Gender

Our interpretation of gender in the media can take place intuitively, it gradually develops from numerous images that we see and become accustomed to and accept as normal. The Cultivation theory (Mass Communication Theory 2010)

“Posit that television viewing can have long-term effects that gradually affect the audience.”

The theory goes on to explain that the more time a person spends watching television; the more likely they’re consumed and misled for it to be reality. For example if you continuously watching western films of cowboys, your interpretation of a masculine man is someone who is brave, robust and who knows how to use a weapon.

During the early 1980’s films that had really pin pointed masculine male gender were ones like Rambo and Terminator. Both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger had toughness, bravery and muscle. During the 80’s they had defined the meaning of masculinity for American men, in their analysis Jefford S. (1994, pp. 46-47) states that

“if there is anything heroic left in American culture it rests in male bodies like these!”

This is a 1980’s print advert for Calvin Klein who is advertising the iconic underwear and takes place in America. The image is of a man who is standing strong with his hands firmly on his thighs that connotes a sign of control and power. The second shot of the advert covers the models face and the audience’s focus is directed to his body. This muscular build is a clear indication of how the public in 1980’s thought a real man should look like.

This is another advert by Calvin Klein, however it is taken place in the spring summer 2015 campaign. Justin Bieber a famous musician models the underwear; he is hugely admired by his female fans and considered one of the hottest music artists around in today’s generation. When comparing the two Calvin Klein adverts, it is obvious that physically; Bieber is considered a mere boy because of his baby face and small build. In the second shot Bieber is directly looking at the audience, which takes us to Laura Mulvey’s Male Gaze and the idea of ‘confrontation’. Bieber staring directly at the audience illustrates the feeling of intimidation and supremacy.

This advertisement is from Ralph Lauren for a 2013 summer Ad campaign. This particular print advert goes against the typical masculine male,
the dog he is holding is something that captures the audience’s attention. It is well known that dogs are considered ‘a man’s best friend’, however it represents this male to be affectionate, a quality that some may consider quite feminine. He is also wearing a pink Ralph Lauren polo, a colour that is thought to be a binary opposite for masculinity. That being said, Smith K (2012) says that in Japan

“The color pink has a masculine association […] said to represent the young Japanese warriors who fell in battle in the prime of life (the Samurai)”.

This colour viewpoint is clearly subjective, depending on the culture you grow up in. One might also argue that both Calvin Klein adverts have serious facial expressions, whereas the modern Ralph Lauren advert has someone smiling. The modern masculine man in todays generation doesn’t need to be somber, but can instead be just as manly with a smile.
Overall, conventional masculine themes don’t really prevail strongly in this generation as it once did before. Instead through the progression of time, societies idea of a masculine man can have feminine features and still be as strong as the orthodox male in the 80’s.

References
Mass Communication Theory (2010) Cultivation Theory. Available at: https://masscommtheory.com/theory-overviews/cultivation-theory/
(Accessed: 27 March 2016).

Jeffords S. (1994) Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era
California: P. Tomasulo.

Smith K (2016) All About the Color PINK. Available at: http://www.sensationalcolor.com/color-meaning/color-meaning-symbolism-psychology/all-about-the-color-pink-4342#.VxeOaLTHLAt (Accessed: 28 March 2016).

Conspicuous Consumption

This blog will analyze and assess how customers are easily manipulated in
societies marketplace through conspicuous consumption. Over the years brands have been abled to influence their customers into buying needless merchandise, through advertising techniques. Packard (1957) studied contemporary social trends and indicated,

“As a public we began to be sold products, not because of their intrinsic qualities, but because of their symbolic significance to our wishes, our fears and hopes – our subconscious.”

Proclaiming that as individuals we buy goods to hide our insecurities and fulfill our desires as we try to fit into society. This theory is beyond 50 years old, however there are numerous examples that can support Packard’s concept.

Abercrombie & Fitch’s 2015 advert features a man and a woman holding each other intimately. Their target audience is most likely aimed at teenagers and young adults. Packard’s theory is undeniably applicable with this advert; A&F draw their shoppers showing that you’ll never get this attractive or popular unless you wear their brand. The advert reminds those who regard themselves as ‘popular’ if they don’t wear A&F jeans; popular social groups won’t accept you.

The Scarcity Principle (Investopedia, 2016) is another method of advertising that businesses use to persuade its customers in buying their products.

“When a product is scarce, consumers are faced with conducting their own cost-benefit analysis, since a product in high demand but low supply will likely be expensive […] he or she sees a greater benefit from having the product than the cost associated with obtaining it.”

During 2015 Adidas signed a deal with musician star Kanye West who is hugely admired by many for his music and clothing line. His ‘Yeezy trainers’ are somewhat special because you’re unable to buy them normally like you would with other branded shoes. Instead you need to line up at a given time like it shows above at 9am, as there is a limited amount available. It is clear that the ‘Scarcity Principle’ is being applied because consumers have to follow specific guidelines in order to buy these trainers. Therefore this makes the trainers much more desirable no matter the price, due to scarce level of ways in purchasing them. One would argue because a celebrity designs the trainers it stimulates fans and shoppers to be imbibed by conspicuous consumption, even if the money paid is past its value.

Rene Girard was a French historian, who designed the Mimetic Theory (Woody Belangia, 2015); he believed that

“based on the observable tendency of human beings to subconsciously imitate others and the extension of this mimesis to the realm of desire.”

Marilyn Monroe in 1950’s was considered one of the sexiest females in America. She took part in an advert for Tru-Glo makeup in 1953. A majority of American men in the 50’s idolized Monroe for her physique and appearance. This is a prime example that can be referred to Girard’s theory, women across the world would want to instinctively buy this make up and it would be Monroe who was responsible. This wasn’t because of the brands quality and ingredients, but because women had aspired to be and look like her. This impression draws their ‘desire’ to buying the make-up, similar to the previous advert with Kanye West’s shoes and how a famous icon can create an impact on someone’s perception on purchasing something.

Consumer’s consumption is a theory that has continued to grow over the years, starting from the 1950’s to 2016 you can see that adverts use them throughout. Companies have learnt to use advertising mischievously, where a consumer is unaware that they’re being controlled by brands. The power and growth of the media has helped companies use consumer consumption more effectively because shoppers are surrounded by advertisements.

References
Packard Vance (2000) The social construct. Available at: http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc1004/article_903.shtml/ (Accessed: 4 April 2016).
Investopedia (2016) Scarcity Principle. Available at: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/scarcity-principle.asp (Accessed: 5 April 2016).  
Woody Belangia (2015) What is Mimetic Theory? Available at: https://woodybelangia.com/what-is-mimetic-theory/ (Accessed: 7 April 2016).

Race

This blog will be assessing the belief that racism is an issue, which will repeatedly be brought up in every generation. Three adverts from different epochs will be analyzed and broken down to see if there are any racist signals or signs.

Galton’s (1869) categorizes race into different ranks from highest to lowest. He believed and ranked

“mental capabilities of different ethnic groups. He came to the conclusion that people of African descent were two grades lower than Europeans”.

Meaning that people weren’t judged for their character, but instead already arbitrated depending on the colour of their skin. The colour of your skin would determine you as a person and were you stood in society.

Although this theory is over hundred years old, it is one that can be used in some adverts today. If we take a look at this Benetton Advert (1982) it pictures two innocent girls holding each other, however there’s an inequity. On the left we see a smiling white girl with blonde curly hair and rosy cheeks, representing an angel. On the other hand we see black girl with hair pointed upwards (horns) repelling a smile, representing a devil. These annotations of the two children link to Galton’s theory of rank, the white are two grades higher (heaven/angels) and the black are ‘two grades lower’ (hell/devils).

After identifying (Critical Race Theory 2015) looks at white supremacy and racial power, one belief they had was Social Construction it

“refers to the notion that race is a product of social thought and relations. It suggests that race is a product of neither biology nor genetics, but is rather a social invention.”

This is an advert made by Cadbury in 2011; the announcement is for their new type of chocolate called Bliss, however there is a twist. It references the English model Naomi Campbell saying “Move over Naomi, there’s a new diva in town”. Cadbury deliberately compares their chocolate with Campbell for her skin colour. The advert in someway undermines Naomi because it advertises an inanimate object such as chocolate and replaces a black individual, giving this social construct that black people are devalued in society. It also quotes “I’m the worlds most pampered bar”; this in itself is another social construct. It suggests that being “pampered” raises your significance and importance, making Cadbury look shallow and petty.

In 2016 Gap made an advert for it’s children clothing line, featuring four friends posing playfully. It is obvious that some of these kids are gymnasts from the way they’re able to stretch their body and balance, yet this isn’t 100% clear because of one child. We see a small black girl who is being used for an armrest by her white ‘friend’. The standing for this girl makes it unclear whether she is actually part of this group because of how she is captured in the picture. Strauss and Barthes theory (Binary Opposites) is one that can be used, they believed

“words depends not so much on any meaning they themselves directly contain, but much more by our understanding of the difference between the word and its ‘opposite’”.

In this advert the binary opposites are white girls and blacks girls, it portrays black girls to be incapable of being as flexible compared to the white girls. It puts white skinned people in the spotlight, showing that you’re able to do more than what a black person can. The black girls unhappy facial expression demonstrates the campaign completely and people’s response to the advert, which has left Gap, criticized and frowned upon by many of its viewers.

Overall you can see that race is a theme that will always be around, over the years it’s obvious that adverts have gradually become less racially offensive. It’s mainly all about perspective and how you view an image. It depends where you come from and how long you analyze an advert.

References
Scott. L Thomas (2014) Galton’s (1869) Atlanta Blackstar. Available at: http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/12/26/10-racist-scientific-theories-about-black-people-that-has-been-thoroughly-debunked/ (Accessed: 22 March 2016).

Owl Purdue Online Writing Lab (2015) Critical Race Theory. Available at: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/14/ (Accessed: 24 March 2016).

EnglishBiz Binary Opposites Available at: http://www.englishbiz.co.uk/popups/opposition.htm (Accessed: 25 March 2016).