Final Blog for the Semester

Our latest blog assignment is to read four blog postings by our classmates and comment on them. If Dr. Nichols had not created this assignment then I honestly would probably have never read any of my classmate’s blogs, which would have been a shame. I found my classmates blogs to be very fascinating and most of them much more interesting than my own.

Below I have posted four different blogs that I really enjoyed reading and my feedback for the authors. I learned a lot this semester from Dr. Nichols and learned even more after reading my classmates blogs.

Jonathan “Jonny” White : Semiotic analysis of a print ad
http://jwhite16.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/semiotic-analysis-of-a-print-ad/

I’m very glad Jonny chose a print ad with Wayne Gretzky on it, who is one of my childhood heroes. On the other hand I’m not much of a watch guy so I really did not know much about Breitling watches until I read his analysis of the print ad.

Turns out it makes perfect sense to use Wayne Gretzky in a Breitling watch advertisement. Jonny points this out in his blog using examples of how Wayne is dressed and the fact that he is an extremely successful hockey star. I also learned a lot about the watch company from the ad and the demographic that they target.

His analysis of the ad is extremely thorough and informative. Jonny took into account every aspect of the ad from the color of the water to the fact that the plane is parked at a private dock (one would assume so). I believe that this blog posting truly represents what Jonny has learned from class and his ability to use semiotics to analyze a text. I really have no criticism for this posting because I feel I could not have done a better analysis of the print ad that he used.

Ben Cooper: Ideo for Idiots
http://bcoope6.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/ideo-for-idiots/

If someone who knew nothing about media criticism read this blog posting they would become an expert on ideological criticism. Ben does such a great job of making it easy to understand. It actually cleared some things up for me about ideological criticism and how it preserves the dominant elites ideologies.

The images used in the posting served as great support and I found many of them humorous, which made me like the posting all the more. I liked how Ben tied the Consuming Kids and Mickey Mouse Monopoly videos together and pointed out the similarities between the two. Ben really expanded on what we learned in class through his analysis of the two films.

The only criticism I have on this posting is that some of the paragraphs may be a little too long and the layout is not as smooth as some of the other postings I read. Overall the information that I pulled from the posting is very interesting and informative. This is the sort of posting I would show to a friend to help them better understand the hegemonic society that we live in.

Paul Siegel: Using Propp’s Structuralist Theory for “The Cape”
http://tupaul.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/using-propps-structuralist-theory-for-the-cape/

This blog posting really made me want to watch The Cape. The reason I choose this posting was because I had seen advertisements for this show but never watched an episode. I was interested to find out what its all about. You did a great job filling me in on the characters in the show and how they fit into Propp’s structuralist approach to classifying characters.

The blog is wonderfully laid out and easy to read. The link to the website was helpful but I was hoping for an actual clip from the show or something along those lines. The only other criticism I have is that I really wanted to see a picture on the blog of every character that was used in the analysis, but I can always just look them up online.

Overall this blog was informative and well done. I think I might give the show a try after reading this.

Tracy Johns: Media Criticism
https://tjohns2011.wordpress.com/2011/02/

I enjoy learning about things that I don’t know much about. When reading through other classmates blogs I came across your first blog and I was immediately intrigued because I have never seen the shows “Real Housewives”, “The Bad Girls Club”, or “The Game”. I was interested in learning about them because some of them I had never even heard of them before reading your blog.

I love the way you related the shows to people in America. Just based on the descriptions of the shows I can defiantly see that they have an influence on American culture. I see people my age trying to be like the people on the shows you described all the time.

I also find it ironic that I came across your blog right after my cousins went to see Nikki Minaj a few weeks ago. Honestly I did not really know who she was until they went her concert and it turns out that my cousins think she is amazing (which I assumes means they want to be like her someday).

It is well written and has great pictures. I think it may look a little cooler if the text were to wrap around the pictures but overall I think its cool.

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Corporate Brainwashing

 

We exist in a country full of strong ideologies. We are brainwashed from birth to except these ideologies. An ideology is a narrow set of partial and selective ideas that big corporations use to maintain their existing power relations. Big corporations strive to make people think that their ideologies are normal and common sense. The big corporations only care about making money, and want people in America to accept their ideologies so that they can make money off of us

Ideological Criticism is different from other forms of media criticism because it looks beyond the surface layer of the text into the production of the text and how it is structured. Ideological Criticism helps us understand the underlying yet dominant ideas and values that exist in the text. These ideas and values are the ideologies that the big corporations and trying to brain wash us with.

Children are extremely influential. Corporations know this from research so they target small children with commercials and advertisements for their products. The documentary Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood exposes the ideologies of the big corporations that are targeting American children and how they are doing this.

The big corporations use all forms of media to target kids. They fuse their ideologies into shows, cartoons, video games, magazines, and pretty much anything else that kids come into contact with. Through Political Economic analysis the documentary identifies the link between the corporations that own the products being advertised and the ideologies that they embed in them. Ideological criticism identifies what the corporation’s ideologies are.

The corporations that are targeting American children want the kids to believe that they will be happy and cool if they have the things that the companies are trying to sell them. The movie uses many examples of Disney shows for kids from the Disney channel as examples. The kids that star in the Disney shows are extremely materialistic and appear to be very popular and happy. Kids then accept these ideologies as normal.

Kids not only get brainwashed by corporate ideologies during the shows they watch but by the commercials that run in between the shows. The Consuming Kids documentary pointed out that the clothes that these corporations advertise to kids on TV (and n print ads) are very expensive and designer. The companies want kids to think that all of the cool kids wear these clothes and that the outfits will make you pretty. Once again the companies/corporations are only concerned about making money off American kids. They want their brand to be at the forefront of kids minds when their parents take them shopping.

How the big corporations attack children’s minds through all forms of media and advertising is a perfect example of hegemonic power. The corporations are quietly using their influence on children to keep their power over them and their parents. The documentary did a great job exposing this power that the corporations have that would otherwise go almost unnoticed.

I had no idea how aggressive the big corporations are at targeting American children with their products and ideologies. The Documentary pointed out that the corporations conduct research to find out how better to infiltrate kid’s minds with their ideologies. The companies spend millions of dollars trying to find ways to influence children at younger and younger ages. This goal of the corporations is becoming more obvious when you look at the category of “tweens”. Tweens used to be considered kids ranging from the ages of eight through twelve but now kids are considered tweens when they are as young as five or six.

Overall I found all the information from the documentary disturbing and fascinating. I think it is important for people to look at the media that is targeting their kids from an ideological criticism perspective and considered what kind of forces are at work.

 

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The Naked Truth About Tom Ford’s Fragrance Ads

I decided that I wanted to analyze a print advertisement for this assignment. I went online and I did a search for recent print advertisements to see what I could find because I had nothing in mind. Almost immediately one ad stood out because it was so obviously sexual and in your face.


Now I don’t read fashion magazines, or pretend to know anything about fashion, so I had to do some background research to make sure the ad was real. It is. The designers name is Tom Ford and, according to his website, he is an American from Texas who originally worked in Milan for Gucci after attending New York University. In 2005 he split from Gucci and started his own fashion brand, which he so humbly called the TOM FORD brand. He launched a print ad campaign for his fragrance in 2008, which featured two different photos of his fragrance bottle and an obviously nude woman.

When I first saw the two ads I was in disbelief. Clearly Tom Ford is a very edgy and sexual advertiser. Many of his other ads (for clothes or accessories) feature fully nude women and men who are totally nude and exposed. His fragrance ads are defiantly targeted to a male audience demographic. I will be using semiotics to analyze one of Tom Ford’s fragrance ads (the ad with the bottle between the breasts). I have included links to Tom Ford’s website and another blog that was written about his fragrance ads.

http://sexinadvertising.blogspot.com/2007/09/sexy-tom-ford-fragrance-ads.html

http://www.tomford.com/#/en/thebrand/tomford

http://www.tomford.com/#/en/thebrand/advertising/spring/summer2008withterryrichardson

There are many signifiers (signs) that can be identified in this ad. The most obvious one, in my opinion, is that the woman is naked which signifies sexuality. Once I began to really look at the ad, and get past the fact that she is naked, I noticed many other signs. The lady’s red lipstick and fingernails signifies desire as well as sexuality. Her open mouth is a very erotic signifier, which can also mean sexuality and submissiveness. Her skin is very shinny and almost wet which evokes feelings of heat and passion. In order to signify arousal and vulnerability the fragrance bottle is strategically placed in her cleavage so the viewer must look at her breasts. In contrast to the woman in the ad, who’s combined field of signs can be considered sexually impure or “dirty”; the white background is a sign of purity and innocence.

When decoded, the signs in this ad establish a clear and dominant reading. Tom Ford would like the viewer to be aroused and excited about his sexy fragrance. He would like to have men believe that they can have women, like the one in the ad, if they wear his fragrance. Because of this, there is also little room for the reader to interpret their own meaning (it is a closed text). Tom Ford took the idea that “sex sells” and ran with it.

It is important to critically examine texts like this one. At first glance, the sexually explicit ad is shocking but uses this to draw the viewer’s eyes to the cologne bottle near the bottom of the picture. Without proper consideration this ad may lead the viewer to believe that this fragrance may assist them in finding a girl like the one in the ad. Tom Ford is very smart in how he uses sexual images to sell his products. It’s hard to ignore and disregard such an ad, which causes the product name to stay in the mind. When people, like myself, are not accustomed to such advertising it can be shocking and I believe that is exactly what Tom Ford is trying to achieve. We live in an increasingly sexual culture where images such as this are becoming less taboo.

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Blog Assignment #1

My name is Jeff Woodruff and I have been a college student for almost seven years. I enrolled in Media Criticism because I felt it would be an interesting and challenging course. I tend to take media for what it is at a surface level and rarely dig deeper into its content for deeper meaning. I believe that this class will help me find more meaning in various media texts and understand how they shape popular culture.

I believe that most people probably have the same approach to different forms of media as I do. Learning to think about media critically and not just on a surface level is very important. As Americans we are constantly fed, through various forms of advertising and television, how we should dress, how we should act, and what we should wear and drive and so on. As consumers of all of these things we need think for ourselves and evaluate what kind of messages these advertisements are sending and why.

We live in a world surrounded by mass media. Here in America we exist in very hegemonic society, which is controlled by mass media. The ruling class (the CEO’s of large corporations and powerful celebrities) use mass media to tell everyone what they value as important or necessary to live the “American Dream” and be popular and successful.

 

Not all forms of mass media are negative. Here in America there exists a weight epidemic. More and more Americans are becoming over weight or obese and developing disease because of it. Television shows like “The Biggest Loser” are shedding light on this issue and helping people loose weight and get healthy. There are even commercials during the show for healthy food and weight loss programs. Even though the commercials may be so companies can convince people that they need their product to loose weight, at least they are for a good cause.

 

I have found “The Biggest Loser” to be very inspiring. Even though I am not obese, the show makes me want to get in better shape and stay healthy. On the other hand shows like “Cribs” on MTV try to influence people in other ways. On “Cribs” celebrities, athletes, and other famous and wealthy people show off their cars and homes. “Cribs” is a prime example of how hegemony works in America. The people on the show are role models and people of influence. “Cribs” teaches a person that if they have what people on the show have then they will be happy and living the American dream. Nobody needs a red Ferrari to be truly satisfied and happy with his or her life but when their role model has one then it can make a person feel unsatisfied with their life unless they have one.

 

 

I look forward to digging deeper into the influences of mass media and thinking more critically about it through this semester. I hope to learn more about how mass media uses different signs and how to read those signs and identify why they are used.

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