Semiology is a useful tool in the analysis of media texts and allows the deeper layers of meaning to be revealed. According to Rayner, Wall and Kruger “semiology is an attempt to create a science of the study of sign systems and their role in the construction and reconstruction of meaning in media texts” (Image Analysis, 2004). The text that will be analysed is advertisement for PETA featuring Pamela Anderson, which aims to sell an ideology of beauty and femininity, as well as sexual empowerment through self-objectification (see appendix for image). This essay will analyse the chosen text through the use of semiology. The essay will analyse the connotations, denotations and myth of the text among other elements.
The text is part of a campaign promoting vegetarianism, created by the animal rights advocacy group PETA, featuring actress and model Pamela Anderson in a two-piece swimsuit. Anderson is posing is seated on a flat surface with her legs bent at the knee, leaning back slightly on her hands and pushing her chest out. Her facial expression is sultry and seductive. Dotted lines have been painted on her body, dividing it into sections which are labelled with what the corresponding cut of meat would be called. The anchorage of the text reads: “All animals have the same parts. Have a heart, go vegetarian”. An anchorage is the caption on a text that “anchors” the preferred meaning of an image (Chandler, 2013).
This text similar to other campaigns that PETA have created, nearly all of which feature nude or scantily-clad female celebrities who are sometimes posed with baby animals. In contrast, the male celebrities that feature in their campaigns are seldom nude. If they are, it is almost always from the waist up. This is common in advertising, and the media in general, which tends to objectify women for the purposes of selling product. In this case, PETA are objectifying Anderson in order to promote animal rights— almost “selling” the vegetarian lifestyle.
Semiotician Bob Hodge says that ideology "identifies a unitary object that incorporates complex sets of meanings with the social agents and processes that produced them” (Ideology, 2013). Myth has a similar definition. According to Barthes, myth refers to “the hidden set of rules and conventions through which meanings, which are in reality specific to certain groups, are made to seem universal and given for a whole society” (Barthes, 1998). The text represents an ideology or myth of beauty and femininity. Beauty and femininity often go hand in hand as beauty is often seen as party of being feminine (Lazar, 2013). Beauty is defined by the norms of society and these conventional standards are what is expected of women. Anderson fits well within the societal norms, and therefore is considered beautiful.
Feminists, especially ‘second wave’ feminists, have long condemned these beauty practices, and the beauty industry that profits from these practices, citing that these restrictive ideals of...