Monday, September 8, 2008

Importance of Cultural Studies

In this chapter, of Gender, Race, and Class in Media edited by Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez, Douglas Kellner emphasizes the importance of cultural studies in effectively analyzing media. Kellner stresses the importance of cultural studies in that cultural studies can enable individuals to better understand their own culture, allows individuals to look at and analyze culture without previous prejudices toward “one or another sort of cultural text, institution, or practice,” and cultural studies can show how media has positively or negatively affected individuals (Kellner 11-12). Kellner then goes on to explain that there are three parts that must be taken into account when engaging in critical cultural studies. The first component is taking into account a cultural text’s “system of production and distribution, often referred to as the political economy of culture.” An example of this system that Kellner uses deals with radio or music television. Because there are specific rules that must be abided by, songs that are played on the radio or television must be three to five minutes so that they fit into “the frames of the distribution system (Kellner, 12). The next component to take into account is a textual analysis. Kellner talks about semiotics and how cultural “signs” form “systems of meanings” (Kellner 14). Finally, Kellner stresses that texts are interpreted differently by different audiences. Members of a specific social group, gender, religion, race, etc will determine the meaning of media images in different ways. In all, Kellner stresses that a cultural studies will only be effective if it is “critical, multicultural, and multiperspectival.” If this is accomplished, a “critical cultural studies” will attack specific biases or stereotypes against different racial, gender and other cultural groups in society (Kellner 18).

The Times Are Really 'A Changin' Bob...

Victoria's Secret Commercial:

Cadillac Commercial:

I chose both of these commercials because first of all, they shocked me a little in that when I think of Bob Dylan, I think of acoustic, folk music that isn't really "edgy"...In both of these advertisements, Dylan seems a bit edgier. In the Victoria's Secret commercial, I guess Dylan is supposed to seem sexy. When I first viewed the Victoria Secret commercial, my initial thought was, "My mom loves Bob Dylan...I hope she never sees this commercial." I think that possibly my mom would be disappointed that Bob Dylan was in a commercial like this, a commercial celebrating the sexiness and lure of young, fit women in skimpy bras and panties. Bob Dylan, someone my mother related with and loved for his music back in the 60's probably can not relate to the young woman in the advertisement. However, given the fact that time times have 'been a changin,' this commercial could probably relate to a younger generation of women...Even so, I don't know how many young women listen to Bob Dylan. I feel like Victoria's Secret was trying to reach out to women who may have loved Bob Dylan and somehow thought that his sexual lure would intrigue women to buy their products but I think the entire commercial is ridiculous and I wish I would not have seen the commercial because I love Bob Dylan...but not paired with bras and panties.

The second Bob Dylan commercial I think better portrays Bob...This commercial takes place out in the country and is trying to sell a Cadillac. I think this commercial may be more effective in persuading an older generation of consumers because it seems to possibly portray who Dillan really is (or was). The commercial is set on an open road, no obstacles, etc. At the end of the commercial, Dillan says, "What's life without the occasional detour?" and then Cadillac puts up the words "Life. Liberty. and the Pursuit." I feel like this commercial may also possibly relate to an older generation of men as it seems to be trying to convince the consumer to buy or be interested in this product because it is something that will enable you to "detour" away from life, or be sort of rebellious in a way. I think this commercial better relates to an older generation because maybe they related with Bob Dylan in the 60's because of his controversial music, or strong lyrics that encouraged individuals to look away from what was happening at that time.

In this, it is important to know the audience when looking at media images such as these two commercials. Kellner stresses the importance of knowing the audience. If Victoria's Secret was trying to relate with an older generation of consumers, I think they probably failed miserably. Then again, just as Bob Dylan was portrayed as a "tough rebellious" guy in the second commercial, maybe an older generation of women sees him as some sort of sexual icon, someone who ignites rebelliousness in their hearts. (I'm not completely sure what Bob Dylan is to anyone). Even so, I laughed at both of these commercials, possibly because I don't really see Bob Dylan as some sort of tough guy who idolizes cars or women...but I could be completely wrong...possibly Bob Dylan's new music is now racier or edgier and can relate to a new generation of listeners...

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