Iconography of the US

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One icon that originated in the United States that has now been imposed on other cultures is the McDonald’s Golden Arches.  In America the Golden Arches became popular through McDonalds’ branding efforts.  The arches were actually developed to be part of the design for the first McDonalds storefront, but the architect did not want to include them over the doors.  Dick McDonald liked the design of the arches and decided instead to have the arches included in the signage for the store, and eventually it stuck as the company logo (Hughes, 2008). 

When McDonalds decided to expand internationally, they decided to keep the same logo since it was synonymous with quality food and quick service in America.  Originally McDonalds attempted to keep their standard US menu abroad, but quickly realized that they would need to adapt to local tastes if they were going to succeed.  By keeping the logo the same and adjusting to the cultures that they were operating within, McDonalds was able to brand foreign consumers to have a positive view of the arches.  The arches are still synonymous with quality fast food on the international level, but more than that they are a symbol of American culture.  The heart of the menu is still American-based foods, but the adaptation is what has allowed the company to become popular abroad.  McDonalds can also be seen as a sign of American big business since it has thousands of international locations.  They follow the traditional American big business model, but through their branding efforts they have avoided many locations disliking (or simply ignoring) this symbol.

The Golden Arches have been received positively both in the United States and internationally largely due to branding.  McDonalds has done well in marketing their product on both fronts, leading to the positive associations.  In the United States, McDonalds typically has large signs along the highways signaling that an oftentimes much needed rest stop is nearby.  The Golden Arches appear to be a sign that there is an oasis during a potentially long highway trip.  Even when people are not driving on the highway, the Golden Arches cause many of us to think of McDonald’s famous golden French fries.  McDonalds has also maintained a relatively positive corporate image, which has helped to maintain the positive sentiment felt when Americans see the Golden Arches icon. 

Similarly, the Golden Arches have generally been met with positive sentiment on an international level.  There is not a lot of research on if the Golden Arches have the same effect that they do on Americans, but the company has experienced success abroad, and the Golden Arches are known for being internationally recognized.  There has even been an economic theory developed around the Golden Arches relating to globalization and its effect on foreign policy and conflict.  Essentially, the theory notes that no two countries that contain a McDonalds franchise have ever gone to war with each other (Haeber, 2008).  Whether or not this theory holds water is certainly debatable, but it is a fun fact.

Since McDonalds is in so many countries it is hard to argue that one specific icon would be a better choice than the Golden Arches, but perhaps in a country such as Japan (where a lot of American culture is widely understood) an image of a hamburger or fries may be more appropriate.  It communicates what the restaurant serves in a visual manner, which could overcome a cultural barrier.  However, when all is said and done, the Golden Arches are the most widely recognized brand logo, and it is probably the perfect icon to be used no matter where the company moves.

References

Haeber, J. (2008, January 8). What is the golden arches theory of conflict prevention?. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-30640309/what-is-the-golden-arches-theory-of-conflict-prevention/

Hughes, M. (2008, January 04). Logos that became legends: Icons from the world of advertising . Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/logos-that-became-legends-icons-from-the-world-of-advertising-768077.html

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Brain/Pharma Ads

After viewing “The Secret Life of the Brain,” I feel that I will, at some point, make more of an effort to improve memory function by keeping my brain active.  Word puzzles/games are supposed to be very good at keeping multiple areas of the brain functioning, so as I get older it would certainly be beneficial to do that.  I cannot say that I will be making any instantaneous changes, but this tour certainly gave me a deeper insight to the brain.  Unfortunately I have never taken an anatomy course, so my understanding of the brain was limited before viewing this virtual tour.  I had heard of all of the parts of the brain before at one time or another, but I will admit that I was very ignorant to the majority of their functions.  I knew that the frontal lobe regulated reasoning, but I was unaware about its connection with the limbic system being such a large part of emotion.  For me that would probably be the “fun fact” that I took from the tour.  I would say this is a good example that the truth can be made visible, but only to a point.  This tour simplifies the actual appearance of the brain, which, if seen in real life would appear significantly different to this diagram.  However, diagrams are meant to simplify the real thing, and this tour does do a good job of explaining each various area of the brain.  So, as a visual itself it is not a truthful representation of the brain, but as a diagram it truthfully describes the real thing.

Advertisement Link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w06gQqYWTW4

Product:  Stelara

This advertisement for Stelara does not immediately give a checklist of symptoms of the illness, but it does state that it is for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.  Psoriasis is pretty cut-and-dry, so the symptoms do not interpellate the viewer as much as the fact that you only need four doses per year after two starter doses.  The ad also states that in a medical study, 7 out of 10 patients that used Stelara saw up 75% clearer skin at 12 weeks, and 6 of 10 saw their psoriasis as “minimal” or “gone” at 12 weeks (no typo, so if it was the same study they are contradicting themselves).   

As somebody who suffers from psoriasis (although not moderate-severe), I was very interested in what this ad had to say because it is very difficult to control psoriasis flare-ups during certain seasons.  However, with the very few symptoms of red, itchy, flaky, or scaly skin comes many side effects.  There were eight side effects including cancer, seizures, and infections that can cause brain damage.  The commercial promises that Stelara can help to reduce your plaque psoriasis and let you go on living your life without worrying about your skin.  This is evident in the ad through the use of various visuals of a woman appearing happy as she is preparing for a large family photo.  She seems to evoke a high level of confidence and is smiling, whereas one can assume somebody with severe psoriasis would not be as happy.  The advertisement actually shows minimal skin outside of the woman appearing in a purple dress at the end, which I found interesting.  Psoriasis is very common on the elbows, so I would guess it is showing that you can wear short sleeves and not have to worry about visible psoriasis.  As somebody with only mild psoriasis, I can say that I would much rather keep some red patches on my skin than risk brain injury or death, but perhaps this ad is attractive to some people.

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Pastiche

A well known example of pastiche in the film industry would be the original Scary Movie (as well as the whole series).  The movie primarily plays off of the plotline to the popular film, Scream, but incorporates other more recent movies (at the time) such as  I Know What You Did Last Summer.  The film is noticeably a reworking of the past due to the strong parallels in the film.  The movie opens with a scene very similar to Scream where the main character receives a threatening phone call before being attacked by a killer in the Scream mask.    There is a chase scene, much like in the original, but humorous aspects are added such as the killer stabbing a breast implant and the girl being hit by her own father in a car.  Ultimately, she ends up dead, just like in the original movie Scream.  The movie, as a remake of these horror films, “uses the old text to create a layered intertext between the two works, summoning in viewers the depth of feelings that extend across both texts and the time periods between them,” which is how the book describes a pastiche(Cartwright & Marita, P. 331).   Scary Movie takes the original Scream, which was considered extremely scary at the time it was released, and meshes it with horror movies that became a little more laughable in their respective times to connect the works in a parody.

Scary Movie, as a pastiche, is most definitely a pastiche with parody.  Much like the example in the book of The Simpsons playing with Psycho, Scary Movie “plays” with the plot of these scary films.  There is no intent to make a statement about the movies; it is only attempting to add some humor to films usually considered dark (Cartwright & Marita, P. 330).  The only way in which Scary Movie questions these past horror films is through the ridiculous humor in the film.  It seems to be questioning how realistic these horror films are, and plays on this notion through the ridiculous antics of the killers in the movie.

Scary movie intro:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT2ONcpBJ4A&feature=related

 

 

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The memebase website is a good example of a pastiche because it has many visual examples of plays on original works.  The front page holds a great example with a graph of the United States and all of its stereotypes (see above).  Rather than just showing the states with their names or some relevant statistic, it uses the map of the United States to show the most common stereotype about people in that state.  It is asking the viewer to draw a connection between the state and the stereotype and analyze what is commonly associated with each state.

This map of US stereotypes is also an example of pastiche with parody because of its playful nature.  Usually state maps that do not list state names will show something such as political party, or chief export, but this map chose to list something irrelevant in terms of its level of seriousness.  This work questions the originals by seemingly asking, “What do people really think about this state?”  It almost seems to say that it doesn’t really matter what demographics are in the state because the stereotype of the state will summarize all you need to know.  Whether that is right or not is a matter of opinion, but for some this map could be humorous (personally I feel it could have been done much better-this one seems to have very little effort in it).

The rest of the memebase website seems to be similar in terms of its pastiche works.  Most are parodies, but assumedly this is because the website is meant to be humorous.  It takes various issues that usually are not very serious is nature and creates humorous visuals that playfully question the original.

References:

Cartwright, L. Marita, S. (2009). Practices of looking: An introduction to visual culture. (2nd ed., pp. 330-331). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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Culture Jamming

Original Ad                                                              Rough sketch of new ad copy

Image                            Image

To provide an example of culture jamming I turned to AT&T for a print advertisement.  I do not believe that the advertisement that I found is their current slogan, but it is still one of their more memorable advertising campaigns.  In this advertisement, AT&T claims that they have “more bars in more places,” simply boasting that they have good coverage across the country.

My reworking of the advertisement would take that slogan and change “More bars” to “More charges” so that the tagline would now read, “More charges in more places.”  I would also change the image of the man to somebody holding a phone bill with a flabbergasted look on his face.  Finally, I would tack on “leads to the highest bills” prior to “in America” in the subhead (see rough example).   Both AT&T and Verizon like to boast that they have the best coverage and the best data plans, but both are constantly ending up in news stories where unsuspecting customers (usually parents of teenagers) wind up with bills costing thousands of dollars due to hidden charges.

I chose this particular advertisement because of its simplicity in terms of images, which puts the focus on text.  AT&T only uses the bright orange to draw attention to the advertisement, and then attempts to lure the customers in with an actual message.  This focus on the text allows my reworking of the advertisement to have more of an impact.

I chose the oppositional reading of this advertisement because I feel that it is an issue that is simply overlooked because of the sheer size of AT&T.  I personally use Verizon Wireless, but my distain for Verizon’s customer service has me at the point where I would not be the least bit upset if Verizon were to go out of business.  AT&T and Verizon have such a stranglehold on the market that they can force consumers to pay all sorts of unnecessary data charges.  A recent class action lawsuit relating to data charges was ruled in favor of Verizon, which furthers the stranglehold that these phone giants have.  The new data plans for both companies boast 2 gigabytes of data for “only” $30 per month.  The advertisements never tell you how fast 2 gigabytes of data is used on a smart phone, which then leads to customers getting slammed with overages.  I’m fortunate enough to be “grand-fathered” into the unlimited data plans, but I still feel that the new data pricing is ridiculous.  The fact that both companies have all sorts of fees that nobody seems to know about (because nobody actually reads the 5 page contract in size 3 font) seems a little unfair, which is why I chose this alternate reading.

In order to combine these two ideas of design and copy, I attempted to avoid making large modifications to the ad.  The hope is that these slight changes would keep the advertisement looking like something that AT&T would actually produce with a much different message than expected.  I would attempt to find a man with an expression powerful enough to show his emotion, but not so eye-catching that people would ignore the copy.  The subtleness of the image with the power of the small changes to the copy should provide an alternate reading strong enough to expose the unfairness of AT&T’s pricing practices.

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Media Tracking

I tracked my media consumption on Wednesday 3/28 and Thursday 3/29.  In an attempt to create a more visual display of my media consumption, I chose to color code my Excel tracking sheet by the media used for the longest period of time during an hour span.  Looking at the visual display, it is clear to see that internet was the media that I consumed the most in a 48-hour span by a large amount.  I was online for at least some part of an hour for a total of 18 hours during the 48 hour span.  However, after discussing the idea of the “internet” as a media I felt it necessary to differentiate between time spent on the internet for fun versus time spent doing homework or work related browsing.  I found that my consumption was split 50-50 at 9 hours for each activity.  The media that I consumed the least was recordings (music), having only consumed music for a total of one hour in the forty-eight hour span.  In terms of duration, my mobile consumption was likely very close to my music consumption, but in terms of frequency my mobile consumption was much higher.

Digging a little deeper into my media consumption, it appears that I used media to communicate with another person for some part of eight hours.  Much of that communication only took place over short times spans (under 10 minutes), but the phone calls and Skype conversations were usually an hour or longer.  I also spent roughly 10 hours engaged in media that was monologic, primarily being television or video games (one hockey game accounting for nearly three hours of that time).

Looking at all my various times of media consumption, I can say that the amount of time spent online was a little surprising to me.  It is odd to see a quantified number, but I realize that a majority of my day is spent in front of a computer, usually multitasking while connected to various other forms of media.  That likely creates distractions, so my actual consumption numbers may be difficult to judge, but I knew that internet consumption would be my highest total.  However, I did not realize that my internet consumption took up some part of 18 hours in a two-day span.  Granted, there are situational factors that I know were affecting this two day span.  I am currently actively seeking a job, and have been spending a lot of free time trying to browse the internet for opportunities or leads.  Also, with the temperature once again dropping I find myself not spending time outside.  Had I tracked my media consumption last week I can guarantee that at least three of my internet or Xbox hours would have been spent outside with no connection to media.  One final issue would be the determining what type of media consumption I was actually experiencing.  There were times where I would be watching television on the internet or reading print articles online, which blurs the lines in the types of media.  If I broke my consumption down into even more specific parts the number of hours for each activity would likely change.

Reflecting on my media consumption for this two day span, I can say that I will not actively seek to do anything differently in terms of media consumption.  A lot of my time spent online has been for either school or job seeking, so I am not really concerned with that consumption since it is mainly productive.  My time spent playing video games was likely inflated by the cold weather, so that will decrease by itself when the weather gets warmer.  The only thing I would potentially change is the amount of times where the television is on in the background during the day.  Technically the TV in my dorm is my roommate’s TV, so I tend to just leave it alone.  If it were my choice I would probably leave it off just to limit distractions, but I hardly notice that it is on the majority of the time.  Overall, I do not think that I will be making many changes to my consumption habits prior to school ending, but I would be curious to see my media consumption on a day where I do not have anything productive to do (i.e. summer).  Regardless, it was still a little eye opening to see a quantitative display of my media consumption simply because the numbers were higher than I would have guessed.

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Flag Raising at Iwo Jima

By: Joe Rosenthal

February 23, 1945

 

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Creative Commons

The Creative Commons project takes a new approach to giving the owner rights to his/her material while still allowing other users to utilize and share the information.  The general idea of “all rights reserved” is that the owner holds the exclusive rights to the work and that nothing can be done with the copyrighted work without explicit permission from said owner (Engelriet, 2006).  The Creative Common project has set up a standardized system that takes a “some rights reserved” approach that allows creators to maintain their copyright while still allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work under specified conditions.  In doing so, the project allows for works to be distributed more openly on the internet, and promotes the internet being used for its original intention (information sharing).

The Creative Commons project allows the subjects of the work to be redistributed or shared as long as it stays within the boundaries of copyright law.  An example would be Flickr’s shapefile dataset and mash-ups of other photographs.  All of the subjects of those works are allowed to be used by others who feel the images would be useful as long as the creator has allowed for the work to be redistributed in such a manner and still receives credit.  The subjects themselves are distributed at will, but the logic is that this allows for the images or information to be used more freely.  Another example would be GSK pharmaceuticals surrendering the copyrights on their datasets to allow for other scientists to perform additional research.  It puts the focus on the information itself and allows for greater collaboration in working towards a common goal.

If Creative Commons had been around for Gone with the Wind and the works for Sherrie Levine and Michael Mandenberg the situations certainly would have been different.  The case of Gone with the Wind would have been a little complicated because Margaret Mitchell was looking to have the life of her copyright extended.  She wanted to hire writers to write a sequel, but then have the estate own their work.  Under the Creative Commons, Margaret Mitchell would be allowing authors to copy characters from her work, but they would not be able to use them for their own commercial purposes.  However, if the copyright expired, the authors would be able to ask for credit on their own works under the Creative Commons.

The case of Sherrie Levine and Michael Mandenberg would have been much more cut and dry under the Creative Commons.  Sherrie Levine could have taken the photos she copied from Walker Evans and simply given him credit for redistributing the photos.  This wouldn’t have given her the recognition that she was looking for, but it would be legal under the idea of the Creative Commons.  Then Michael Mandenberg could have shared the images a second time as long as the original creator, Walker Evans, was still given credit for the photos on his website.

The Creative Commons affords rights to ownership of publicity when trying to reproduce it for commercial reasons, but there are still legal exceptions.  In the Bela Lugosi case (Lugosi v. Universal Pictures), Lugosi’s widow and son tried to claim that Universal Pictures could not use Bela Lugosi’s likeness for commercial gains without their permission.  The court ruled that because Lugosi had not converted his personal image into a property right in his life it could not be revived by his heirs in his death (essentially the chance to do so died with him).  If the Creative Commons had been applied to this case, Bela Lugosi could have claimed his likeness and prevented Universal Studios from using it commercially in his life, but once he died the family cannot revive that claim.

References:

Engelfriet, A. (2006). The phrase “all rights reserved”. Retrieved from                 http://www.iusmentis.com/copyright/allrightsreserved/

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