Analyzing Ads: How We’re Representing Ourselves

Much of what we care about and construct of our society and ourselves is based on the media (Brooks & Hebert, 2009). From an early age, we are exposed to numerous messages on all levels of media telling us how we should look, feel, and act. As we grow older, we tend to compare ourselves and even strive to look like the people we see on TV and in advertisements (Wolf, 1991). I will be analyzing three different ads – one containing two girls, one containing a male and female, and the last containing a group of males and females – and examining how characters are being portrayed and what message is being sent in each.

Woman as Sex Objects

Advertisement from Deco Magazine

Advertisement from Deco Magazine

Let me start by plainly describing what is on the outer layer of the first ad. It was taken from the architecture and design magazine Deco, and is advertising a furniture company. It shows two young girls having a pillow fight on a couch dressed in short shorts and t-shirts.

In this ad the characters are being portrayed as sex objects, as evident through their appearance and actions. Firstly, they are wearing short attire and showing most of their bodies, especially their legs. In fact, their bare legs and arms appear directly in the middle of the image, making it the center of attention. On the other hand, their faces are hidden by their hair and are given little, if any, attention. Their partly clothed bodies are being provoked in order to grab attention (Sex and Relationships in the Media, n.d.). Since the item being advertised – a couch – has little to do with pillow fights of half naked woman, it reinforces the idea that they are simply being used as objects (Sex and Relationships in the Media, n.d.).

Secondly, they are having a pillow fight, a typical male fantasy stereotype of what girls do at sleepovers. This indicates that the ad is aimed at men since they are usually the ones who buy the furniture in a household. Ergo, this enhances the idea that women should concern themselves with attracting the attention of men by satisfying or acting out their sexual fantasies and desires (Sex and Relationships in the Media, n.d.).

Males in the Spotlight

Advertisement from T3 Middle East

Advertisement from T3 Middle East

The second ad was taken from T3 Middle East, a magazine about electronics. On its most basic level, the second ad is an image of a woman hugging a man (Enrique Iglesias, a Spanish singer). The ad is for male cologne.

The image depicts males’ dominance over females by the positioning of the characters in the image. Starting with the girl, her face is turned away from the camera and is completely hidden by her hair. Additionally, her black dress blends in with the low lighting on her side of the image. This implies that she is not important enough to be shown and identifiable. In addition, vulnerability of the woman is depicted by wrapping her arms around the man as if she needs him, and is further stressed by her hands falling loosely indicating weakness. It also portrays the “darker side” of romance where woman are vulnerable and dependent on men (Media and Girls, n.d.).

On the other hand, the male is not depicted as dependent on the woman. This is evident by the way his face is turned away from her and by the fact that you don’t see his hand wrapped around her. The way the woman is clinging on him also depicts that if you buy the fragrance, you will get “rewarded” with a beautiful woman, a trend found in male advertising to reinforce masculinity (Men and Advertising, n.d.).  Additionally, his white shirt under his blazer and the lighting focused on his face illuminates importance on him. Overall, this ad creates a contrast between the weak and vulnerable portrayal of woman with the masculine and powerful portrayal of men (How the Media Defines Men, n.d.).

Girls Rule

Advertisement from Aishti Magazine

Advertisement from Aishti Magazine

The last ad was taken from Aishti Magazine. It is a Dolce & Gabbana ad featuring clothes from their summer collection. The ad shows women, men, and boys and is set at the beach. I find that this ad depicts several contrasting ideas and stereotypes.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the female dominance over the males in this image. This is shown in several ways. First, the females are all closer to the camera and hence the focus of attention. In contrast, the men are walking as part of the background and are covered by the props and females. Second, since the females are standing closer to the camera, they look taller and bigger than the men, reversing their vulnerable stereotype (Media and Girls, n.d.). The camera angle from down-up also enhances their size and therefore reinforces their dominance. Third, the women are not paying any attention to the men. There is no action that shows that they are trying to sexually attract and satisfy them, hence contradicting the dark romance stereotype mentioned earlier (Sex and Relationships in the Media, n.d.).

Though one may argue that women here are in fact being used as sex objects since they are showing lots of skin (as I argued with the first ad), I believe it does not apply in this context. While in the first ad they were on a couch, here they are advertising the summer collection on the beach. What are they supposed to be wearing if not bathing suits and dresses? Thus, I believe that the argument that girls in media flaunt sexuality by exposing their body depends on the context of the actual ad itself.

Though the ladies in this ad seem to be overcoming all typical stereotypes of women in media, there is one that is still one in there. In the ad all the boys in the images are interacting with the women, not the men. This implies that it is the women’s role – not the man’s – to take care of the kids. This goes in line with the stereotype that a women’s primary role is a housewife or a mother whose purpose is taking care of the children (Bontems, 2009).

On the other hand, there is also some equality among gender and characters in the ad. For example, there are 5 females and 5 males. Additionally, there are no signs on one gender’s dependency on another. Finally, the ad does not have any white blonde females or males, but rather darker skin and toned people. Perhaps this ad shows a turning point against the conventional image of females and males normally found in the media.

Filippa Hamilton Ralph Lauren Advertisement

Filippa Hamilton Ralph Lauren Advertisement

In conclusion, what we see in the media, both as kids and as adults, can really effect our perceptions, whether it’s on how we are supposed to look or how we are supposed to act around the opposite sex. However, I think that occasionally these stereotypes are over exaggerated and overanalyzed. Sex does attract and sell, and at the end of the day, that is the objective of an advertisement. If you want to sell bathing suits, you are going to show slender women in sexy poses wearing them. This will attract attention of the viewer and perhaps induce the buyer into purchasing one. I think that where the line should be drawn is in the appropriateness of the people in the ad relative to the context. What’s so absurd about showing a woman in a bathing suit when she is at the beach? But if the background is a couch and not a beach, or if the model is photoshopped to a ridiculous and unhealthy looking size (as in the Filippa Hamilton Ralph Lauren ads), then the context is no longer appropriate. The line should be drawn.

References

Bontems, N. (2009, June 3). ‘Deconstructing the Lebanese bimbo.’ Kippreport. Retrieved from http://www.kippreport.com/fcs/deconstructing-the-%E2%80%98lebanese-bimbo%E2%80%99/

Brooks, D.E. & Hebert, L. (2009) Gender, Race, and Media Representation. Retrieved from http://www.afghanjc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/GENDER__RACE__AND_MEDIA_REPRESENTATION.pdf

Farber, J. Miller, T. (2009, October 2009). Ralph Lauren goes after Web site BoingBoing.net after it mocks heavily Photoshopped ad. New York Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/fashion/ralph-lauren-web-site-boingboing-net-mocks-heavily-photoshopped-ad-article-1.195117#ixzz2P8n9sMj0

How the Media Define Masculinity. (n.d.). Media Smarts. Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/gender-representation/men-and-masculinity/how-media-define-masculinity

Masculinity and Advertising. (n.d.). Media Smarts. Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/gender-representation/men-and-masculinity/masculinity-and-advertising

Media and Girls. (n.d.). Media Smarts. Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/gender-representation/women-and-girls/media-and-girls

Sex and Relationships in the Media. (n.d.). Media Smarts. Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/gender-representation/women-and-girls/sex-and-relationships-media

Wolf, M. (1991). The Beauty Myth. Retrieved from http://moodle.aub.edu.lb/pluginfile.php/154556/mod_label/intro/Wolf%20%281991%29%20The%20Beauty%20Myth.pdf

Pinterest: An Introduction

Pinterest is an online pinboard that allows you to gather, organize, and visually share your own interests with people all over the world.

It is formed from a collection of boards, each representing a category. Within each board are pins. Each pin is an image that serves as a link back to the original website from where the image was taken. On Pinterest, you can search, follow, and like different boards, users, and pins based on your interests. To view pins and boards on Pinterest, you do not have to be a member, but to like pins and create boards you do. Signing up is for free, so go for it!

Here are some fun facts about Pinterest (Keath, 2013)!

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Pinterest: The Background

Pinterest was created by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp in March 2010 (Carlson, 2012).

The Team (Carlson, 2012)

The Team (Carlson, 2012)

It all started when Ben was inspired by the movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley”  to stop what he was doing and move to California. After working for a while at Google, he finally decided to quit and make a product of his own. But only a week later, the economy crashed, and Ben found it very hard to find any investors to fund for his product. Ben decided to team up with Paul Sciarra to create an phone application called Tote, which didn’t end up working out because of more hardships with money (Carlson, 2012).

Ben said that he “always thought that the things you collect say so much about who you are” (Carlson, 2012). After finally getting money from an investor, Ben and Paul teamed up with Evan Sharp and finally created Pinterest in March 2010. Evan became the designer of the website and created its grid layout (Carlson, 2012). Like all start up websites, Pinterest was not popular at first, and had very few users. But what Ben captured was that though there were few users, everyone using Pinterest loved it, including himself.

The very first pin on Pinterest by Ben (Carlson, 2012)

The very first pin on Pinterest by Ben (Carlson, 2012)

In that light, Ben knew that to get more users, he did not need to change anything about Pinterest or its concept. So instead, Ben and the company met up with fans of the website to ask them for simple feedback. In addition, a friend launched a program called “Pin it Forward,” which invited bloggers to pin things about what their home meant to them. After that, Pinterest just kept climbing up; users started to use it in numerous creative and functional ways (Carlson, 2012). Pinterest ended up growing from 500o users in August of 2010 to over 17 million users in April 2012 (Carlson, 2012).

Pinterest: How To Use It

The following are steps show you how you can create and use your Pinterest account.

1. Go to Pinterest and click the big red sign that reads “Join Pinterest” on the yellow banner at the top of the page. You can choose to create an account via your Facebook or Twitter accounts, or simply create one with an email address. Creating accounts with Facebook or Twitter will share your Pinterest activity on your profiles. If you choose to sign up with email, simply fill in a username, email address, and password and click create account!

Follow a user or a board. (Pinterest 101, 2013)

Follow a user or a board. (Pinterest 101, 2013)

2. Next you will be taken to you home page. Here is where the pins of people you follow will appear. You can follow people or their boards by selecting the “follow” button. You can search for pins, boards, and users using keywords in the search box located at the top left of the page. Alternatively, you can browse a certain topic by selecting drop down list at the top center of the page.

3. Click on your name at the top right hand of the page. This will take you to your profile where you can view all your boards, pins, likes, and other activities.

Create a board (Pinterest 101, 2013)

Create a board and add pins (Pinterest 101, 2013)

4. You can create a board by clicking on the “Add+” button at the top right corner of the page. When creating a board, give it a relavent name and category. Try creating a new board!

Bookmark the "pin it" button (Pinterest 101, 2013)

Bookmark the “pin it” button (Pinterest 101, 2013)

5. Now try adding pins on this board. You can do so in three ways. First, you can “repin” something that’s already been posted by someone else on Pinterest. Second, you can simply upload an image you already have on your computer. Third, you can use the “pin it” bookmark. To create one, simply drag the “pin it” button to your bookmarks bar. This allows you to pin any image you come across on any website without having to have Pinterest open.

6. Finally, if want to go to the original website of a pin you saw, simply click on the image and you will be redirected back to the original website.

One last note, all pinning must follow Pinning Etiquette, which includes being respectful, being yourself, giving credit, and staying alert and informing about any harmful/inappropriate conduct (Pinterest 101, 2013).

If you are still struggling to create an account, check out this video to help you out!

Pinterest: Strengths and Weaknesses

So why use Pinterest?

Strengths

  • Strong social media tool for companies/brands
  • Easy and simple to use, especially with the “pin it” button that allows you to pin an item on any website without having to
    A strength of Pinterest its simple & visual grid layout

    A strength of Pinterest its simple & visual grid layout

    open Pinterest

  • It has one focused function
  • You can immerse yourself into an enormous visual community
  • It’s personal and interactive
  • There is equality among all users (whether it is a brand or a person) in that both have access to the same features
  • A pin can take you back to the original website if you want to learn more about the item that was pinned
  • It has a simple grid layout, where items keep appearing in a never-ending manner as you scroll down a page, giving a user no reason to stop

Weaknesses

  • Users feel a lack of personal touch in their boards since pins are usually already been pinned by others
  • Links of pins are followable by google, creating spam
  • Debate whether photos taken from websites are compliant legal rights of the original owner of that photo (then again, each pin links back to the original website, giving the original poster of the photo credibility)

(Baer, 2012).

Pinterest: What You Can Do With It

Though Pinterest is used to connect people all over the world by sharing interests, it has been used by many in so many more creative and functional ways.

BBC News has a Pinterest page!

BBC News has a Pinterest page!

At its simplest level, you can use Pinterest as a bookmark or reference for different things. For example, you can create a board for

food, and pin recipes to it whenever you want to save one. This way, you can always refer back to you Pinterest “Food” board to view your collection of recipes. Remember, each pin takes you back to the original website, allowing you to view everything you need to know about each recipe. Another example of how it can be used as a reference is by following boards of news agencies, which will give you breaking news stories on you home page. If you want to refer back to a story, you can click on the “like” button.

Pinterest is also being used as a marketing tool by many companies. It can spread trends and buzz marketing from repins. Also, the layout and design creates a visual platform that is ideal for retailers. When using Pinterest as a marketing tool, companies first need to identify a target audience and their needs. Then, they must carefully build a marketing strategy using Pinterest around satisfying these needs in both a creative and informative manner (Hayden, 2012). Companies that benefit from Pinterest are those that

BCBG Max Azria is an example of a fashion company that uses Pinterest to achieve marketing objectives.

BCBG Max Azria is an example of a fashion company that uses Pinterest to achieve marketing objectives.

  1. offer a variety of products or services that can be separated into individual boards
  2. are in the fashion/design industry and can take advantage of the visually appealing layout of pins
  3. are trying to create a global reach (since a pin can be viewed by anyone in the world)
  4. are trying to spread trends
  5. are trying to target woman

Pinterest can also be used for planning. One of the most popular topics on Pinterest is weddings, and a lot of people use the platform as a way to organize their weddings. They pin dresses, flowers, locations, etc both as a reference, and for family and friends around the world to view and comment with their ideas.

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Stanford uses Pinterest as well!

Additionally, Pinterest is being used for education. Classes and colleges create accounts and allow students to follow and contribute to the boards. It allows students to refer back to examples and websites used in class.

The uses of Pinterest can go on and on. Everyday people are using it in creative ways in all fields and institutions. In the future, I see Pinterest expanding in all areas of marketing, information, and education. Businesses will use it to spread word about items or to showcase new products. Newscasts and channels can use it as another way of presenting information to the public. Finally, educators can use it to search for tools and build different boards for students in the class to refer back to.

Pinterest: References

  • Baer, J. (2012). 5 Reasons Pinterest is Addicting, 4 Reasons that may Kill it. Convince & Convert. Retrieved from http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-networks/5-reasons-pinterest-works-and-the-4-weaknesses-that-may-kill-it/
  • Carlson, N. (2012, April 24). Pinterest CEO: Here’s How We Became The Web’s Next Big Thing. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/pinterest-founding-story-2012-4?op=1
  • Hayden, B. (2012, July 10). Pinterest Marketing: Pinning with a Purpose. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223947.
  • How To Create a Pinterest Account [Video File] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGgT1hN9fj0
  • Keath, J. (2013, February 8). The Stats Behind Pinterest Users. Social Fresh. Retrieved from http://socialfresh.com/pinterest-users/
  • Pinning 101 (2013). Pinterest.  Retrieved from http://about.pinterest.com/basics/

A Beginner Podcast Exercise

The Music Business: Another Changing Industry

Just like the movie and newspaper businesses, the music industry has been altering from all angles. Despite technological advancements and other aspects that have been affecting it financially, demand for music will always be strong. The business will never die down, it just has to adapt to its changing environment. Two major shifts in the music industry are found in its general business model and in its trends and content.

A Different Approach

One of the major changes occurring in the music industry is the alteration in their entire business model, including the allocation of money, conglomerations, and changing retailers. The following table consists of 10 of my favorite artists and albums along with their labels and parent company.

Artist

Album

Record Label

Parent Company

3 Doors Down

Seventeen Days

Universal

Universal Music Group

Rihanna

Talk That Talk

Def Jam Recordings

Universal Music Group

Angus & Julia

Down The Way

Capitol

Universal Music Group

Lana Del Ray

Born To Die

Interscope

Universal Music Group

Ed Sheeran

+

Atlantic Records

Warner Music Group

Coldplay

Mylo Xyloto

Parlophone

Warner Music Group

Train

Save Me, San Francisco

Columbia

Sony Music Entertainment

The Script

Science & Faith

RCA Records

Sony Music Entertainment

Maroon 5

Songs About Jane

J Records

Sony Music Entertainment

Adele

21

XL Recordings

[independent]

A while ago, the limited number of music mediums kept the allocation of money between artists and other parties simple. Today, there are several platforms to get music from, including subscription services, iTunes, YouTube, Internet radio, and CDs (Knopper, 2011). Each source has a different method of distributing profits. For example, The Rolling Stone claims that the average CD costs $15.99 and the money is usually distributed in the following manner (Cohen, 2004).

$0.17 Musicians’ unions
$0.80 Packaging/manufacturing
$0.82 Publishing royalties
$0.80 Retail profit
$0.90 Distribution
$1.60 Artists’ royalties
$1.70 Label profit
$2.40 Marketing/promotion
$2.91 Label overhead
$3.89 Retail overhead

Since all my albums were downloaded illegally, the music industry lost (and I saved) about $159.90. For every album, each segment above lost the associated amount it would have received had I actually bought the CD. I do not legally purchase my music because I do not think you can promote artists while resisting dominant music companies. Though some consumers buy songs and albums of their favorite singers to support them, I do not feel obligated to do so. This is because, as you can see from The Rolling Stone data, the artist does not even get most of the money you would be paying.

Another change in the music business is the increase in market concentration. Though there are numerous record labels in the United States and United Kingdom, the majority are owned by three major companies; Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment (Busch, 2012).  Vertical and horizontal integration allow conglomerations to control their supply chain as well as advance and expand their portfolios, creating more efficient and profitable companies (Croteau & Hoynes, 2003). Integration also allows for “synergy,” which creates benefits smaller corporations could not achieve on their own (Croteau & Hoynes, 2003). On the other hand, integrations and conglomerations can pressure companies to focus on profits rather than the artists’ piece (Croteau & Hoynes, 2003). Concentrated markets can also strongly influence the type of media product that gets released and the message it portrays (Croteau & Hoynes, 2003). Additionally, they are not as affective in accommodating to “a diverse and more segmented niche audience” (Busch, 2012). In other words, with the variety of todays genres and music mediums, large corporations simply cannot cater to all the audiences the way smaller independent firms can (Busch, 2012).  In addition, concentration may affect the digital and physical sales of records as well as control prices (Nelson, 2012).

The final change in the business model is evident in retailers of music. Wal-mart was one of the dominant record retailers in the states. Though Wal-mart puts little into advertising and carries a small number of CDs, labels depend on Wal-mart for most of their sales. This is because Walmart’s cheaper CD prices attracts many consumers (Cohen, 2004). However, with technology and the rise of new mediums to retrieve music, Wal-mart is losing its market leadership. Along with digitalization and the option to by singles, album sales have plunged. In replacement, illegal downloads and free streaming has escalated because of the Internet (Busch, 2012). iTunes may have replaced Wal-mart as the biggest music retailer, but since consumers have greater control in purchasing their music, the industry still faces large losses in money (Busch, 2012).

A Different Sound

In the music industry, changes have been evident in content, which has in turn altered trends consumers listen to. There is a qualitative difference in content and style between the independent and major label recordings. For one, artists with independent labels, such as Adele and Taylor Swift, are known for writing their own music. Since independent labels work more closely with artists, their songs more personal and hence easier for their fans to relate to (Major Labels vs Indie Lables, 2011). According to Peterson and Berger, conglomerates create homogeneity in music content, whereas independent firms allow for music diversity (Croteau & Hoynes, 2003). The content of independent firms targets niche audiences and differentiates the artist from mainstream styles (Major Labels vs Indie Lables, 2011).

Large firms in the music industry can control trends in themes of songs that make it to the top of the charts. Trends in songs seem to be either towards sex, drugs, alcohol, partying or something completely random. For example, “Thrift Shop” currently second on the iTunes top singles, is about a guy wearing clothes from a thrift shop. A decade ago, themes in music were completely different; lyrics were less provocative and the house music genre was smaller. The subjects dominating my music collection essentially revolve about love and relationships. Though the albums and artists I listen to are popular, they do not fit the current trend created by the big three. However, I do have one artist in my collection that stands out, Rihanna. Rihanna is one of my favorites, but her style is nothing close to what I normally enjoy listening to. This shows the power of influence these big firms have.

Overall, though consumers seem to support and relate more to artists with independent record labels, conglomerations will never go backwards. Companies will only continue to integrate, not break apart. For major record labels to continue to push forward, they must learn to adapt to consumers more personally.

References

Busch, R. (2012, March 27). Major record labels as dinosaurs? Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardbusch/2012/03/27/major-record-labels-as-dinosaurs/

Cohen, W. (2004, October 12). Wal-Mart wants $10 CDs. The Rolling Stone. Retrieved from http://moodle.aub.edu.lb/pluginfile.php/154547/mod_label/intro/WalMart_wants_10_CDs.pdf

Croteau, D. & Hoynes, W. (2003). The economics of the media industry. Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences. Retrieved from http://moodle.aub.edu.lb/pluginfile.php/154547/mod_label/intro/Media_Society_Chapter_2_.pdf

Knopper, S. (2011, October 25). The new economics of the music industry. The Rolling Stone. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-new-economics-of-the-music-industry-20111025

Major Labels vs Indie Lables. (2011). BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/introducing/advice/therightdealforyou/majorlabelsvsindies/

Nelson, D. (2012, June 15). Big four record companies may become the big three. Consumer Affairs. Retrieved from http://www.consumeraffairs.com/music-industry

Analyzing News Magazine Covers: Newsweek’s ‘Muslim Rage’

The September 24th issue of Newsweek featured a cover story by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a known anti-Islamist activist. The article looked at reasons why riots have been raging across the Middle East and the Muslim world. As clearly visible from the cover shot – and bluntly implied in the article – Muslims in this context are being portrayed as angry and disruptive. The headline above the photo – “MUSLIM RAGE” – further enhances the meaning evoked in the picture (Menzie, 2012).

“Muslim Rage” cover issue of Newsweek

 

The Image Speaks For Itself

The photograph creates two specific perceptions in the viewers mind. First, the image intentionally screams “Muslim!” Second, the aspects in the picture form a conventional image that media has created of what most people would imagine terrorists look like. To start, the photographed men are dressed in thobes, a male Muslim attire. Next, the men are bearded, which, from movies and television, we stereotypically associate with wickedness. Finally, the fact that men were photographed depicts a more violent setting, since women are not expected to act in an aggressive manner. Putting all these characteristics together (without having to read the title or the article) anyone would assume that these angry looking men are Muslims causing trouble.

I am more then sure that there were other Muslims at the same riot who were cleanly shaved and dressed in a Western or European fashion. But, as pointed out in a Huff Post Live interview, photographing them would not point the reader to immediately associate them as Muslims or violence (Shihab-Eldin, 2012). In addition, someone shaved or in Western clothing would show that Muslims are like Westerns, and link Westerners to violent behavior (an insight this author is not supporting). From one image the whole Muslim community gets painted the same color and creates a false perception of how Americans view Muslims.

In addition to intentionally showing the audience that the violent looking men in this image are Muslim, everything about this picture depicts anger and brutality. The men grabbing each other, the thrusting of their fists in the air, the expressions on their faces, the spit splattered on their beards from yelling, the anger in their eyes, the amount of people crowded on top of each other. Everything happening in the photograph portrays anger so explicitly that it leaves no room for any other interpretation, especially under the heading “Muslim Rage.”

For the purpose of the cover story, this picture could not be a more perfect representation of the author’s one-sided point of view that incorrectly depicts intolerance as, the author writes, “the defining characteristic of Islam” (Ali, 2012).

An Alternate Image

In that light, if I had to generate a different cover image and headline for this story it would be difficult because the article itself leaves little room for different interpretations. However, if I had to generate a different cover image and headline for the general topic of the article I would change them to create a perception in the viewers’ minds that shows the upheaval happening without simultaneously implying that this is the natural behavior of anyone who is Muslim.

First, the headline I would choose would simply be “Riots in the Middle East” because it introduces the topic and at the same time correctly implies that the people rioting are Muslims, without negatively pointing fingers directly at them. Also, “rage” coupled with the original cover image created such a strong connotation of fury and savageness, that removing that one word changes everything. The word “riots” implies a disturbance of peace without having the same overtone as rage.

Changing the image would be tricky because you have to show the riot, something that is in fact violent, without making it seem so aggressive. First, I would try to capture and image that includes both women and men (if women are in fact present), because if there is women, the viewer will right away assume less brutality. Next, I will show men clean-shaven and dressed in Western attire to create a sense of familiarity to American readers. Of course, the people in the image would be yelling, perhaps holding up signs – because at the end of the day it is a riot – but not in the same manner as the original picture. I wouldn’t show men grabbing each other or with saliva splashing out of their mouths because that gives an extremely violent perception of Muslims. Instead, I would show people marching and expressing their views in a more orderly manner, simply holding up signs and shouting out in order to give less aggressive impression of Muslims.

On A Different Note

With its cover and photo, Newsweek was creating a perception that Muslims are intolerant. To further encourage it, Newsweek invited its audience to tweet about the article using the hashtag #MuslimRage. However, this backfired into humorous tweets mocking the hashtag (Kirkpatrick, 2012). Some examples are;

  • “There’s no prayer room in this nightclub! #muslimrage” by @AssedBaig
  • “What do you mean you don’t serve chocolate milk at this pub?! #muslimrage” by @ImadMesdoua
  • “Wearing a Hijab made by CHRISTIAN Dior #muslimrage” by @LibyanFootDoc
  • “No halal condoms at the pharmacy? #muslimrage” by @ahmed

These tweets as well as others demonstrated the audience’s disagreement with the message Newsweek was giving. In addition to tweets, people made alternative covers to also mock the article (view Appendix B).

Alternate covers mocking Newsweek’s Muslim Rage

Overall, this is a perfect example of yet another carefully chosen photograph by the media used to smear a group of people with stereotypes, while deliberately disregarding genuine details.

Find the original article here.

Find 13 powerful images of Muslim rage here (a mocking article).

Find the interview on the Huff Post Live here.

References

Ali, A. H. (2012, September 17). Muslim rage and the last gap of islamic hate. Newsweek. Retrieved from http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/09/16/ayaan-hirsi-ali-on-the-islamists-final-stand.html

Kirkpatrick, D. (2012, September 17). Newsweek’s ‘muslim rage’ cover mocked online. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/newsweeks-muslim-rage-cover-mocked-online/

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