Intrigue in the Big League

A uni student's intrigue in marketing and media

Ideologies and Interpretation


human_meat@theage_photo, on twitter )

Before you try and decide what this image represents, or what it means to you, try and just think about the objects that create the image.

  • A woman lying down
  • A white container
  • Plastic covering the woman
  • Red substance/liquid all over the woman and the container
  • Human Meat sticker on the plastic

These are denotations. They make up a sign (any representation that carries meaning).

stop-goStudying a sign and understanding its uses and/or interpretations is semiotics.

There are signs that have conventional meanings that we should know in society – GO / STOP

And there are signs that are interpreted differently by different individuals.

The above sign was created by a group called Animal Equality in a protest at the ‘Day Without Meat’ event in Barcelona, Spain. You could say it was an advertisement for veganism/vegetarianism.

The image has caused some controversy in the public, and controversy is caused when people interpret messages differently. This is usually due to people’s different ideologies.

Ideologies can change over time. The way kids should be raised (family) and same sex couples getting married (marriage) are changing ideologies.

A changing ideology relevant to this image is diet. Vegans? Vegetarians? Meat eaters? They would all interpret the message differently.

As a meat eater, my interpretation of the image is as follows (connotations):

The image shows that animals are being treated in an inhumane manner by humans and that animals should be considered equal to humans. A woman lying in her own blood in meat packaging makes me think about how I might feel if a ‘superior’ or ‘more intelligent’ species were to kill, cook and eat me. To me the message being conveyed is: just because animals do not have the same intellectual capacity as humans, does not mean that they shouldn’t have the same rights as people –  they are living, feeling and breathing creatures alike.

While that is my interpretation of the image, it does not change my ideological position. I remain a meat eater because I was raised to understand that meat from farm animals is a main part of everyday diet. My ideological belief is that meat is a natural and normal part of diet.

Media messages are sent every day, minute, hour, second. These messages are interpreted differently by people with different ideological positions, and that is how arguments, discussions and controversy begin.

3 thoughts on “Ideologies and Interpretation

  1. Great choice of image- it certainly is controversial! I believe it’s a great example of the subjectivity of advertisements- the image is designed to manipulate the emotions of the responder and stress the ethical injustice of animal equality, attained by placing a human in a position we so often associate with an animal product. This shock factor would cause almost anyone to consider the morals of their diet, but as you stated- it’s our context that defines our ideological position. Meat eater all the way!

  2. Pingback: Reflection | hiddenperspectives

  3. Great post Victoria!
    The image you chose immediately had me reading. The importances of ideologies and social placement on reading an image is fundamental, and you have highlighted this really well. Sure, we have changing ideologies and in our generation there is much more acceptance of new points of view than beforehand, however we still get such a shock when something like this appears!
    What I didn’t get a shock from was your precise post. Engaging and well written, it was simple but very effective. Great job!

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