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COMU1000 Text Analysis
 

COMU1000 Text Analysis

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COMU1000

COMU1000
University of Queensland

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  • Hi everyone. I’m Vera and today my topic is how do we analyse texts and I’ll be talking about what textual analysis is in brief, why we do it, some concepts from the reading, and applying these concepts on an advertisement. So first, what is textual analysis?
  • According to the McKee reading, textual analysis is an educated guess at some of the most likely interpretations that might be made of a text. As media texts are not always directed at a homogeneous society untouched by divisions of power and interest, interpretations of texts are dependent on an individual’s cultural background and knowledge.There may be many interpretations of the same text, just as there are many ways to describe the same truth. Thus we cannot claim that a text is accurate or inaccurate or reflects reality. A famous example is the word ‘snow’, whereas the English language mostly uses only a few nouns to describe snow – snow, slush and sleet – to differentiate snowy conditions, the Eskimo language makes subtle and detailed distinctions between different kinds of snow. To us, snow is snow. We are not aware of the detailed distinctions because we are not exposed to them but that does not mean that they don’t exist.Furthermore, due to the diversity of cultures, contexts and audiences, O’Shaughnessy & Stadler note that the polysemic nature of images means that an image can have more than one possible meaning and can be decoded in different ways.As we grow up, we pick up useful terms and ways of thinking about things. We draw from publicly available knowledge to make sense of texts so it is often from public discourse about the media that we pick up the terms we use in decoding a text.
  • So why do we analyse texts? According to McKee, we do it to understand the media’s role in our lives and its role in the cultural construction of our views of the world.We all have different realities and text analysis does not find out what reality is because my reality would differ from your reality. This slide is pink to me, and it might be pink to you too, but maybe your pink is my orange and your orange is my pink. It is just a name we call this colour but maybe we’re looking at different colours. Your reality would be no less real than mine.
  • This advertisement playfully uses the concept of connotation to send their message across.Take a few seconds to look at it.Now let's talk about what just happened. How is Burger King using this ad to entice their customers? Does sex always sell in advertising? Let’s look for some key signifiers to tell us more.Photographic composition:From left to right because we read that way. More focus is on the woman, even though it is trying to sell the burger. Readers ask, what is the woman doing? Why is she important here? Lighting: Harsh light on woman, light gets softer toward the burger as it gets darker toward the right of the burger (emphasis on the direct, hard hitting advertisement) Darkness is also associated with the unknown and in this case it looks as if there could be something or someone standing behind the burger, reinforcing the pornographic connotationSome signifiers here do not represent a real woman actually preparing to eat a burger. Her teeth are not exposed, so she does not look like she’s going to bite into the burger. Again, reinforcing fellatio (blowjob/oral sex)Let’s look at some other key signifiers to find out how Burger King is using this advertisement to entice its customers.
  • These make up the important signifiers. Okay well let’s look at the photographic composition because that way we’ll find out what the sender (aka BK) is trying to tell us to focus on.Because in our culture we read from left to right, we can deduce that more focus is on the woman, even though it is trying to sell the burger. Readers ask, what is the woman doing? Why is she important here?So we look at the woman. It’s a close up of a blond lady’s side profile, she has thick make up, her eyes and mouth wide open.Some people can thusly interpret this advertisement to be a woman eating the burger. And that wouldn’t be wrong at all. Because texts are polysemic, which means that they can have more than one possible meaning, depending on audiences, contexts and connotations. For all we know, she may be just getting ready to enjoy a burger.However, some signifiers here seem to protest that she isn’t actually eating the burger. First signifier of this, because her teeth are not exposed, so she does not look like she’s going to bite into the burger.Then again, she could just be shocked at the size of the burger, explaining the lack of teeth and the wide eyes and mouth.So let’s look now at the burger, which is what BK is selling in this ad. Or at least I think that’s what they’re selling because of the price and the product placement in the ad.The burger is oblong-shaped, and that is perfectly fine. On its own. But coupled with the woman who now because of this burger positioned directly in front of her mouth looks like she’s about to have the burger inside her mouth no matter what, it looks suggestive and some people can therefore interpret this advertisement to be portraying the act of fellatio (blowjob/oral sex).The context has changed because we now are exposed to the sexual connotation this ad is illustrating. Now, the blond woman would seem slightly familiar to some who know what a blow up doll is. Blonde, fixed expression with heavy makeup and mouth open. We call this inference intertextuality, which means that we borrow and refer to other images that we already know of and apply it here to this text.Now if we look at the lighting: Harsh light on woman, light gets softer toward the burger as it gets darker toward the right of the burger. Darkness is sometimes associated with the unknown and in this case it reinforces the sexual connotation, as if there could be something or someone standing behind the burger. The name of the burger emphasizes on this fact – the BK Super Seven Incher.Now looking at the captions. Captions work as a form of ‘anchorage’, it’s supposed to tie down or anchor the image to a certain meaning for us.In this case, the captions “It’ll blow your mind away” in uppercase could signify mind-blowing pleasure. Furthermore, the extra large type used for ‘It’ll blow’ emphasizes the sexual connotation yet again of a blowjob or a blow up doll.There is also an unlikely connotation: ‘It’ll blow’ meaning it’ll suck, it’ll taste bad … I say unlikely because I don’t think BK would say that of their own product.And then of course, there’s the product name again and a suggestive description.A wholesome, blow-up-doll-esque woman looks at a submarine sandwich with a combination of awe and fear. We are told that the sandwich is seven inches long and that it will "blow your mind away.” This ad promises women a fulfillment that is sexual in its power. It mocks women and in so doing allows (young, idiotic) men to order it with chuckling glee. In that respect, and from an advertising perspective, it kind of works.The image of the wide-eyed blond female with heavy make up and her mouth wide open next to an oblong-shaped burger and the caption “It’ll blow your mind away” proposes links between the blond and the burger that seems to be deliberately crafted to depict the sexual act of fellatio (blow job/oral sex).
  • Step 3: Identify connotations and social codes to which the signifieds are relating.The connotations likely to be emphasised by different readers vary with their social positions like gender, age, race and other factors that influence the way they think about and interpret texts.Advertising imagery persist in portraying women as passive objects of male desire and control, despite current awareness of sexism in the media.Objectifies women in their advertisingContext: Sex Sells.

COMU1000 Text Analysis COMU1000 Text Analysis Presentation Transcript

  • How doweanalysetexts?
  • What is Textual Analysis?When we perform textual analysis on a text, we make aneducated guess at some of the most likely interpretations thatmight be made of that text.
  • Why do we analyse text?To understand the role that the media plays in our lives andhow its messages participate in the cultural construction ofour view of the world
  • Close upBlonde femaleThick makeupWide-eyed Oblong-shapedMouth wide open burgerNo teeth shown Shadowy-endmind away’In uppercase {‘It’ll blow your } ‘It’ll blow’ in extra large type‘BK Super SevenIncher’ in Descriptionuppercase
  • intertextuality
  • The ad looks The ad wouldenticing, promising probably nota mind-blowing mean anythingexperience sexual to someThe ad is offensive The ad is funny,toward women, BK BK has a sense ofis disrespectful. humour and is edgy
  • ReferencesMckee, Alan. „What is Textual Analysis?‟ Textual Analysis: A Beginner‟s Guide. London:Sage, 2003.O‟Shaughnessy, Michael, & Jane Stadler. „Reading Images‟, Media and Society: anIntroduction.South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2005.“Burger King Ad: It‟ll blow your mind away.” Online Image. 25 Jun. 2009.Geekologie–Gadgets, Gizmos and Awesome. 11 Aug. 2010.<http://www.geekologie.com/2009/06/25/bk%20ad.jpg>