eng124 - English 124.019 Prof. Kelly Williams Visual...

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English 124.019 Prof. Kelly Williams Visual Reading As a culture, we are constantly reading throughout the day without even being aware of it: road signs, billboards, Starbucks coffee containers, exit signs, etc. What many of us do not realize, however, is that the media has us “reading” visual images as well. The billboard may be selling real estate, but is it any coincidence the realtor could be Cindy Crawford’s twin? Or more subtly, is it unplanned that the girl-next-door realtor is wearing a low-cut shirt? The answer is no; nothing is accidental, and DKNY exemplifies this in their ad campaign for fragrances. In Cosmopolitan , “Red Delicious” and “Be Delicious” fragrance advertisements were four pages apart, yet played off entirely different cultural stereotypes. The finely tuned media can manipulate our thoughts through visual symbolism and predetermined concepts of gender stereotypes and sexuality to sell consumer products. Unlike the case with most text, one must have a basic knowledge of contemporary culture in order to participate in the world of the advertisements. However, this basic knowledge is not what will be going through the viewers’ minds upon glancing at the image. In the DKNY “Red Delicious” advertisement, the eye goes to the bright red label in the middle of the page. It then immediately reverts up to the top of the page, where a sultry woman is holding a red apple and looking directly back at the camera. The eye then follows her thin, bare arm down before it veers toward the folds of her short outfit. The red fabric leads down to her bare legs. Finally, the reader skims across the “DKNY” label, and completing the tour of the page, follows the body of a man sitting behind her
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back up to where their faces almost touch. It is as though the reader has been involved in
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2008 for the course ENG 124 taught by Professor Williams during the Fall '06 term at University of Michigan.

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eng124 - English 124.019 Prof. Kelly Williams Visual...

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