Mythologies Assignment

ENG 300
Blog Assignment 1 (Barthes)
Due date: Feb 16
Length 500-600 words

For your blog post on Mythologies, choose one of Barthes’s essays that you would like to discuss in more detail.

The blog post should briefly explain (using quotations) a key idea from that essay. Then, you should apply that idea from the essay to a discussion of another cultural text of your choice (e.g., using “Wine and Milk” to talk about American beer advertisements, or “Soap Powders” to examine American detergent advertising or to jump off to another similar topic, such as using Barthes’s methodology to discuss the mythology of deodorant). You should be able to include images, links, and even video to your post if you wish.

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  1. When talking about the idea of soap-powders and detergents he talks about the specific language behind the advertisements and the effective they are having on the consumers. The commercials produce a passive effect which can be shown here; “…they involve the consumer in a kind of direct experience of the substance, make him the accomplice of a liberation rather than the mere beneficiary of a result; matter here is endowed with value-bearing status”(37). This can be seen in other commercials with the use of language. In this advertisement the phrase is “I am perfected”. This involves the viewer in the process of perfection by make-up. This is the center of the advertisement. The text above and below it is about what the product can do for the consumer, but the center is what is has already done for someone else. Also, the idea of the make-up “perfecting” someone is similar to Barthe: “What matter is the art of having disguised the abrasive function of the detergent under the delicious image…”(37). This directly talks about the implied meaning behind a statement. Since someone can be “perfected” that means many things: 1-They are not perfect in the first place, 2-they need to be perfect, 3-this is the only way to be perfect. This also plays off of insecurities and the need for perfection in one’s self image. The add is not saying directly “You are ugly without make-up”.

  2. rosiegp13

     /  February 16, 2017

    I thought I made a separate blog post earlier but now I don’t see it 🙂 so here’s my response: Ornamental Mad Men

    The meat of the argument Roland Barthes makes in “Ornamental Cookery” is that the poor readers of Elle are not entitled to “real dishes,” which is why the magazine whose audience is primarily “small income groups” showcases such pretty, impractical dishes like partridges with cherries.
    Like pink chicken, Barthes thinks that something isn’t quite right with the food presented in Elle. The food has a “smooth coating” that hides an unimportant “interdeterminate bedrock.” There are glazed, rounded surfaces, sauces, creams, icing, jellies, and a penchant for a pink theme throughout the tableau. It’s what’s on the outside that matters. The final presentation is the important part of the dish – the dish must show the “working class” public gentility through sight, not attainability. They’re poor, so they can’t actually buy a partridge, and even cherries are expensive. The chef puts a little sauce over the fowl and just like that, the “brutality of meat” is disguised. The meal is made respectable, what the masses want to be. Here, the practical and primary use of food is secondary to the myth of ornamental cookery. The consumption that’s happening is of pictures of the food, not the actual food.
    If you’re thinking of pictures in a magazine that are good enough for consumption, then you might think of AMC’s Mad Men. The aesthetic is like a polished version of history far enough back that most of us only have hand-me-down memories of it, but close enough that it seems somehow attainable. Nearly every scene in the series is perfectly framed, the colors are coordinated, and it is all just pleasing. Even mundane settings like driving in a car or taking a meeting in a conference room seem to be a study in composition. The characters themselves are works of art, there is no detail spared. It always seems that the characters are frequently lost in thought, holding a smoking cigarette, which adds to the “cool” vibe.

    Don Draper makes millions of dollars, has beautiful wives and girlfriends, and is considered to be one of the brightest stars of the advertising agencies where he is a partner. He has fine suits, a stream of new, nice cars, and (later) a fancy apartment. On the outside, he has everything and is massively successful. Everything always works out in the end for Don Draper.
    His job and lifestyle is enviable – but unattainable to nearly everyone around him. He is thought of as a genius, effortlessly coming up with ideas that blow away clients with little to no preparation while it seems Pete and Ken are always working. His love life isn’t always happy but he always has hope for a romantic encounter, unlike Harry Crane (or most of the men at one time or another). Much like the boring or savage part of the meal under the glazing or glacé, he is made better with the ornamentation of all his achievements. The audience is able to overlook his flaws to consume his life as a whole.
    Even though Don has a few terrible qualities, somehow a good mind and lots of luck let him coast through life, doing everything right even though he never seems to do anything and at times seems to sabotage himself. He is the artistically composed cherry covered partridge. He came from nothing, though, so isn’t he more attainable to the average working man? Not quite. When his past is revealed, it isn’t in the form of an inspiring come-up to where he is now but something that is terrible and needs to be repressed. An average man could never do the same, even the characters that come from money aren’t as successful as Don Draper. Are we not worthy of someone who has a smaller degree of success but who achieves it in a more natural, human manner? Would that be as interesting?
    Anyway, what are the chances you get the chance to switch dog tags with your commander in Korea so that you can simultaneously fake your death and get a new identity? I wouldn’t count on it.

  3. In Roland Barthes’ “Novels and Children”, the two objects in the title are the foreground of the text, but the ideological message underneath is feminism. The children are used to represent the ideological “perfect woman”, whereas the novels are used to represent taking a risk and doing something that does not fit the standard role of a woman. In the second paragraph, Barthes lies out perfectly this duality of womanhood and feminism: “let no women believe that they can take advantage of this pact [the pact of a writer] without having first submitted to the eternal statute of womanhood . . . let them decorate their condition, but above all, let them not depart from it.” [50]. Barthes describes womanhood as a condition, which to me reads with a negative connotation. A grounding fact of this idea that Barthes gives us: many women novelists are married with children. Women novelists in history, such as Sylvia Plath and Mary Shelley, did not release their greater works until after marriage and settling down. Since writing was seen as a lesser career to that of handwork jobs such as carpentry and farming, women novelists settle down before taking that risk of becoming a writer. The undertones of feminism in the essay are best seen wherever Barthes repeats that a woman should not seek to stray far away from her role in society, which is motherhood and being a good wife. Women of the time period were sheltered and kept behind closed doors. Even in theater, women portrayed characters of lesser importance, if at all. The ideal woman was modeled after June Cleaver in the 1950s television show “Leave It to Beaver”. June Cleaver was the perfect, stereotypical billboard parent.
    In the clip below, Beaver’s father explains that a woman’s place is in the home, and that as long as she’s as home she might as well be in the kitchen. He then explains that women do the indoor cooking because they have all the conveniences of modern technology to help them, whereas men do the outdoor cooking because it’s more rugged.

    This aligns perfectly to the stereotypical parents. Women are seen as homemakers and do most of the cooking, where men only do the cooking if it requires the cook to get their hands dirty and be outdoors.
    Television presented the standards women faced in the 1950s, along with other medias. Advertisements also set forth stereotypes of men and women. In this image,, the man is seen holding a hammer and fixing machinery, where the woman is seen serving him a beer. This sets forth that men drink beer, and that they do the handiwork and that attracts women. It also sets forth that women cater to their husbands. In this image,, a woman is featured being excited over a cleaning product. This is not uncommon in advertising at the time, as it sets for the ideology that women are meant to clean the house.
    The essay concludes with reiterating that women need to adhere to their condition of being childbearers.


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