Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gender Specific- Yay or Nay?

As previously mentioned, as opposed to emotionally warm colors like red, orange, and yellow, BLUE is linked to consciousness and intellect.

But is this color gender specific?
One study says that blue is highly accepted among males, but another says it has no gender specificity. Here is an ad that i want each of you to examine and give me your feedback on. There are several messages being presented, and each observer might analyze the gender roles differently. When looking at this ad, try and step away from your initial observations; look at it objectively...

What is the message?
How do you think the advertiser is using blue to relay their message?
Do you think this ad is more appealing to men or women?
Does the blue surrounding accentuate the male or the female?

Here is my personal assessment...

I believe that blue is not a gender specific color in this specific ad. There is a clear purpose, and colors are used to achieve that purpose. To me, the blue in the ad accentuates the man and woman, but in separate ways. His stance gives him power, he has his legs firmly planted, he has his blue power suit on, and you can't see his face, which is another domineering gesture; he is indescribable and yet attractively attainable.

The woman, on the other hand, is not seemingly submissive. Instead she is alluring and identifiable. (Kenneth Burke has some very interesting ideas on identification, and I will delve into that subject in posts soon to come.) The woman has her own power; she is provocative. The blue surrounding her, also reflecting in her glasses, accentuates her as well. She is beautiful, collected and unabashed by this mans stance. She holds power, but in a completely different way than the man.

What are your thoughts? There is no right or wrong answer:)

something old, something new, something borrowed, something BLUE

Blue is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith and truth. In many diverse cultures blue is significant in religious beliefs, brings peace, or is believed to keep the bad spirits away. Blue conveys importance and confidence without being somber or sinister

Although it is not an emotionally warm color, such as red and orange and yellow, it is used throughout advertisements in a way that draws you in... not in a blatant way, but in an almost intellectual/thoughtful way.

According to one website I found, blue is a very masculine color, and it is highly accepted among males. In another website that I was researching, the author states that blue is the least "gender specific" color, having equal appeal to both men and women.

So let's put this to the test...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nobody likes a vague disclaimer...

Before I move on to the next few blogs that I have planned, I want to share some thoughts and theories with you. I know that visual rhetoric is a broad topic, and there are many facets to its study... I will try to be as brief and simple as possible because I don't want this blog to be blown over because of it's difficulty.

Therefore, I wanted to give a little more background to visual rhetoric. I think it's important to understand what philosophers and theorists have said about rhetoric- this may help us make our own conclusions and theories.


Images are created to express an idea or an emotion- they are used to imagine alternatives or to create new ways of looking at something:

Visual Culture
This term is of recent origin. The three primary modes of communication in our culture is the written word, the spoken word, and the use of images. The term visual culture defines the study of how cultures use images to convey certain messages and meanings, perhaps even more so than the written word. That is a debate that is long-lasting, and one that i will not enter here...

We live in a very visual culture- the use of fashion, icons, signs, advertisements and images are part of this American visual culture. For better or worse, our society as we know it is dominated by visual images.

We are bombarded by images of persuasion which are trying to motivate, change, or alter our perceptions of reality. The term perception could be a blog on its own- according to many philosophers, our perception is individualistic. We see the world through the scope of our own situations and circumstances, and thus we all have different realities. There are countless realities because there are countless existences.

That being said, this blog is not trying to blow that domination of images out of the water- on the contrary; I am trying to create a catalyst to the structure of our own individual realities. By this, I mean that I am an advocate for "visual literacy." I want my readers to understand how images work and how they persuade, and this will ultimately lead you on a path all by yourself- a path in which you must see the media through your own lens, not one crafted by naivety or "illiteracy." So from now on, understand that I am trying to help you achieve awareness... I want you to be visually awake, alert, and on guard. If you become so, the study of visual rhetoric will open so many doors for you.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

NSYNC- It takes me back!

This is visually stunning. The entire video is made up of light blues and tans and browns- and then the box is dropped....

Makes you hungry for some ribs doesn't it?

Poor cows...

  • What is the message of this ad?
  • What does your eye gravitate toward?
  • How does the red title contrast with the black and white?
  • How are these advertisers getting you to become aware of their product?

This makes me see red

Our reaction to color is almost instantaneous and has a profound impact on the choices we make everyday.

Red is a very emotionally intense color. It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure. It has very high visibility, which is why stop signs, stoplights, and fire equipment are usually painted red.

In advertising, red is often used to evoke erotic feelings (red lips, red nails, 'Lady in Red', etc). This color is also commonly associated with energy, so you can use it when promoting energy drinks, games, cars, items related to sports and high physical activity.

Red brings text and images to the foreground; a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus attention on a particular element. Advertisers use it as an accent color to stimulate people to make quick decisions; it is a perfect color for 'Buy Now' or 'Click Here' buttons on Internet banners and websites.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A New Symbol System

COLORS are used symbolically (we can use green for envy and red for power and yellow for happiness etc...) In contrast to the symbol system of words that at least has a dictionary to which we can refer for direction, color has no such equivalent. In this context, how can we interpret the use of color as a symbol?

I have found that every experience (and modern rhetoricians share this same view) is relative and that each individual person sees the world through his or her own lens. There can be no finite map for the study of rhetoric because it relies on preconceived notions and individual perspective. I do not presume to know how to categorize or label any symbol system, and that is why this blog will be interactive. I want to hear everyone's opinion- let's face it... we all have one!

In the coming blogs I will focus on why color has become its own symbol system and how these colors can persuade both blatantly and subliminally.

Stay tuned...

Friday, February 6, 2009

What is visual rhetoric, you ask?

In its broadest sense, rhetoric concerns both the practice and the study of effective communication in art and literature as well as political and social discourse. As Aristotle defines it, rhetoric is understanding the available MEANS OF PERSUASION...

This blog will provide an in depth introduction to the study of visual rhetoric. From Aristotle to the present, I will be gathering, exploring, surveying and examining the rhetorical and stylistic analyses of billboards, commercials, campaigns ads, magazines ads and so on. I not only want to analyze how and why these advertisements persuade but how they have become such an available and provocative mean of persuasion.

So buckle up cuz' this blog is going to be an eye opener!