In this semiotic analysis I aim to identify and discuss some of the signs, codes, myths and connotations present in the media text above, and explore their contribution to the media construction of concepts of gender.
Signs, codes, myths and connotations refer, in this instance, to contributing elements in the ways in which one may interpret a media text. Codes may be defined as a set of belief systems concerning learned perceptions of the world. They ‘provide a framework within which signs make sense’ (Chandler, 2001). A sign could be an object, image, sound, flavour, odour, act or word that signifies something to someone, however, 'nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign ' (Peirce, 1931-58: 2,172). Myths are, in this context, a collection of signs, symbols and codes that in summary may be used to describe certain beliefs or traditions. Every culture has their own set of myths, which are often passed down to future generations and provide a way for them to make sense of reality. In Mythologies Barthes describes myths as a ‘type of speech... a system of communication... a message... a mode of signification, a form’ (Barthes, 2009: 131). Connotation refers here to the possible cultural meanings behind certain elements of the media text above, again it may be worth considering Barthes view that, 'thanks to the code of connotation the reading of the photograph is... always historical; it depends on the reader 's "knowledge" just as though it were a matter of a real language, intelligible only if one has learned the signs ' (Barthes 1977, 28).
On a denotative, or more literal, level the advertisement shown is a photograph of famous pop star Beyoncé with a bottle of perfume, but the more subtle connotations associated with the image tell us far more about its intentions. While the connotations experienced may depend on the reader, as Barthes suggests, and may vary from one to another, there are some present in this text
Bibliography: ASA. (2010). ASA Adjudication on Coty UK Ltd . Available: http://www.asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications/2010/11/Coty-UK-Ltd/TF_ADJ_49398.aspx. Last accessed 7 February 2011. Barthes, R (1977): Image-Music-Text. London: Fontana Barthes, R. (2009). Myth Today. In: (Trans. Annette Lavers) Mythologies. Revised edition. London: Vintage. Chandler, D. (2001). Semiotics for Beginners: Codes. Available: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem08.html. Last accessed 7 February 2011. Heat: perfume advertisement, image, 2010. viewed 13 February 2011, < http://www.shoppingblog.com/blog/11211017 > Peirce, C. (1931-58): Collected Writings (8 Vols.). (Ed. Charles Hartshorne, Paul Weiss & Arthur W Burks). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Stevens, L; Maclaran, P; Brown, S (2003). “Red time is me time”; advertising, ambivalence, and women’s magazines. The journal of advertising, Vol.32, No.1, spring, 35-45, American Academy of Advertising. Winfried Nöth. (1995). Language and Language Based Codes . In: Handbook of semiotics. USA: Indiana University Press .