Tag Archive: United States

Down With the Wall

Down With the Wall

OWS (Occupy Wall Street) is a protest movement who allegedly began on September 17, in New York. Initiated by the Canadian activist group “adbusters”, the movement’s protests are against social and economic inequality, high unemployment, greed, corruption, and financial corporate influence on democracy. We said allegedly began on November 17, because, and according to facts, it began earlier; on June 9 the domain name “occupywallstreet.org” was registered by “adbusters”. Numerous media sources interpreted the events of September 17 in New York, and many of their methods of analysis fluctuate. Some see the bigger picture while others fail to do so.

Analyzing Official Government News

Whether we like it or not, we depend on the “special pleading,” the “propaganda,” the “public relations” of communications experts, mostly invisible, to bring to our attention the products, services, people, facts, and ideas that fit in best with our own specific social, psychological, political, and economic situations. These invisible experts, who include advertising and public relations professionals, newspaper editors, book publishers, movie producers, government officials, TV editors and anchormen, and so on thus have a tremendous influence in our lives (Lewis, 2011). On November 11, the Whitehouse Watch posted an article entitled “Occupy Wall Street’s Communist Predecessor”, in which the events that took place on September 17th of 2011 and 1920 are linked and compared. The article emphasizes the irony of the date chosen by OWS to begin their protests, saying that the movement should be ashamed of what they are doing and should reconsider their moves and clear the streets immediately.

Analyzing US Media Sources

On September 17, CBS news posted an article on its main page entitled “Protesters in NYC blast money in Politics”. CBS avoided any kind of analysis or influence; it simply transferred what was happening. The article started by indicating that an alliance of groups who say they were inspired by the Arab Spring protests has initiated a large protest in the heart of the financial district of New York City.

International Coverage

BBC was as cautious as CBS, they did not attempt to further analyze the situation, and simply reported what was happening and conducted some interviews. On October 1st, in an article entitled “Occupy Wall Street protests grow amid Radiohead rumor”, BBC quoted the New York mayor, Mr. Michael Bloomberg, while heavily criticizing the protesters, saying “…they are targeting the wrong people…” (BBC, 2011)
Al Jazeera posted an article on October 4th, covering the events of the first week of demonstrations in New York City. Al Jazeera did not attempt to analyze the situation as well. They simply linked OWS to the Arab Spring. Although Al Jazeera is closer to the West than it claims, they posted pictures of the protesters and the banners they were holding, some of which read: “NYPD (New York Police Department) is a layoff away from joining us” and “We want democracy not corporatocracy”
US-News and USA-Today both posted articles on October 17th, a month after the protests started, linking the events of September 17, 2011 to what happened on September 17, 1920. A major bombing in Wall Street that killed 30 and approximately 300 injured. Both sources tried to intimidate OWS and the protesters, claiming that this was the wrong way of action.
On October 18, ABC news posts an article entitled “Obama: Occupy Wall Street ‘not that different’ from Tea Tarty protests”. The whole article was about the interview with the U.S. president, quoting what he said with a few attempts of analysis, although he was very moderate in his speech and tried to maintain common ground between the protesters and the government. Among the many quotes in the article are the following remarkable sentences: “In some ways, they’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party. Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them. (ABC News, 2011) President Obama said the most important thing he can do as president is express solidarity with the protesters and redouble his commitment to achieving what he described as a more egalitarian society.

What “they” Were Taught to Say

On December 1st, Yahoo News posted an article entitled “How Republicans are being taught to talk about Occupy Wall Street”. The article revolves around 10 major points of what should and should not be said in public. The 10 major points are:
• Don’t say Capitalism
• Don’t say “the government taxes the rich”. Say the government takes from the rich
• Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the “middle class”. Call them “Hardworking Taxpayers”
• Don’t talk about “jobs”. Talk about “careers”
• Don’t say “government spending”. Call it “waste”
• Don’t ever say you are willing to compromise
• The 3 most important words you can say to an Occupier: “I get it”
• Out: ”Entrepreneur”. In: “Job Creator”
• Don’t ever ask anyone to sacrifice
• Always blame Washington
This list was made by Republican Strategist Frank Luntz; he also added an 11th minor point about how the word “bonus” should never be used: “If you give out a bonus at a time of financial hardship, you’re going to make people angry. It’s called ‘pay per performance’”(Luntz, 2011). “What is important in either case is that we, the public, begin to understand this process better so that we begin to differentiate between what we really want and what we’ve been conditioned to want by the invisible government competing for our share of mind and money. Such a differentiation is an important step on the path of self-knowledge and in the struggle for inner freedom (Lewis, 2011).”

When Foreign News Sources Criticize

Since most of the media assume the public is not interested in international news, there is a perceived need to hype the coverage of “foreign” events to an even greater extent than domestic news (Moeller, 1999). Ironically, RT (Russia Today) criticized all other media outlets of being too late to cover the events of the OWS protests. On October 12, in an article entitled “RT was the only media outlet covering OWS protests”, Wide Awake News founder Charlie McGrath blamed what he called “US corporate media” for trying to portray the protests as a left-wing movement. “When these protests started in New York City… Basically RT was the only one out there covering it… and after 19 days and the realization that it wasn’t going away, we say an onslaught of mainstream media, corporate media, show up and try to paint this as a democratic cause…. What they should be doing and what they are doing are completely different things…” (McGrath, 2011) Basically, RT is not only blaming the US media, but also blaming the US government and leaders through their corruptively controlled media.
As time passed, all major media sources covered, followed, posted articles, and conducted interviews concerning the protests by OWS. Some try to paint it in different colors, some try to benefit from the protests, and some try to mislead international and public opinion by taking sides and connecting the OWS movement to other radical movements. On a brighter note, the diversity of the way news is being reported, regardless of the fact that it’s right or wrong, gives the reader/viewer/listener a wealth of information from which only small parts should be taken and connected.
Sometimes however, misleading news reporting can lead to unexpected actions, like rage among a people, increasing protests and sometimes giving them a violent nature, increasing the gap between a people instead of trying to bring it together. Media’s impact on the process of decision-making for a people is not to be underestimated. It is advisable to be open to different media sources and accept all what is being said, and only through critical thinking and objectivity could one be able to draw the information needed from a piece of news.

ABC News. (2011, October 18). Obama: Occupy Wall Street ‘not that different’ from tea party protests. Retrieved December 20, 2011 from http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/10/obama-occupy-wall-street-not-that-different-from-tea-party-protests

Al Jazeera. (2011, October 4). Occupy Wall Street’s first week. Retrieved December 20, 2011 from CBS news. (2011, September 17). Protesters in N.Y.C. blast money in politics. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/09/17/national/main20107772.shtml

Al Jazeera. (2011, September 17). US protesters rally to occupy Wall Street. Retrieved December 20, 2011 from http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/us-protesters-rally-occupy-wall-street

BBC. (2011, October 1). Occupy Wall Street protests grow amid Radiohead rumor. Retrieved December 20, 2011 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15134806

Ferraro, T. (2011, October 7). Anti-wall st movement has potential political punch. Retrieved December 20, 2011 from http://www.torontosun.com/2011/10/07/anti-wall-st-movement-has-potential-political-punch

Greene, B. (2011, October 17). How ‘occupy wall street’ started and spread. RetrievedDecember 20, 2011 from http://www.usnews.com/news/washington-whispers/articles/2011/10/17/how-occupy-wall-street-started-and-spread

Kengor, P. (2011, November 11). ‘Occupy wall street’ communist predecessor. Retrieved December 20, 2011 from http://www.thewhitehousewatch.com/occupy-wall-street’s-communist-predecessor/

Lewis, D. (2011, November 10). Propaganda in Democracy. Retrieved December 20, 2011 from http://www.authentic-breathing.com/propaganda_in_a_democracy.htm

Moeller, S. (1999, December). Four Habits of News Reporting. Frame Work Institute. Retrieved December 20, 2011, from http://www.frameworksinstitute.org/assets/files/PDF_GII/four_habits_of_news_reporting.pdf

Moody, C. (2011, December 1). How republicans are being taught to talk about occupy Wall Street. Retrieved December 20, 2011 from http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/republicans-being-taught-talk-occupy-wall-street-133707949.html

Moynihan, C. (2011, September 17). Wall Street protest begins, with demonstrators blocked. Retrieved December 20, 2011 from http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/wall-street-protest-begins-with-demonstrators-blocked/?ref=occupywallstreet

Russia Today. (2011, October 12). ‘RT was the only media outlet covering OWS protests’. Retrieved December 20, 2011 from http://rt.com/news/rt-media-ows-wedge-619/

 Advertisement is your Middle Name

In the 21st century, not any normal human being can survive a day without media and communication. Can you go a day without using a mobile phone, or watching television/ or a movie, or surfing the internet, or even walking down the neighborhood street? All these daily routine activities expose us to advertisements whether we like it or not, whether we plan it or not. Today’s forces of advertisement determine the “ideal” life style, the “perfect” shape, and even a person’s “optimal” status in life. Advertisement connects to consumer’s subconscious and alters people’s consuming trends, transforming us all to trapped followers and subjective thinkers. People do not think anymore, they just do what their brains are told to do and absorb all masked stereotypes. Not all people are as such of course, however a big chunk of society falls in the trap of media and advertisement simply because they are too consumed in consuming, and have no time to objectively think and analyze.

Analysis of Women’s ad

This ad shows an African-American model and another white model wearing clothes by United Colors of Benetton. The two women are tall, skinny, and have flawless skin, almost reaching the stereotypical definition of perfect beauty. Rick Ruffolo, the vice president of Bath and Body, once said that “If you look at the messages in mass marketing today and TV programs, the emphasis is on outer beauty, cosmetics and extreme makeovers” (Howard, 2005). This brings up the idea of perfect feminine “mannequin” appeal as a mean to promote sales. People’s definition of beauty has changed; beautiful now means tall, extremely thin, and basically having the “model-look.” Advertisement defines body shape and carves the way people value women and their anatomy. Again, nothing is accidental in advertisements: having an African-American in this ad is definitely not a coincidence. The mission of United Colors of Benetton is “combining culture with industry and offering young people from around the world an opportunity for creative growth and multicultural interchange (Fabrica, 2009).” Hence having an African American woman allows this brand to address a wide range of diverse people and to compete in more than one localized market. The “united” colors of its sweaters soon became a metaphor for the united skin tones of the youth from many different countries for whom the sweaters were designed (Fabrica, 2009). Not all brands are aware that “Black” women spend on average three times more than the general market (Neff, 2007). The strategy used to sell these items is also a branding strategy; however, it pertains to cultural and ethnic perceptions. Two decades after the Civil Rights movements, companies and advertisers began to integrate minority consumers into their main marketing strategies (Kim et al, 2005).  Benetton succeeded in advertising its ideas which soon became a consumer magnet thus selling more of their products.

Analysis of Men’s ad

Upon examining seven different Arabic magazines from October and November issues, I realized that the number of ads showing only men is extremely low compared to that of women. This brings up the issue of using women, as well as children, as an advertisement tool in order to play on people’s emotions and effectively promote a certain brand. Men are often used to advertise a message about power, sports, and control, as if women can’t be powerful or sportive. This Lacoste ad shows a low angle shot of a very elegant white man wearing Lacoste shoes. The shoes are pointed towards the logo in such a way to direct the viewers’ attention towards the crocodile symbol for Lacoste. The male is dressed in a very chic style referring to Lacoste’s basic look: the Sport-chic look. His jacket is adjusted to be open in order to show the crocodile on the upper right of the polo and promote the clothing line as well. On that same page, there is another close up on a male’s leg, specifically below the knee, giving great importance to the shoes, being the object advertised. To support these two shots, another two images of shoes are portrayed to display the variety in their collection. It is worth noting that in the upper left shot, the shoe color is warm: orange/red where as all the others are neutral colors: brown, beige, black, white, and grey. Warm colors usually set a powerful, energetic mood while, neutral colors serve to tone down colors that are intended to stand out. The usefulness of the content/style distinction rests on the intrinsic separation between what is said about and shown with the brand versus how it is said or shown (Philips and McQuerrie, 2002). All the detailed elements in the ad are coherent and make perfect sense; however, I couldn’t help but wonder why the bars behind the man are rusted. Everything has a purpose in advertisement, and one possible purpose for the rust may be to create a realistic atmosphere and to hide the mechanical adjustments in the photograph.

Analysis of Men and Women ad

The first jeans ad is centered at a white male and a white, skinny tall female. Both, man and woman are in their twenties; consequently, Salsa’s target audience is young men and women in this same age group. The photo is shot in low angle making it seem like the two characters are on top of the world. This camera angle makes people come out much larger than they are, thus giving them more power. The camera angle also helps portray their slogan, “Feel on top of the world wearing Salsa”, using photography. The impression of looking up at them triggers the audience to fancy looking up to them. It is hardly a coincidence that the woman is slightly tilted to the left, showing a portion of her behind. The male is standing straight front, giving all his body parts equal value; whereas the female’s backside is shown, giving more emphasis to her ass, especially that the man’s hand is precisely on her waist line. In today’s Lebanon, advertising rarely portrays or addresses women in a manner that isn’t awkwardly related either to looks or, at the other end of the spectrum, to motherly function (Bontems, 2009). It is part of Salsa’s marketing strategy to promise firm and uplifted butt while wearing their jeans. That is why they resort to emotional branding to attract more and more customers. This marketing strategy connects their brand’s preposition to their consumer’s needs and desires. Now-a-days people do not buy products; they buy ideas, life styles and social statuses. “Happy New You” is just another slogan that not only redefines the traditional meaning of being happy but also draws a strong relation between happiness and a pair of jeans.

By examining in depth the three different ads, it has become clear that advertisement is the protagonist in the story of our life. Companies build their marketing strategies by virtually selling their ideas rather than their products. Consumers are driven towards perfection and their ultimate goal is reaching the ideal body figure, be it their faces or their bodies. Susie Orbach, a British psychoanalyst, argues in her book “Bodies” that all of the globalized world, men and women, are suffering from a warped sense of beauty…She says that we are expected to look like Angelina Jolie from childhood to the old-age home (Solomon, 2009). This type of stereotype is one of many resulting from the mass media and advertisement “haunting” us. Always remember that what distinguishes a person from a consumer is his/her ability to distinguish between what he/she needs or desires and what the advertisers wants him//her to need or desire.


Awareness Network. (n.d.). Media Awareness Network. Media Stereotyping – Introduction. Retrieved November 13, 2011, from http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/stereotyping/index.cfm

Bontems, N. (2009, May 10). Sex offender. Communicate. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from http://moodle.aub.edu.lb/file.php/5847/Sex_offender_-_Communicate.ae.html

Fabrica. (2009, July 21). Fabrica. United Colors of Benetton. Retrieved November 13, 2011, from http://www.benettongroup.com/en/whatwesay/fabrica.htm

Howard, T. (2005, July 7). Ad campaigns tell women to celebrate who they are. USA Today. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.usatoday.com/money/advertising/2005-07-07-dove-usat_x.htm

Kim, M., & Chung, A. (2005). Consuming Orientalism: Images of Asian/American Women in Multicultural Advertising. Qualitative Sociology, 28, 67-91. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from http://moodle.aub.edu.lb/file.php/5847/Asian_Americans_in_advertising.pdf

Lacoste. (2011). Noun. November 2011. Lebanon. Noun publishing. p. 87.

Neff, J. (2007, August 27). Advertising Age. My Black Is Beautiful. Retrieved November 9, 2010, from adage.com/article/news/black-beautiful/120091

Phillips, B., & McQuarrie, E. (2002). The Development, Change, and Transformation of Rhetorical Style in Magazine. journal of advertising, 31. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from http://moodle.aub.edu.lb/file.php/5847/The_Development_Change_and_Transformation_of_Rhetorical_Style_in_Magazine_Advertisements_1954-1999_Advertising_Society_Review_6_4.pdf

Salsa. (2011). Snob. October 2011. Lebanon. Snob Hasnaa publishing. p. 55.

Solomon, D. (2009, March 4). Questions for Susie Orbach – Her Beautiful Mind – Interview . The New York Times. Retrieved November 11, 2011, from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/magazine/08wwln-q4-t.html

United Colors of Benetton. (2011). Noun. November 2011. Lebanon. Noun publishing. p. 129.




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