Semiotic Analysis of Usmc's Commercial "The Climb"

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We can learn a lot from watching television. A viewer can distinguish differences between what societies believes as appealing or desirable versus what is off-putting or unwanted. The power of television exposes us to values and concepts, realistic or unrealistic, which shape how we see and react to ideas. An example of television shaping our beliefs can found when watching videos such as the United States Marine Corps recruiting commercials. Using a semiotic analysis of a 2001 USMC recruiting commercial entitled “The Climb,” a viewer can analyze the given signs and symbols throughout the video that make being part of the USMC not only something to be desired, but a characteristic value to be honored as well. Berger says that signs and relations are “two of the key notions of semiotic analysis” (p. 6). However, these concepts only work if they are related in some way and if their basic relationship is oppositional (Berger, p. 7). Before I go analyzing specific signs and signifiers, I will say that I would not have been able to describe the negative feelings behind the opening scene if I had not already known myself what “code” I’ve been taught to interpret meaning. Berger says that codes “affect the ways that individuals interpret the signs and symbols they find in the media and the ways they live” (p. 30). From my own code, I interpret the signs and relations of the commercial through concepts that can be known by any ordinary human being. I am able to analyze the opening scene as a negative one because I simply know what images signify a safe and livable environment (an opposite of what is shown in the video), or what stormy clouds mean (the opposite of a happy, sunshiney day). Furthermore, the code in which a person interprets meaning is important when analyzing videos such as this Marine Corps commercial. In this 60-second commercial, the core values of the Marine Corps (honor, courage, and commitment) are concepts that are portrayed within the video. Tools...
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