"s&co" - a photo by Flickr user austinevan
Thoughts on media, culture, and the world-at-large bubbling up from the dusty corners of my cluttered mind
May 15, 2011
The Crew

Bridesmaids was marketed like a raunch-com centered on female friendship and the absurdities of weddings, but there's a whole lot more going on. The film's wide-ranging (and, to some, surprisingly cross-gender) appeal appeal is based on something far more universal.

Posted By Saralyn on/at 2/21/2010 06:42:00 PM

The last two weeks in my Visual Research Methods course, we've been exploring a variety of concepts and situations from the necessity of context in meaning construction and interpretation (through Geertz's seminal essay "Thick Description") and the possibility of a transgender gaze in film to the complexities of "looking" and pleasure in gay and lesbian media consumption and the body as performance. Each author, essay, and discussion reinforced the importance of understanding intertextuality and digging deeply when exploring visual culture.

Take, for example, an image I ran across while surfing the web earlier today:


I was incensed when I first looked at the ad, as I am wont to become with women/weight loss/body image issues. "Why is this women thinking about weight loss?! She doesn't look like she needs to lose any weight!" Then I realized that there are a number of other things going on in this image I could pull out or investigate if I were to take to heart Geertz's writings and the concept of intertextuality:
1. "Mirror, Mirror" - Snow White, situating the ad in the Western world and connecting it to Disney. It's interesting because it is the insecure, evil Queen who is actually tied to those words and the gazing in the mirror. In doing so, she is confronted with the perfection of Snow White that she is measured against (and, inevitably, doomed to be judged lacking). Certainly, there is no connection there with the unattainable images of perfection women are presented with in media....
2. Medifast, doctor recommendations, etc - Medicalization of weight loss and the rise of procedures and devices like the Lap Band, surgeries, and even the carefully, "scientifically" "designed" nutrition programs that abound
3. Quick fix - Medifast. Even the name of the company plays on the "quick fix" orientation of American society (and, some would say, modern, Western society in general)
4. Feminization of weight loss - This ties largely back in with my initial reaction, but I think it's still significant to point out. You don't see any men on the Jenny Craig television ads, do you? Most of the Slimfast, Weight Watchers, and NutriSystem spots and ads are also largely populated by women (and the ones that have men seem to have a different feel to them). So, not only does the ad raise the question of "Why does this woman need to lose weight?" but the question "...and why is it a woman?"

I'll leave you with another image. I couldn't find the right font on Seashore, but I just couldn't help myself:

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3 comments:

ultravphunter said...

Did you mean that there are no men on Jenny Craig ads? Good post!

Saralyn said...

That is what happens when you write a blog post while battling iMovie. Thanks for pointing out the typo!

M.F. said...

The commercial marginalia on a website are so nonsensical and infuriating because the threads are so tangential. Similar ads like the one you've just deconstructed pop up on my FB page constantly, and I have to wonder: is it only because I've listed my gender as 'female'? Is that why I almost only get sale ads from H&M or invites to teen girl-oriented online games? And I know my interface is littered like this because of these really complicated algorithms that are far beyond my mathematical comprehension, but...all of this points to another possible gaze so many online consumers ignore or are simply complacent to: the machine-mediated gaze or even just the machine(d) gaze.

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