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).
Studying 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 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.