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MECO 1001 Australian Media Studies Semiotic Analysis
The preferred reading of this advertisement for Artline permanent markers, placed in The Australian Women’s Weekly, is that teenage children are disinterested, disobedient and slothful. This reading relies heavily on the dominant interpretation of teenage children and their relationship with their parents. This dominant discourse is encouraged despite studies by scholars such as Peter Scales and Susannah Stern which argue that it is not indicative at all of the actual attitudes, behaviours or values of adolescents in society. This discourse is perpetuated through creation of, and emphasis on, the binary opposition between parent and child, which is hyperbolised within the context of the magazine. The magazine is strongly focussed on serving the values and ideas of the domestic, maternal woman and seeks to resonate with the assumed views of this demographic. Consequently, the advertisement is framed in such a way that silences the youth and allows the dominant discourse of the adolescent to be reinforced.
Whether or not it is justifiable, the discourse of the disinterested, disobedient adolescent is a prominent mode of conceptualisation in western societies. In his discussion of the media’s portrayal of adolescents, Peter Scales describes an advertisement that was published across the United States of America in 2000. The ad
The phrase. Similarly. when it had actually decreased3. no. Lethargic. 2 . The viewer is positioned to be on one side of the opposition as “us” and the occupant of the room is “them”. the discourse of teenagers that is presented and reinforced in teen genre films have a significant bearing on the way society views the values.” is written in the imperative mood. 2 In her study. http://www. The tagline “stop repeating yourself” identifies the reader of the ad as the force in power. 4 (May 1. 2001)." Society 38. quite possibly. The meaning of “teenager’s room” emerges through a binary opposition – the parent/child relationship and an us/them opposition. 1 (2005): 24. 1 and while the statement about the detection of inhalant abuse may be true – the essential meaning of the ad was that teenagers on average are smelly. lethargic and incoherent.". “make your bed. and signifies that whoever wrote it has a hierarchical power over whoever is meant to read it. “The public image of adolescents. Dangerous and Disengaged: What Popular Films Tell Us About Teenagers. Stern found that two-thirds of the American public believed that the percentage of teens who committed violent crimes had increased in the past years. self-service and disobedience. no. “Self-Absorbed.proquest.com/ 2 Susannah R Stern. Given the demographic that would be reading The Australian Women’s Weekly would most likely be women and mothers. in a study conducted by Susannah Stern. 3 Stern. “Make your bed” is an oft-repeated and therefore well-recognised parental phrase – indicating that this power is a parental figure.” Mass Communication & Society 8. Incoherent. with teenage children. This framing also favours a particular viewpoint – 1 Peter C Scales. 33.Eliza Murray 308221850 declared "Smelly. behaviours and attitudes of adolescents regardless of their own experiences. This Artline advertisement relies on this discourse to perpetuate the preferred reading. The dominant discourse when it comes to interpreting adolescent behaviour encourages notions of disinterest. It's hard to tell inhalant abuse in the average teenager.
Indeed. “MasterChef Julie Joins the Weekly”. the framing signifies a sense of voyeurism and spying – thus positioning the viewer to interpret the owner of the room as “the other”. the binary opposition is made starker than it actually may be. maternal women. “Meet Kylie Gillies’ Family” and “Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward – Inside Our Country Home”.Eliza Murray 308221850 one that is decidedly outside of the teenager’s bedroom. This binary opposition is further emphasised when the advertisement is considered within the context of the magazine. The Australian Women’s Weekly encourages the viewer to position themselves in this idyllic domestic setting on every page: places where rooms are always perfect and photogenic. With this dominant discourse and binary opposition in mind. The magazine is strongly oriented to peak the interest of domestic. unmade bed. The surfing images on the posters are also significant of youth. The viewer turns the page to reveal a doorway set into this domestic bliss which reveals a crumpled. there are several signs which reinforce that this is in fact a teenage child’s room. The cover advertises stories about “Jessica Rowe and Peter Overton’s ‘Miracle’ Baby”. and not any other room. Consequently. The adhering of posters directly onto the wall is a practice indicative of youth. they would mean something else. meals are abundant. appetising and bursting with home-made perfection. plain walls donned with posters and an absent youth. Indeed. if the posters had been framed and hung. This signifies to the viewer that whatever is inside the room is a sort of enemy territory. Surfing has been associated with youth culture for much of the late 20th century thanks to books and 3 .
When this ad is interpreted without looking through this dominant adolescent discourse. Bruce Beresford (1981. Through removing the adolescent and effectively silencing them. Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette. the reader’s view is highly restricted by the framing of the image. the meaning of this image shifts dramatically. dir. but then written on said bed with a permanent marker – basically ruining the pillowcases. however. Cronulla.Eliza Murray 308221850 films like Puberty Blues4 which overtly link surfing with the development of teenage confidence and identity. crinkled bed suggests a disinterest in the values of the magazine. and therefore the values of the parental figure reading. but it may perhaps be early morning and the adolescent is having breakfast and the mother is in fact being highly unreasonable.S. disinterested youth. the irony dawns that whoever wrote “make your bed” has asked for a bed to be made tidy. The sign of writing on the pillow cases signifies that the writer reached a point of exasperation – evidently from “repeating” themselves. The unmade. If one ignored the lethargic teen discourse prevalent in this ad. DVD. this advertisement perpetuates the discourse of the disengaged. 4 . Perhaps the teenager never makes their bed because they live in an untidy house and do not feel an impulse to do so.W: Limelight Productions). The image is framed to resonate with the mothers who are viewing the advertisement and encourages a humorous criticism of the 4 Puberty Blues by Margaret Kelly. There is natural light in the room which signifies that it is during the day. Moreover. Once one starts to look fully at the ad. which does not allow for the teenager’s perspective of the rest of the house. N. this ad could be interpreted as presenting an example of a mentally unstable parent and a hostile home life.
placed in The Australian Women’s Weekly. this image is an “in-joke” with mothers who read The Australian Women’s Weekly. The successful communication of this meaning relies on the discourse of conceptualising adolescent behaviour as “outside” of “normal” society. disobedient and slothful. While considering this discourse and binary opposition. 144 5 . Word Count: 1. an application of semiotic analysis reveals a system of signs which reinforce this dominant conceptualisation of adolescent behaviour – regardless of its accuracy. This “outside” is created through emphasising a binary opposition between parent and child and. is that teenage children are disinterested. ultimately. between “us” and “them”. In other words.Eliza Murray 308221850 behaviours of adolescent children. The preferred reading of this advertisement for Artline permanent markers.
W: Limelight Productions. Bruce Beresford. 6 . 1981. “Self-Absorbed. http://www. no. "The public image of adolescents. Dangerous and Disengaged: What Popular Films Tell Us About Teenagers.proquest. Susannah R Stern.com/ (accessed August 24." Society 38. and Kathy Lette. N. By Gabrielle Carey. 2009). Cronulla. 1 (2005): 23-38.S.Eliza Murray 308221850 Bibliography Peter C Scales. DVD. no. dir. Margaret Kelly. Puberty Blues. 4 (May 1. 2001): 64-70.” Mass Communication & Society 8.
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