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Advertising: Preditor or Prey

Essay by review  •  February 16, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,508 Words (7 Pages)  •  896 Views

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To be predator or prey? Often within our contemporary society there is a dichotomy of this sort put forth in romance. The predator/prey dichotomy of romantic dynamics is featured in this Fidel Clothing advertisement. By conducting a psychoanalytical and sociological analysis, I will argue the repressed meaning underlying this image is that women should be predatory to be desirable. By deconstructing this meaning I conclude that no mode of predator, or prey is sufficient.

I found the Fidel advertisement in a "Vice Magazine" one of my friends had lying around his room. "Vice Magazine" is a self-proclaimed 'hedonistic' magazine geared to teenagers and young adults around the New York area. The socioeconomic class this magazine targets to is lower-middle, upper-lower and lower-lower. Although Fidel is based in Montreal it has been expanding their brand throughout the United States for a few years but I found it odd that a clothing company targeting a lower-upper and upper-upper economic class would be advertising in this magazine. I also found it interesting that even though "Vice Magazine" is read more by males than by females because of it's content, a women's clothing line was still advertising in it. As I looked more at the image of the girl in the ad I realized this picture was just as much for the male viewers as it was for the females. I decided to mix this idea with Freudian ideas and conduct an analysis.

In a Freudian dream analysis the manifest dream content is everything present in the advertisement. A woman stands inside a storefront window starring out at the camera. She wears an aqua top with the Fidel logo, dark pants, a loose braid, and she has simple make-up. The shot is taken from an angle looking up at her. Her spread fingertips touching the window accentuate the points where they meet the glass. The reflection of the glass is glaring, and another building and shimmering lights are visible. The company name and logo - FIDEL- is in upper-case white text on the right side of the advertisement. Fidel in the Latin derivative, means "faithful" in English. The connotations connected to the Fidel clothing company are reliability and honesty. The Fidel logo is an empty signifier taking on the characteristics via transference from the connotations of the concept "faithful", and the attractive characteristics of the woman.

The fact that their logo has a Latin derivative and that the clothing is made outside of the U.S also gives it a more elite standard. In our society things that are imported tend to have a higher aura and price on it than those that are not. The idea of owning clothing that has an ethnic allure and that is made outside of the United States has a remarkable way of making someone stand out and seem more desirable in our society. I would have to say the Fidel Clothing line is functional in a sociological aspect because consumerism is always helpful for economic and social purposes and this keeps stability in our society.

In accordance with Freudian analysis, the associations that follow are important in uncovering the repressed meaning. Freud writes, "The dream as remembered is not the real thing at all, but a distorted substitute which, by calling up other substitute-ideas, provides us with a means of approaching the thought proper, of bringing into consciousness the unconscious thoughts underlying the dream" (Freud, 121). The woman's curious look out to the viewers of the image suggests sophisticated seduction. Her flirtation is associated with something desired but inaccessible, which is reinforced by her awareness of the glass and the separation it imposes. The questionability of her relationship to the viewer becomes clearer when looking at the spatial relations. The shot is taken from a low angle, and the viewer assumes a lower position, figuratively and spatially. The woman's position from above is the ideal, and she has higher status, and vitality. The image of the window is indexical because it represents a part for the whole. Despite not showing the entire window we observe that it's a flat reflexive surface.

There are several examples of dream-censorship. The conspicuous action of flirtation without another person, and without a relationship, is omissions. The woman's look of intimacy is with a generalized 'other', and not for anyone in particular. Implied is that the woman stares at the viewer of the advertisement. This implicates a direct relationship between her and the viewer. What kind of relationship is this? And, in what way are we as viewers expected to view her? According to Doane on Foucault's theory of the glance and the gaze, the glance is a symptomatic reading of a woman for a deeper meaning, whereas the gaze observes only an "endlessly modulated" exterior. Foucault says, "The glance chooses a line that instantly distinguishes the essential; it therefore goes beyond what it sees; it is not misled by the immediate forms of the sensible, for it knows how to transverse them; it is essentially demystifying"(Doane, 158). By reading the image using the glance (in Foucault's sense), the view is neither one of erotic gaze, nor one of associative identity. I instead argue the image and the woman as exemplifying a behavior for women in romance. The glance reads a deeper cultural meaning and a societal understanding.




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