Postmodern Challenge

Anthro Theory Postmodern Challenge

Roland Barthes  was a French literary theorist, philosopher, cultural critic, semiotician and prominent post-structuralism who often deconstructed myths that enshroud  popular culture in his publications and lectures.  In his famous book S/Z Barthes creates a frame work using five codes to deconstruct texts and images.  He uses the five codes to untangle the structure of texts and the components that hold the structure by showing the underlying assumptions that make up a text, or image .Via Wikipedia Roland Barthes Deconstruction looks like this:

Text Deconstruction

Barthes defines five codes that define a structure that form a space of meaning which a text runs through. These codes and their mutual relations are not clear structures, because it would close the multi-variance of the text. Each of the units of the text marks a digression toward a catalogue of other units. Each code also appears as voices that weave the text, though each of them for a while may dominate the text.

Two of the codes are sequential and structure the text in an irreversible way: The hermeneutic code (HER) denotes an enigma that move the narrative forward; it sets up delays and obstacles that maintain suspense. The proairetic (ACT) code organizes (small) intertwined sequences of behaviors. Each such sequence has its own regularity that does not follow the logic of the narrative (though it is used in it). The rest of the codes are reversible. The next two structure the text: The semic code (SEM) designates a special kind of signifiers (e.g. person, a place, an object) to which adhere unstable meanings and that enable the development of a theme through the story. The symbolic code (SYM) are meanings that are constitutive (stemming from the fields of rhetoric, sexuality, or economy), but cannot be represented in the text, except in metonymies, which renders the text open to different interpretations.The last code refers to meanings that are external to the text: The cultural code (REF) is the references to science or wisdom.

Barthes does not provide an overall structure for how the codes are integrated because he wants to preserve the plurality (multi-valence) of the text. Since reading is plural, a different reading (reader) might invoke the codes differently and combine them differently ending up with a different understanding. Moreover, whereas the classical text tends to enforce a particular model of integrating the codes, the modern plural text does not.

Five Codes

  1. Hermeneutic Code: the voice of the truth

The hermeneutic code is associated with enigmas of the text. It is entities or elements that articulate a question and its answer, as well as events that prepare the question or delay its answer. When Barthes identifies an enigma in the text he marks it HER. The process of revealing truth by solving enigmas is further broken down in the following sequence:

  • Theme: What in the narrative is an enigma?
  • Positioning. Additional confirmations of the enigma.
  • Formulation of the enigma.
  • Promise of an answer of the enigma.
  • Fraud. Circumvention of the true answer.
  • Equivocation. Mixture of fraud and truth.
  • Blocking. The enigma cannot be solved.
  • Suspended answer. Stopping the answering after having begun.
  • Partial answer. Some facets of the truth are revealed.

Because the hermeneutic code involves a move from a question to an answer it is one of the two codes (the other being the proairetic or action code) which Barthes calls “irreversible” : Once a secret is revealed, it cannot be unrevealed—the moment of cognition is permanent for the reader. Compared to the detailed sequential actions of the proairetic code, the hermeneutic code encompasses the entire narrative, or at least larger parts of it.

  1. Proairetic Code: empirical voice

A Proairetic Code is a plot action that does not directly raise particular questions. It is simply an action that is caused by a previous event and which leads to other events. It is not inherently mysterious. The proairetic code encompasses the actions or small sequences of the narrative. That is, it is not the overall narrative structure, which is associated with the HER. The basis of the proairetic is the dependency of the lexias (series of brief, contiguous fragments) upon both sequence and content to impart meaning. Barthes says that “setting up a sequence of actions is to name it.” This notion is connected with Barthes’ notion of the “readably” text. The actions of the novel are created by the reader, who assimilates distinct pieces of information in a prescribed order. The reader grouping these pieces of data turns them into events. Even acts of introspection are classified by the reader in terms of the occurrence of movements or activities. Thus, the proairetic code pictures the text as a location with spatial and temporal dimensions through which the reader moves.

  1. Semic Code: the voice of the person

The semic code is the connotations of the character (a person, a place or an object). The character has not only characteristics, but also unstable connotations because the person has an existence (a name proper) which is external to the characteristics, the fixed meanings. Barthes says that “the seme is the unit of the signifier.” This code focuses upon the pieces of data the text provides in order to suggest abstract concepts. For example, the mention of “party,” “Faubourg,” and “mansion” are all semes for the abstract concept “Wealth.” The semic code allows the text to “show” instead of “tell” by describing material things in order to suggest immaterial ones.

  1. Symbolic Code: the voice of symbols

The symbolic code is due to the fact that the human body as narrator enables the text to transgress ‘taboos’, not least as metonymies. The entrances into the symbolic are (1) rhetorical (transgression of the rhetorical figure: antitheses), (2) sexual (transgression of the sex: castration), and (3) economic (transgression of the origin of wealth). Thus, threatening to remove crucial differences, such transgressions create an “unrestrained metonymy” within the text. An unrestrained metonymy is, however, close to the dissolution of meaning because it “abolishes the power of legal [according to the linguistic, etc. codes] substitution on which meaning is based”, and therefore, close to annihilation of representation. Consequently, the symbolic code is the point where different blocked meanings merge into the same lexia, thus accentuating the plurality of the meaning of the text.

  1. Referential Code or Cultural code: the voice of science

The referential code is constituted by the points at which the text refers to common bodies of knowledge.


The five codes together constitute a way of interpreting the text which suggests that text is interpretive; that the codes are not superimposed upon the text, but, rather, approximate something that is intrinsic to the text. The analogy Barthes uses to clarify the relationship of codes to text is to the relationship between a performance and the commentary that can be heard off-stage. In the “stereographic space” created by the codes, each code becomes associated with a voice. To the proairetic code Barthes assigns the Voice of Empirics; to the semic the Voice of the Person; to the cultural the Voice of Science; to the hermeneutic the Voice of Truth; and to the symbolic the Voice of Symbol.

The Challenge:

Using Roland Barthes five codes critic deconstruct one of this magazine covers at the following links:

Publish your results as a comment to this post.
Be sure to state which picture you are deconstructing.
And keep it brief (one or two pages).

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Audra  On May 18, 2010 at 9:17 am

    When I was searching through the magazine covers I was actually intrigued be two of them. It was the two different magazine covers of OJ Simpson when he was on trial for murdering his wife. The reason I found those two interesting was because of the caption:

    Time Magazine, June 27, 1994: OJ Mug Shot Controversy “In 1994, OJ Simpson was accused of murdering his wife, Nicole. In 1995, he was acquitted after a long and highly publicized trial. The photo used on the cover of Time Magazine was manipulated to make OJ look darker in skin tone and more menacing. For comparison, see the Newsweek cover which uses the original shot without any alteration.”

    I’m not entirely sure this is true. If you look at the Time Magazine article it title is: “An American Tragedy.” The Newsweek cover title is: “TRAIL OF BLOOD.” If we were just to examine the titles alone we could see the enigmas within these titles. “An American Tragedy,” compared to “TRAIL OF BLOOD,” is quite a blunt statement. “TRAIL OF BLOOD,” is completely capitalized and bolded while “An American Tragedy,” is nicely written, something you might find on a novel. The wording of each title also states different opinions.

    “An American Tragedy,” it makes it sound like it was a tragic thing that happened to OJ Simpson; almost like he was the victim of the circumstance rather than the people who were murdered. However, the Newsweek cover’s “TRAIL OF BLOOD,” makes him look more like the perpetrator that did this horrible crime. Just by saying the word “BLOOD” can give people an image of him committing the act. “TRAIL OF BLOOD,” can also give emphasis to the fact he did the murder and tried to get away with it.

    However, the part I found to be the most interesting with the images themselves. On the Time Magazine cover the picture of OJ Simpson was his mug shot and it was made to appear much darker then the same exact picture on the Newsweek cover. In the caption above the pictures the person states, “The photo used on the cover of Time Magazine was manipulated to make OJ look darker in skin tone and more menacing.” I agree that that Time Magazine was trying to make him look darker but I believe it was not to make him more menacing.

    The reason I believe this is because the title does not match the idea of being menacing. If the Newsweek had done this to its cover with its title: “TRAIL OF BLOOD” I would believe the same what the caption stated was true. However, the darkened image was on the Times Magazine with its title being: “An American Tragedy.” I believed the image was darkened for symbolic reasons. A “tragedy” is usually a sad event and people tend to view “sad” as dark or dark colors. It could also be because the article wanted him to appear more “black” than actually having a lighter skin tone. Doing this could suggest racist issues against African-Americans especially since victims of the murder were both “white.”

    I believe the articles are trying to state two different ideas. I believe Times Magazine used their title cover: “An American Tragedy,” and the darker image to make it appear that OJ Simpson was being accused of the murders that he hadn’t committed. I believe Newsweek title cover: “TRAIL OF BLOOD,” with its original image is trying to make it appear he is guilty of committing the murders and he would be caught eventually.

  • Josie Weatherford  On May 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    On the cover of the Vogue 2008 “King Kong Cover”, we see a black man, Lebron James clutching a white woman in his arm, Gisele Bundchen. To begin with, the man has a savage look on his face as if he is making an aggressive dominance display (he is dribbling a basketball), but to desconstruct this part we have to remember how much of western society tried to animalize the black race in order to make them seem more threatening to whites. This history of dehumanization kept African people from asserting themselves as they were kept in a submissive role. Also white men were worried that since black men were supposedly more animalistic, that they were more appealing to white women and would carry off and “rape” white women. That’s what makes this photo so telling, is that we have an African-American male looking savage and barbaric and he appears to be holding, as if in possession, a white female who is blissfully accepting of her own objectified, passive, abductee-status. The women is another telling symbol in this photo. She seems joyful and elated to held by this angry-looking dangerous male, and this is a hint at sexual stereotype roles. Women, often seen as the second or weaker sex, are expected to be happy to “belong” to a man despite his violent of aggressive nature ( which is supposed to be a characteristic of the dominant sex) because men are superior and women are inferior and without a man a woman means nothing ( in some societies this was true, and is still today). So the woman represents women’s acceptance of male power and dominance roles in the genders, and her own recognition of socially accepted roles for herself and the man, which places her in a submissive role. If he wants to carry her off and have his way with her, she will let him, and be proud of it as well, because she is fullfilling her sexual role and feels a certain satisfaction that he has picked her as the most attractive woman, despite his menacing approach. In no way does the violence he might do to her detract from her womanhood, especially as a white woman, because she is merely a pawn, an object, in a male power play. She becomes a symbol, or in this picture, a trophy to accompany the most dominant male, in this case, Lebron James, a basketball player. In this society, it is interesting to note that ball players, and celebrity sports players in general, enjoy a high status and many of these athletes happen to be black. This picture tells a story that says if you are black male athlete, you may rise to become an alpha male in society and have access to white women, or whichever women you want. The woman becomes the status symbol that our society has created to accompany top men.
    These roles, that of the male and female in society, and that of the white woman (passive subject of violence) and the black man (active perpetrator of violence) show several layers, that of racism and that of sexism. Uncovering those layers and getting at the hidden meanings is important when you live in a society saturated in such content. The media is definitely stereotype-savvy, and we must be as well in order to combat its negative messages.

  • Nicole Giglio  On May 19, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I decided to write on the 1997 cover of Wired, depicting Apple’s logo surrounded by thorns and a sunburst with the words “Pray” below it.

    I chose this image because, as I was scrolling through all the magazine covers, this one stood out to me because my boyfriend currently works for/sold his soul to Apple. No names will be used here so all his body parts can remain intact. Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to include him in this as I deconstructed something I was a fan of but didn’t know a great deal of the backstory for.

    First off, when I started researching a little on this image, I ran across this website: …and found that Wired actually made another cover with a similar image about ten years later. Why not deconstruct the two? The second is in black and white, has barbed wire around the Apple and the words “Evil/Genius” below it.

    As an art history minor, I immediately saw a parallel in the first image between Apple and Jesus Christ. (see this for an example:*HSRVTcZepGN*b-Cx1DnZJWljxkw8iBi8c*NlIW2Qcfk4OqhmWgwtqilNYvXIR980LaSfOHwjeSeYcoQ3f4QgdoxNn/wwwStTaklaorg___JesusCrownofThorns09.jpg) I believe this has to do with the first code, discovering the “enigma” and thus the truth of the image. Once I realized what it symbolized, I could not avoid deconstructing it as such. The thorns were symbols most Western people, Christian or not, can easily recognize.

    My boyfriend gave me a little backstory on Apple, where Steve Jobs founded the company, was fired for frowned-upon business practices, and then re-hired and literally saved the company. It would seem that Wired is asking the public to pray for Apple at that time in order to hope for some type of rebirth of the company. That fits in well with the resurrection of Jesus, no? Also, Jesus was viewed a bit of a rebel in his days — he wasn’t easily accepted. Neither was Apple. But look at Christianity and iPods — they’re everywhere!

    The more recent image actually brought more speculation for me than the first. I couldn’t initially understand how it went from praying for the company to recognizing it as a dangerous force. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I could make parallels between the Christian world NOW and Apple’s hold on the electronic world NOW.

    Apple is everywhere. iPods, iPhones, MacBooks — their products have exploded. I remember years ago when seeing anything Apple/Mac related was so rare. While it was a genius step, we have to look at the cons of the company. Everything is proprietary — they make the software, the hardware, everything. It’s a closed system. Some might view it as stifling creativity and the real vision Apple had/has. That’s where the Evil part of the Genius comes in.

    How does this connect to Jesus? Think of the radical Christians who have turned the religion upside down. It’s a touchy subject, but I see where the connection is made. Something that was once small and seemingly genuine has exploded into something out of control due to the mass of the religion.

    This is definitely a controversial set of covers, not immediately comprehendible for me, but after some thought, makes incredible sense. I tip my hat to Wired for making me think about my allegiance to this company… Oh, but I love my MacBook so.

  • charon193  On May 20, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    I think I’ll just stick to deconstructing the Lady Gaga magazine cover since I know diddly squat about her. Marking an enigma as HER definitely works her (sorry, bad pun). The enigma that I see here is what the heck is she trying to say. She has no top on and is only wearing black gloves and black leather pants. At least, I assume that they are leather, but they could be a plastic polymer for all I know. One hand is in what would be seen as a modest position by covering her assets, but with the other at her crotch, it ends up giving a “come here” sort of vibe. Is she saying that modesty is the new black in sexual appeal? Or maybe this is her response to the question of whether she has a penis or not. If that is the case, then the picture is only partially revealing, since she could have breasts but not be showing a dick. Right now, I just hope that the story that the picture is telling is “I am woman; hear me roar”, especially since the pose draws attention to her womanly parts.
    Well, Lady Gaga is know for crazy costumes and make-up, though this seems like a lack of costume to me. I suppose the symbolism of the picture is the fact that she is transcending the moral boundaries of sexuality. For most conservative people, this would be equal to the porn magazines that teen boys hide underneath their matresses. It is the sort of thing that, to quote the Backstreet Boys song, “If you Want to be a Good Girl, Get Yourself a Bad Boy”, “that your Mama shouldn’t know”. Its what we know all women have, but refuse to see, or all that we want to see in some cases. The scene is provacative, something that many people would find immoral, and yet the act of covering them up only makes it more so. It is just so female, but it is a contrast to the more masculine feel given off by the pants and gloves. It’s like Gaga’s contradicting herself or saying she’s not just good or bad. She’s modest,but bold; feminine, yet roughly masculine. It’s kind of like what Mullooly was saying in class with nature and nurture; it isn’t one or the other or even both; it is something new that resembles the two. This might just be my opinion, of course. Some might see this as distasteful. Others might see this as a fantastic new form of self-expression. More people might not even care about the content. The only thing I can be certain of is that the cover photo of Lady Gaga puts the issue of acceptable exposure of females into the forefront.

  • Megan Scholl  On May 22, 2010 at 10:33 am

    For this assignment I chose the 2006 Rolling Stone cover of Kanye West where he’s depicted as Jesus.

    1.) The voice of the truth. What’s the enigma here? This code deals with the idea that first the enigma must be identified in order for the truth to be revealed. An enigma is something puzzling; a person, a situation, an occurrence, etc. The enigma here is easy to identify: Kanye West as Jesus. Why? Why is he portraying himself as Jesus? Anyone who’s anyone knows how offensive the majority of Americans would find this image. Why would Kanye West knowingly participate in a photo shoot for Rolling Stone that would be so controversial? Whether by some joke or seriousness, Kanye West is identifying himself as Jesus. Is he doing it to be funny? Is he doing it because he believes himself to be Jesus-like? That’s uncertain at this point. But the truth of the matter is that for some reason he’s putting himself in Jesus’ shoes (or sandals).

    2.) Empirical voice. The proairetic code doesn’t raise any questions. It’s only an action caused by a previous event. The main question has already been answered above: Why Kanye West is posing as Jesus. Now that that has been answered, we think of the action it causes. This particular cover would have caused many things during its time. It would have caused offense, rage, and anger. It would have caused people to stop and say, “Hey, that’s pretty creative.” The action here, in the end, is that it made people stop, look, and think. The responses each person had depended on their nature and religious views.

    3.) The voice of the person. This code—the semic code—is based on the character. The character in question is Kanye West. In his cover of this edition of Rolling Stone we at first see Kanye as conceited, arrogant, and superficial. Who is he to pose as Jesus? What has he done? Kanye West is a singer and that’s hardly a position of great importance. (By now, he’s become notorious for being a complete jerk [not to mention fairly racist].) So you look at his character. The surface says that he’s a conceited prick. Inside the edition, he apparently speaks about having a porn addiction, which just makes the front cover even stranger. Jesus? With a porn addiction? Now, I’m not religious, but even I can see how ridiculous that is and why people would get offended. If this cover isn’t meant to come off as Kanye truly seeing himself like Jesus, what else can it be? Because it’s Kanye West you can easily look deeper and say that it’s for the publicity. He likes the attention—we all know that. Why shouldn’t he find it funny and attention-getting to make a cover like this?

    4.) The voice of symbols. There are plenty of symbols in this cover. The crown of thorns on Kayne’s head is incredibly symbolic of Jesus; in fact, it’s one of his main symbols. When you see a thorny crown you automatically associate it with Jesus. The use of it was done purposely so that the viewer would automatically get who he’s trying to be. Then on the bottom right corner is the text “The Passion of Kanye West” which is a play on “The Passion of the Christ”, the movie that was released two years prior to this magazine edition. Without even knowing who Kanye West is, most people would have been able to identify that someone was portraying Jesus based on those symbols alone.

    5.) The voice of science. There’s a cultural code here. Which cultures will be offended? All of them? American cultures? Cultures with Christianity as the religion? This code suggests that the text is interpretive and it is. It’s interpretive based on your culture, among other things. Based on the way I was raised I see the cover as a joke; I’m not offended. I know that Kanye is a somewhat racist, egotistical prick, but I don’t think he’s quite so arrogant as to compare himself with Jesus in complete seriousness. For someone incredibly religious they’re going to see it differently. They’re going to be very offended and disgusted because of the way they were raised and because of their culture.

    So in the end, really, it comes down to each person! Everyone is going to deconstruct this magazine cover in his or her own way. Due to my own beliefs and culture and upbringing, I’m viewing it as a joke and a ploy for attention, rather than the great offense that many people took it for when it was published.

  • pao kue  On May 22, 2010 at 10:37 am

    While searching for a picture to deconstruct, I stumbled upon the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. The picture displayed Demi Moore, and American actress, nude and pregnant. In the picture, Demi was looking up with her right arm covering her breasts while the left arm hugs her stomach (her child). At first sight I also a pretty naked woman and didn’t think much of it since was pregnant, but that was only because I was looking at her through an American point of view.
    If we think about it — back in the old European days and older days, people’s image for a beautiful woman is a completely different view from our views in this modern day. Let me clarify — back then, when people thought of beautiful women; they are rounded, curvy, and plump. For example, Mona Lisa (the portrait), Aphrodite, and more Greek or European portrait, they are always rounded. In this modern day, when we judge which women is beautiful or “hot, we look at how toned and thin their bodies are. Many of us might deny it, but that’s just how we run our society. In pageants, every women entered are always thin, and we never see a normal “plump” girl in it because our judgment in beauties never gave them the chance to pass the preliminaries. Going back to what I was saying regarding Demi Moore, when I first saw her I didn’t notice her beauty because she was pregnant, and growing up around friends I was taught that lusting after a pregnant woman is disgusting; most of us tend to look the other way at pregnant women.
    I think the naked photo of Demi is to reveal the beauty of pregnancy. When women become pregnant; people are always telling them that they are “glowing”, and so I think that this picture is meant to show that “glow” which pregnant women give off. We only look for thin and toned bodies, therefore when we see something just as beautiful we look away for beauties that fit our view. In other words, the picture shows that beauty of women comes in many ways, and it is our views that keep us from discovering it.
    Although she is nude, she covers herself – this ties with the how women are alike to men. From the beginning, hunters-gatherers, men are the dominant gender and they can do many different things as the head of the household — women stays quiet and do as they are told, and be good wives. Demi’s nude and pregnant picture denotes that they can come out of their shell (duties of a traditional wife) and do something crazy just as men. When they do things that are out of the traditional duties of the wife, they announce that they are the same as men. Demi also covers herself, and shows that even though they can be as free as men; they are also a respected gender and has not forgotten their role as a care giving mother; thus, her arm hugging her stomach and her baby. This picture not only represents sexuality in women, but their image, role, and message toward a society ruled by the male viewpoint.

  • Patrick Stumpf  On May 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    The photo of the Dixie Chicks seems to represent the symbolic code. The Dixie Chick’s naked bodies literally tell the tale and make the statement. Their nakedness seems to symbolize purity and even a sense of identity, as the Dixie Chicks are un masked and without clothing. On their bare skin are written, shocking names, such as “Saddam’s Angels”, as well as more patriotic names. Their bodies literally portray the many opinions that have been projected on to their un masked honesty. It says that the Dixie Chicks are different things to many people.
    I also found John Lennon’s photograph of him seemingly sexually attacking Yoko Ohno. I think that one can use the proairetic code to deconstruct this. One senses that something came immediately before the picture was taken. I can not help but think that, if one didn’t know better, John Lennon was raping Yoko Ohno. John Lennon, is portrayed in an animalistic nature, as if, in men, sexual instincts are uncontrollable. Yoko Ohno’s arms being restrained and her fully clothed body seem to confirm that the was surprised by John Lennon. This would make sense if one is trying to portray a rape.

  • Alfresco101  On May 26, 2010 at 10:59 am

    The New Yorker, July 21, 2008: The Obama Couple Satire caused alot of controversy upon publication. Using Roland Barhtes cultural code the images carry a cultural legacy first with Michelle Obama’s Afro, Ak 47 military pants and militrary boots is a reference to the activist of the 80’s with the Black Panther particular Angela Davis who was an acitvist associated with a group that bought a shotgun in her name and walked in a court room to free a convinct and shot the judge. Angela Davis wasnt part of the group but since the gun was purchased in her name she was the prime suspect. Angela Davis fleed California and was arrested in New York where a major campaign was launched to free her but her marxist/ socialist view and pro-black stance led her to be deemed as a radical in mainstream America and her Afro became synonyms with the black power movement of the 80’s that protestors would dorn as the marched and protested. President Obama’s depiction similarly plays on Obama/ Osama and his belief in islam as part of his upbrining seen as negative contation in light of 9/11. The cultural code is Michelle Obama and Barack Obama as the modern day Angela Davis and Osama Bin ladin launching jihad against America.

  • Adrianna Salinas  On May 26, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I chose to deconstruct the baby talk cover using the symbolic code: the voice of symbols. On the cover there is an angelic looking baby (sex undetermined) feeding on a breast, which undoubtedly is the babies mother. Everything about the magazine cover screams peace, serenity, and love. Beginning with the colors that are chosen for the background and text. The background color is a soft light blue that reminds one of the sky. The colors used for the text are mostly pastel and calming. For instance the title is written in all lower case letters and baby is in a bright pink while talk is in a much more sedate pink color. There is nothing bold and in your face about the cover that would make one have a negative reaction.
    The baby on the cover looks content staring up at it’s mom with it’s beautiful blue eyes. The breast that it is sucking on is in no way represented in a sexual manner. There is no nipple or areola showing, it looks like a mound of flesh. What makes this picture so beautiful is the way in which it was shot. The lighting and the angle of the shot are perfect. It is not a full on frontal view of mom and baby, which would be in your face. The picture is shot at an angle so all one sees is baby’s face and the side of the breast.
    This cover is like the cover of Demi Moore posing nude while she was pregnant. Why are people so offended by anything that has to do with a pregnant or nursing mom. These images are meant to portray beauty, life, and love. Sex is the last thought that should come to someone’s mind when viewing these images. Both of these covers were seen as obscene. What is even more shocking is the majority of readers of baby talk are women and they were the one’s who had the biggest problem with the image of the breast feeding baby. When has breastfeeding and the sight of a pregnant one become taboo? If these things are seen as taboo, there is something wrong with our society.

  • Marcus A. Moreno  On May 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Although all these magazine covers are controversial, I choose Lady Gaga because of the many different points across many different platforms and ideas of how one should act and behave as well of correcting the politically “incorrect.” Almost all the codes fit this one image. Lady Gaga has move music into the next generation with what is seen as politically correct. First point to make is off the sex toy protruding from her abdomen. This move was to bring the controversy of her being an “Aphrodite” back into question. Much controversy was her masculine features and the rumor of her sexuality. Symbolically, she represents her sexuality and the movement of pop cultures taboos of how far one can push in the mainstream. Where this makes its most prominent point is where its written “move over, Madonna…” who during her time as Lady Gaga is doing now is pushing what is seen as incorrect sexual behavior in the spotlight. This is a major move in pop culture that defines a lot of how people act, cloth, and behave. What codes do we have here? The Hermeneutic code shows how what moves and behaviors are now deemed acceptable by pop culture and Lady Gaga shows the answer. The Poairetic Code adds to this by showing how her provocative attire was the first step into changing the mainstream culture and how far she will push it by the sex toy. The voice of the person was shown by her strong sexuality and the controversy of the rumor of her being an Aphrodite. She herself is a symbol of the new movement of the mainstream pop culture. Last, the culture code interprets the evolution of pop culture and the path it will soon take.

  • yer vue  On May 26, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    1. Symbolic Code: the voice of symbols
    In this photograph of Lady Gaga, I think that the Symbolic Code is the perfect match for this description because it shows a picture of her holding a black dildo. This can cause controversial arguments for many people who may or may not look up to her as an idol. Knowing that Lady Gaga is well know for her awkwardness and her oblivious costumes she wears, is where this photographs represents less of her creativities and her moral boundaries. From previous videos and magazine covers of her, she is well known to have little or no clothes on like this cover, but what interest me more is that she is wearing a leather black pants and also leather gloves with nothing on but covering her twin sisters (boobies). I think that this was a natural cover from her previous shootings but as soon as I seen the dildo I think that she was showing more than just a fashion statement but her moral boundaries.
    From the photograph of Lady Gaga, I think that she was showing the public that even though many were saying that she could be a man instead of a girl, she was showing it through this photograph that wither way she was a confident and fierce person regardless of the labels that were given to her. I love this awkward picture of her because it just showed that she wasn’t afraid face the public with their own criticisms.

  • Jason McClung  On May 28, 2010 at 1:01 am

    I shall code the Q Magazine cover featuring Lady Gaga. Let’s get started, shall we?

    Before one can read this cover and understand its underlying meanings, some cultural (REF) context is needed. Lady Gaga, as stated in the article accompanying the link to the magazine cover, has experienced a running (inside) joke about her sex relating to her lower than normal voice, her deliberately abstract demeanor and a ‘stunt’ where she supposedly placed an object in her crotch that was posted on YouTube, causing controversy.

    On the cover itself, Gaga is wearing what appears to be a long, black cylindrical latex object (about a foot long) protruding from where her legs meet her torso (the ‘strapon’). In addition, she wears a matching pair of gloves, again black latex, with foot-long extensions where her fingers and thumb would be. Her left hand holds the cylindrical latex object between the thumb and forefinger, while her right hand covers her exposed chest. She also wears a pair of black latex low-riding pants with smaller, 3-inch spine-like protrusions sticking out along the side seams. Her mouth gapes open slightly, while she stares with vague intensity at the camera. She wears heavy eyeshadow and eyeliner, while her hair is permed into a deliberately unorderly display.

    The spines running down the sides of Gaga’s pants, combined with the shape/length/size of her fingers lend themselves to disguising the strapon (HER). Further, the similarity of the fingers to the strapon imbue them with similar sexual connotations.

    Drawing from the ‘watering down of restrictions’ (from revealing any part of the breast as taboo to the laxer norm of the female nipple (REF)), the gesture of her hands across her bare breasts while concurrently revealing more traditionally taboo areas (SEM) deliberately places her well outside stereotypical norms while the phallic symbolism of the strapon (SYM) hyper-sexualizes this feigned attempt at ‘modesty’ in an attempt to draw even more sexual attention to her display (ACT).

    The strapon itself has heavy sexual connotations. Males being the socially dominant gender in our society (REF), imbuing someone with a penis and the associated imagery of phallic spikes and fingers could be interpreted as a quantified multiplication of the masculine power associated with ownership of male genitalia (SEM, SYM). Yet, Gaga hiding the sexually feminine parts of her body while wearing ‘penis fingers’ shows that she has control of her actions; the same control as would otherwise be available to simple hands, rendering the deliberate use of masculine sexuality powerless (SYM).

    In effect, by reversing the meaning of her masculine parts from the social norm of powerful (REF) to powerless (SEM) she is signifying that the absence of a ‘real’ penis does not change the control and nature of her as a person; thereby making her pseudo-penis as meaningless as the debate over her having a real penis or not (SEM, ACT).

    Man, after all that talk of sex I feel like a Freudian psychoanalyst. Is this right?

    – Jason

  • Miranda  On May 28, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    So, I suppose I’ll analyze the magazine with the Dixie Chicks on the front cover -with them coming “clean”. Firstly, I think the enigma in this is simply the three of them together standing naked and what symbolism it represents. – Well, what do they represent? “Saddam’s Angels” or “Patriots”? Both terms (as well as several others) are stamped and labeled all over the three of them. So which label (SYM) defines them any more than the other? It would be helpful to know what it is they did in the first place (REF) to want to post such a “controversial” picture knowing that it would recieve a diverse but intense reaction. In simple terms, they denounced George Bush while over seas and criticized him in one of their concerts, at a time when his popularity was relatively high and the people of the US were somewhat divided on the actions regarding foreign policies. After being stripped their reputations, and their careers taking a very deep turn for the worst, they made a huge come back years later with a song that basically said “I told you so, and I don’t take back what I said the first time”.

    Bodies, especially female bodies, are quite the eye catchers, and there are many interpretations that could be associated with them. Personally, I thought they did this as a way of baring themselves or daring their critics to speak more about them because they had nothing to hide – in more ways than one. Totally exposed, and yet it only seems to enhance the very clear messages – the labels – across their skin. And each label, strong worded phrases like “Dixie Sluts” and “Brave” on all three of them, it only reinforced the notion (in my mind at least) how split the reaction was to them. Clearly they were well received by some and hated by others. All over a political statement.

    The three of them have somewhat expressionless faces, but they are staring directly towards the camera. And their eyes are directed upwards, not downwards; there is no shame in their statement, however you take it to be. Naked or not, vulnerable, exposed, or not, there is no shame and they are not hiding their choice or views. The main singer, (the one who actually said the statement) is standing in the centre, the main focal point, but not necessarily taking away from the other two, as they are also labeled.

    So I’m not sure I elaborated enough on this or not, but (late as it is, I know.) I did give it a shot at least. And it’s postmod anyways, you’re going to probably disagree anyways, right?

  • Mansione  On May 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Demi Moore’s Vanity Fair Cover (August 1991), we see a popular actress pregnant and nude. In front of the exposed pregnancy are the words: More of Moore. The possible interpretations that come to mind are more as in more exposure of her personal life (the article in Vanity Fair), more as in the aspect of being nude on the cover of a popular magazine, or more of Demi’s genetic material in another vehicle for generation. The placement of the text does not explain. The text behind Demi’s nude, pregnant body pertains to the corrupt, to the evil and bad on the planet. There is potential inside of her (the new life); there is hope and good on the planet. The masculine haircut and diamond earring and ring on her right hand are paradoxical. Why not soften the hair as to not appear so severe? It is to show power and a way to show power is with something appearing to be masculine as with this hair style. Females have power too and it possibly has something to do with females making strides in sexual equality. Choosing not to show the left hand wearing a wedding ring and covering the breasts makes a statement as well. At some level, a pregnant female still defines a woman and what she is “supposed” to do or be as a female. A pregnant female body is beautiful in itself but yet there was the necessity of glamorizing the female image with diamonds. The nude, pregnant female body could have stood on its own showing the power females possess. The cover was an attempt at displaying womens liberation and power but failed by including the severe hair style and the need to include diamond jewelry to suggest femininity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: