The Suppression of Thought

The power of an image isn’t new. The use of images to persuade or manipulate the masses is a concept that’s also not new. However thanks to advances in technology and the techniques and strategies derived from sociology it can be argued that the power of an image has never been as great.  Due to the inherent ‘weaknesses’ of an image such as the narrow point of view or the carefully selected angles in which to portray this image it is argued that this makes any image inherently biased.  True objectivity is rare to exist.  In other words most images are trying to show a certain, biased message to get across even if it’s not intentional.  However as several have argued, there are multiple players to a meaning of an image.  While this is true the end result is largely the same, a rising power cultivated from the image. As my colleagues have mentioned numerously, this art form can be powerful.  But in which ways? Purchasing items or voting for a certain politician are causalities.  Causalities from a struggle of perhaps the futility of going against this power.  But these are results of being in contact of the power the images can hold; thus I believe the true power is the ability of make you think.

An image is a very vague term. There are endless possibilities of what an image could be but there are various terms or techniques in which images can be a part of, especially about the ones with power.  For example there are hegemonic images. These are ones which “emphasizes that power is not wielded by one class over another, rather, power is negotiated among all classes of people, who struggle with and against one another in the economic, social, political, and ideological arenas in which they live and work.”  If the power here is the manipulation of an individual’s thinking then there is no better example than watching a political race for power especially for highly elected officials like the President of the United States.  The struggle can represent the various political images in which they are trying to get you to think a certain way by pandering to one’s sense about certain values or topics.  Alone, these images are nothing more than simple advertisements trying to get you to think a certain way.  It’s the collection of these vast and often conflicting images and the values or sentiments they express that make them hegemonic.

Image               mitt-romney-believe-in-america-campaign-poster

And these timeless techniques could not be more prominent in popular culture. It goes hand in hand with consumerism.  As popular culture suggests, it’s a series of phenomenon accepted by the common person.  The craft of consumerism tries to make their products synonymous with popular culture.  Image making is only one way of how corporations or companies use popular culture.

Image                     Image

No one watches American Idol or the movie Elf as an extension for Coke soda.  However these techniques and tactics are used to get you to associate their product to popular culture.  Sooner or later it’s the norm, it’s an accepted part of the culture.  No one knows why, but it’s not questioned.  The culture of singing or reality television is now associated with the drink even though they have nothing related to one another.  In these images there are no hegemonies or representations yet the end result is the same.   It changes on how you reflect and see the world.  It affects our thinking.

Another strategy employed by corporations is the over-saturation of the “ideal” human body.  In most cases this would refer to females and thus some would argue that it’s sexism.  The attractiveness of the female body is exploited by create ‘ideal’ images which are usually impossible to create in real life. Even in situations where having an exposed, skinny female body makes little sense it appeals to the masses to the point where it’s a common trope in advertising.  For some reason this tactic is very effective which shows how little these companies have to do in order to sway the public.  Maybe it’s for these reasons so much money is invested in advertising techniques: to suppress the public.  After all, in the “age of crowds” appealing to the irrational side of the mass populace usually leads to bad results for those in power.   The advancement in these techniques from the age of oil paintings shows how dedicated governments are in the creation of propaganda in all forms of media.

Thus the exploitation of the female body can be seen as a representation. It “refers to the use of language and images to create meaning about the world around us.”  One of the most critiqued affects of advertising campaigns or in the media is the impacts of highlighting physical ideals within a woman to a point where it leads young women to extreme measures in order to fit these said ideals.  This is caused because these images of models or actresses, fake or not, showcase a meaning that this is ideal.  This is what you should strive to be. If you’re skinny you get attention, glamour and success.  Some may argue that since there is a lot of ‘awareness’ of this issue that it’s less of a factor but in actuality could it mean it’s more scary?  We know that these images can have a bad effect on society.  Yet these continue to get pumped out daily and the consequences are still very real.  Maybe we’re at a point where awareness of how imagery is used today is still not enough to fall victim to its power.


With perhaps an over-saturation of media, and the images that go along with it there’s a sense of this perception that this is a recent problem.  Thus many are quick to blame the tools of which media is housed in.  Smart phones are seen as a problem, computers or televisions are seen as the problem.  However these are simply tools.  Tools to an end.  With the variety of strategies employed by those in power it’s quite clear these are inherent problems of people and society in general.  Technology only exemplifies or even is the result of the evolution of this inherent need of control.  However it seems as society is even absolving blame of those who employ these strategies in turn for an easier alternative: blaming the tools.  Even if nuclear holocaust were to occur it wouldn’t be long until we see paintings of exposed women or an un-objective point of view to sway the people.  The ways to influence thinking has always been sought after, regardless of whether or not they have an iPhone.


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