Gender representation in Moroccan media. The example of "Bissara Overdose"

Term Paper, 2018

11 Pages



Media texts are constructions, conveying several meanings. Neither Producers, nor theirproducts are innocent; each media text contains intentions behind it - i.e. to serve certain parties oragendas, to shed the light on minorities, and so on. A passive consumer of media will not be ableto notice or realize the intentions behind media texts. Only people who are aware of analytical toolscan deal with media texts accurately, by deconstructing it, and reach the intentions of the producer.

Media texts include representations about people, thinks and ideas. It is wrong to consider representations as realities. Rather, a representation is nothing but a selection of reality; producers select only aspects that are useful in achieving their objectives.

This paper is investigating how Hicham Lasri ironically represents gender in his web series, in the same way Moroccan patriarchal discourse perceives it; His sense of irony and sarcasm exposes the defects of gender representation, as well as gender perception in a Moroccan context. Bissara Overdose is selected as a sample. The reason behind selecting Bissara Overdose is its impact in social media; the episodes were shared in several Facebook pages; the feedback was surprisingly positive, in a patriarchal environment. Episode two of Bissara Overdose won the price of best video in Maroc Web Awards 2017. Taking Bissara Overdose as a sample to investigate gender representation in Moroccan media texts was a good decision, as it is a text that aims at deconstructing gender stereotypes in gender representation.

Media text:

Media is a text, which has a physical output and an economic value. It functions as ameaning generator. People’s interaction with media is performed on a daily basis. Thus, the statusof media in society makes it highly influential. Media is stressing and even constructing concepts,ideas, and norms through generating meaning. We are exposed to media influence unwittingly,since our early infancy. Media seems habitual, to the extent that we perceive its content as naturalor taken for granted, which is not true. Thus, analyzing media text is necessary in order tounderstand and question intentions and agendas behind media products, which are definitely notinnocent. Rhetoric and semiology are two analytical tools, which serve this eager to read betweenthe lines and understand the message as it is, without ambiguity or confusion.

Rhetorical analysis is concerned with the organization of a media text; meaning is morerelated to the presentation of the medium, rather than information itself. Rhetoric is anymanipulation of language in order to achieve a purpose. For instance, in a Sit-Com, a situation isconstructed in order to make us laugh. A whole scene can be adjusted in order to convince us thatreality is what we are looking at. The setting of the studio is the rhetoric, while our perception ofthat work is meaning. Meaning is the sum of interpretations understood from the media text.

Rhetoric is concerned with the organization of vocabulary. However, while grammar refers to organization according to rules, rhetoric is organization according to results. (P.Long, 2009).

In order to affect the audience, media text is organized in order to achieve several ends.Mainly, the sellings of the product; ‘affective responses’ are crucial, as far as media texts areconcerned.

when we focus upon the rhetoric of acts of communication, we are interested in more than the conveyance of information; we connect form that the communication takes with the possible response made to reading it. Such emotional responses are usually known as affective responses. Rhetoric is the art of manipulating these affective responses. (P.Long, 2009)

When analyzing meaning delivered by media, we consider a presentational rhetoric;presentational rhetoric analyzes the Mise-en-scène of media: in a music video for example, weshould consider all the aspects of the content (frames, instruments, actors, color grading …). Thispresentation “serves as a lead-in point to considering the nature of media choices and organization.”(P.Long 2009).

Semiology on the other hand is the rational principle dealing with signs and significance in media studies. Semiology covers meaning and its constituents.

semiology goes further to consider why specific things - a ‘posh’ accent, a black face, a suit and tie, a steel grey backdrop, the street rather than the studio - mean what they do. (P.Long 2009).

The works of Ferdinand De Saussure and Charles Sanders Pierce highly influenced semiologicalapproach. The templates for semiology were ready made in their approaches. De Saussure and Pierce were concerned with “a more generalized, theoretical and abstract level, in order to identifythe systems and systematic process of governing communication, meaning and sense making inmodern societies.” (P.Long 2009). As long as semiology is concerned, two principles are to be keptin mind: first, media texts are constructions that are manufactured and not natural ‘occurrences’being delivered. Second, “meanings are the result of social convention rather than any ‘essential’property in things, or in the relationship of words or other sings to the things or concepts depicted.”(P.Long 2009). Semiological terms were directly borrowed from De Saussure: Langue, Parole,Synchronic approach, paradigm and syntagm…

According to De Saussure, signs consist of two ‘indivisible aspects: the ‘signifier’ and the ‘signified’. Simply put, a ‘signifier’ is the sum of ‘physical properties’, perceived in a specific manner when they are attached to a sign. A ‘signified’ on the other hand is the “conceptual aspect of the sign”. Sings refer to objects. This relationship between a sign and an object is divided into three categories: Iconic relationship (physical similarity), Indexical relationship (cause and effect) and Symbolic relationship (conventional/habitual).

The organization of ideas in specific combinations generates different or even newmeanings; Reading the whole combination will result in meanings, which are different frommeanings of separated signs. Here we can consider the concepts of Multi-accentuality andpolysemia in Valosinov’s approach; “He argued that in use, signs have a slightly different meaningfor different ‘readers’, or those at the receiving end of communication” (P.Long, 2009).

Making sense of media texts and taking a step further in our interaction with media textsis the first step in analyzing it as much accurate as possible. This analysis could not be appliedunsystematically; thus, analyzing media texts require a technical approach, such as rhetoric andsemiology.

Gender representation:

media representation is a depiction, a likeness or a constructed image. A representation can be of individualpeople (such as the American president in the fi lm Independence Day, 1996), social groups (such as agegroups, gender groups, racial groups), ideas (such as law and order, unemployment), or events (such as European settlement of Australia or the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001). (S.Colin 2014).

According to Stewart Colin, representations work with: First, implying repeated elementsin order to ‘normalize’ the ‘abnormal’. Second, invite the audience to identify with or recognizethe representation. Three, categorization and labeling of media objects. Four,


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Gender representation in Moroccan media. The example of "Bissara Overdose"
Sultan Moulay Sliman University
Gender & Media
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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577 KB
Gender, Media, Media Text, Media Representation, Feminism, Gender Representation
Quote paper
Anass Belhassan (Author), 2018, Gender representation in Moroccan media. The example of "Bissara Overdose", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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