Introduction to Mythologies

Roland Barthes’s landmark study of popular and mass culture, Mythologies, was first published in French in 1957 and was translated for the first time into English in 1972. In referring to “mythologies,” Barthes means something other than our more commonly understood definition of mythology (as in “ancient myth,” “classical myth,” the “myth of Sisyphus,” etc.)

In the essay “Myth Today” (included in Mythologies), Barthes explains that “myth is a type of speech” (109). For Barthes, myth is the means by which contemporary mass society “naturalizes” ideology and thereby conveys messages that are not necessarily inherent in the “obvious” or common sense meaning of an image, phrase, or even an event. Through mythologies, society “speaks” its version of the “truth.” Or, through mythologies, society justifies itself (speaks the “truth” about the inevitability and naturalness of a given power structure or hierarchy).

One of the insights from Mythologies that has been particularly influential is Barthes’s argument that anything (not just words) can be made into language, that is, can be used to communicate ideas and concepts: “We shall therefore take language, discourse, speech, etc., to mean any significant unit or synthesis, whether verbal or visual: a photograph will be a kind of speech for us in the same way as a newspaper article; even objects will become speech, if they mean something” (111-12). Thus, among the many essays collected in Mythologies, Barthes advances his “ideological critique bearing on the language of so-called mass-culture” through clever analyses of wrestling, soap-powders and detergent, toys, steak and chips, striptease, Greta Garbo, and the use of photography in elections (9).

As an example of the difference between what we might call the “common sense” meaning and the ideological meaning, Barthes writes of a trip to the barber’s, where he thumbs through a copy of ParisMatch: “On the cover a young Negro in a French uniform is saluting, with his eyes uplifted, probably fixed on a fold of the tricolour. All this is the meaning of the picture. But, whether naively or not, I see very well what it signifies to me: that France is a great Empire, that all her sons, without any colour discrimination, faithfully serve under her flag, and that there is no better answer to the detractors of an alleged colonialism than the zeal shown by this Negro in serving his so-called oppressors” (116). The seemingly innocent photograph serves a larger ideological purpose, as visual evidence in support of a particular political point of view. The visible patriotism of the young black man conceals the history of the processes that brought him under the authority of the French state: invasion, war, and colonialism. Ideology works most assiduously, Barthes argues, to replace history with myth, to replace the reality of politics and power with pretty pictures and comforting slogans.

Barthes builds on the theories of Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, whose book General Course on Linguistics (published after his death in 1916) introduced the term “semiotics” (the scientific study of “signs”). In Saussure’s formulation, a sign (words are a type of sign) is something that means something to someone. A stop sign is indeed a sign that means something (“Stop!”). Saussure breaks the term sign into two parts, the signifier and the signified. The signifier is the material element of the sign (the sounds we hear when someone pronounces a word; the graphic symbols used in writing; the distinctive shape of a stop sign), and the signified is the concept, the meaning, that becomes attached to the signifier.

Importantly, Saussure argued that the relationship between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary. There is nothing inherently book-like about the word book that makes it an essential signifier for that concept. Otherwise, every human language would use the same material signifier to represent that particular concept (and, not, say, libro, le livre, hon, shu, etc.).

As Barthes realized, it’s that arbitrary relationship between the material of the sign and the concept conveyed by the sign that makes “myth” possible. “Myth” takes an existing language, or an existing statement (such as a photograph), and empties it of its original meaning in order to attach other ideological meanings to that sign. Thus transformed, the (for example) photograph comes to mean something else. In transforming the photograph of the soldier into a sign of patriotism, something is lost or obscured, the real history of French colonialism, the individual story of the individual soldier who exists in the photograph not as himself but as a signifier of patriotism.

For another overview of Saussure and his influence on semiotics (and for a lucid interpretation of hipster beards), see Post-Structuralism Explained Through Hipster Beards.

Below are three “case studies,” each one building on ideas drawn from Mythologies.

Case Study 1: Myth and Moxie

Inspired by Mythologies, I decided to advance my own (somewhat tongue in cheek) investigation: to look more closely at the “myth” of Moxie, to investigate the “message” of Moxie soft drink’s seemingly simple graphic design, and perhaps to find out a little more about the “mystery” (as the advertising copy above calls it) of the “Moxie Boy.” Moxie’s trademark image has remained remarkably consistent, with the exception of a few changes in hairstyle, over the soft drink’s history. To use Barthes’s terms, if we regard the Moxie Boy as a “signifier,” as something roughly equivalent to a unit of speech, what does this boy have to say for himself, about himself, and, more importantly, about why he is an appealing icon for the consumer of Moxie–for that consumer is the intended recipient of the Moxie Boy’s message.

Among the more interesting oddities related to the soft drink Moxie is that its name represents one of the few examples of a proper name changing over to become a noun in the English language. Thus, Moxie is not only a trade name, but it is also a word that means: “1: Energy, Pep 2: Courage, Determination 3: Know-How, Expertise” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). As a noun rather than a proper name, it is a perfectly legal (and potentially high-scoring) word to use in Scrabble. Thus, although the Moxie Boy is a visual image, he already is associated with a verbal meaning, as he is supposed to be the very embodiment of the qualities Moxie purports to offer. And, if we look more closely into the history of Moxie, we can see quite clearly that one of the selling points of the soft drink is the promise, explicit in its early days, more implicit as time went on, that Moxie has the ability to impart those very qualities of “energy” and “pep” to the consumer who purchases it.

Moxie Nerve Food, as it was originally called, was a “tonic,” a medicinal concoction intended as a cure for those who were lacking in such qualities as pep and energy. In the late nineteenth century, when Moxie Nerve Food first went on the market, Americans were worried about a disease (primarily affecting men) called “neurasthenia,” a “nervous disease” no longer recognized as a medical ailment, the symptoms of which might be simply stated as “not being manly enough.” When Moxie dropped the “Nerve Food” from its title and its (rather spurious) claim to medicinal power, it nonetheless kept the concept of “manliness” as part of its marketing (and, thus, the Moxie Boy and not the Moxie Girl).

And the approach worked quite well. Until the 1920s, Moxie was the most popular soft drink in America, although it has receded to being a New England favorite, and the grocery stores here in Maine are well stocked with it.

Of course, it was invented by a Mainer, Dr. Augustin Thompson, who sold it initially as a cure for “loss of manhood, paralysis and softening of the brain.” And here we might pause and look more closely at Moxie Nerve Food’s first marketing campaign, and unpack exactly what “loss of manhood” meant to late nineteenth century consumers. Well, it’s not difficult to guess, but “loss of manhood” was a polite (or coded) way of saying “erectile dysfunction.” In short, Moxie was (or claimed to be) the Viagra of the late-nineteenth century.

Sometimes a pointing finger is just a pointing finger, but it seems to me, anyway, that the imagery of Moxie still contains a hint of its original meaning, presented implicitly through visual imagery rather than explicitly through verbal text. Even the dictionary definition of the word Moxie is suggestive of a gendered meaning. Although we might now regard words such as “energy, pep, courage, determination, know-how, expertise” as gender neutral, coming out of the nineteenth century, those qualities would be primarily associated with masculinity. Moxie is a virtual synonym for “virile” (which is defined as “energetic,” “vigorous”), a word specifically associated with male qualities: “having the nature, properties, or qualities of an adult male; specif: capable of functioning as a male in copulation.” The mythology of Moxie, which we have uncovered here, refers back to its earliest days as a “nerve food,” and although that original meaning of Moxie (as cure for “loss of manhood”) has not been an explicit selling point for over a hundred years, a hint of that original meaning remains in the image of the Moxie Boy and his vigorous finger pointing. Perhaps that’s why the “Moxie Boy” logo, which has gone through many variations over the years (and is currently a Moxie Man rather than Boy), almost always features Moxie Man’s pointing finger (or other prominently featured phallic objects). As Sigmund Freud cautions, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” but Moxie’s history suggests that in this case, the phallic imagery may not be innocent or accidental.

I think I can safely leave it to you, dear reader, to “decode” the phallic imagery here.

For more about Moxie and its history (and more samples of Moxie ads), see http://www.moxie.info/.

Case Study II: Looking Presidential

[The case study below was written in Fall 2008 in the midst of the presidential election (and updated in 2012), using Barthes’s essay “Photography and Electoral Appeal” as a way of analyzing the imagery of that election. Please note that his essay is retitled in the new translation of Mythologies as “Electoral Photogeny”.]

Although Roland Barthes is writing specifically about the French electoral process in “Photography and Electoral Appeal,” his more general observations about the way political campaigns use photographs seem completely applicable to the current American context. As Barthes observes, the use of photographs in campaigns “presupposes that photography has a power to convert,” and despite the importance of video, the single arresting still image remains the trump card in the political deck (or the wild card, as a photograph of a candidate can also have the power to convert potential voters in the other direction) (91).

Photography, Barthes writes, reveals “something deep and irrational co-extensive with politics” (91). Photography constitutes “an anti-intellectual weapon and tends to spirit away ‘politics’ (that is to say a body of problems and solutions) to the advantage of a ‘manner of being,’ a socio-moral status” (91). To put this in the parlance of American politics, the presidential election is about “character” (a “manner of being”), or at least that’s the way it’s presented in the media. Although during elections citizens often say they wish they knew more about a candidate’s stance on the issues, the emphasis in campaign coverage (and in campaigns) tends toward the issue of character (“judgment,” “toughness”) over the nuts and bolts of policy—thus, the inane “which candidate would you rather have a beer with” debates. Photographs serve the function of reinforcing that socio-moral status, and we often see campaigns wrangling to define the meaning of a particular image (do photographs of Barack Obama speaking to crowds in Germany convey “the gravitas of a world leader” or merely reveal the “superficiality of his celebrity status”?).

Barthes goes on to note that the “conventions of photography . . . are themselves replete with signs” (92). That is, in addition to the actual content of a particular photograph (candidate stands with chest decorated with military medals, signifying patriotism, courage, valor), the conventions of portraiture itself convey meaning. Here I want to share a long quotation from Barthes on how and what particular photographic conventions signify:

A full-face photograph underlines the realistic outlook of the candidate. . . . Everything there expresses penetration, gravity, frankness: the future deputy is looking squarely at the enemy, the obstacle, the ‘problem.’ A three-quarter face photograph, which is more common, suggests the tyranny of an ideal: the gaze is lost nobly in the future, it does not confront, it soars, and fertilizes some other domain, which is chastely left undefined. Almost all three-quarter face photos are ascensional, the face is lifted towards a supernatural light which draws it up and elevates it to the realm of higher humanity; the candidate reaches the Olympus of elevated feelings, where all political contradictions are solved. (92-93).

jfk

obama

The 3/4 profile, head slightly turned, face lifted, eyes gazing upward toward the noble future.

2 R UMAX     PowerLook III    V1.7 [3]

This image of Ronald Reagan falls somewhere between the full-face photo and the 3/4 pose. The head is turned slightly, the gaze is also off to the side (if not quite up to the heavens). The image suggests a candidate who combines the qualities of a visionary with the frankness of a realist. The cowboy hat reinforces that practical can-do persona.

This image of Jimmy Carter is perhaps a better example of the full-face photo.

carter

Note that he wears a tie but no jacket. He is not as casually dressed as Reagan, but the lack of a jacket (and the addition of the famous Carter smile) perhaps adds a bit of friendliness to the seriousness of the straight-on gaze.

Interestingly, Barthes does not discuss photographs that emphasize the profile. Perhaps they do not exist in political photography? A profile might suggest that something is being hidden?

As the Reagan image suggests, American politics does have it’s own rhetoric quite distinctive from French politics, and I’m not quite sure what Barthes would make of this photograph of Sarah Palin, but it draws on the same branch of political imagery as does the Reagan photo.

The image of politician as successful hunter has a long history in American politics. For example, note this drawing of Theodore Roosevelt, from the frontispiece of his 1885 book Hunting Trips of a Ranchman. Roosevelt had just finished 3 terms in the New York State Legislature and was preparing to run for mayor of New York City (a race he lost, although he would eventually become Governor of New York, and eventually Vice President and then President of the US).

Roosevelt’s book about his western adventures was all part of his reinvention of his image, using the imagery of the frontiersman to add some pioneer spirit to his actual background—member of a wealthy New York family. Other drawings in the book depict the various animals he shot during his hunting trips in the Dakotas.

In Roosevelt’s book, this drawing was titled “Head of Bull Elk,” and had a caption that read, “Shot Sept. 12, 1884.”

The photographs of Palin demonstrating her hunting skills (which were disseminated by the Alaska Office of the Governor) belong to this well-established branch of American political imagery, one that has perhaps developed its own set of conventions and symbolic meanings.

Some more political photographs to think about:

barrygoldwater

bush

sarah_palin

mccain2

080612-politics-memorable-campaign-mitt-romney-1

mitt-romney-campaign-activities-exclusive-photos-galery

It’s odd to see that a lot of Romney photos use these type of poses–which combines the two types of political photograph that Barthes describes. One image is straight on, but Romney’s gaze is askance, indirect. The other is the 3/4 type, but Romney’s gaze is again to the side, and not the iconographic “ascensional” gaze toward (and upward) the noble future. In looking back at photos from the campaign, it’s really surprising how difficult it is to find photos of Romney looking directly at the camera.

Case Study III: Gender and Advertising

Diane Barthel. “A Gentleman and a Consumer.” Signs of Life in the USA. Ed. Jack Solomon. Boston: Bedford, 2003. 171-180.

In her article “A Gentleman and a Consumer,” Diane Barthel looks at the way advertising in the last part of the 20th century tackled the task of selling beauty products to men—by taking what would traditionally be unmanly consumer items (perfumes, I mean, aftershave lotions, shampoos, and other grooming products) and associating those products with conventionally masculine traits. Barthel observes that “different cultural attitudes toward both the social person and the physical body shape the gender roles of men and women” (172). Advertisements directed at either group can provide a kind of snapshot of gender roles in a society at a given moment. In a time when attitudes about gender are in flux, advertisements may also be revealing of new identities in the process of being formulated.

Although Barthel does not quote Barthes directly (although she does quote fellow semiotician Jean Baudrillard), her analysis points to one of the influences Barthes has had on cultural studies—as analyses of ads have provided particularly fertile ground for semiotics.

Building on the work of semiotician Jean Baudrillard, Barthel observes that because advertisements directed at women sometimes use male imagery (and vice versa) we might more accurately speak of “two modes” of advertising that “do not result from the differentiated nature of the sexes, but from the logic of the system. The relationship of Masculine and Feminine to real men and women is relatively arbitrary” (172).

Barthel continues:

The feminine model encourages a woman to please herself, to encourage a certain complacency and even narcissistic solicitude. But by pleasing herself, it is understood that she will also please others and that she will be chosen [because of her beauty]. . . Whereas the feminine model is based on passivity, complacency, and narcissism [on making herself into a beautiful object that will be chosen], the masculine model is based on exactingness and choice. . . . The key words are masculine terms: power, performance, precision. [In car ads], the car is not simply other; it is also an extension of the owner. . . . Its power is his power. (172-73).

As a group of traits, or, as what we might call the signified content of advertising, power, performance, and precision appear as selling points for a wide variety of products (shampoo, bath soap, etc.) directed at male consumers. The trick of the ad is to associate a particular signifier (e.g. deodorant) with a particular signified (power). Not only can “powerful odor protection” mask our natural human scent, but the power and prestige associated with the product becomes ours as well. This technique applies to a variety of products.

With vehicle ads in particular, we might note that “toughness” is another valued masculine quality. This ad is from 2001, taken from Men’s Journal.

Like the owner, this truck is “built tough,” able to take a beating and keep on going. The photograph of the truck shows it in action, emphasizing not only toughness but power.

Take a closer look at the copy—what’s with the completely gratuitous France-bashing?

There are real men who drive Ford trucks, and then there are wimps who shave their legs. The wimps are in France.

Compare this ad to another 2-page vehicle ad, this one for a Dodge, which appeared the same year in the magazine Shape.

“Slip into something more comfortable” this ad suggests, and, to make that comfort clear, we have the juxtaposition of the red-tinged photo of the women wearing bunny slippers with the photograph of the red Dodge Stratus. The passivity of this feminine mode ad is indicated by both the stillness of the car (not photographed in motion as in the truck ad) and the comfortable stillness of the model in her bunny slippers. Women in feminine mode ads are often depicted seated (or reclining); masculine mode ads often emphasize action.

Note the way image and text work together in both these ads to reinforce the same concepts.

And speaking of action, check out the advertising copy for Old Spice’s Red Zone “Swagger” body wash:

“The Red Zone is a bleak, maze-like environment where lasers fire in random directions and the sky is always filled with lightning. Odor never dares enter the Red Zone. The Old Spice man, on the other hand, flourishes in the Red Zone, throwing touchdowns, doing recon and saving females from danger, all while smelling great.”

Power and performance indeed!

Ads for Degree deodorant evoke both “power” and “precision” by claiming that their product offers “Advanced strength protection technology.” Degree for men is “engineered” with “recharge technology.” Degree’s ads for women similarly use the masculine mode, asserting that women can “DO: MORE” with Degree.

Spoiler alert: “Secret” may be “strong enough for a man but made for a woman,” but the only substantial difference between men’s and women’s deodorant (other than the marketing) is the aroma of the perfume used to mask body odor. And the perfumes chosen have more to do with our cultural beliefs about what aromas are appropriate for men and women than with any differences between male and female bodies.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

16 Comments

  1. jhbraun tds.net

     /  February 2, 2015

    Thanks for sending this, Michael! I can learn so much from the comfort of my own home on this snowy day. And pass it on!

    Joan

    Reply
  2. CURTIS COLE

    I wanted to explore a bit more on Barthe’s “Toys” essay. So I will post some links to toy ads on “Toys R Us”, with the description pasted, while categorizing them as existing either in the “Creator” space or “User” space; the former constituting a creative application of the toy encouraging the child to use their imaginations, while the latter being indicative of an appropriation of another’s imagination.

    Ex. #1: “Mighty Morhphin Power Rangers Legacy Saba Sword”
    Link: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=43543626&ab=TRU:thome_rr:Hot%20Sellers:3
    Product description: “Battle on the side of good with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Legacy Saba Sword! This highly detailed replica with a show accurte speaking tiger is just like the one seen in the Mighty Morphin series.”

    Clearly this product falls into the “user” category as the child is encouraged to use the sword as it is perceived through the show (“battle on the side of good”). This is reinforced by the proclamation that it is “just like the one in the show” which further delineates the product as a commodity meant to be consumed in a specific manner: the “[accurate] speaking tiger”, with the inclusion of batteries, enhances the drive for children to play with the toy as is seen through the television show so as to purchase similar products which, undoubtedly, accompany the re-enactment.

    Ex. #2: “Play-Doh Sparkle Compound Collection”
    Link: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=48187816&cp=2255956.2262937.3808765&parentPage=family
    Description: “Your Play-Doh creations will be bright and sparkly with the Sparkle Compound collection! You get 6 colors of shiny, twinkly Sparkle Compound and 2 cutters to make flowers, gems or other beauties. The only limit to your artistry is your own imagination!”

    This product would fall into the creator category for the product’s emphasis on the child using their own imagination. However, with the inclusion of this specific set’s “sparkle compound” it seems to be aimed more towards girls than boys, per se (assuming advertisements haven’t changed since when I watched them as a child). Additionally to this gendered facet, a cursory search on the site will reveal themed Play-Doh sets featuring Disney Princesses and Despicable Me sets, thus showing a side which may be utilized toward non-creative– user based– ends. Accordingly, while this particular set can be construed as creative, other versions display the opposite route thus placing this product, as a whole, into a grey area.

    Reply
  3. hollandcorson

     /  February 10, 2015

    Example for ENG300:
    Primative Decor – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primitive_decorating

    Primatives are an oxymoron, since they are mostly mass produced faux antiques. Examples include the large metal stars people put on the sides of their houses and “homey” signs that say things like “treat everyday like its a gift” (bad grammar is the rule rather than the exception with these). Why do people buy crummy looking “old” things and display them in their homes? When one buys something with age scuffed onto it by a machine, they are in some ways trying to buy history. To me, it speaks to a preference of cleanliness and control over authenticity.

    Reply
  4. Example for ENG300:
    Polo-Ralph Lauren: http://static1.businessinsider.com/image/508a9c5169beddf539000010-1200/1980s-enter-a-new-kind-of-woman-who-can-have-it-all–be-a-mother-a-professional-and–wear-power-suits.jpg

    I decided to look for advertisements that reveal our society’s opinion about women. This one is a fairly straightforward example from the 80’s, before the hypersexualization of women in advertising. The woman is wearing a formal, heavy, pin-striped suit, and it doesn’t fit her at all. She looks very uncomfortable and even unattractive. She is a woman in a man’s suit. The advertisement (which lacks any ad copy, so I am evaluating based on my own ideas) may be saying that women belong in the business realm and, in fancy suits, they too can be CEOS. The message that comes across is that the role will never fit women very well- they will always look out of place, because in actuality a man should be wearing that suit. The background visible behind the model also does not depict a professional office- it is decorated like a home. The non-businesswoman exists in a domestic space.

    Reply
  5. http://www.amazon.com/Step2-Step-LifeStyle-Deluxe-Kitchen/dp/B00006JZCX

    The hyper-realism of this toy is reminiscent of the article’s suggestion of toys being smaller versions of common adult forms. This playset will also tend to funnel children into notably adult roles of “chef” (a message mirrored by the enthusiastic child depicted in chef garb next to the set). While the role of “user” versus “creator” for the child may seem to lean towards that of a creator as cooking itself is a creative act, the set itself destroys this idea and leaves the child instead as a user of uniform plastic foods that had already existed. In this way the potential act of creation is undermined and the value of the creative experience of cooking (which this toy presumably aims at) is torn away from the child.

    Reply
  6. mariahhaggan

     /  February 11, 2015

    I chose this ad because I feel it exemplifies two very important things which were brought up in the articles we read. The first thing that can be noticed is the very clear gender divide in the advert. ‘Female’ toys are on the left hand side and displayed in front of hot pink backgrounds, or the toys themselves happen to be pink. In direct contrast, the ‘male’ toys are displayed with dark blue backgrounds, or are blue and gray. In keeping with the clear gender divide, only little girls are seen on the pink side and only little boys appear on the blue side.

    Secondly, while the toys being advertised have the intonation that they are creative by nature, closer examination reveals that these are much more ‘user oriented’ toys. On the ‘female’ side, we see a Barbie carriage and three dolls; Ken, Barbie, and Raquelle. Everyone in the English speaking world is familiar with Ken and Barbie’s fairytale romance. Who Raquelle is to the Barbie universe is less important because the main theme of the toy set appears to be about Barbie and Ken’s love filled adventures in their horse drawn carriage. On the ‘male’ side, we see a play work bench. This appears to be the epitome of a user inspired toy. Little boys across America will use this work bench to learn how to use power tools and to tinker so they have the beginnings of these skills when it comes time for them to fix things in their homes.

    Reply
  7. nikkihodgkins21

     /  February 11, 2015

    TV Ad For Disney’s Princess Dress-Up Collection:
    http://www.ispot.tv/ad/77k9/disney-princess-dress-up-collection

    I wanted to focus on how Disney toys are marketed toward children, particularly the princess branch of the company. The opening of the ad is along the lines of “imagine if you could step into the world of Disney princesses.” While this innocent enough, it’s really asking to limit a child’s imagination. It isn’t asking children to imagine their own worlds, but rather this specific set of princesses (which is a limited collection as is, therefore furthering limiting children’s creativity). The ad ends with the question: “which Disney princess are you?” meaning you (the child) has to choose. They can’t be all of them or even their own princess. By picking out a dress color, the child is picking out which princess they want to be. They are no longer the creators of their stories, but are instead acting out the stories fed to them by adults, i.e. the Disney company.

    Reply
  8. traviswillis

     /  February 11, 2015

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWpxdMxQE-Y

    I chose to look at this Dr. Pepper ad from a few years ago. It’s pretty much borderline offensive, but perfect for looking at gender in marketing. In the commercial, we see the cookie-cutter “man” who, you know, fights snakes in the jungle and shoots bad guys with laser guns while belting out awesome catchphrases. Typical daily man-stuff, of course. The commercial then ends by stating that Dr. Pepper Ten is not for women, like a normal diet soda. Because, of course, diet sodas are for women typically. So, in a way, this ad seeks to generalize women also – drink diet soda, keep your figure, and don’t fight snakes in the jungle (or use cool catchphrases.)

    Reply
  9. Aloha! So I looked pretty extensively on the internet for a picture of the billboard I was thinking of – viewed on the I-85 in Alabama, fall of 2012 by me – but can’t find it. The slogan “Ready for the real thing?” has become a kind of contemporary American slogan; a challenge to step away from our simulations and take on these roles in the ‘real world’. In relation to Barthes essay ‘Toys’ this particular billboard used the imagery of Call of Duty along with this slogan – the branch of military it advertised for was the marines.

    I find it very interesting that an image of this is not available on the internet. When I saw it I was driving with a friend and we talked about it for a while, so it left a solid impression upon my memory.

    A few weeks ago I heard the full interview in the following article on MPBN. The second half of the footage describes an experience not un-familiar, though these simulations now carry out consequences in the real world. Anyway, sorry I didn’t post this sooner. Here is a link to the article in The Guardian.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/28/life-us-drone-operator-artist

    Reply
  10. Michael K. Johnson

     /  February 8, 2017

    Reel Injun Trailer

    Reply
  11. Michael K. Johnson

     /  February 8, 2017

    Coca-Cola America, the Beautiful commercial

    Reply
  12. Michael K. Johnson

     /  February 8, 2017

    Julius Caesar trailer

    Reply
  13. Michael K. Johnson

     /  February 8, 2017

    There’s a Big Mac For That:

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: