Taking over the World One Image at a Time

In Practices of Looking Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright shed light on how we understand ourselves when it comes to self-representation and the politics of images that create their own representations. They stress to us the power behind an image, and how it can create social construct.

The reading examined the photo that was on Newsweek, it was of O.J Simpson on the front cover. They darkened his skin tone, altered the image and made him look even more like a criminal. This image said it all to the public; it said I deserve to be in jail. There was a serious message of politics being played with an image produced like that.

Photo Credits: laurawheeler.wordpress.com


This quote talks about us creating our own realities do to images and representations being the standard of which social construct is created by.

“In this social constructionist approach, we only make meaning of the material through specific cultural contexts” (Sturken 12).  This quote talks about us creating our own realities do to images and representations being the standard of which social construct is created by.

Ways of Seeing by John Berger brought the issues of publicity to the surface. He talks about the consumer society and pop culture really being the key factors that publicity is created from. Creators of publicity play to our weakness, and try to cater to our imperfections; they feed us constant solutions to our problems. The term sexism is definitely a factor in producing publicity.

Sexism is discrimination is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender. Sexist attitudes may stem from traditional stereotypes. There are a lot of ads today that are produced based on sexism. Publicity also mainly shows heterosexuals together.

John Berger uses the example of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe pop art as a symbol that rules in the world of publicity. It sells because it’s a famous portrait that is historical and timeless. This will forever sell because it’ represents a plethora of perspective, such as feminism, sexism, and beauty.

Photo Credits: puffin.creighton.edu – 365 × 367 – Search by image

Warhol paints Marilyn


Berger says “Publicity is judged, not by the real fulfilment of its promises but by the relevance of its fantasies to those of the spectator buyer” (Berger 16). I feel that makeup ads are a prime example of Berger’s theory about how publicity works. Makeup ads always play to women’s weaknesses; essentially telling them they are less of a woman without the product the piece of publicity is pushing.  The makeup line Maybelline is one of many that have creative ads and slogans to cater to the masses of women that succumb to publicity. The most famous Maybelline slogan is “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline”. This slogan is subliminally saying either you’re born with it or you need the product to look as if you were born with it. It is setting a standard that must be met apparently by Maybelline. Maybelline shows these representations of the perfect woman and gain a large amount of consumers, because who doesn’t want to be societies perfection?

Practices of Looking & Visual Guide explores the creation of ideologies. The theories, that ideology is built off of the pedagogy Marxism (the method and practice of teaching, esp. as an academic subject or theoretical concept) ; which basically presents that capitalism is at the root of the hegemony in America.

Hegemony is influence or authority over others and that’s what capitalist have. The people with the most money call the shots; they are the ones that tell you what you should be identifying with. These people own and control newspapers, networks, all types of media outlets. So they hold the power to push any ideology they want. That’s why we really have no sense of agency when it comes to our lives. For example the television show Friends creates an ideology of what the middle class, middle aged New Yorkers is like. But in the show there is no diversity, and we all know that’s not true of New York. The show is full of broken relationships, roommates, friends eating take out and gossiping every night. This is the ideology that some people in New York try to live up to, but then there are others that can’t identify because they realize it’s just a false sense of self inflicted by an outside entity. The reading expresses how this is a negative and says “if we are always already defined as subjects, and are interpellated to be who we are, then there is little help for social change”. We are just being brainwashed into this social construct by ideologies and it doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon.

Why the category Barbara Krueger asks? Well she explains the need for people to have control of categorizing. Why can’t everything have a correlation or relate to one another somehow? Krueger says “declaring what’s right and wrong strengthens stereotypes”(Krueger3). For example she talks about different types of art and music changing categories throughout the years.

She uses movies like Jungle fever by Spike Lee to explain how pop culture can change categories at an instance. Something like family being depicted in a movie can change the outlook for the popular cultural perspective of a family.

She speaks about “popular art” being seen as less admired and as a lesser form of art work because it is not in a museum wall. She feels that the perspective of this art is changing because now funded art gets praised more than “pop art” but that will soon change. Being categorized as “pop art” puts a stamp that says not funded or as worth it, which isn’t true. Graffiti is a form of pop art that has been look at in a negative category, up until recently Banksy a graph artist has put this art on the map as an art to be proud of. Banksy is changing the perspective of pop art, and the category it falls in.

 The Era of Crowds talks about the effecting people in the masses, and the changes of human thought.

This reading uses the example of the fall of the Roman Empire, to explain how crowds gain their power.

“Crowds are only powerful for deconstruction”( Bon 13).

You have to know your demographic to change thought processes and influence change in minds.  Psychology plays a big role in creating powerful minds. This way of thinking is very similar to Edward Bernays’s theories on how to control the masses with propaganda. He works on their psyche first to get them to do what he wants.

 Photo credits: Page by RJ Livegood – Reversing The Edward Bernays Effect


The Society of The Spectacle talks about objects being commodified and becoming so sought after that they become a spectacle. Consumerism creates the spectacle. There is mass production do to faithful consumerism. The producers gain power because consumers gravitate towards the spectacle (product). For example the IPhone is produced in sweatshops in China, where people slave to create these spectacles, but no one cares about that. People just care about how big of a commodity the phone is. Guy Debord says “The spectacle is able to subject human beings to itself because the economy has already totally subjugated them. It is nothing other than the economy developing for itself. It is at once a faithful reflection of the production of things and a distorting objectification of the producers”(Debord 16).  This quote is basically saying the Iphone is able to draw in the consumer so easy because economy has total control of them; because we are the ones who make the IPhone so powerful.


Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. 2009. Practices of looking: an introduction to 4. visual culture. New York: Oxford   University Press: 10

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. New York: Viking, 1973: 46


Krueger, Barbara. “Arts and Leisure.” Remote Control. N.p.: n.p., 1993. 1989

Lebon,Gustave –Introduction to the crowd

Debord, Guy. “Society of the Spectacle.” (1977).




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