Reading Response 02.
When I first read the title to this reading, I was admittedly skeptical of the validity. My imitate thought was, “We’re going to rhetorically analyze two walls with the names of the dead, right?” After reading it, however, I was pleased at how Sturken described the construction, and alluded to underlying meanings. The reading also reminded of how different the definition of the word, “text” can be. I was also pleased at
People typically think of writing, or books when they hear the word text. In rhetoric, specifically for this class, I feel there is a more broad understanding. To me, texts are anything that conveys meaning that can be analyzed. The word analyzed is a key word, specifically to the Sturken reading. It was interesting to me how various people had very opposing viewpoints on the Vietnam Memorial.
Listen to the first 60 seconds of the audio clip from Studio 360 here:
The first minute is just an introduction to the story, but you can see how there are so many different opinions about the Memorial. The Memorial itself is relatively simple, two walls with names etched into them. The message behind them, however, is up to personal interpretation.
The Vietnam War was one of the worst wars in American history depending on who you talk to. As the reading pointed out, there are a lot of different opinions about the war. This can explain the differing responses to the erection of the Memorial. While I’m sure that there were some underlying motivations for the design, and construction of the Memorial, there are none expressed if you view it in person. Regardless, people responded furiously, stating that it had no place amongst the various other monuments. Other people have welcomed the memorial, and love the honor that it offers the dead.
These differing viewpoints are only two of thousands, but they exemplify how people in general analyze select texts, and add their own insights to form an opinion.
Through out this reading, I could not help but to compare each argument Bridsell made to advertising and branding. We live in a world surrounded by visual images, and the arguments they are trying to convey in seconds. These images, when studied rhetorically can be considered texts, and allow us to decipher multiple possible conclusions, arguments, or deeper meanings. That being said, I disagree with the mentioned David Fleming, and think that visuals can, and do represent arguments.
If you think about it, our society loves visuals. As we drive down the street, billboards, or stores flashing their brands on signs bombard us. As we browse the web, a pop up forces its way in front of our eyes. Mostly, they have seconds to capture our attention and effectively convey some information about the company they represent.
According to Dr. Art Markman, we are “conditioned” to understand the deeper meaning of advertisements subconsciously (Markman 1). Companies seek to convey not just the product they are selling, but potentially info about themselves, their brand, or their values—without using written text. Lets use an example of Cream Cheese.
Philadelphia Cream Cheese is one of the most popular brands in the US. Think about some of their advertisements. Some of the imagery includes clouds, angels, happy middle-aged women, and the color blue. Their commercials used to be “made in the clouds” with people laughing and dancing. The selling points here are not just about the shite stuff you might goop onto your bagel each morning, there is a deeper argument made by the visuals.
The clouds might represent the “fluffy” image we imagine when we daydream about opening a pack of Cream Cheese, for example.
According to the book, Kellog on Branding, Kraft wanted to convey meaning in “relevant perceptual categories” such as, “Rich. Creamy. Authentic. Special Reward. Creative” (Kellog , 32). They we successful at ding this through their visual marketing. There are rarely any words outside of the logo in Philadelphia ads, yet they still argue who, what and why should buy this product. The imagery relates to the target demographic in a way that is understandable, even if subconsciously.
All advertisements argue a deeper point or meaning, even simply in their logo. All companies are attempting to convey something much more than their selling point, to resonate with their target consumers. Keep an eye out, and wonder to yourselves what argument are being faced with next.
Kellog on Branding text book