- Term Papers and Free Essays

Picturing Culture In Political Spots - Michael Griffin And Simon Kagan

Essay by   •  November 12, 2010  •  1,635 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,401 Views

Essay Preview: Picturing Culture In Political Spots - Michael Griffin And Simon Kagan

Report this essay
Page 1 of 7

In analyzing "Picturing Culture in Political Spots" by Michael Griffin and Simon Kagan there are a number of objectives. Namely identifying the justification for the study, justification for the artifact, the research questions posed and the methods used by the authors. Beyond that the real meat of the article must be discerned and explicated in quite simple terms. Through this process you will find that this study is most relevant as a stepping stone toward the future of study in this field, and as the authors hope a quite prevalent one.

The author's justification for conducting this study is explained by looking at the presidential election of 1984, between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale. In the election Reagan won by a landslide victory that is believed to be heavily influenced by the masterful presentation of visual imagery done by Reagan's staff. Such an impact cannot go unanalyzed by the world of rhetoricians and does not. However the amount of studies done since then are few and far between, the authors cite another work done that encompassed hundreds of research works by Johnston (1990). "After examining over 600 articles and studies, however, she is able to cite only five that actually examine the concrete and visual components of televised election coverage or advertising, and these studies still focus predominantly on the appearance and personality attributes projected by individual candidates" (p 44/45), this particular study goes on to focus on "the larger, visually meditated backdrop or "symbolic reality" constructed for the viewer." (p 45) Griffin and Kagan are looking at what else is going on in the advertisements and photos that we see of candidates, more specifically the cultural images they define as "depictions that make reference to national, regional, ethnic, religious, sub cultural, or class characteristics in order to evoke mythic themes, cultural archetypes, and historical associations." (p 45) Or images that hold meaning to a specific group of people such as a cross would certainly represent the catholic faith, a flag would represent whatever organization it stands for, just as a hot dog would probably be most closely identified as American. Nearly every image out there has a cultural tie somewhere and here Griffin and Kagan intend to determine it's role and effects as it is used in the 1992 election between George Bush and Bill Clinton.

Which brings us of course to our next question, why this specific election? Well as the authors say "Our comparison of 1992 campaign spots in Israeli and U.S. ads provide a useful comparison because they are produced according to similar production standards within very different cultural environments." (p 46) This dual culture observation allows for a more objective point of view, it allows for greater depth and understanding to come as a result of comparing the two. As the quote says, the ads are produced by similar standards meaning that we can expect a similar focus or goal for the ads but the different cultures will provide insight into the potential of making cross cultural references. "We hope to establish a baseline of observations from which to develop more extensive comparisons, perhaps across different media and time periods as well as cross-culturally." (p 46) The authors are taking a small noticed but untapped subject adding a perfect situation for seeing parallels across cultures and attempting to establish a foundation in the sense that future studies may grow upon this one, encompassing a larger field both across time and other forms of media. The justification for using this election is that it's premise is perfect for the authors intentions, to examine very different cultural images in a very similar context in hopes of establishing their "baseline" work.

There are quite a few research questions posed by Griffin and Kagan of which we will take the most obvious and broad. This is the motivation for the study, what cultural images are contained in the ads and what are their effects? In reality this is two questions of which the latter is the most important. Obviously the images must be detected first, but not only detected but they must be there intentionally. It is assumed that the cultural images contained in these ads are not simply accidental but they are all preplanned by the staff that assembles the ads. If this was not done then evaluating the second question would be pointless as the results would not be of the concrete sort that this study needs to serve as a baseline or foundation for future studies, making the study itself pointless. So with that assumption we can move onto the second question which is the effects of those cultural images upon the viewers they reach. This can be broken down into what are the different types of cultural images which is a list that could be constantly growing, some examples are religious, ethnic, social and national symbols, this list is by no means comprehensive but rather exemplary. This new classification allows for individual analysis of each type of image, who does the image impact, how does it impact them and any other factor can be included to further the process. When looking at the full possibility of questions this field is huge with great potential, add into the possibility of other media types, different time period comparisons and the cross cultural comparisons and the resulting scope is staggering. This explanation alone of the research questions can be used for a justification of sorts especially if looked at with a philosophical eye, which is a search for the truth. In a way that's almost oxymoronic, a philosophical look at a rhetorical study of political practices.

The methods used by the authors as they state is entirely exploratory. They break down individual ads belonging to political parties



Download as:   txt (9.5 Kb)   pdf (113 Kb)   docx (12 Kb)  
Continue for 6 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 11). Picturing Culture In Political Spots - Michael Griffin And Simon Kagan. Retrieved 11, 2010, from

"Picturing Culture In Political Spots - Michael Griffin And Simon Kagan" 11 2010. 2010. 11 2010 <>.

"Picturing Culture In Political Spots - Michael Griffin And Simon Kagan.", 11 2010. Web. 11 2010. <>.

"Picturing Culture In Political Spots - Michael Griffin And Simon Kagan." 11, 2010. Accessed 11, 2010.