Images and the power over society


From early on, we are taught to recognize, and organize images for our cognitive skill growth so that when we are older we are able to process the information around our world. This method of learning is called pedagogy “the art, science, or profession of teaching; especially : education.(1)” In this course we have been taught this style of teaching to enable us to look at images critically and from multiple ways. There are thousands of images omnipresent in our society, sometimes we notice them due to their large presence and others we process subconsciously. In John Berger’s “Way of Seeing,” he stated that we are so accustomed to the images that we do not notice the impact they they have upon us. These images are put on display because of our society, we are a consumer world, and these images are what we consume. “Publicity  is usually explained and justified as a competitive medium which ultimately benefits the public (the consumer) and the most efficient manufactures- and thus the national economy.(2)”   Everyday, we are being fed information which affect our lives, how we live and how they are being represented to us. “Representation is thus a process through which we construct the world around us.(3)”

When you look at this image what do you see? Some can see two old people gazing into each other’s eyes or a man serenading a women. The point is, that images are meant to have different meanings to each individual that look at it. But, in our society now, the media seems to be designating what images are being shown to


When we view this image of a model on a magazine we are seeing a perfected image of beauty that the media has created. “It is a worldview that has actually been materialized, that has become an objective reality.(4)” This image though we all know is clearly photoshopped extremely, has become the spectacle that is perfection and what we all wish to achieve. But it’s also a false image of an idea we cannot achieve, “a separate pseudoworld that can only be looked at.(5)” Even images that document celebrities, separate us from them.
This image shows skinny, light skinned, tall women(mostly) in beautiful red colored Dolce and Gabbana dresses. Dresses that the people who view this, cannot afford. So it creates an envious emotion and a unfulfilled feeling of desire and want. We want those dresses and we want to look like that, because of what the media has told us through the images, but we can’t because we are not rich and famous.
When posing models in lingerie, they have a distinct way of posing using the gaze which creates a confident, bold and flirtatious look. Having the gaze enables the media to control the viewers because it makes them feel like the model is staring back at them, fashioning them to believe they will look that great in the lingerie as well. Of course this helps the popular culture sell false ideas and hopes to us but we keep allowing. The popular culture controls how we dress, how we view others and how we spend our money. They create the trends and say what’s in and what is not. With this power, they control our society because they use the ideas that Edward Barnay took from his uncle Sigmund freud, the ones that express control over everyone’s imperfections and desires and get rich.
These photos are an ad for Christian Louboutin heels.These heels cost about $2,000 dollars and up and I’ve heard they are not as comfortable. But they are the most wanted pair of heel and if you own them you are someone. I thought the ad was interesting because of the way it looks, like an painting from the 1800th. These paintings give off a feeling of royalty and high-culture, just for a shoe. I think it’s crazy how much significance our society puts on labels and objects that are only vessels that can make us feel content for only a short amount of time. But these images express power, and power is desired. So one would assume that if they were to wear this heel that they would be happy and powerful.
The way we view images and how they are expressed to us effect how our generations view themselves. We are having more teen girls and boys disliking their bodies because of the media, but then you have them singing songs telling us to love our bodies when those in the public sphere have money to change there bodies. Will our society realize that perfection and money is not going to make us a better society but in fact hurt us and force us to become so obsessed with ourselves that we forget to help others? I know that it will take time to ripe apart the ideas of Edward Bernay’s using our desires as control but change is needed.
-ashley carmenatty
1) “Pedagogy.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
2) Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. New York: Viking, 1973: Page 130-131
3) Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. 2009. Practices of looking: an introduction to visual culture. New York: Oxford University Press: 12
4) “The Society of the Spectacle.” (1) (Debord). N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
5) “The Society of the Spectacle.” (1) (Debord). N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

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