You are not your khakis.

•April 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Now onto my message. I wanted to convey the difference in relationship etiquette and sexuality from the 1950’s versus today. So I created a single character split into two personalities. We have Woody, our character from the 50’s, and his alter-ego Wally – the plaid-shirt wearing, 5 o’clock shadow sporting, party animal who is indulging in the overt sexuality of today’s world.

You can see a handful of quick cuts alternating between Woody and Wally, this showing the battle between the two for control. We also see a lot of cuts between modern sexuality juxtaposed with traditions of the 50’s, and often we see disapproving looks from women and approving looks from men, feeding into the character battle of Woody and Wally.

I also had a section that demonstrated supposed “differences” in asking for a date today versus the 50’s, as well as how to say goodnight, and the benefits of going steady. This section was a great representation of the very obvious differences, and it all ends in the final juxtaposition of a question of “petting” leading into Alec Baldwin’s very graphic description of a night with his latest conquest. The text sends a message to the receiver signifying a certain set of upcoming circumstances, but also to set the wheels in motion as to how the differences in generations will be displayed.

The question is then left up to us to decide which character will be the eventual victor – Woody or Wally? And it all depends on your view of the point made in the video.

You ever been in a fight?

•April 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

At the outset, the project seemed simple enough; create a remix video using footage from 50’s instructional videos and Superbowl commercials. Sure the actual task may have been simple, but the message that I wanted to convey and the actual process of relaying it was the complicated part.

I had worked with video before, and so I was no stranger to editing film. But this was the first time I was attempting to use outside sources for the images (i.e. old instructional film, commercials, etc), and trying to shape them in a way that conveyed my purpose. I thoroughly enjoyed the process and actually found that utilizing the images was a unique way of “speaking” to my audience – I was able to imply things without putting them into words, and I was able to juxtapose images to create a unique message.

That was the biggest difference between this project and a traditional writing piece. I couldn’t use my own words to relay my message, and therefore I had to look at my message from different angles and re-analyze how I could send it to the receivers. In the end, I may have had to work a little harder, but the message found its way, and the medium came out much more unique.

Shatner. I’d fight William Shatner.

•April 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Guinness redeems itself this week, my friends. This one is a commercial I can actually watch and enjoy the humor. I’ll give you a second to watch it. Go ahead. I promise, no chicks getting tag-teamed this time.

This commercial is great for one big reason; it plays a lot with semiotics.

The reverse evolution is one long example of semiotics – as fast as the video is moving, we are keeping up with it based on learned symbols and concepts about the evolutionary process. Cro magnons, dinosaurs, it’s all there – and so is the message: drinking beer, more specifically Guinness is part of our fundamental make-up as men. It’s been in our blood since the dawn of time. Now what’s going to get the heart pumping and the liver begging for beer more than a commercial that appeals to the most primitive part of every man?  We saw some colonial soldiers. Yeah, I’m a soldier, fighting for my country. We saw cro magnons. Shit, I’m a hunter-gatherer. We saw dinosaurs and fireballs and lava. Hell, I like big scary monsters and fire.

So grab a Guinness, Tough Guy! Right after you grab ahold of your manhood!

I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

•April 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The readings that I presented on this week were some of the most interesting and powerful that I’ve had the fortune of reading thus far in my grad school career. The use of semiotics is something that I understood to a greater degree as I read the text, and it is that understanding that made the series that much more powerful.

I just wanted to follow up all that I said in class with a little expansion on the topic.

A story – or a series of stories, rather – such as this is going to evoke emotion regardless of the format. But putting words on a page seems less than sufficient for the topics at hand. It is the photos, the drawings, the collages – the semiotics and semiotic theories that drive this series home like an arrow to the heart. They make it more than a recounting of tragic tales and create a world in which we have to step into and walk through to get from one side of the story to the other, and along the way, we get our hands dirty, our shoes get scuffed, we sweat, bleed, struggle to catch our breath. And with that comes not just tales from a distant land, but stories that live in the room with us as we read.

Emergency water landing – 600 miles an hour. Blank faces, calm as Hindu cows.

•April 19, 2010 • 2 Comments

It’s rare that I’m ever left speechless. I mean, 2 Girls 1 Cup had me at a loss for words for a moment. But then I was full of them, mainly expletives peppered with some dry heaves.

Anyway, the reason for my post here is to show you the latest reason I’ve been left speechless, and it’s all thanks to Guinness.

Yes, you saw it right. I sat here for the entire minute waiting for something – like for the “woman” to turn out to be some fat guy’s beer gut and legs, just from an odd angle so it made us think it was a woman. But no. It was as it is. A woman. Getting tag teamed. By three guys. Drinking a Guinness.

Here’s where the “sex sells” angle can veer off the tracks. I am self-admittedly a “guy.” Show me some boobs, a hot chick in a bikini, I’m going to remember whatever it is that you’re peddling. But this one actually offended me. I don’t think three guys smashing the same girl and passing around a beer is in any way, shape, or form entertaining, funny, or clever. It’s gross and it’s degrading to women.

I’m using this commercial to show an example of how it does not work. The simplicity of the ad makes the message clear, and we see three separate male arms, one of which is tattooed (showing that Guinness is the drink of tattooed and non-tattooed guys alike). And we all know what’s going on in the scene just by the long hair, nude back/butt, and the gyrations. But Guinness made a big boo-boo on this one.

We know that sex sells, but this is an image that pushes that theory much too far. The appeal of an attractive woman in a bathing suit or a sexually suggestive photo will reach 99% of heterosexual males on an erotic level and will leave a lasting impression regarding the product. But show a woman having sex with three men and being used like a coffee table at the same time and you’re going to do some serious alienation.

And they’re not even sharing the beer with the woman! God knows she’s probably thirsty. Sorry, had to get one joke in there.

And I know that technically, they didn’t “show” anything. It’s all implied.

Just like here, the nudity of the model’s breasts is “implied.” We don’t know if under the necklaces, she is covered or not. We assume. But there is a difference in severity. A nude woman posing for a photo is in no way the same as a nude woman who is getting gangbanged and having the small of her back used like a cup holder.

Guinness has also reduced sex here to something no different than a frat party or a kegger. “Grab a beer and tag team a girl! It’s Saturday, time to loosen up!”

Sorry Guinness, but you lost my vote. Not that I drink to begin with. But still.

This is a prime example of upsetting the balance; carefully executed sex injected in an ad is gold – tasteless trashy sex injected into an ad is poison.

And Guinness, next time, could you at least use a coaster? She’s going to have a ring on her back that’s going to be impossible to get off once it dries.

Soap.

•April 19, 2010 • 1 Comment

Thursday’s discussion of comics was an important one thus far in our class.

The philosophies behind comics are rather interesting, and the discussion we had about text being considered “abstract” was one that never really crossed my mind before. For example, which of these is more abstract:

LAUGH

or

Most people would say that the image is more abstract. But in actuality, the word itself is just as (if not more so) abstract than the image. To a non-English speaker, that word means nothing. To an English speaking person, we understand the word, but if five people read the word, we’ll end up with five very different interpretations of the implication and even the mentally constructed image regarding the word.

Furthermore, it made me think about the interplay between words and images. Comics is one of the most interesting types of text/image combination, in my opinion. Often times, simply using one or the other will not suffice. Take this  comic for example:

With only the images, we can draw our own conclusions, but it’s more or less up to our imaginations. With just the text, we don’t fully grasp the scene or what is happening. But with both, we get a more clear picture.

His name was Robert Paulson.

•April 5, 2010 • 2 Comments

 

You know, a friend of mine once told me “Man, I’ve never seen an unattractive Brazilian chick.” He was proved wrong one night as I stood at the bar in Adelphia’s in Deptford. A young woman approached me and started a conversation about God knows what, and mentioned that she was from Brazil. I’m not a shallow guy. But let’s just say my friend’s quote came to mind and I immediately wanted to call him and say “Erroneous.” Ok, maybe I am a little shallow.

But I digress, as I so often do. This ad is definitely restoring my faith in Brazilian exports. This ad is sheer cleverness. It’s awesome. We’re bombarded with boobies – as we so often are with alcohol ads – but its in a much more lighthearted fashion. It’s a very nice set of breasts. Tanned. Perky. Minimal coverage. Obviously the first thing that we all notice, so the “sex” aspect creeps in right off the bat. Then we throw in some body paint. Hot.

But it’s playful in nature. The faces drawn on the model’s body are cartoonish and cheerful. And the bikini top is woven in as part of the scene – acting as the cartoon’s smiles. It’s great fun. And notice the hands holding the bottles are gender-specific, making these cartoons actual characters in the scene.

And take a look at the colors: nice bright, vibrant blues, greens, pinks. The bottles themselves are a nice bright green that really pop out from the page.

And the tagline – “A bit more exciting.” A bit more exciting than what? Well, that’s up to us to find out when we take a swig of Bit Copa and taste Brazil, I suppose.

Bring it on, Bit Copa. Gracias a este modelo por existir, y viva la vida de Brazil, hermano!