Commercial Power

When we create media or art, we take into account how consumers or viewers of our media will interpret it. Art is a powerful thing; “It can be defined as the ability, through visual, verbal, gestural, and musical means, to objectify one’s experience of the world; to show and tell, through a kind of eloquent shorthand, how it feels to be alive” (Kruger Arts & Leisures). How much power art has is how much influence it has on the consumer and popular culture.  In “Practices of Looking” they said that “an image ‘speaks’ to specific sets of viewers who happen to be tuned in to some aspect of the image, such as style, content, the world it constructs, or the issues it raises.” There are many powerful examples of this however I will mostly focus on the power of advertisements as media art in our society.   

Advertisements like the Carl’s Jr’s Kate Upton Commercial showcase a visual display that appeals primarily to male audiences. It definitely grabs the attentions of men in today’s society who seek that image of an “attractive” woman. However “the meaning of images changes according to different context, times, and viewers” (Practices of looking). For instance a feminist could view this advertisement as degrading to women, using the sex appeal of a woman to gain customers. In a way, “sex sells”. Most of the time women’s bodies are used to appeal to a male audience. Hegemony defined as “a state or condition of a culture arrived at through a negation or struggle over meanings, laws and social relationships (Practices of looking). The struggle here being how women are depicted in media.

A prime example of Hegemony is Pantene’s ad depicting the differences of woman vs men in society. The representation here is how whatever woman do vs man, it is seen negatively. It is a very powerful ad that targets all people of today’s society. And depending on the way you look or interpret the ad can have different effects on the viewer. As a man you might feel sympathy towards woman in society, as a woman you might now feel empowered now to let those labels define who you are.

Speaking of how you interpret images and advertisements, there was a controversial Coca Cola commercial during the super bowl. Where “America the Beautiful” was sung in various languages. The commercial got a lot of hate because of ignorant people saying “this is America, speak English” disregarding the fact that our nation was built by immigrants. Not realizing the beauty of the commercial you can see that an iconic pop culture icon like Coca Cola can stir up the crowd and that crowd, even though it is Coca Cola, they still have negative things to say about it. And like in our reading “the Crowd” defines them as “little adapted to reasoning…are quick to act. As the result of their present organization their strength has become immense”.  It’s all about how you look at things.

In addition to the Coca Cola ad, you can see various examples of “the gaze”. The look people have in the piece of media and the effect it may have on the viewer. Throughout this commercial there are short moments of people gazing straight into the camera, giving the effect they are staring right at the viewer. It gives a very intimate experience when a patriotic song of our nation along with different ethnicities staring right at you speaking out a message saying, we are all the same, American.

There are many influences in media that determine how consumers take in a message or interpret what is shown to them. Creators of media consider a lot of factors when creating what they want to show to people. Every little thing has an impact on how it is viewed and how people view it. My examples were of commercials but images can be just as powerful. Pop culture, how consumers view media, the presentation, and how powerful the message is all are very important to the production of art and media.


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