Barthes, Roland. (1973) Mythologies


The Writer on Holiday

“The writer is the prey of an inner god who speaks at all times, without bothering, tyrant that he is, with the holidays of his medium.  Writers are on holiday, but their Muse is awake, and gives birth non-stop. 32)”

Soap-Powders and Detergents

“Inoculation” – we are given just a taste of the bad which prevents us from noticing worse problems. For example, politicians admit to surface flaws to distract us from the deeper evil.  This can also be said of advertisers.  We read ads critically with regards to techniques such as airbrushing, lighting, portrayal of women etc. but we don’t stop to think about the larger issue of consumerism and how it is destroying society.

Operation Margarine

Relate to promotional culture – Consumers know photos are touched up, claims may be false, “natural” shots are posed etc.  But they focus on this when viewing ads and forget to examine the larger issue; the capitalist exploitation of the masses via consumer culture.  Margarine as PR.   We like flawed figures not in spite of – but because of – their weaknesses.   can be applied to fallen politicians, celebrities, reality TV etc.

The Face of Garbo

Greta Garbo’s face is so perfect that it is worn like a mask; devoid of character, aging, or any sign of life.  She is like a goddess who has descended from heaven to give us a glimpse of the Divine.  Audrey Hepburn, on the other hand, is playful and full of life.  “The face of Garbo is an Idea, that of Hepburn, an Event.”

How is this relevant to studying ads – portrayal of women?  Deconstructing semiotic codes?

Wine and Milk

Wine is a mythic substance that serves as a panacea in French culture.  Milk is the opposite of wine.  It is pure, innocent, lucid, and calm.

The duality of wine – its manufacture is deeply rooted in french capitalism, involves exploitation of African resources and keeps the workers poor while rewarding the rich.

Mass consumerism operates on North American psyches the same way wine affects the french. Ads solve all of our problems; promising fulfillment for everything that is missing while at the same time removal of all that is unwanted.  However,we forget that in the act of mass consumption we are exploiting natural resources, supporting illegal labour conditions and contributing to pollution through trans-pacific shipping.

Myth Today

“Privation of history”


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