Advertisements are seen daily all over the world. They are one of the main sources of popular culture today. The text that I decided to analyze was an electronics advertisement placed on billboards and in magazines throughout Europe. It was ad promoting the new Sony PlayStation Portable in white. It features a Caucasian woman in a dominant position thrusting an African American woman’s head backwards while snarling in her direction. The Caucasian woman is shown as a beautiful, powerful woman, while the African American woman barely stands out from the black background. The text on the advertisement reads, “PlayStation Portable White is coming.”
This text was supposed to simply demonstrate the difference between the older Black PSP model and the new White PSP model. The company wanted to show the contrast between the two models and highlight the illuminating color difference. The ad pretty clearly shows the underlying idea of racism. This ad represents two different groups of people, Caucasians and African-Americans. On the billboard the Caucasian has clear power over the African American. It is demonstrating the power imbalance between the two groups and it would appear that they are advertising that Caucasians are the superior race. In Cultural Theory and Popular Culture the author discusses several definitions of ideology. One is that all texts, “present a particular image of the world.” He says that texts take sides, either consciously or subconsciously. This advertisement is a good example of that because it shows the producers of the image taking the side that the Caucasians are the superior race. Ideology as defined in Practices of Looking is the way that life should be, which would mean that the producers could be showing how they feel about the power imbalance between races and who is more dominant.
Before the course I was not that conscious of the ideologies that were underlying pop culture. I knew a little bit about ideologies and in some senses of pop culture there are pretty clear underlying ideas in forms of text but I had never really put deep thought into them until now. This academic look has really changed how I perceive popular culture. Now when I see a piece of text such as a movie or a commercial on TV I begin to ponder the ideas and thoughts underlying the text. I begin to analyze if the producers of these texts know consciously what they are providing to the public. One ideology that I think females and males both deal with is gender roles. Throughout my life I have seen movie after movie where the characters are portrayed as what is appropriate in society. This means that there is the typical family with a husband, a wife, and two or three children. The husband works outside the home, while the wife’s role is to take care of the children and keep up the house. This type of ideology demonstrates how we are supposed to act in our own gender. Males are supposed to be tough, and provide for a family. If a male were sensitive or decided to be a stay at home dad he wouldn’t fit into this ideology and he would be looked down upon. Where if a woman were strong and independent it would not fit the ideal mold. Growing up I was taught that this was how the world was supposed to be. This type of ideology is negative and it gives people a false reality of what the world is and should be.
In our lives media is nearly impossible to stay away from. You cannot walk down the street without coming across an advertisement. This type of media is a huge part of popular culture and what is accessible and seen largely over the world. Whether consciously or subconsciously advertisements, television, and all other types of media have underlying ideas. This includes ideas such as appropriate gender roles, the power struggle between races, and many more. Popular culture affects most everyone, therefore the underlying ideas in the media have a power affect on society as well.