The student blog for Drake University first year seminar entitled Visual Politics

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A True Saint

Anyone who looked at photographs of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005 had to be thinking the same thing: How can New Orleans ever recover?  News stations were flooded with pictures and videos of families stranded on their roofs, citizens using kayaks for transportation, and what seemed like half the city calling the Superdome their new home.  Even after the media had moved on to new stories, New Orleans still remained devastated—physically and emotionally—for many years.  It was not until February 7th, 2010 that the suffering of the city finally ended.  With the Saints Super Bowl XLIV victory, a turning point for New Orleans began, and this iconic image was born.
            The photo is of the Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees holding his child during the postgame celebration.  One reason the photo has become so iconic to Americans—especially those who live in New Orleans—is that it is an extremely relatable image.   There are thousands of photographs of the Saints celebrating after the Super Bowl, but this is the image that became iconic and ran in many periodicals and magazines.  Why?  Because many the other photos were of Saints players celebrating with the Lombardi trophy.  Many Americans can envision themselves being held by their father or holding their own son much better than they can imagine holding the Lombardi trophy.  We immediately key in on the popular iconography of a father holding his son and connect with it.  This aesthetic familiarity is heightened by the fact that Brees’ face isn’t showing, allowing us to superimpose ourselves into the image and create in us a more powerful emotional response.
            The powerful emotions that this photo can evoke are another reason it is iconic.  The Super Bowl victory was a cathartic moment for New Orleans and this is readily apparent in the image.  The confetti falling and word “Champions” in the background inspire the thoughts of festivity and merriment.  At the same time, the Saints attire is obvious in the picture, bringing to mind New Orleans—now synonymous with Hurricane Katrina—and therefore inevitably the afore mentioned images of citizens stranded on their roofs and other scenes of devastation.  These two codes of jubilation and devastation clash, bringing even more intrigue to the photo.  Another transcription able to be made from the photo comes from the child.  The pose of Brees and his child immediately brings to mind the opening (and closing) scene of the Lion King and the idea of the circle of life.  This idea is emblematic of the fall and rise New Orleans has experienced over the past five years.  Symbolically, the child can even been seen as a representation of rebirth for the city of New Orleans, as it is now ready to make a fresh start.
            This image may not be the most preeminent image of American culture; however, it definitely is iconic in the minds of New Oleanders and sports fans alike.  Its aesthetic familiarity makes it a great image to view; however, it is the semiotic transcriptions that can be taken from it and the emotions those symbols evoke that make this photograph truly iconic.
--Zach Kadow

Saddam Hussein

“Ladies and gentleman, we got him,” were the famous lines Paul Brenner the United States Civil leader in Iraq excitingly said on December 13, 2003 after capturing Saddam Hussein.  The Iraq disarmament crisis ended with the United States demanding President Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq immediately. When he refused the United States began Operation Iraqi Freedom.  After approximately three weeks of fighting Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath party was overthrown.  This was by no means the end to the occupation of Iraq; it was merely the beginning.  It took nine months of getting blown up by suicide bombers, IEDS, and getting killed in ambushes by insurgents until the United States Army finally captured Saddam Hussein. It would have been nice if this was the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, however the war went on for another seven years.

            In the famous picture of Saddam Hussein having a noose around his neck prior to being hanged, many images serve as symbols.  The first symbol is that Saddam Hussein does not have a hood covering his face.  In the majority of hangings a hood covers the criminals face to prevent emotional harm to those watching the hangings, and to protect the dignity of the one about to be hanged.  Saddam reportedly refused the hood as one final act of defiance.  The image of the hanging without a hood presents an emotional scenario and civic performance.  People in Iraq viewing the hanging see a ruthless dictator who tyrannized their lives for many years.  They do not see a bag covering a body, but they see the man they have wanted dead for a long time.  The hanging of Saddam Hussein without a hood brings a sense of relief to the people of Iraq, as they know for certain the man ruining their lives will never return.

            Another symbol are the executioners wearing masks, which covers their identity. The executioners or guards are not individuals.  They are a group, no person viewing can tell any physical features of the guards except for their skin color.  This destruction of identity allows the viewers in Iraq to feel as if they play a role in the execution.   It portrays a sense of teamwork among the Iraqi people as they are all working together to take back the lives they had before Saddam Hussein ruined it for them. 

Jake Wasserman 

Iconic Image of our Generation

Within the past decade, technology has changed an unbelievable amount.  What seemed crazy and unreal ten years ago, or possibly five years ago is now a reality and now accepted as “normal.”  The picture of this iPhone does not represent just a phone to me, but an iconic symbol of our endless access to news and media. 
                Access to media has become a social norm for today’s generation.  We are now capable of doing anything anywhere.  We can check email, surf the internet, check scores of the game, or even receive recent news alerts.  The possibilities are endless and will never stop.  I feel like this picture of the iPhone represents our generation well because our generation thrives on using some type of media.  We now spend more time using media then we do not using it. 
                The reason I chose a picture of an iPhone isn’t so much to represent the phone itself.  To me it represents the technological advancements that are available to our generation, and how it has given us endless access to media.  Also, smart phones, such as the iPhone, have allowed us to literally access it whenever we desire to.
                I think this iconic image can sum up our generation and will be a part of every generation to come also. –Alex Kaster

Chastain's Defining Moment

The 1999 Women’s World Cup forever changed the face of women’s sports in America and all over the world. An extremely talented, dedicated, and hardworking squad of American female soccer players led our country to gold in the final match played in Pasadena, California. Scoreless after regulation and overtime, the game went into penalty kicks. Carla Overbeck, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly, Mia Hamm, and finally Brandi Chastain each put away their penalty kick to win over China who missed their third shot. As an impressionable eight year old at this time, I wanted to be Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain and play soccer for the national team. This event and this photo specifically, changed our culture’s tradition views of women and the sports they play. This game exposed women’s athletics to the world. After the final was televised live, this photo appeared on the cover of magazines all over the country. This photo becomes iconic because of the moment in history it represents and also the controversy it led up to.

When Americans look at this photo, they often apply social codings to it. Each person looks at it and interprets it differently. A common reaction to a photo like this is one of some shock and maybe judgment. Up until this point, traditional views of women and their roles in society did not support activities like sports. Professional female sports are still not well recognized or even close to being as popular as male professional sports. Most women are expected to give up athletics after high school or college and follow a more traditional career and lifestyle. Although many women want to follow that tradition by choice, it is still possible to continue a career in athletics and follow a somewhat traditional lifestyle. It’s not uncommon for a player on the Women’s National soccer team to be married or have a child. These women learned the balance between both extremes. There are also transcriptions attached that evoke emotion from the viewer. A strong emotion is the strength conveyed by her body shape and the fact that she has her shirt off showing her, frankly, ripped muscles. It also fuses the ideas of daily American lives of playing soccer, which millions of young children (male and female) play, and watching high level sports on television such as professional football or basketball. This creates a relationship between the viewer and how they think about women’s soccer. In a way it changes it to a positive relationship because of the success the national team achieved, especially on US soil.

On the other hand, it created controversy. Although this isn’t a hot topic in politics, it did cause people to think and form an opinion on women’s roles and traditions. Seeing a female rip her shirt off in front of the largest crowd a women’s event has ever had, is something that doesn’t happen every day. One end of the argument thought she should’ve acted in a more moderate or conservative way in her response to winning the world cup. On the other hand, she did win the most prestigious tournament in the world for women’s soccer. In my opinion she did nothing wrong. The emotions she must have felt would be completely overwhelming and incredible. It’s very natural to get excited and want to run around and celebrate. Although this controversy wasn’t widely argued, it did result as a product of this photo. The iconic status of this image is still intact for our generation but it is slowly becoming less and less well known with younger generations. For me, this will always remind me of why I started playing sports and the inspiration that team was to thousands of young females.

Megan Fisher

An Icon of Society


     It is a product everyone owns and everyone wants. It has come to embody the technological era in which we are living in the 21st century. It has completely revolutionized the way we consume and listen to music. You probably own one yourself. They have gone from simple storage devices for music got smaller, got video, and then got a touch screen and Wi-Fi. It is even comes in a phone version. This product is of course the iPod. Every year Steve Jobs revels a new iteration of the iPod. It seems to happen almost instantly after this product is held in Steve Jobs’s hands; it ends up in the hands of millions of others. The image of Jobs holding his creations has become an icon of the technological age in which we are living. It represents a piece of this age that we all own, something we are all a part of.
     Every year a new version of the iPod is unveiled by Jobs. There have been many pictures and many iPods. But, the pictures all look similar for one reason. In No Caption Needed, Hariman and Lucaites talk about the aesthetic properties of iconic photographs, more specifically civic performance. They remark the importance of the stylistic features of the subject in the photo and “especially of the distinctive gesture” (Hariman & Lucaites 31)  Every year jobs uses the same gesture, casually holding the new iPod in his hands with a big smile as he shows his new invention to the world. He is also always wearing his distinctive clothing brandishing his distinct look. Most are familiar with his gray scruff, glasses and black long sleeved shirt. It becomes iconic because of this repeat of this act, repeated behavior. It represents the “twice- behaved” and it is “established through habitation or drill” to create this iconic status. (32) Through all of this, a pattern has been made, creating an iconic status every time this action is repeated. This gesture has grown to represent the civic performance of the image of jobs hold his new creations.
     The image of the iPod is not only a statement and an icon of gesture; it’s also a very social image. Almost everyone in the United States either knows what an iPod is or owns an iPod, so everyone can relate to this. Oftentimes people are buzzing about the new iPod and how they NEED to have it. People even camped out in front of the apple store for the release of the iPhone. The iPod is a social phenomenon, something people relate to. In No Caption needed it is stated that an image “will have to contain social coding if it is to have any meaning” (34) In this image, the social coding of technology is easily observed. This image can, and does, represent the role of technology in our society.
     This image can mean many different things to different people. Nonetheless it has become an icon. It represents the technological age in which we are living. Socially, it represents a craze, something everyone must have and that most people do. Future generations can glance at this photo and see into our culture of always looking for the new thing, the next technology. It is a great depiction of the social consumerism that is so prominent in the modern American society.
- Travis Ormsby

A Defining Moment in Sports History

On April 8th, 1974, the Atlanta Braves returned from a three game series with the Cincinnati Reds. Hank Aaron had recently tied Babe Ruth's home run record and was looking to break that record against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hank Aaron was leading off the fourth inning against Dodger pitcher Al Downing. Legendary Dodger, and baseball radio broadcaster Vin Scully was announcing the game. Downing led off with a fastball low and away. Scully handled the rest:

          "Fastball, is a high drive into deep left center field. Buckner goes back to the fence, it is gone!What a marvelous moment for baseball! What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of   Georgia; what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the deep south for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron; who is met at home plate not only by every member of the braves, but by his father and mother. He threw his arms around his father, and as he left the home plate area, his mother came running across the grass, threw her arms around his neck, kissed him for all she was worth! And for the first time in a long time, that poker face in Aaron shows the tremendous strain and relief of what it must have been like to live with for the past several months."

Any fan of the great game of baseball, or moments in sports that change history forever can appreciate this moment. This moment wasn't just a great day for baseball players and fans alike. It was a great day for the African American community was well. This image of Henry Aaron is one of the most iconic and revered images of the great game of baseball. This image runs very deep with a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons. For example, this image creates a lot of positive, and negative emotions among different groups of people in the community. The image reflects emotional scenarios because the photograph's focus on bodily expression not only displays emotions but also places the viewer in an affective relationship with the people in the picture. This is true especially today because of all the steroid controversy. Barry Bonds may have broken the home run record, but Hank Aaron is still the home run king. Whenever people look at this image they feel a sense of happiness and security knowing that his achievements were done without the help of performance enhancing drugs. 

When Hank Aaron hit this home run, it created a moment way larger than itself. In a sense this image uses civic performance because when Hank Aaron hit number 715, he created hope for millions of Americans everywhere both black and white. By breaking the home run record and breaking racial barriers, Hank Aaron allowed for other people to break personal barriers. This image represents all the time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears Hank Aaron put into what he loved. All the death threats he received didn't bring him down. All of the speed bumps he encountered made him stronger.  Its as if Hank Aaron was lifting the weight off of millions of people struggling with their day to day lives by simply hitting a home run. Yet by hitting this home run he provided hope and the idea that anything is possible. 

We can all learn a thing or two from Hank Aaron. Hard work and perseverance gave Henry Aaron the ability to hit the long ball better than anyone. It gave him the ability to run around the base paths and receive a standing ovation from white and black fans alike. Most importantly, Hank Aaron can look at the situation now with how much of an influence steroids and banned substances have on professional sports and smile knowing he did the right thing by playing the game the right way. This image illustrates the civic performance, and captures the emotions that most feel when looking back on this legend making history. 

Heroes get remembered, but legends never die... 

Caleb Copley  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Home Town

The above photo of The Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge is weird to most but for people in my home town this dome is just part of the landscape. I come from a small town called Fairfield, Iowa or as some may may know it “The Meditation Capital of the World.” Fairfield has held this title ever since a man named Maharishi came to town and started “The Movement” which drew a lot of very interesting people from all over the world. (I mean that literally.. Many people have moved to Fairfield for The Movement but they also ship in men they call Pundits. These are men usually of Indian descent whose only purpose in life is to meditate. Oh and after some issues with them trying to break into houses of young girl they have been fenced in to their own small area...yes they are actually fenced in like animals.) I could spend all day talking about what the followers of Maharishi do and who they are but I’ll try to sum it up quickly. Basically these people gather at the domes every day and meditate. They practice Transcendental Meditation and the TM-Sidhis Program which include Yogic Flying. Yes I said flying... They believe that if they can get one million people all over the world to meditate at exactly the same time then world peace will just magically happen. Maharishi’s followers are a very peaceful group that just wants to achieve world peace for everyone else which I agree is a good idea but I never understood how meditation will help that. 
I could go on for a very long time about my opinions and how the town feels about this group but unfortunately growing up on the other side of town has left me very biased. (You should hear some of the stories I have though..they’re pretty entertaining..) You see, Fairfield is an extremely segregated town. I believe this is simply because the “townies” (yes that’s what we’re called) do not understand the “roos” (that would be their nick’s short for guru) and vice versa. I grew up on the other side of town where we go to public school, do not practice meditation, and even eat meat. Our views of the “roos” are pretty universal and I cannot count how many people I have met here that have asked me if I levitate daily but I still feel that my biased opinions are wrong. These people have done great but unappreciated things for the city. Because of their business school (they have a private school of K-12 and college) we have more restaurants per capita than San Francisco and too many art galleries and small businesses to name. I think they are unappreciated because a few of them give the rest of them a very bad reputation (again..I have great stories..) and it’s not fair to be prejudiced against them but growing up with this ingrained in me has made it difficult to change my opinions. 

This post is getting quite long and I haven’t even done the required stuff yet but it’s just so hard to explain the very unique culture of Fairfield in such a small space. I’ll leave it at that and if anyone has any questions feel free to ask me. Getting back on track though I’ll now begin analyzing the photograph. This photo has aesthetic familiarity because is a simple landscape photograph that is very balanced and symmetrical. The backdrop of the sky is familiar to all and it has no special lighting or effects altering the picture. This photo also has semiotic transcriptions. When one side of town the see tranquility and peace but the other side of town just feels annoyed by the people inside and find the whole concept of “floating” odd.
Lauren Oliver
For those of you still stuck on the flying concept here is a photo of it...basically they sit cross legged and hop repeatedly which gives them excellent leg muscles. This is also a view of the inside of the domes which smell awful because..well meditation is very serious business and it is not okay to use the restroom in the middle of a meditation session..if you get my drift..

A Message of Hope

Arguably one of the most significant events that has taken place in recent United States’ history is the inauguration of our 44th president, Barack Hussein Obama, our nation’s first African American chief of state. Born of a Kenyan father and a Kansan mother in Honolulu, Hawaii, President Obama has dedicated much of his life to the civil rights cause and progressive government reforms, including universal health care and alternative energy. Even though President Obama inherited two overseas crises and a global economic recession after taking office, he made clear his intent on fulfilling two promises he made to the American public during his campaign for the presidency: change and hope—two long-unfulfilled goals we aspired to reach during this turbulent decade.

The above image immortalizes these promises and has indeed become enmeshed in the realm of American icons. This image proves to be iconic because it is not only widely recognized, but also appeals to one’s emotions and signifies a landmark event in American history (Hariman & Lucaites 27). The War on Terror left many families across the nation with faltering confidence in President Obama’s predecessor, along with the economic downturn and shaky foreign policies. It was obvious that the time had come for change. This image’s bold, patriotic design, combined with the message of “hope”, conveys a powerful message to the public: this is the end of an era plagued with uncertainties, and now it is time to work towards a more progressive future. Therefore, this image conducts strong politically-charged emotions because it was born in confusion and conflict (36).

Undeniably, the above image epitomizes a major event in the history of the United States. Despite ongoing civil rights issues, we were still able to warmly and proudly welcome Barack Obama as our 44th president on January 20, 2009. Although this image is not a photograph, it spoke and continues to speak volumes across America. This dynamic image was ubiquitous across the country during the presidential campaigns and underlined Mr. Obama’s optimistic platform. It was created to persuade, and inspired political action within millions of American citizens looking for reform. Because of its influence, this image will remain a symbol of the Obama administration.

The very reproduction of this powerful image proves it to be an icon—one that is sure not to fall into obscurity in the near future. I believe this icon of American politics was able to gain such popularity because of our common desire to create a better nation; one that is more efficient and willing to listen to public needs, regardless of race, age, gender, or social status. As Mr. Obama once said in one of his many speeches in January 2008, “Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have courage to remake the world as it should be” (Notable Quotes).
—Nikki Edmiston

Shock and Awe

Some of the photographs that have really stood out for me in my time so far were the pictures of the United States’ “Shock and Awe” campaign at the beginning of the Iraq War. There are many of them and  I picked one of the better looking ones.  They depict the bombing campaign that was launched at the start of the Iraq War that was supposed to demoralize the Iraqi people by bombing them into “Shock and Awe”. These photos are iconic for many reasons.
One of the reasons they’re iconic is that I remembered them in my head even though they were broadcast so long ago. I was 11 when the Iraq War began, and I still remember them from the news broadcasts that day depicting the bombings. They are all have a sort of off night-coloring that really stands out too, with the explosions and smoke filling the pictures.   The video of the bombings is even more chilling, with explosions popping up throughout the city, which is calm except for the bombing.
I think it really is more iconic now than when it was first seen. This is because of what happened in the rest of the Iraq War. We were supposed to be toppling a regime but we were bombing the capital in an effort to cause so much surprise to the Iraqis that they would just give up, but we inadvertently angered them by bombing the city. It shows some of our failures in the war that could’ve been avoided.
-Lucas Oshman

The world's game


        Soccer is the world’s game, it may not be the most desired sport in America but in the world it is widespread. This logo of the 2010 world cup is an iconic image to our generation because a lot of people around the world can relate to this logo.  Even though many people in the United States dislike soccer they still watch the world cup- its high quality soccer. The world cup attracts sports fan, soccer players, and anyone interested around the world. The world cup brings each country together to share something they have in common; they’re the best soccer players in the world. Each player plays to represent their country, family, themselves, and the world’s game at the highest level.  Both civic performance and aesthetic familiarity clarify how this logo of the 2010 world cup is an iconic image.
                Civic performance is the emotional attachment and perspective the viewer has towards an image.  The emotional attachment and perspective of a viewer is the emotional situation that goes through a viewer’s mind when they glance at the photo, the viewer captures memories and flashbacks once seeing the iconic image. When viewers gaze at the 2010 world cup logo many memories stumble through across their brain. The time the world cup was hosted in an African nation for the first time (South Africa), when Spain won its first world cup in Spanish history, when Uruguay made it to the final four, or when South Africa became the first country not to win a single world cup game on home soil. But the most memorable thought of all when looking at this logo is remembering what each team did for their country and how each country was represented regardless of their results.  This logo also represents civic performance because it gives younger soccer players a goal to set every time they seek this photo and something to achieve.
                Aesthetic familiarity also shows that this logo of the 2010 world cup is an iconic image to our generation. Aesthetic familiarity is an image that is relatable, accustomed in our minds, and can transcend our imagination. This logo is accustomed to anyone who watches sports, even those who don’t find soccer appealing. It is known around the world and relatable to any country in world because soccer is the world’s game. All over the world this image has become familiar, from country to country, house to house, and locker room to locker room. In most countries this logo is everything, soccer is everything. People live and breathe soccer in most countries because in most countries that is all they have, playing soccer is what they do. Playing in the world cup shows each person what their country means to them and how they represent it. The 2010 world cup logo is relatable and familiar in a lot of people’s minds, it is an iconic image.
                An iconic image is one that is remembered while being widely recognized and brings across some sort of emotion while having a significant meaning. The logo of the 2010 world cup is an iconic image to our generation because it includes both civic performance and aesthetic familiarity, it is an image that is relatable and brings about an emotional attachment to the viewers.

Sierra Riasati

Hudson River Crash

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency landing in the Hudson River shortly after takeoff. I thought it was phenomenal that all of the people on the plane survived.
      Americans everywhere saw the picture that day. I feel as though the image I chose from that day even has a lot of semiotic transcriptions. One of the codes (probably one of the most obvious codes) deals with an American tragedy. Plane crashes are no stranger to the people of America, especially only eight years after the attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York City. I feel this crash was very relatable for any resident of New York City that was there on September 11, 2001. They might have been thinking something was happening again, although it ended up just being mechanical difficulties. Some may say the plane should never have been okayed for takeoff, but nonetheless it departed.
      Another code that could be brought up from this picture would be a sense of heroism. There were several people who came out into the Hudson River that day to help all the survivors of Flight 1549. As the plane was sinking, there were people coming out in boats to bring these people to shore. All the passengers standing on the wings of the plane were heroes also. They could have reacted a lot more chaotically, but they all stayed fairly calm and came together to survive the crash. The pilot of the plane himself was also a hero for all the people on that flight. He could have freaked out and crashed the plane, killing himself and all the passengers on the plane. He did the complete opposite. He used his training to stay calm and successfully land the airplane safely in the Hudson River. I feel the sense of heroism that comes from this picture is not only a semiotic transcription, but also shows civic performance.
      There is, however, also a contradiction and crisis presented between these two codes. Both codes are clearly there, but they definitely portray two different codes of semiotic transcriptions. One code is portraying a tragedy; a plane crashing due to mechanical difficulties minutes after landing. Another codes is portraying a sense of heroism; a pilot successfully completing an emergency landing in the Hudson River.
Kelli Riesberg

Facebook: A Face We Can All Recognize

The iconic image in which I choose is just that an icon. The emergence of social networking in my lifetime has led to an almost cult like following.  The fact is that no matter what time of day it is there is bound to be someone on facebook. The social revolution caused by this website contoured the voice of conversation in our society. The image itself invokes different states of mine for different people. Whether people are chronic users/abusers or are a shy social butterfly these websites have allowed us to connect into a deeper sense of what people stands for and what they believe in.
The image itself is vary familiarly we see it every day. The image appears to us in many different forms and on many different styles of media. We all feel the need to be connected which causes us to add this to everything. The application of facebook has been added to everything from iPod touches to new TV’s. The image shows up to us on every piece of popular advertising causing us to summon an image of the website in our minds. The culture surrounding the facebook has made and developed new styles of marketing.
 The advancing use of facebook as a place to advertise has created a niche in the market for companies to get their message out. It has also created a place for people to show their love or distaste for a company’s product. This outreach has allowed companies to use everyday people to be part of an ever ongoing research and development for new products. This has changed our society form a passive test group to innovators of new products. Facebook has allowed each and every person who wants to, change the image of our society. This use of facebook is seen to some as a good thing but to others the movement of our society away from personal contact.
The contradiction of this photo helps describe why people are either for or against the use of facebook. Being the location where such widely dispersed amounts of information can be found helps motivate the way people discuss and carry themselves in society. As we head towards more and more information about us being out on the web; the image of this site shows the lapse in privacy and how people have begun breaking down barriers between them. We find some people who do not like the use and believe that it is taking away from society as a whole; but others who agree with the use of facebook say it helps us advance as a stronger society. Facebook whether used a great deal by people, or not, has involved this website to become one of the most iconic images of our generation.

Carson Klug

A Vividly Struggling Nation

American culture is unique, especially when compared with other societies across the planet. Certain icons, symbols, and photographs are only understood as a way of life by the people within the society that the icon represents. For the American society, iconic images are what define our nation and the culture within it. Specifically, the photograph pictured above depicts an aspect of American culture. It describes struggling economy of our country, the way Americans interpret homelessness, and the message portrayed to the public.

Although our economy is slowly improving, it remains no secret that Americans are still experiencing economic hardships. This photo vividly displays this fact. America has always had her share of homeless people, but the numbers have been multiplying. This is a blatant icon of a struggling nation. Seeing this man solemnly sitting on the side of the street hoping to receive a morsel of money to purchase some food, clearly plays to the viewers’ emotions through the an emotional scenario. In their book, No Caption Needed, Robert Hariman and John Lucaites describe the ability of an iconic image to create “a scenario in which specific emotional responses to an event become a powerful basis for understanding and action” (35). This image constructs a connection with the audience conveying for them the true crisis that many Americans are experiencing.

With a nation as diverse as the U.S., there is certainly going to be varying viewpoints about how Americans interpret homelessness. These perceptions are what contribute to the definition of the homes in America. To some Americans, this image invokes negative emotions. No one is around the homeless man demonstration how a portion of society views homeless people as having a stigma. For instance, the homeless should be more proactive in searching for a job instead of imploring for spare change. People stay away from those who are homeless because they are afraid that the rest of society will look down upon them for simply associating with the people in poverty. The dejected, worn expression on this man’s face displays the struggles, challenges, and opposition that he will meet with throughout the day. Photos do not always capture America’s most positive moments, but they definitely serve as a way to define our culture.

Although this photo clearly symbolizes America’s poor economy and our negative view of people in poverty, the picture still displays a vivid message to the public. The strategy of civic performance is utilized as the picture attempts to motivate the audience to action. It is sending the message that Americans must work hard each day to ensure that they deserve the more fortunate circumstances with which they have been given. No one wants to become homeless. Furthermore, this photograph offers Americans a chance to change the negative stereotypes of being uncaring and heartless. Americans have the chance to put aside the stigma and to actually go over to the next homeless person that they encounter and offer spare change or even a simple smile. The opportunity for an iconic photo to spur a community to positive action is forever present.

Every culture has iconic images that define its inner workings and beliefs. Photographs serve as an aid to building the connection from one community member to another and from one culture to the next.

Mary Rometti

Jared the Subway guy

            An average sized man, holding a pair of pants twice the size of him, is the iconic image of Jared Fogle. The image gives hope to those who want to lose weight. Jared Fogle is the spokesman for Subway who lost 245 pounds eating their subs and incorporating exercise into his daily routine. Our generation is fast paced, always multitasking, at a great risk for obesity, and obsessed with fad diets.  Jared was an iconic image for those struggling with their weight, showing them that a few small changes can have a large impact on their life.  In 1998 he was a freshman at Indiana University and weighed 425 pounds.  He said on Subways FreshBuzz website that he would schedule his classes by how far of a walk they were. He tried numerous diets and like many others he failed at them.  Our generation has an obsession with fad dieting.  While Jared Fogle is a positive example of a diet that worked, his success also started the ball rolling for many others seeking alternative diets. An example on is the 7-day all you can eat diet. It consists of one-day only eating fruit (except bananas), another or only vegetables, another 5 bananas and 5 glasses of milk and so on. Our generation interprets the success Jared’s diet as motivation and looks for easier ways to get results. In short, we are lazy. One of the most frequently asked questions is how can I lose weight without having to do the work? The answer, you cant. Our generation being so fast paced looks for the short cuts and easy way out of dieting, while still trying to get the results.
In the image of Jared holding up a pair of pants that are twice his size, this helps to establish an emotional connection between him and the viewers.  As it’s said in No Caption chapter 2 “ we look for images of ourselves in the public media, which become the mirror of collective identity.” (Pg 33) Under Civic performance they discuss how people seek to belong and identify with something through the media. Subway using the personal story of Jared Fogle, aids the public viewing the campaign to make that emotional connection that is described in No Caption as motivation to the viewer. This picture gives encouragement to those who thought they couldn’t change themselves, and helps to inspire them to make an impact. Later in No Caption chapter 2 under emotional scenarios they point out that “ iconic images construct a scenario in which a specific emotional responses to an event becomes a powerful basis for understanding and action.” (Pg 35) By looking at the image our generation is stimulated to make the necessary changes in our lives.
The image has had a positive influence on many and has served a great purpose. Jared’s success helped to start the Subway fresh fit menu, which includes a list of subs with less than 7 grams of fat. The image affected our society in multiple ways, first it gave motivation for some to change their lives, it leads others to start dieting again whether with Subway or seeking alternative methods, and emphasized the importance of making changes, small or large if kept up can have great results in the end.- Caroline Salozzo

The Netherlands Reformed Church

           By: Katie Getting

The picture above is that of the Netherlands Reformed Church in Rock Valley, Iowa.  The culture to which I hope to identify is that of the northwest Iowa region, specifically that of Sioux Center and Rock Valley.  Anyone who lives in either of these two towns can identify with this picture of the Netherlands Reformed Church of Rock Valley or can at least identify with the people who belong to a Netherlands Reformed Church.  The populations of both towns are made up of a variety of religions, one of those including “Grifs” (nickname given to those who attend a Netherlands Reformed Church).  Having been given the opportunity to work and be friends with many teens who go to this church, I have had the chance to learn a lot about their way of life.  This church has a great influence in their lives and will continue to be the greatest influence in their lives until the day they die.  If anyone chooses to leave the church, they face fierce reproach from their families for that choice, so it is strongly encouraged against.
            Just to give you a little more information about these “Grifs”, we will take a look at the restrictions their religion has set on them.  If you are a woman belonging to this church, you are not able to wear makeup, dye your hair, wear pants, paint your fingernails or toenails, pierce any part of your body, or wear any kind of revealing clothing (skirts should at least be knee-length); you must also still wear a hat whenever you attend church.  Your lifestyle is drastically changed in that you cannot listen to music, dance, watch or have a TV, watch movies, take part in competitive sports, and you cannot do ANYTHING besides go to church on Sunday (no homework allowed!).  Finally, you will most likely have a large family if you belong to this church meaning at least three kids if not ten.  Although I’m not completely sure of the religious preference of the TLC family of the Duggars, I would characterize their beliefs and values as VERY similar to those of the Netherlands Reformed Congregation.
            Now that that’s out of the way, we can look at the different meanings behind the picture.  Emotional Scenarios was one of the five categories, and it states that the viewer experiences some kind of emotion when seeing a given picture.  I think this picture can have some emotional meaning for the viewer depending on if the viewer is a “Grif” or a member of a different church.  For a member of that church, they most likely feel love and acceptance when viewing the picture because it’s a place where they grew up and have spent a great majority of their life.  They go to a school that is operated by the church and attend church twice every Sunday, so I would also feel at home in those surroundings given those circumstances.  Every part of your life revolves around the church and what they deem is acceptable.  A member’s family has probably been a part of the church for generations, so it is a common meeting ground for families.  It is also easy to make friends and get along with the other members because they all hold similar beliefs and values close to their hearts as you do.
When a nonmember of the church sees that picture, such as me, emotions felt include confusion as to why they haven’t developed more with the times and are more accepting of society’s advances of entertainment and various pastimes.  Sports are deemed one of America’s favorite pastimes, yet, the school attended by NRC children does not have any organized sports and the games played in a P.E. class are encouraged to not be competitive.  Although television is not accepted in the church, many “Grifs” still own one for various reasons including the ability to watch the weather and hear the news.  Congregation members are regularly visited by the pastor of their NRC, at which time, the TVs in the home are hidden away in order to not get in trouble with the church.  This shows that maybe the church needs to advance more in their acceptance of technology and the helpfulness it can give to its members.
One might also feel frustration when viewing the church because if you employ a “Grif”, you cannot schedule them to ever work a Sunday because it is against their religious beliefs to work on the Sabbath. Most Americans are associated with some kind of religion and a large number belong to a Christian church.  All those people believe in the Sabbath, yet many of them still work on Sundays.  If they are still able to work on Sundays, “Grifs” can work as well.  In Sioux Center, it has come to the point that many businesses refuse to be open on Sundays partly because it is hard to find people in the area willing to work on Sundays, and partly because most of the people there do not believe in going shopping or out on the Sabbath. (Sioux county where both of these towns are located is known for being very religious no matter what church you belong to so few businesses are able to be open and make a profit on Sundays)  This is not solely the outcome of the impact of the NRC members, but they do make up a large portion of the population in the area, so they are one of the factors.
Finally, if you are a friend of a Netherlands Reformed Church member, you can never do anything together on Sundays because it is the Holy day and should be used to reflect upon the two-hour sermons they hear when they attend church both in the morning and at night on Sundays.  You can’t even get together to work on a group project for a class assignment because first of all, you are not allowed to do work of any kind including homework, and secondly, you are to spend the day with your family not hanging out with friends.  These are only a few of the emotions that are felt by people when viewing the NRC, but they are most likely the more common emotions felt. 

The Tiger Woods 'Fist Pump'

Hadley Jennings
As most of you know, Tiger Woods has become an iconic image to golfers, sport fans, and the public eye for many years now. For purposes of this post, I will be focusing more on the culture of the golfers of our generation. Tiger Woods has been at the top of the game of golf for as long as I can remember and he is the best golfer of this time in my point of view. He has not only overcome the challenges of the game of golf, but he has overcome the challenges that have come with him being African American. The fact that Tiger has become one of the most well-known golfers around the world is a challenge in itself, let alone putting with that with his race.  His well-know fist pump has been an iconic image not only in sports magazines around the world, but to the human eye. Many golfers of this generation look to Tiger as a role model. They see him as a man of determination, hard work, and success. Any golfer of this generation can look at this photograph and tell you exactly who this is and they can tell you the phrase ‘fist pump’ to describe what he is doing.
Now that I have given you some background information, I am going to explain why this image is iconic. First, I must define the definition of the word icon that I will be using.  I will be using the definition that Robert Hariman and Louis Lecaites use in the book No Caption Needed. Hariman and Lecaites would classify an icon as, “those photographic images appearing in print, electronic, or digital media that are widely recognized and remembered, are understood to be representations of historically significant events, activate strong, emotional identification or response, and are reproduced across a range of media genres, or topics.” Hariman and Lecaites also provide for us five assumptions in which to classify an image as iconic. The ‘fist pump’ image of Tiger Woods is iconic based on two of the five main assumptions that the stated in the book: aesthetic familiarity and civic performance. In my opinion these two assumptions are the two main assumptions that I use to classify this image as iconic to this generation of golfers.
When this photograph is shown, this culture of golfers can immediately give you the logistics of the photograph. Why is that you might ask?  The reason for this is because it has aesthetic familiarity to us. Aesthetic familiarity means that the image is familiar in our minds, relatable, and transcends our imagination.  This image has become familiar in our golf set minds from watching Tiger play, reading articles about him in the latest Golf magazine, or seeing news about how he is doing in the latest tournaments. In any of those three places we can find pictures of Tiger doing his iconic fist pump. This fist pump is not only something we see him do in tournaments and captured in pictures like this picture, but it is something that we have adapted into our own golf game. When I make a long putt or a big putt to win a match, I find myself doing the fist pump motion. I do this not only because Tiger Woods, my icon, does it, but rather because this image is so familiar to me in my mind. Since the iconic image of the fist pump is so familiar to me, I have adapted it in my own ways and put it into active use in my golf game. Many other golfers of this generation have also adapted the fist pump into their normal routine of a round of golf. That alone makes this image iconic because it has become so familiar it has become emotionally entwined into our routines on the golf course.
That emotional connection from the picture to our own movements represents the second assumption by which I believe this image is iconic, and that is the civic performance the image provides. Civic performance is described as the emotional perspective of the viewer. The emotional perspective of  the viewer is the emotional scenario that goes through a viewers mind when he/she looks at this photo. The viewer is captured by flashbacks of tournaments they have watched with Tiger doing the fist pump, pictures they have seen of Tiger doing the fist pump, and ultimately making the connection from Tiger to themselves. When the viewer looks at this photograph they flashback to the times that they have done the fist pump while playing a round of golf. That alone, gives the photograph both civic performance, by capturing the viewers emotion, and aesthetic familiarity, by relating the fist pump to images of Tiger Woods doing the fist pump in their own minds. The two go hand in hand to make this photograph iconic to this culture of young golfers.  In the words of Hariman and Lacaites, an iconic image with civic performance “motivates action and organizes collective memory.” The image also “acquires the capability to reveal or suggest what is unsayable” (Hariman and Lacaites). 
In conclusion, this image is iconic to me and the golfers of this generation because it is so familiar to us and it sparks that emotional connection not only to Tiger Woods himself, but to our lives and the relation it has to us as young golfers. The Tiger Woods fist pump has become a widely used motion to golfers of this generation everywhere. This photograph is a perfect example of Tiger Woods’ impact on the game of golf and this generation of golfers. His motion has become iconic to use and this widely spread image of his fist pump, in conclusion, has become very iconic to this culture of young golfers.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Superdome Aerial Shot

Ben Wildner

This image of the devastated Louisiana Superdome from late August 2005 has become one of the defining images of the early 21st century. The Superdome became the symbol of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, and became a shelter of last resort for those unable to escape the city. Football became the national pastime during the second half of the 20th century, and subconsciously represents lazy Sunday afternoons, cookouts, and overall security. The Superdome (Home of the NFL's New Orleans Saints) came to symbolize the shattering of the feeling of security for millions of Americans.

The images of Superdome accompanied by the wide variety of shots of civilians stranded on rooftops after New Orleans flooded were able to motivate gigantic movements; both to support the rebuilding of the gulf coast and the temporary support of the people there, and to criticize FEMA and the George W. Bush administration. This was possible because the image of the Superdome was omnipresent in the fall of 2005, even after Katrina had blown out. When someone sees this picture he/she immediately thinks of Katrina and all its effects. Inversely, the mention of Katrina often brings the Superdome to mind. Following the same line of thought, politically aware Americans understand that the debacle that was the Hurricane Katrina caused a significant part of the shift in political momentum to the left as the democrats won both in 2006 and 2008. During those elections the Democrats were able to point to the failings in Lousiana as proof that the Republicans were incompetent and the people: remembering the horrors in the Superdome needed little convincing.

The image's ability to evoke empathy from it's audience was quickly acknowledged by the varying media companies and it was reproduced on almost every television station, in every newspaper, and on thousands of websites. The prolific use didn't just make the Superdome an icon, it was recognized by the media companies for its power and distributed because it would attract customers.

The wrecked Superdome will be remembered as a symbol of change in New Orleans and America. The shots of it, and the rest of New Orleans, led to an overhaul of the way the American public and government responds to disasters.  It will serve as a reminder of the results of complacence for decades to come.