ROLAND BARTHES AND MYTH AS A SEMIOLOGICAL SYSTEM
To help you consider the way that *MYTH* operates as a *semiological sysem*, we've chosen the following Coca Cola advertisement as an example of myth.
Let us now consider this mythological image as Barthes would....
Barthes splits myth into *TWO LEVELS*.
Let's begin with the level 1...
You have three components of the first level:
- the signified
- the sign
The *SIGNIFIER* is a 'concrete entity' - something you physically sense - an object, a sound, an image. The above image then is a signifier. And it has details...
(!) In this image a Coca-Cola drink is poured into a glass, a young girl holding the glass and tipping it towards her and smiling, and we also have the captions: "What something good?" around her mouth. And at the bottom a footnote that says "Of course you do. You'll love the delicious taste and wholesome refreshment of ice-cold Coca-Cola." This footnote is next to a red cooler with the Coca-Cola logo on it.
When we consider these details, we consider what is being *SIGNIFIED*. Our analytical skills come into play as do our own 'motivation' and 'history'.
(!) Look at the example and consider its details and what you know about each detail and also consider the relationship of each detail with another.
Having considered all these things that are signified, we can realize perhaps conceptualize the collective meaning of all these details. (Even when one sees disorder, one analyzes it, sees no relation between each detail, and concludes: meaningless chaos/ disorder.) This 'concept', the meaning of what you are seeing, is the *SIGN*.
(!) The sign in the example above could mean to you: Coca-Cola is a good drink because it is refreshingly good and drinking it will make me grinningly happy like that toothy girl! Whether or not you wish you were the pig-tailed girl in the picture is another matter altogether. The 'meaning' is what you've got.
Now we enter myth at level 2...
At this level, the meaning from the first level regresses into 'form'.
*THE CONCEPT BECOMES RECOGNIZED AS A SIGNIFIER*.
(!) You see the image above, have it conceptualized as Coca-Cola = refreshment= happiness, see that the concept is an ad in a magazine.
You *THEN CONSIDER WHAT IS SIGNIFIED TO YOU BY THE SIGN/CONCEPT AND THE CONTEXT IT IS SHOWN TO YOU IN*. You consider why you are seeing what you are seeing where you are seeing it and what it all has to do with you. Your analytical skills, your history and your motivation come into play again here.
(!) Look at the concept above and consider that it is an ad in a magazine and consider why you are seeing it/ why it is in the magazine and what relationship this has with the concept.
Having considered what you think is being signified, you realize a 2nd level conceptualization, a *SIGNIFICATION*.
(!) You conclude that the Coca-Cola company is trying to make a profit by taking out an ad in the paper designed to persuade you that Coca-Cola=refreshment=happiness so that you will buy your drink. How do you react?
* Note that, in actuality, all these processes happen simultaneously. You do not consider them step by step but, rather, in tandem with each other.
* Also note how arbitrary some of your understanding of the image is. For example, is that girl smiling because she's drinking Coca-Cola or is she smiling because bubbles make her giggle?
* Also note the subjectivity of motivation and history...