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The Layers Of Meaning Essay

1598 words - 6 pages

The Layers of Meaning

After studying media for the past two semesters, I am now a more cautious consumer and wary watcher of the influences on my life. As advertisers bombard me with television and print media offerings to buy, sell, drink, eat, wear, drive, smoke, and use a vast array of products and services, I conclude that there is no escape from these images except moving to a desert island — not a viable solution at this time. Not only do the media seek to empty my pockets of hard-earned money, it also reshapes the culture in which I live. By playing to our weakest motives and crumbling self images, advertisers sell their illusions, and we discard our own personal realities in search of their illusory image. Even cartoonist Gary Larsonís comic and paradoxical portrayals of the human condition reflect the political axioms of the day. Consider his ìFar Sideî offering where two Amazon explorers row madly in their canoe to out-distance their spear-holding onlookers — who amazingly are standing calmly in their motor-driven canoe. Oh, what a terrible reversal of fortune for Huxley and his friend! We laugh and are glad that we are not in the same boat. But, we really are in the same boat as the world changes. Larson forces the former majority of Anglo-Saxons to realize that it is still rowing madly trying to outrun its perceived enemies. Larson, like an advertising executive, is selling that the show is over for the white man in the jungle; those Amazonians have outboard motors. Besides, there are four Amazonians and only two of Huxley & Friend — another telling statistic. Perhaps Larsonís follow-up cartoon ought to be those white guys and the Amazonians sitting down to a table without either of them looking at each other in mistrust — or in hunger. Thus, Larson and all those smart ad executives are on the same page, figuratively, as they present media with many levels of meaning. The media presentations may seem simple and straight forward, yet they possess many subliminal messages about power, achievement, and escape from reality.

Toyota Land Cruiser paints a rugged picture of itself scaling up a rocky mountain seeking the satisfaction of reaching the top. This vehicleís tires do not meet a road; rather they collide with rocks on the uphill grade to success. Is there a metaphor waiting for recognition here? Certainly the reference domain of this media message is the young adventurer climbing to the top of whatever mountain he or she seeks to climb. Interestingly, the car sparkles without a trace of dust, further setting it apart from its natural environment and further personifying its intended owner. This print ad offers validation through adventure and conquest and links the mountain to the driver by allowing the driver to ascend the mountain. Yet, one must wonder if the driver has more in common with his setting than the matching shades of rich red paint and clay they share. The mountain stands strong against culture by remaining...

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