Semiotics in American Pop Culture

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1. Semiotics in American Pop Culture:

The visual images, signs and symbols of pop culture are important for you to understand if you want to understand Americans. It is not enough to be able to speak and understand the language when you come to the U.S.A. you also need to be able to interpret the messages contained within the signs and symbols. These signs and symbols are shorthand representations of the culture’s abstract ideas and concepts. But how does one interpret these signs and symbols of a culture? Is there a road map?

The study and interpretation of signs and symbols is the province of a field known as semiotics. Semiotics is a special branch of communication studies, which specifically combines the techniques of sociolinguistic analysis with anthropological analysis.When a person interprets a sign or symbol,that person engages in an act known as semiotic decoding.An example of semiotic decoding is reading.When you read,you look at graphic symbols and place meanings on them.The words and letters are symbols that must be interpreted. To a semiologist,anything can be taken as a sign to be decoded and analysed for meaning.

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Semiotics, as a field of study, was formally established in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries mainly through the writings and teachings of two men: Charles Sanders Pierce, an American philosopher and physicist, and Ferdinand de Sausurre, a Swiss linguist. Roland Barthes, a Frenchman, furthered the semiotic field in the 1950s by using semiotic techniques to analyze pop culture. To apply the theories of semiotics to pop culture is actually a lot of fun for anyone to do.

One area of interest in semiotics involves decoding the signs of cultural identity. A typical American university dormitory room or an American college student’s bedroom at home provides a good picture of the identity or profile of that person. What decorates the walls? Is it a picture of James Dean? Che Guevara? Madonna? It is a shot of Michael Jordan? What is on the shelves? A teddy bear collection? Or football paraphernalia? Is there a CD system in the room? What music titles are there? An American’s music collection can tell more about that person than anything else.Is there a predominance of sixties retrograde collections like the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Motown, and the Doors?Or seventies disco music or crossover country rock?Or eighties rap and new wave?Is it easy listening music,salsa,blues,jazz or soul? Is there a computer in the room? What type is it? A Macintosh or a Dell? All of these commercial symbols carry with them images and styles that suggest you are one type of person or another.

It is possible to conduct your own semiotic analysis. Every decoration choice a person makes in a room tells us something about that person’s identity. Remember, a cultural sign gets its meaning from the system in which it appears. Its significance does not lie in its usefulness but rather in its symbolism-in the image that it projects, and that image always has a social significance. To decode what is in a person’s room, you have to ask what that person is trying to say with these objects-and what that person wants other people to think about him or her. Try doing this with one of your friends.

Americans often refer to different decades in our history when certain fads or fashions were in vogue. The decade or time frame in which a given style was popular provides the key to the system for explaining it.Evian water for instance,only came into fashion in the health conscious,body-building eighties.Another French bottled water,Perrier,is more associated with preppie cocktail parties and mixers of the seventies. American cultural trends change with every decade.Americans speak of the sixties,seventies and the eighties.You will find Classic rock stations on the radio that only play music from a certain decade. They carry a certain image by doing so. Fashions and styles are dated by the decade in which they gained prominence. Sometimes we look at someone and say he’s so seventies! or she’s so eighties! Decade to decade shtifs in styles in America have been occurring for much of American history, but clearly reached a crescendo in the twentieth century-the age of mass marketing

2.Essay:a)Should parents buy cell phones for their children?

Have you ever thought how different was your childhood from the one that many children live and experience today? Do you still remember the joy and excitement receiving new toys,clothes or even hand-written letters brought you when you were younger?If many of these things are nothing but a distant memory living in your head for you,fear not,because you are not the only person facing various changes and lifestyles throughout the years.Our world is evolving everyday and technology develops step by step together with it.Nowdays we can’t even remember how our lives were before this miracle we call technology,a miracle that was invented by the mankind and has made a significant progress in helping us accomplish tasks easier, continuing to grow and has gradually become an inseparable part and influence of our daily life and routine.It has taken over the world in a very short period and has moulded its shapes into our schedules,no matter the age of the user.A variety of gadgets are available globally,such as llaptops,macbooks,tables,IPads,computers and most importantly cell phones,which are present in a big percentage of every activity we do during our day.They are extremely easy to use,accessible and adaptive,making them irrepleacable for the society.Cell phones offer many wonderful things,however a popular dilemma is often associated with it:Should younger audiences be able to get their hands on this technology gadget,since even though productive,has a negative side attached to its name?

Many parents today are confronted with the problem of deciding whether to buy a new cell phone for their children or vote against it.Most of them though find it a very good idea to purchase them since not only they fulfill their childrens’ needs,but they also offer them a lot of advantages.I can still remember how happy I felt when my parents bought me my first phone,which was pretty good and expensive for its time and also I think that we can all agree how important and reliable our phones are for us.There are many positive effets that come with them,because they help us on many fields,like school work and presentations,e-mails,fast contact with friends and family no matter where we are etc.Additionaly they are good for educational purposes,such as different videos and essays on around the world and scientific topics,online books and also present various forms of entertainment for everyone.

Although cell phones provide us a much simpler life and have many benefits,they also come with tons of downsides.Parents who buy phones for their children increase risks for their health,which is why many kids today lack of good eyesight,have sleeping problems and suffer from damages in their spinal cords,obesity or mental health problems.Other negative factors of having a cell phone at a young age include behavioral problems, exposion to violence,addiction and they even trigger severe cases of ADHD.

So,to sum this up,I believe that in my opinion parents should think twice before buying their children the latest phone model in the market, even though they are very benefitial.They should take in consideration their childrens’ age,since smaller kids tend to have more bad reactions when exposed to technology,because it may limit their creative minds,alter the parend-child relationship and also have a harmful impact in their reflecting over their action and consequences skills.In other words,whether buying a mobile phone for a child is a good idea,it all depends from the child and their personality.I think that younger kids should not receive very expensive and popular cell phones from their parents and if parents do decide the contrary,at least they should supervise their child and analyze his/her actions and behavior.

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