Ideology and Utopia

Dear FMS 040ers,

I wanted to apologize (a bit) for (the disorder of) last night–the technical glitches not only interfered with our rhythm, it also influenced our ability to work through the video examples (i.e. the empirical data that was intended to facilitate our epistemological work–to use terms from last night’s lecture). Hopefully, in subsequent classes we won’t have as much environmental interference, so that we can just roll up our sleeves and get stuff done.

So, as you saw (and heard), last night involved a goodly amount of lecture. Just so that you know, that is not my preferred style; but in this course, some amount of lecture is unavoidable. I will try to find ways around it, but (just a head’s up): on certain opaque or else congested topics, it will be unavoidable.

Apologies there, as well.

Anyway, while we are on the subject of the empirical/epistemological interface, if I might make a suggestion . . . perhaps you might care to think though the evidence provided as a means of better mastering it. For instance:

  • how does the Abbott and Costello routine help us process elements like paradigm, syntagm, convention, code, and system?
  • how do the Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders’ political ads help us understand the 3 elements of semiotics: sign, code, culture?
  • what aspects of those political ads help facilitate understanding of concepts associated with semiotics: sign, signification, denotation, connotation, constraint, motivation?
  • are elements from Plato’s allegory–form, representation, reality–discernible?
  • at a more advanced level, how would the Barthes model of connotation be applied to the political ads?

We will do a bit more work on these aspects in class next week (especially Barthes’ model of first and second order connotation)–so, head’s up there. Please feel free to work through some of these points in this space and/or post questions about this on the Wiki to help facilitate our classroom discussion next Tuesday.

One final dimension before closing . . .

Yesterday we identified a few heuristics that we might carry forth in our theorization of media, including:

  1. Plato’s allegory;
  2. Kuhn’s model of scientific (r)evolution; and
  3. Mannheim’s ideology and utopia.

Removing the third heuristic from the realm of theory, can you see specific instances of this dualism play out in the “real world” of experience?

In effect, rather than focusing on the form (theory, itself) do you see evidence of “ideology” and “utopia” at play in content (actual real world thought and action)?

Extra plus bonus points if you can discern evidence of ideology and utopia in media form or content, itself.

If you have thoughts on any of this, we’d all benefit from hearing them!

2 thoughts on “Ideology and Utopia

  1. how does the Abbott and Costello routine help us process elements like paradigm, syntagm, convention, code, and system?
    In my opinion, the Abbot and Costello routine exemplifies all of the elements. The paradigm can be the English language, the syntagm or the words themselves although they have different meanings as names, the conventions that we have formed is that Who and What are questions not names. The code that we live by is that people have distinct names from words that we use from day to day. The system, is the environment that Abbot and Costello are in- which is the comedy show surrounded by members of their same society that abides by the same codes, conventions, syntagms, and paradigms.
    The political ads bring together all three because political ads are used to introduce or reinforce signs that are meant for each candidate. They also follow a certain structure although they vary by candidate which is the code. Bernie may break the conventions of politics but his commercial is still structured in a similar way to other politician’s commercials because that’s what has already been proved successful. Culture is what differentiates both commercials. Bernie is appealing to a culture in which politicians are one with the people and stand for the people, while Carson takes the more standard politician role.
    The concepts associated with semiotics are facilitated by the ad structure, repeated messages, the music in the background, the mise-en-scene in the scenes (Costume, make-up, props), and the editing of the ad itself.
    I think that the difference between reality and representation is further blurred now-a-days with documentaries with little editing and early versions of reality television. These can still be discernible from reality but not on the same scale as shadows or drawings. They are more homogenous.

    As for the Barthes model, political ads start with the same original goal at the beginning, “vote for me”, but then they are processes by people with different views and cultures who take the content from the commercial differently. This results in the creation of myths.

  2. The Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders political ads were interesting because they seemed to use semiotics to relay the same message in their own individual ways. The overall theme of both ads is that both candidates see a problem with the way America is run. They are for the people. I actually thought Ben Carson’s ad was more effective. Although it feels somewhat staged and plays into some racial stereotypes, I don’t think that it took away from the ethos of the message. The sign, which are the actual hands of the different people were effective in representing the variety which makes the American people. The code of the ad, that America is currently in a place that needs healing, is ironic in that Ben Carson is actually a physician. The culture of the ad describes America as a place where Americans need to unite and work together for the better of the entire country. It definitely plays to the idea that American culture is shifting, and it has caused a divide. Ben Carson’s ad was nonetheless, more memorable than Bernie Sanders’.

    Bernie Sanders’ add relays the same overall message in regards to culture. However, Bernie’s sign is not as apparent. His sign seems to be the American people, as he shows clips of Americans who represent the common man and the working class. I believe that the code of the ad is the featured song. The words, “they all come home to find America”, represents that we are all looking for the “American Dream”. We want a government that is for the people so the entire country thrives. ( I didn’t even remember the Bernie Sanders ad. I had to go back and watch it in the media gallery. Whereas, I remembered Ben Carson’s ad and key phrase, “these hands”. )

    Both ads were effective in using semiotics to relay their message.

    I didn’t remember

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