this value is reflected in the TV show “Friends” (1994-2004). Rachel Green is also depicted as self-sufficient and financially stable in the later season of “Friends”. She has a significantly high-paying job in an upmarket brand and is dressed with sophistication and professionalism. This contrasts greatly against the first season’s depiction of Rachel, in which she is introduced in a weeping, blubbering state, (in a wedding dress) relying on her father for money. This demonstrates that in 1994, society held the belief that women were dependent on male figures for financial and emotional support. However, the later depiction of Rachel reflects society’s acceptance of women being independently financially stable and successful without the help of a man in 2004. Moreover, the dominant value of women being successful in the work force is imitated in a 2014 Billboard Ad presented in America, in which a mother is depicted as a professional, dressed in business attire and heading to work. The father is dressed in his pajamas, reading to their child. This shows that in 2014, it was widely accepted for women to be the primary bread-winner in the family, demonstrating that the roles of women in the family were evidently changing.