Archive for February, 2010


Myth Behind the Photo

February 25, 2010

This historic and iconic photo took place on February 23, 1945 representing the Iwo Jima Flag Raising. The history behind this photo takes us back to WWII to a tiny volcanic island of Iwo Jima, located 775 miles from Japan.

Background of Barthes’ Myth

An excerpt from Roland Barthes’ Mythologies titled “Myth Today” explains myth as a system of communications and a message. Myth is not defined by the object, but the message it utters. It is a mode of signification, a form. Signifier and signified, from the concept of Sassure, is the first system- the linguistic system. The last term of the lingustic, or the first term of the mythical, known as the signifier is renamed meaning in the lingustic and in mythical it is the form. The signified is the concept and the combination of the form and concept makes signification.

The myth dives deeper into the sign formed by the first layer combined with its own signifier to form signification.

Having given a bit of background, let’s dive into the myth behind this photo.

Iwo Jima Photo

This picture shows six soldiers climbing up a rubble of land to raise the American Flag. Although it is a black and white photo, it is evident that these soldiers are strong leading men, covered in dirt treading up a hill with all their might, pride, and power.

The signifer (concept): Six soldiers climbing a hill raising the American Flag, amidst rubble.

The signified(meaning): The strength and power of these soldiers to climb to the top and represent pride for their country. By raising the flag over Iwo Jima, this shows victory and defeat of the war.

Myth: America is a strong leading international power that can defeat all those who try to get in the way. Soldiers stand together with their pride and toughness to show the world that America will not be defeated – one for all and all for one.


Another iconic photo is this one taken after 9-11 as the firemen raise the US flag amidst rubble. The war on terrorism shocked us all and the tragedy of 9-11 will never be forgotten.

The signifier: Three firemen, covered in ash, stand together to raise the flag on top of the World Trade Center – also on top of rubble and broken pieces.

The signified: The US will not be broken down. We take pride in our nation and will come together to restore the pieces that have been broken. To all those who are lost, a memorial is put up in their memory.

The myth: The US is a strong nation and all those living in America stand together to help one another. Though tragedy strikes, we raise our flag in honor for our nation and all that which it means: freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To all those who try to bring us down – we stand strong.


Magic – The Idea

February 25, 2010

When you think of a car, what exactly comes to mind? How about when you picture “Joe the Camel” for Camel cigarettes? Think about some of the ads you seen in magazines or the car commercials on TV.

In most minds,we think of masculinity and power when we think of a car. The speed, the luxury, the “chick magnet”, right? Joe the Camel offers similar attributes with the idea of masculinity, and the cowboy type of guy, the cool guy, the guy every guys wants to be.

Well, if you really get to the bottom of things, it boils down to a type of “magic”. Raymond Williams explains this magic system in an excerpt I read from his book, The Long Revolution. “Advertising: A Magic System”, written by Raymond Williams first explains the history of advertising – as it dates back to the days of the slave trade. Historically, newspaper ads were simply classified ads, outlining features and benefits of a product, and occasionally an endorsement from the royal empire.

Advertising has grown quite significantly since then. The transformation began in the beginning of the 1900s. This is when emotions and power were being influenced through the advertisements. During the First War, many posters began to emerge using methods of psychological warfare. For example, a drawing detailed to perfection showing: curtains, armchair, grim face of the father, a little girl on his knee pointing to her open-picture book, and a little boy at his feet playing with toy soldiers. The caption, “Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?” Not only using the traditional appeals of patriotism, this also outlined personal relationships and anxieties. Letting down your country meant letting down your sweetheart.

Thinking about modern day advertising, appeals of emotions, authority, and logic (three principles of Aristotle – pathos, ethos, and logos) are commonly used today. It identifies not just a product or service, but personal and social values. Williams described advertising as “magic: a highly organized and professional system of magical inducements and satisfactions, functionally very similar to magical systems in simpler societies, but rather strongly coexistent with a highly developed scientific technology”. Simply put, the associations we make with the products and/or services advertised makes us believe that we will not only have that thing, but all the things unseen with it. Example: By having this car, you will also have the girls, power, and success. This car can “magically” bring you all these elements along with it, the unforeseen but socially accepted and luxurious characteristics that you desire.  Just like in the fairytales, Cinderella went from being a poor maid to a princess, but along with that a beautiful dress, handsome prince, and “happily ever after”.

The world of magic bestows upon us today. It’s all around us and will continue to evolve with each passing day. Creative new ways will be developed to make us believe, and we WILL believe.


Name Change

February 25, 2010

The blog has officially changed it’s name from “Wonders of the Web” to “Insight into Advertising”. The reason being – a class change. The fall semester has ended, thus my Media Writing class has come to an end. A look into my last semester here at USP, I am know taking “Special Topics of Rhetoric”. Here I learn about Sassure and his theory behind the principles of images, advertisements, and symbols.