Who are the Ad Wizards?

How do you break down cinematic codes? Just do it.

April 22, 2010
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A few weeks ago, while discussing Laura Mulvey’s essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, we came across this passage

… the voyeuristic-scopophilic look that is a crucial part of traditional filmic pleasure can itself be broken down. There are three different looks associated with cinema: that of the camera as it records the pro-filmic event, that of the audience as it watches the final product, and thos the characters at east other within the screen illusion.

Part of the essay’s message was that before sexism and racism can be corrected in film, film must be first broken down to its core elements. In these core elements, we can discover where and how these themes are created.  Mulvey’s claims that since the camera remains hidden to the audience, it helps to create a “gaze, a world and an object, thereby producing an illusion cut to the measure of desire.” So to combat this, the audience must be made aware of the camera. One way to do this is telling the story from the first person point-of-view.

In Nike’s new soccer spots,  Wieden+Kennedy tells the story of an unnamed young soccer player as he begins his assent into fame and soccer glory…

While this is certainly not a proper example of not objectifying women (see :51 – :57), it is good example of breaking down the cinematic code of keeping the camera hidden from the audience. From the start, the audience isn’t just a bystander to this soccer player’s story. The audience is, in effect, the soccer player.

In comparison, here’s Nike’s Tiger Woods commercial from about 3 years ago (well before the womanizing and multiple affairs were public)


Babyproof, or Home Dangerously Sweet Home, or Expecting

March 25, 2010
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So after hearing news that our Visual Rhetoric class had to re-do our Photo Journals and Pictories, I was somewhat pleased. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like doing extra work. But I also don’t like not putting my best work forward. So we hit the reset button, and I get a chance to delve a little deeper with my fears and anxiety that comes with the prospects of being a father.

With this version of my photo journal, while infinitely darker than my previous attempt, I decided to add more of what Hall called “a disturbance that leads to disequilibrium.” My hopes are to use the titles of the pictures and the captions to shift what the viewer/reader may take from the essay. Of course, this is more an exercise in “anchorage and relay” as described in Visual Culture. While the titles are relay-text, intended to complement the image and relate to the overall message of my fears of the hidden dangers in and around my house. The captions are anchor-text, in that they are being used to direct the thoughts of the viewer.

Though I am still concerned with jinxing our prospects of having a healthy and happy baby that grows up much in that same manner, I do believe this story provides more intrigue to the reader. As Hall says, stories have a “totalizing force.” They are our way to expose our most intense worries and greatest hopes. Yeah, that pretty much sums up my feelings as I prepare to become a dad.

Welcome to Anchorage

February 26, 2010
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In our class discussion about Visual Culture: A Reader, we talked about what anchorage really means. What I believe Barthes was driving to is the idea that when words and images interact, the words often gives the proper context to the image. The “proper” context is dependent on the author.

This context that author provides is the “remote control” factor that Barthes mentioned. The context is the ability of the author to see an image and notice only what the author wants you to notice.

Let’s take Stevie Wonder for example.

With one look at Stevie Wonder, we see him as a famous blind musician.

When we have Stevie Wonder in a commercial for Volkswagen, the words that are contained in the commercial point us to only notice that he is blind. His musical abilities have no bearing on the message.

Without the words, it just looks like a bunch of people punching each other. Then we end with the VW logo and slogan. Because of the final image being of the VW logo, we may then interpret what we saw previously as a game of Punch Buggy. But it would require the audience to pay close attention throughout, and we may miss the Stevie Wonder joke.

Instead, the copywriters at Deutsch LA gave us the proper anchor to understand the joke.