In science, experiments are conducted in order to decipher the relationship between cause and effect. When the media release an advertisement or image relating to a current issue, society view and react.
During my last year of high school, for my Society and Culture major I chose to study ‘the commodification of breast cancer research’. Sitting through this weeks lecture, the topic of discussion was Semiotics. As Sue began to explain the concept of semiotics and showed different examples, I realised that this concept can be related to the way Breast Cancer is advertised and how different sorts of people interpret and react to what they see. Looking at the example of the Dior ad staring Kate Moss, and the discussion that was brewing in the lecture theatre I became inspired to write about Breast Cancer advertising.
Although before I begin, I understand that Breast Cancer is a serious issue for women in Australia. Breast Cancer advertising is insightful and successful in conveying the importance of the disease and I completely support its effects on society. Therefore my example is not to fault Breast Cancer campaigns or offend, it is something that I have found from prior and current research.
So, lets get into semiotics. Semiotics can be broken down into ‘denotations’ and ‘connotations, which simply is the literal figure in an image and the way society interpret what they see.
Breast Cancer is one of the leading diseases in Australian women, October is the month of Breast Cancer. This is a time where society support and further promote Breast Cancer awareness.
The denotations of this image convey women uniting ‘together’ to overcome Breast Cancer which coincides with the slogan, “Together, Connect. Communicate. Conquer. For a future free of Breast Cancer”. I feel that this image portrays the ‘inter-racial’ support amongst women. The Pink ribbon and lipstick reflect one of the biggest Breast Cancer Foundations which is the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Connotations vary, for some this can be a symbol for empowerment and unity for women and for others this can be a sexual innuendo.
In a blog by Melissa Tankard Reist she quotes pervious tweet from a former Breast Cancer patient “My ‘donation’ to research in the form of malignant flesh should not be devalued, by my cancer being reduced to a Benny Hill punchline.” Throughout her blog she expresses that ‘sexed-up campaigns’ or advertisements are offending women who have suffered from Breast Cancer as its connotations promote support for Breasts rather than the lives of women.
Ideologies and worldview very much affect semiotics. For instance feminists advocate for equal rights for women, when a feminist views this photograph instant connotations would relate to the sexualisation of women. Emily O’Malley expresses “These ads don’t even contain information about symptoms, prevention and treatment”. Breast Cancer is very much driven by Feminism, as it was one of the ways Breast Cancer was brought into light.
This is just one view from a minority in society. It can vary vastly from a cancer patient to a teenage boy, each individual have their own opinions and attitudes influenced by culture, age, gender etc.
Personally I feel that this example is a sufficient representation of semiotics.
Feel free to leave your opinions and thoughts.