Examples of Analysis

It is important to recognise that dialogue around the media does occur, though hasn’t typically caught a wide audience. Anita Sarkeesian in her “Tropes vs. Women” serious provides in-depth comment and analysis of representations of women in video games. Although a little outside the realm of our investigation of advertising, the same language you are using, she uses to discuss video games.

Before you watch one of the episodes, you should first understand how she is using the term “trope“.

A trope is simplistically defined as, “a figuritive or metaphorical use of a word or expression” (Oxford Dictionary of English). This implies that a trope is simply a metaphor, simile, or metonym (these should be familiar). In media studies, a trope tends to be treated as a pattern in story telling. Sarkeesian makes the point that a bow is a common pattern in storytelling, used to characterise gender. A good description of tropes in media can be found here.

Now that you understand tropes, have a look at Sarkeesian’s most recent video, “The Ms. Male Character”.

  1. Define the trope. What is the pattern in storytelling here?
  2. As your watching, explain how Sarkeesian uses the terms signifier, signified, and myth.
  3. What is the problem here? Why might we (society) be dissatisfied with this pattern?

Gender, Race, Class, Culture, Politics and Economics

Sarkeesian is clearly interested in investigating gender representations in the media. I encourage you to go look at her other videos. She covers a whole range of issues to do with representations of women in video games. However, we should be aware that other “lenses” can be used to investigate mass media. Here we are interested the ways in which dominant ideology/perception are reinforced to the detriment of others.

But lets start simple.

TASK: Choose one of the advertisements you found yesterday and start your analysis:

  • What is being sold? Is it explicit or implicit?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What is the purpose? Persuasion is an obvious one, but is there something deeper?
  • Look at structure: visuals? text? symbol? logo? colour? Busy or quiet? Is there a narrative?
  • How has appeal been used? Ethos, Pathos, Logos?
  • Signs? signifier -> signified -> denotation -> connotation?
  • Tropes? (we are getting more difficult now)
  • Dominance?

“Imagination Walks” Camper advertising campaign

And some analysis:

"imagination walks" Camper advertising annotation

“imagination walks” Camper advertising annotation

Deepen your understanding of advertising techniques by having a look at these concepts and techniques.

Image: “Anita Sarkessian in 2011

Image: “Imagination walks” Camper advertising campaign

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