Like my last post, I found this commercial doing one of my favorite things to do when I am avoiding work, which is catching up on tv shows on Hulu. Most of the time, the ads I see are commercials I have seen a million times or are painfully boring, but this time something was different. I thought that this was actually really clever and just as the Smart Car sticks out for going against our inclination for ‘BIG’ the commercial stood out from all of the other monotonous ones that I normally tune out. I think that this commercial is a perfect example of American consumerism, which has been especially on my mind since it was the focus of my group project. Once again I will pull from Marcuse to show how the idea of ‘big’ in the add is an example of a false need. This is because it has been programmed into our minds to go for the bigger and “better” thing, when really we need much less. The Frankfurt School also drives home this theory by bringing in capitalism, which drives people to keep buying so that it can thrive.
As I sat at work yesterday this lovely creature was sitting next to me, making that creepy face for my whole 5 hour shift. As I stared at this horrid skeleton/angel/demon that my boss decided to put in the store for Halloween, I realized that Halloween and its decorations could be sociologically analyzed through structuralism.
Structuralism proves that there are structures set up that guide life and values. With these structures set into place, most people are not given the opportunity to do things freely because they are forced to abide by these already made structures. For example, the girl who is young enough to fit into these little outfits, have no chance at forming their own [future] opinions of their favorite college football teams or even their potential college. Instead, they are being socialized at a young age to either be Trojan or Bruin fans. These uniforms show just how structures are placed on individuals. The children for example, are introduced into these structures so early; they are essentially forced to assimilate into either the UCLA or USC culture.
The theories of structuralism and post-structuralism seek to analyze constructions such as language in different ways. Structuralism, founded by Ferdinand de Saussure, makes sense of language through identifying the signifier, a physical tool such as a word, and its connection to the signified, the visual object that comes to mind. This structure of language contrasts with the poststructuralist view of language as a failure to represent the essentialism, or reality, of an object in the external world. Therefore, people can abuse language by projecting limited definitions on the object. This process forces people to disregard the true nature of an object and adopt the projected view, a poststructuralist’s fear realized. Examples of signifiers include words such as “freedom” and “democracy”. People adopt and believe in the positive nature of these concepts enforced by the United States’ political ideologies. However, in practice the concepts’ true nature consists of many negative effects. The cartoon above drawn by Malcolm Mayes illustrates one of the realities of freedom and democracy and its negative consequence of the United States invading other countries.