CASTRO, Kevin Cedrick R. 2010-06974 Bachelor of Secondary Education (CA-English/SPED) Prof. Romylyn Metila Foreground’s Text Facial Features Through the use of The meaningful eyes wordplay, font color and the unsmiling lips (yellow), font size exhibit the seriousness (large), and all- of the advocacy’suppercase letters, the request audience isstimulated to look at this first before anywhere else Supplementary Text The use of directive Grayscale Image utterances show a The use of grayscale sign of authority image adds up on the gravity and intensity of the subject matter that the campaign tackles Thesis: GLSEN‟s “That‟s so Cheerleader” advertisement utilizes an interplay among the foreground, the background and the supplementary text through the use of literary techniques (i.e. allusion, pastiche, wordplay), linguistic phenomenon (i.e. semantic shift), textual features (i.e. uppercase font, large font size, and yellow as font color), directives, and a grayscale image of an unsmiling teenage girl to elicit a strong emotional appeal for the audience to stop the use of homophobic language. The interconnection among the major elements leads us to believe that their advocacy is right; making sure that their subjectivities and intentions will be our own creed as well, even though if it justifies stereotyping as a reasonable thing.
The Bullied Strikes Back A discourse analysis of GLSEN‟s “That‟s so cheerleader” advertisementThat‟s so “the Background of the „That‟s so cheerleader‟ Advertisement” The story behind the “That‟s so cheerleader” advertisement On October 8, 2008, the US-based organization Gay, Lesbian, and Straight EducationNetwork (GLSEN), with the help of Ad Council, released an advocacy campaign called ThinkBefore You Speak. This aims to put an end to the use of homophobic vocabulary in all schoolsin the United States. Through the use of different media (print, television, radio) and theparticipation of a number of celebrities (Wanda Sykes, Hillary Duff, and a number of NBAplayers), GLSEN launched campaign resources which school teachers, staffs, andadministrators may use to advocate an affable and welcoming environment for gay students. According to the data provided in the campaign‟s official website, thinkb4youspeak.com,“9 out of 10 LGBT students report being harassed at school,” while “over one-third of LGBTstudents have been physically assaulted at school because of their sexual orientation or genderidentity/expression” (Think Before You Speak). These physical abuses, bullying, andharassments started with the common use of anti-LGBT language, such as “so gay” whichmeans lame and stupid. With these information, it is very evident that this advocacy poster is targeting studentsof all level as its audience in a full-scale view. Furthermore, as we examine each of theseposters, a certain clique inside the school, composed mostly of the “cool” kids just like theathletes and cheerleaders, are the specific and obvious target of the advertisements. The elements of the advertisement Of the three varieties of this advertisement, I decided to work with the one shown on thefirst page. To ease up the analysis, I will be referring to this as the “That‟s so Cheerleader”advertisement. The advertisement is composed of four elements: the foreground (the yellow uppercasetext which says: That‟s so “cheerleader who like can‟t like say smart stuff.”), the background (agrayscale image of a young woman, possibly within the age range of 13-17 years old, whoexhibits a serious look in her face), the supplementary text written in white enclosed in a black
background (which says “Think that‟s mean? How do you think „that‟s so gay‟ sounds? Hurtful.So, knock it off.”), and the logos of Ad Council and GLSEN positioned on the bottom page, theformer on the leftmost while the latter on the rightmost. Through the interconnection and interaction of all these elements, especially theforeground, the background, and the supplementary text, 1GLSEN‟s “That‟s so Cheerleader”advertisement utilizes an interplay among the foreground, the background and thesupplementary text through the use of literary techniques (i.e. allusion, pastiche,wordplay), linguistic phenomenon (i.e. semantic shift), textual features (i.e. uppercasefont, large font size, and yellow as font color), directives, and a grayscale image of anunsmiling teenage girl to elicit a strong emotional appeal for the audience to stop the useof homophobic language. 2The interconnection among the major elements leads us tobelieve that their advocacy is right; making sure that their subjectivities and intentionswill be our own creed as well, even though if it justifies stereotyping as a reasonablething.That‟s so “the Analysis of each Element”1 For this visual analysis, I will be using the phenomenological discourse analysis. I will belooking at the two significant facets in using such discourse analysis: the subjectivities, and theintentions. Throughout the analysis, I will be explaining how the perspectives of the peoplebehind this advertisement try to shape our way of thinking, and try to persuade us to join theircause. I will also be explaining what‟s good (how it becomes effective) and what‟s bad (what itdeems right even though it is not) in the advertisement. The analysis is divided into three parts:the foreground, the background, and the supplementary text. I will be discussing the features ofeach element and how these features help in attaining a certain end and in accomplishing theadvocacy‟s goal. Starting with the foreground… The Text: That‟s so „cheerleader who like can‟t like say smart stuff.‟ Wordplay, Stereotyping, and Semantic Shift. To effectively further the advocacycampaign‟s cause, linguistic and rhetoric devices and techniques are used in the campaignposters. First, there are use of allusion and pastiche. Allusion is a figure of speech that makesreference to a certain person, event, literary works, etc, while pastiche is a literary techniquewhich shows an imitation with other works or styles (Wikipedia). The literary techniques utilized
in forming the principal linguistic element in this advocacy poster induces a new twist to thecommon phrase “That‟s so gay.” The phrase written above is an allusion and pastiche to the phrase “That‟s so gay.” Bychanging the term „gay‟ with the phrase „cheerleader who like can‟t like say smart stuff‟, thepeople behind this visual is turning the table. They use wordplay to put the typical bullies, in thiscase, the cheerleaders, in the shoes of their victims. The text creates a situational event in thereader‟s mind once they grasp it. By shifting the positions of the doer and the receiver, the doer(cheerleader) is expected to experience a recurring painful event in the life of the receiver (gay). In order for the bullies to fully feel what their victims felt when they use such phrase, theadvertisement relies on the use of stereotype to “hurt” the bullies. The claim of theadvertisement that cheerleaders “can‟t… say smart stuff” and the frequent use of the word “like”which leads to a syntactically incorrect sentence are the stereotypes used in the advertisement.This stereotyping leads to the assumption that the cheerleaders are dumb due to incorrectsentence structure when speaking and their inability to talk of sensible things. The use of the phrase “cheerleader who like can‟t like say smart stuff” to replace “gay”places the former to the ranks of the latter, meaning that they now possess a similar attribute –they both have “lame” as their definition. The advertisement, for it to be effective, degrades themeaning of “cheerleader” and equates it with “dumb.” In this scenario, a sudden semantic shifttakes place, highlighting the same phenomenon behind the current use of the word “gay.” Text Form, Size and Color. Upon seeing this advertisement, one will surely be capturedfirst by the text on the foreground. The use of the large, yellow, uppercase font style in formingthe phrase “That‟s so „cheerleader who like can‟t like say smart stuff‟” serves as an efficientvisual stimulus for the audience to look at this element first before turning their gaze to the otherelements. The phrase indicated above occupies almost half of the whole space in theadvertisement. The absorption of a large amount of space in a visual material implies that thiselement has a much more significance than the other elements presented in the visual. Since itis a more significant element in the visual, the readers are invited to look at it first, grasp theidea underlying this linguistic element, then, proceed with the other elements. The predominantsize of the text aims to pique the reader‟s interest to grab their full attention.
Using uppercase letters in forming the above phrase is not just a mere accidence.Writing that phrase in uppercase letters, just like the font size, still rouses the reader‟s visualattention. This element‟s feature further reinforces the element‟s mere significance in thisadvertisement. Furthermore, it also elicits a sense of urgency for the audience to read it. Thisparticular feature is insisting the audience to put their eyes on the text and to read it. Theelement‟s use of all-uppercase letters highlights the worth of it on the advertisement, anddemands the full attention of the reader by deeming the text as something which is urgent, atthe same time, necessary. There are two prevailing colors in this advocacy poster, yellow, and gray. In this part, Iwill be discussing the significance of using yellow as the text‟s font color, what it signifies, andwhat are its anticipated effects for the readers of this advertisement. The color yellow is part of the warm color family, along with red and orange. Yellow,having the lightest value (relative lightness or darkness) from the three, is considered thebrightest and most energizing of all the warm colors. It is usually associated with happiness andsunshine. However, on the other end of the spectrum, it may also denote deceit, cowardice, anddanger. The color yellow also symbolizes hope (Chapman, 2010). The use of yellow as the font‟s color in this advocacy poster is a representamen for threethings: first, cowardice; second, danger; and lastly, hope. Let‟s discuss these possibilities: 1. Cowardice is usually associated with the color yellow. In this advocacy poster, cowardice is implied to be a recurring characteristic of the specific target audience of this campaign. Their use of homophobic language as a form of bullying is a sign of cowardice. The use of the color yellow with the phrase above associate the subject of the advertisement (the cheerleaders) to cowardice, implicitly describing them as cowards whenever they use the phrase “That‟s so gay.” 2. The use of the phrase “That‟s so gay” brings the object of bullying into a great sense of danger. The use of yellow as the font color warns the specific target audience of the danger linked with the use of homophobic language. By replacing the word „gay‟ with „cheerleader who like can‟t like say smart stuff‟, the target audience is expected to feel what the recipients of such kind of bullying feels. The target audience is expected to be in the victims‟ shoes to experience the perils and threats posed by the use of homophobic language.
3. Through the use of yellow as the font color, the text signifies hope for the subject of the use of homophobic language. The color implies that once the target audience read this text, realizations and insights will emerge from their minds, thus putting an immediate end to bullying through the use of homophobic language. The color yellow connotes optimism which kindles the hopes that the future will be much better for the homosexuals.Since I am using the phenomenological discourse analysis in examining this visual material, it isvery important to see if the use of each element is intentional to convey a meaning based on thecampaign‟s subjectivity. The use of color yellow is not just a coincidence. The text is intended tobe yellow to expose the events in a gay individual‟s life, especially when at school. The use ofyellow is not just a product of pragmatic motives, but a product of intentionality and subjectivityfrom the perpetrator of the advocacy poster. Followed by the background… Grayscale Image. I mentioned earlier that there are two prevailing colors in thisadvertisement: yellow and gray. Yellow, as I explained above, is dominant on the foreground,while gray is the central color of the background. The use of a grayscale image as the background of the advertisement gives a serioustone to the advocacy poster. The poster is claiming through the use of background the gravityand intensity of what they are fighting for. A grayscale image also builds a sense of drama forthe entire advertisement. It brings the readers to a situation where the audience is supposed tosympathize with victims of the use of homophobic language. The reader is deemed to be stirredinto a gloomy dimension by the use of a dismal background. This is to explain how hurtful it isfor gays to hear homophobic language in a daily basis inside the school. With the use thegrayscale image, the advertisement intensifies the sentiments extracted from the otherelements, thus, highlighting the use of emotional appeal to capture the audience‟s support. Analyzing Closely the Background. It is important to have a knowledge on who the girlon the background is. We will be looking on two feature of the image, the visible attire of the girlon the background, and the facial features significant in creating her identity. Afterwards, I willbe discussing the image with reference to what it represents. First, let us describe the attire of the girl in the image. The girl is simply wearing anordinary tee-shirt. Since this is a gray-scale image, it is impossible to determine the color of the
shirt. It is also observable that the tee-shirt is round neck. We now proceed with the facialelements of the image. There are two facial striking features which establish the identity of thegirl: the eyes and the lips. Upon looking on the advertisement, aside from the text on theforeground, what really appeals to us is the meaningful stare of the girl on the background. Youwill be lured to look at her eyes wonder why is she directly looking at you in a very seriousmanner. The eyes, especially the left one, do not offer a blank stare. There is definitelysomething controversial yet significant with that look. With this curiosity, you are anticipated toexplore further the elements of the poster to find a concrete answer for this look. Later on, I willbe explaining how these look interrelate with the other elements, especially with thesupplementary text. Let us now describe the lips of the girl. What really is interesting with thisfacial feature is the mere fact that it shows no expression. It is neither smiling, nor it is frowning.The lips are just shut delicately, which highly suggests total silence. The paradoxicaljuxtaposition of the meaningful stares and the silent lips creates a very interesting twist in thisimage. The eyes wanted to say something, but the lips either cannot or do not want to voice thisout. With these concise descriptions of these features, we can now form the identity of thegirl, and can elucidate her role in the advertisement. I have established earlier that the specifictarget audience of this advertisement is the cheerleaders, the usual people behind the use ofhomophobic language. However, the image of the background does not resemble any featuresfrom a typical cheerleader. The round-necked plain tee-shirt and the far-from-perfectappearance of the lady give no hint that she is a cheerleader. Through the eyes and the lips ofthe lady, it is safe to assume that this girl is part of the advocacy promoting the end of thehomophobic language use. Even though she is not gay, I believe that she still feels offendedwhen others use the word „gay‟ to mean „lame.‟ Her gaze insists to stop the use of homophobiclanguage. No need to say something. The stare is just as meaningful as the words themselves.The signifier in this sign is the image of the girl while the signified is the advocates of theaforementioned campaign (Cook, 1992). The use of a typical girl to represent the advocates of this campaign elicits compassionfrom the female population inside the schools. The mere fact that the advocacy poster has ayoung lady of their age as a model assures that they are welcome to that advocacy. Whateveryour gender or sexual orientation is, as long as you believe to the advocacy‟s cause, you willfeel a sense of belongingness with the other advocates.
Then, lastly, the supplementary text… Use of Directives and Mediated Quasi-interaction. Since this is an advocacy inside theschool, it helps that the supplementary text positioned at the bottom-left part of the poster usedan authoritative voice in giving explicit directives. Directives are “type of utterances which aimsto get the receiver to do something” (Lohansen & Larsen, 2002). The supplementary text waswritten in a way that it explicitly tells the reader what to do (in this case, to stop using „that‟s sogay‟ and other homophobic language). A voice of authority is speaking with the readers oncethey scan the supplementary text. The sense of authority is detectable in the arrangement ofsentences. The sentences were assembled in a way that the reader will not be able to defendhimself. This is further supported by the use of rhetorical questions at the beginning. Thesupplementary text was designed not as a form of communication, but as a one-waytransmission of thoughts. You are not supposed to answer the questions, nor are you notallowed to defend yourself. You just need to listen, to absorb what the poster is directing you todo, and to reflect on the past behavior being targeted by the campaign. This type of interactionis called “mediated quasi-interaction.” Thompson described that mediated quasi-interaction “is astructured situation in which some individuals are engaged primarily in producing symbolicforms for others who are not physically present, while others are involved primarily in receivingsymbolic forms produced by others whom they cannot respond, but with whom they can formbonds of friendship, affection, or loyalty” (Talbot, 2007).That‟s so “My Personal Reaction on this Advertisement”2 The elements in this advocacy poster are designed to interact with each other. Withoutthe presence of just one element, the visual will not be as effective as how it seems to look now.All of the elements cannot stand with their own. The appeal that it elicits from the audience andthe response of the readers are products of the effective interaction of each element. Each element leads the reader‟s eyes to the other elements in the advocacy poster.However, it does not incarcerate the mind from going into a linear route. Due to theinterconnection among the elements, any route will suffice. The presentation is non-linear andone can easily describe the relationship of each elements. Let us take the background as anexample of this. Earlier, I said that the girl‟s gaze is significant in analyzing the wholeadvertisement. The look tells the readers to explore further the advertisement and to look at theother elements. After looking at the girl‟s eyes, if you focus your sight to the supplementary text,the girl‟s stare will finally be explained. It will be clear that the gaze is a silent request to stop
using homophobic language. Even though you will hear a different voice speaking the content ofthe supplementary text, the eyes still conveys the same words through her gaze. We deducethat the stare‟s meaning is the same as what is written in the supplementary text. Theseinterconnection and relationship fortify the cause of the advocacy campaign, creating a largerimpact on the audience. However, if you look at the foreground after looking on the background,the gaze‟s effect will be much stronger, given that the text on the foreground is a strikingcomponent in building up the advertisement‟s efficiency. The readers will presume a greatconnection between the use of wordplay and the serious look, creating a schema that the stareis a realization of how mean and how hurtful “that‟s so gay” sounds. The meaning conveyed bythe interplay of the elements is still rooted from the intentions and subjectivities of the campaign.The relationship among each element is designed to discuss a phenomenon, and to persuadethe audience to believe and to follow to their way of thinking. However, even though the advocacy poster is for a good cause, the use of stereotypingis not an equal justification to get the sympathies of the audience. I think that theadvertisement‟s use of stereotyping makes the advocates the new bullies. Yes, the advocacymay be effective, but the occurrence of such ideology incites a moral and ethical concerns. Thisadvertisement tells us that in order to protect a specific group of people, it is necessary for us toharm other particular clique. This advocacy campaign poster strikes a chord as a form ofrevenge from the pro-gay advocates to the “anti-gay” groups.That‟s so “the Conclusion” Through the interplay with the different elements, the intended audience will surely getthe idea that the advocacy poster wants to convey. However, it is a different matter if theaudience will buy this kind of gimmick. Even though if the advertisement explicitly discusses theanticipated change in behavior after reading the advertisement, the advocacy poster still lacksthe power to make this change certain. Yes, it has all the elements that it needed to elicit anemotional appeal to the audience, but its being authoritative in demanding change might not sellvery aptly for the teenagers of the United States of America, a very liberated nation with a muchindependent people. However, I think this is a good start for the campaign advocacy. It makesthe audience reflect on the life that s/he had, and gives each and every individual to change forthe better. For the audience to understand the message being conveyed by this kind ofadvertisement, they must look on the interplay and the interconnection among the elements.
They must perceive each element as significant to see the advertisement‟s wider view. Theymust look at what are the intentions of the creator by coming up with such idea, and thesubjectivities posed by the advertisement. The audience must avoid being swayed by thepresentation of the advertisement‟s subjectivities. They must analyze first the hidden messagebetween each element and build their own judgments on whether to support such campaign,knowing that it, in practice, shows the biases of a single group. The audience must be cautiouswith how the advocacy attains to reach its goal. The audience must be aware of what they aretrying to do and what they want you to acquire, in this case, the concept of „revenge‟ as ameans to reach success.
References:Allusion. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 23, 2012, from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All>.Chapman, C. (2010, January 28). Color Theory for Designers Part 1: The Meaning of Color. Retrieved from <http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/01/28/color-theory-for- designers-part-1-the-meaning-of-color/>.Cook, G. (1992). The Discourse of Advertising. New York, NY: Routledge.Lohansen, J.D., & Larsen, S.E. (2002). Signs in Use: An Introduction to Semiotics. New York, NY: Routledge.Pastiche. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 23, 2010, from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastiche>.Talbot, M. (2007). Media Discourse: Representation and Interaction. UK: Edinburgh University.Think Before You Speak. Retrieved March 22, 2012, from <http://www.thinkb4youspeak.com/GetInformed/>.