Hoity Toity or Just Like Everyone Else

 

Image result for fancy banquet

Imagine an incredibly lavish dinner banquet.  The banquet hall has just a few attendants dressed in the most exquisite apparel, sipping the finest wines, quietly discussing their latest ventures, and chuckling quietly. The banquet proceeds with eloquent addresses, and as the evening comes to a close everyone drives home in their Lamborghini’s and Lotus’s. Now, contrast this hoity toity circumstance to another party.  This party is located in a college dorm, filled with hundreds of people chugging the cheapest bear,  laughing loudly, while screaming and dancing outrageously. The party proceeds and eventually something is on fire. As the party comes to a close someone is getting dragged behind a car on an old trashcan lid to get home.

Image result for college party

These two parties lie on opposite ends of  the culture spectrum. One lies on the high end and one on the low end.  Although high and low culture in media don’t necessarily match up perfectly with the ideals set in this example. It is a good example to help us understand how these medias function in there selective spheres. High culture would be the media most likely consumed by the first group.  Low culture would usually be consumed by the larger masses of the second group.  Who consumes the media, what is contained in the media , and how society embraces the media all play a large roll in making media high or low culture.

High Culture is usually defined as culture that can be experienced by the upper class elites. It usually consists of some artistic element that allows reflection and thought about life and its meaning. some examples might include operas, ballets, symphonies,  and classic literature.  Low culture on the other hand is what everyone is consuming, usually doesn’t require much intellectual taste or comprehension.  For Example,  the latest hit YouTube video, Justin Bieber’s latest single, or a T.V. Series like The Bachelor or Stranger Things.

In essence, the largest and possibly the most important distinction between the two is who consumes the media. Low culture media is consumed by the masses whereas high culture is consumed by a smaller group of high class intellectuals.  Back in the day high culture was only available to the high class elites, because it was expensive and difficult for the masses to consume.   That distinction has now dissipated.  Through media and technology the masses can now consume high culture media. Despite this dissipation the distinction between the two stands firm with only a few changes.  High and low culture have been changing for centuries. In Shakespeare’s day his plays were considered low culture, they were crude and unruly.   Now, only a select few are able to read and enjoy his writings. It is not a leisurely read and requires a certain kind of intellect which helps to classify it as high culture.

One example of an explicitly low culture YouTube video is a video made by the infamous BLR “THE FORCE AWAKENS: A Bad Lip Reading”. What makes this video so low culture? This BLR Force Awakens Video is very clearly low culture because of its popularity, lack of intellectual aspects, and likely hood to sink into the background of society. Me, my friends and more than 9 million people have seen this YouTube video.  This fact, in and of itself, almost proves the lack of high culture in this media. It is directed to entertain the masses not a select few.  From the two groups of people described in the first paragraph who would be more likely to watch this YouTube video? Of course it would be the college partiers, not the upper-class banqueters. Though it could be argued, there is no evident intellectual aspect to the video. The viewer isn’t pondering life and its purpose, and they aren’t enthralled by some artistic aspect of the video.  It is purely for quick entertainment and doesn’t entail much thinking or processing at all. All of these characteristics of the video define it as low culture.  Another aspect of low culture is its tendency to come and go. High culture is timeless, and classic.  This YouTube video will be in and out in a couple years. Unlike something timeless like Shakespeare that has been around for centuries.

In conclusion some say that the gap between high and low culture is gone. That there is now just a happy medium. I disagree we can see from different examples of media that there is still a clear distinction between high and low culture.

Just Do It

Just Do It.  Nike’s famous catch phrase packs the perfect punch of inspiration, and when it is combined with legendary athletic footage, the world’s best athletes, and the sickest gear on the planet you get yourself a hefty slice of motivational pie.  

From the very beginning Nike has used the image of success and prestige as the forefront of their product.  The symbols and images in this advertisement, released in Asian Countries leading up to the AFC Asian Cup, continue that thread of success and prestige. The ad uses semiotics, framing and imagery to inspire and motivate athletes to not only perform better but also (conveniently) to buy Nike products.

When we look at this ad the main point is pretty clear.  This Nike Product will allow us (the consumer) to succeed (be good at soccer), but how is that message presented to us? It is presented through symbols. The soccer player is the main symbol. He is a symbol of us, the consumer. He is wearing Nike product and he is quite literally destroying his opponent.  You might be saying that soccer player isn’t me, its Safiq Rahim, the Malaysian star, but that is what Nike is trying to get us to think. Safiq Rahim might mean nothing to us here in America, but the ad campaign is aimed at Asian countries. In Asia, Rahim is a symbol of prestige, success, and uncanny physical ability. Symbolically, if we use Nike’s product we can be as successful as the Malaysian captain.

Through semiotics we can better understand different signs and symbols used in advertising. If you look closely at the top corner of this ad there is symbol representing this specific product (Air zoom Total 90 Supremacy).

The tiger above is the signifier. Prestige, success, fierceness, and power are the signified. When put together they make a sign that we relate to the Nike product.

A tiger. What does a tiger symbolize to us? Fierceness, wildness, danger, power, as well as majesty, and even prestige. People link the Total 90 Cleats to the tiger. When they see the cleats the tigers image appears in their head.  The sign leads to an idea that if they own the product they too can be Fierce, wild, dangerous, majestic powerful and even prestigious.

The last symbol is the opponent.  The opponent is framed as not really a person but rather words. Hurtful words, like Weak, cry baby, loser and can’t. These words are framed in a way that causes emotions of inferiority. Nobody likes to be inferior.  This aspect of the advertisement adds another aspect of success that we might not have thought about prior. This soccer player isn’t merely beating his opponent, but he is proving a point.  He isn’t only fighting a physical battle but a mental one.  He will beat out all the doubt and shame and “Just Do It”.

What a powerful platform to advertise with.  All of us desire to be successful we want to win, to be seen as a champion. We like being motivated. We all desire to overcome weaknesses, to prove people wrong, to show them that we can when they say we can’t. That is what Nike is selling.

The ad works. We look at Nike as a company we see how successful they are, and we know that their advertisements work. The idea of overcoming challenges to reach a goal, inspires us, we feed off of it!  Nike links that feeling to their product, making us, as consumers, think that through their product we will gain success. I have seen this first hand.   Before a soccer match the first thing I check is to see if my competition is wearing a fresh pair of top of the line Nike cleats. If they are, I automatically think we are in for a challenge. Nike has ingrained in my mind an image of power and dominance through their well-designed advertisements and media.

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of Nike’s largest images of success and prestige