Essay on The Layers of Meaning

Essay on The Layers of Meaning

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The Layers of Meaning


After studying media for the past two semesters, I am now a more cautious consumer and wary watcher of the influences on my life. As advertisers bombard me with television and print media offerings to buy, sell, drink, eat, wear, drive, smoke, and use a vast array of products and services, I conclude that there is no escape from these images except moving to a desert island — not a viable solution at this time. Not only do the media seek to empty my pockets of hard-earned money, it also reshapes the culture in which I live. By playing to our weakest motives and crumbling self images, advertisers sell their illusions, and we discard our own personal realities in search of their illusory image. Even cartoonist Gary Larsonís comic and paradoxical portrayals of the human condition reflect the political axioms of the day. Consider his ìFar Sideî offering where two Amazon explorers row madly in their canoe to out-distance their spear-holding onlookers — who amazingly are standing calmly in their motor-driven canoe. Oh, what a terrible reversal of fortune for Huxley and his friend! We laugh and are glad that we are not in the same boat. But, we really are in the same boat as the world changes. Larson forces the former majority of Anglo-Saxons to realize that it is still rowing madly trying to outrun its perceived enemies. Larson, like an advertising executive, is selling that the show is over for the white man in the jungle; those Amazonians have outboard motors. Besides, there are four Amazonians and only two of Huxley & Friend — another telling statistic. Perhaps Larsonís follow-up cartoon ought to be those white guys and the Amazonians sitting down to a table without either of them looking at each other in m...


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...r creations. Certainly, this creative and artistic representation suggests that manís need for alleviation from his dried-up experiences can be satisfied through alcohol.

Whether man is escaping his plight through alcohol, through climbing mountains in an SUV, penetrating nature in a BMW convertible, or finding warmth in nicotine addiction, certain truths remain: the illusions created by the media reshape culture and consequently reshape the truths we perceive through the many levels of meaning hidden in their core. How much courage and wisdom will it take for men and women to rebel against these media executives who force-feed images promoting subservience to wealth and position in order to keep their pockets full. Studying media forces a re-examination of all that we see — just as Oscar Wilde suggests: ìTo look at a thing is very different from seeing a thingÖî

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