“We the People” : Classifying the Ideology of Images

“ In contemporary taste cultures, the circulation of objects through categories of taste and the reclassification of objects according to new scales of value show us that hierarchies of taste and beauty are not fixed but are relative to historical and cultural interpretations.” – Strunken and White , “Viewers Make Meaning”

This whole semester we have learning about the concept that it is never black and white when it comes to images. No longer can a photographer capture a photo and expect to convey all of the meaning that is trying to be conveyed. Throughout this reading, the authors discuss how there is an emphasis on the individual viewer. The viewer who is passing judgment brings his or her background, experience, and tastes. I had not expanded this view to more than just simple photography until we discussed these topics in class. Now, I am beginning to see how areas like advertising and high class art exhibits are also about “Beauty being in the eye of the beholder”.

As I was reading about the “intervisuality” or the interaction of variety of modes of visuality, I wondered about advertisements who have been misconstrued through cultural meanings. I found two of the biggest global advertising blunders were from two beverage producers: Coors and Pepsi.

Pepsi had an ad campaign about “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” which was extremely successful in America. When it was translated into Chinese, it said, ” Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave,” in Chinese. 




Then, the Coors put its slogan ,” Turn it loose” was then translated into “Suffer from diarrhea” in the Spanish version of advertisement . Needless to say that the viewers in those countries had their own reasons for not buying the products. 





These consumers were using Bordieu’s theory of “habitus” or “a set of dispositions and preferences we share as social subjects that are related to our class position, education, and social standing.” I am not going to pretend that I am a connoisseur of art , but I did go to the MOMA in NYC when I was thirteen. At that time in my life, I had no sense of the reverence for the art around me and honestly was interested in making fun of some of the ridiculous pieces. I did not have the background or the maturity to appreciate the atmosphere I was in. Throughout these articles, I am seeing that it the same with mainstream media. Many people do not have the background or the insight to sift through the junk and the jewels. We, as the viewers in society, need to be socially aware of how our previous experiences influence our current perspective of images, advertising, and art.