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OUGD501 - Study Task 3 - Identity

Essentialism means you have an innate characteristic about you, such as if you are black you are a criminal, etc.

Otherness in visual representation:

  • Creation of Identities.
  • Concepts of ‘Otherness’.
  • Analysis of visual example.
Identity - who we are, and how others perceive who we are?

Your parents/family.
Past experiences/emotional baggage.
Genetic problems/Deformities.
Where/How you were educated.

How do you express your identity?

Your friends/relations.
The way you decorate yourself.
Consumerist objects.
Social Interactions.

All these things are subjectivity. - Our sense of self. Complex to understand.

Circuit of Culture - Stuart Hall. - “Culture is the framework within which our identities are formed, expressed and regulated.”

Jacques Lacan:

When you are born you don’t understand that you are distinct or separate from your mother. 
  • Process from psychoanalysis.
  • The 'hommelette.’ - scrambled up confused stage of a baby’s life.
  • The ‘Mirror Stage’. - between 6 and 18 months is the first stage of identity understanding. 
The sense of self built on: 
  • Sn illusion of wholeness.
  • Receiving views from others.
Own subjectivity is fragile.

Constructing the ‘Other’.
  • Problems: relies on the assumption of opposition and radical otherness.
  • We are constantly trying to make ourselves who we want to be and for that reason we are never happy.
  • To make our identities more solid we have to measure ourselves to what we are not.
Othering with brands:

Buying expensive things to prove to both yourself and others that you aren’t poor.

Othering with accents:

You don’t want to sound common or working class so enforce a posh accent.

Analyse one image from the media which for the audience of that image, attempts to secure an identity for the reader at the expense of othering. What the images promise? How it does that with stereotyping?

I have chosen this advert as an iconic example of a media image selling a product or service in the form of othering a group in society because of it’s obviousness and intensity.

Abercrombie and Fitch are a leading manufacturer of “California-style surf wear” like it’s sister company Hollister, based in the United States. Since the beginning, the founder of both companies has taken to branding themselves to be worn by only popular people or aesthetically pleasing males and females in their teenage years. Their aim is to categorise these teenagers into different levels of social interest between each other, and this aim leads to them only being worn by only the people in those top groupings in society.

The advert itself is a monochrome billboard on an American highway displaying the company logo in white alongside the body of a muscular male. This, being aimed at teenagers inevitably reminds them that they are either not popular or attractive and will never be unless they wear the designated brand, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, reminds the kids who deem themselves as popular that if they do not wear the brand, they aren’t actually going to be seen as at the height of their social group and people will not want to hang out with them as much.

This is devious but also intelligent as it is hitting two birds with one stone in regards to social groupings of vulnerable minded teenagers. The obviousness of the use of otherness in this advert essentially comes down to the fact that in that whole billboard, not a single mention or even a photograph of their products are shown. It makes you realise they aren’t advertising their clothes at all but merely the social highness of the people that would wear them.

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