Hello. I’m Jihye Kim. I’m from South Korea. Now I’m studying abroad in Towson University in United States. My major is communication, especially I’m interested in learning media criticism. I want to understand our culture and society. I want to write down about media contents in this blog. In fact, I don’t know well about America media culture well. However, I can compare America’s media culture to that of Korea. I can see and analyze America media texts through foreigner’s perspective. I think it will be helpful to understand the media in various perspective.
Media criticism is systematic and critical process of understanding media texts by finding the meaning of the symbols of expression that we used in society and culture. Media includes TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, online and so on and so forth. Through the media criticism, we can understand the texts that were offered by media industries and we can find the hidden meaning of it. I think it’s very important process, because media texts represent our life and it shapes our lives, too. The power of media is beyond our expectation. In these days, most people get the information from TV, internet and others. People are surrounded by media contents like air. They use smartphone everyday. They do facebook, watch Youtube, and take pictures by using snapchat. They also always watch TV show through television, laptop or computer. Even though the habit of consuming media texts is changing a lot, so our choices of media contents are getting broader and higher, we are still overloaded with media and influenced a lot.
In this environment, understanding and interpreting the meaning of media is important. We should not be controlled by the producers who makes cultural products. Media criticism can help us not to follow hegemony in our society, which means the ruling group use the power for maintain their status and control the mass by deriving their consent. Media criticism not just opposes the main stream, but it is systematic process, so it suggests many tools for us to analyze media culture. In these days, we use multiple approaches to study media texts. For examples, according to text analysis, there are Semiotics, Structuralism, narrative criticism, and Genre criticism. At the point of production, there are industrial relations, political economy, and ideological criticism. In audience perspective, there are reception studies, and audience ethnographic criticism. In social world area, there are socio-cultural criticism, feminist ideology, and race, ethnicity, and class studies. We call it Cultural diamond. By using these tools, we can understand media culture well and we can know the process of the influence of media to public. In addition, we find the solution to make better society.
From now on, I will interpret media text using one of media criticism approach, so we can see how does it work our perception and shape our behavior and unconscious thought. One of my example of media literacy skill is Semiotics. It is good tool for analyze the text in detail. Semiotics is skill for interpreting the signs of media contents deeply and specifically, so we can understand how the meaning in cultural product is constructed. The signs are containing the codes that we commonly share in the society. These codes are constructed according to the convention of the society. In the signs of text, there are many different meanings embedded, so depending on the person who read it, the meaning will be changed. We can interpret the signs in multiple ways.
For instance, I will analyze the picture of Dolce and Gabbana in spring/summer 2016 season. This season’s title is “Italia is love.” In this season, Dolce and Gabbana shows beloved Italy collection. They want to celebrate their motherland, Italia. The fashion clothes contain many beautiful tourist sites in Italia. Also, in this season, it uses the selfie concept. They want to show the delicate and adorable phone case when you’re taking a snap shot.
Look at this picture. There are three groups of people. First, at the center, three women are eating pasta. Pasta is the most famous Italian food. There are many different ethnics who are eating the pasta; Black, Asian, and White women. Black and white women eat pasta using fork. However, only Asian woman doesn’t use the fork. She uses her hand. Also, only Asian woman hang her napkin in her chest. In my opinion, it’s racism about Asian people. In history, Asian was usually considered to conquer and civilize. Western people thought Asian were uncivilized. Using tool is most common difference between animal and human. When we think about barbarian, they don’t use the tool. Holding noodles by hands means Asian is barbarous and they are uncivilized race. I think it’s Orientalism which means the depiction of Eastern culture including Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East Asian cultures by the person who is from Western countries. In the perspective of Western, Asian people doesn’t know how to use and utilize the tools. Actually, it’s not true. Asian are not uncivilized. They have their own specialized tools and their own way to live wisely. I think Dolce and Gabbana’s advertising keep spreading this perspective of Orientalism. Wearing napkin in their neck is usually for children. It’s also emphasizing foolish of Asian. It makes people in the world, including Asian, angry. In many social website, people condemned Dolce and Gabbana’s advertising because they make fun of Asian people. Asian always use chopstick for eating, china, Japan, and Korea. Even though, we use the sophisticated tool, they ignore the fact.
The second group is right side of the rear. Three women are standing together and one of them is taking pictures by her phone, and the others are holding the bowl of pasta. Two women, except the woman who taking selfie, are not standard-sized model. They are pushed into the corner while skinny and straight sized models occupy the front and the center of area. It also represent the slim size body is required for woman in the society. Skinny and thin is considered as the beauty. Especially in fashion industry, the curved woman was considered that they don’t fit to the fashion model. If you open the magazine, most of models are too skinny. Dolce and Gabbana’s picture also shows the curved women cannot be fashion model, because they are wearing the apron. It represents they are just the person who makes the pasta, not consumer who spends lots of money to buy fashion stuff.
The third group is in the left side of picture. Chief and Women are taking pictures together. The concept of this season of Dolce and Gabbana is selfie. The woman who looks fancy and fashionable smiles looking at the phone. In this picture, the main characters are white women who are taking selfie. The rest of them including chief, Asian, black, and curved women are secondary character. Only these three woman are holding the phone and showing off their stylish fashion. Of course, the other people are smiling, but these three women looks like they have high confidence and being sassy. I think Dolce and Gabbana uses this discrimination intentionally. They already know the impact of this pictures. They know it will be controversy in the press or online website. After lunching this advertising, Dolce and Gabbana is criticized by many people. They segregate the high culture and low culture in this advertising. Through the controversial pictures, Dolce and Gabbana makes the customers to think if they wear this brand clothes, they can be not just fashionable, but also high class person unconsciously. Even thought people criticized this advertising, it has power of shaping our mind.
Like the case of Dolce and Gabbana, the media text contains many meaning. I think we need to think about the texts deeply and read it carefully. We can learn a lot of things from here that we might even think about it before. We have to interpret media content in our perspective, not just following what they suggest. This is the first time to analyze printed media through Semiotics approach. It was difficult, but It is worth. It helps me to rethink about the product we consumed and it was good opportunity for me to understand the hidden meaning of this advertising.
Thank you for reading my post! See you!