I chose to analyze an advertisement of Newport cigarettes from the 1970’s, in this advertisement it shows a stylishly dressed African American man with a cigarette in his hand and the words, “Cool ain’t cold. Newport is.” The ideas that underlie this advertisement are that cigarettes are cool and if you smoke them you as well will be cool. It not only says in the advertisement that Newport’s are cool they also reinforce this with a well-dressed man in a blue dress shirt, blue pants, and leather shoes smoking a cigarette next to it. They make sure that the man is dressed in all blue to keep the cold aspect of their advertisement. This advertisement was directed towards young African American men and advertised in low-income African American communities. This could have harmful effects because young children growing up in these neighborhoods would see these advertisements and think that all they needed to become hip or popular, when in fact smoking cigarettes is extremely bad for your health. This is why cigarette companies are unable to make these kinds of advertisements now, because they really do have an impact on people even if not noticed.
Before taking this class I was unaware of the ideologies that underlie popular culture. I never really looked into why texts always present a particular image of the world, for example medical TV shows that depict that every doctor does his or her best to save a patient or always doing the right thing. These texts just show the glamorous unrealistic ways of life that don’t happen. I was also unaware of how ideology is also defined by Louis Althusser, he says that certain rituals and customs have an effect of binding us to the social order: a social order that is marked by enormous inequalities of wealth, status and power. When learning this I started to think of rituals and customs I have like Christmas and realized how it is marked by inequalities of wealth and status. You usually see advertisements during the holiday season that show families around a huge Christmas tree with presents sounding them. With this people start to only concentrate on the wealth, status, and power that comes with Christmas and not what it is really about. Ideology operates also mainly at a level of unconscious meanings of text and practices, this means that the things we see on a day to day basis can have an effect on how we thing of something. For example the advertisement I chose to analyze could easily be looked passed but unconsciously we take these images in and begin to think they are normal or what you’re supposed to buy or look like.