VAL 140/ 340
Prejudice & Discrimination
Professor Kathryn Russell
Stereotypes in context

212, Maxim, 10-99

In ads sexuality becomes "a symbol for something presumed to be larger than it: the good life in which you can buy what ever you want. To be able to buy is the same thing as being sexually desirable. . . . If you are able to buy this product you will be lovable. If you cannot buy it, you will be less lovable." (John Berger, Ways of Seeing, 134)


Sex sells! But how?
This interactive multimedia web site will help you understand what stereotypes are and introduce you to basic media literacy skills.


Why is it a good idea to study stereotypes in context?

Because without some context we can't understand why people believe in stereotypes, why certain stereotypes persist through time, how they change, or where stereotypes come from. People are stereotyped according to some group they are perceived to be a part of. Without context, we can't understand why a particular group of people gets assigned a certain kind of label and not another.


Navigation tips:

  • Mouse over: if you put the mouse over an image and it lights up, it's a link. Click on it to move.
  • Button bar: there's a button bar at the bottom of every unit that allows you to link to other units.
  • Back and forward: if you click on the back and forward buttons on the navigation bar at the top of the netscape screen you move chronologically, that is, "Back" would take you to the page you just visited.
  • If you follow an external link to another web site, you can get back to my pages by continuing to click on "Back" or by opening the window under "Go" on the navigation bar at the top of the netscape screen and clicking on the title of one of my pages.
  • Scroll bar: at the right of a screen or a frame a rectangular vertical bar and up and down buttons allow you to scroll up and down the page.
  • Go to top of page: at various points in the pages you can link back up to the top of the page by clicking on the up arrow.
  • Go to bottom of page: at various points you can link down to the bottom of the page by clicking on the down arrow.
  • Go back to ... unit: if you've left the main page of a unit and need to get back you can scroll down to the bottom of the page and get back to the unit by clicking on the back arrow.
  • Click on the email envelope image to send a message to the archive.

Table of contents for the Stereotypes in Context pages

  1. Understanding stereotypes: media (USM)
    1. What makes something a stereotype
      1. Definition of stereotype
      2. Discussion of images and dialogue from Pulp Fiction
      3. Native American stereotypes: Link to "Ten Little Indians" video clip, discussion questions, and team names issue
    2. What it means to put issues in context
      1. Obsession ads; analysis of self esteem
      2. Link to Adbusters
    3. Media literacy
      1. 5 principles of media literacy
      2. Link to Ontario Ministry of Ed explanation of the 5 principles
      3. 6 questions to ask of any media
      4. Link to Project Look Sharp
      5. 2 Quotes from Mike Males' Framing Youth:
        1. "[There are] two types of media influence. . .
        2. "Media literacy is reasonable, but it doesn't get at the real problem. . .
    4. USM assignments
      1. USM 1: Link to stereotype handout and summary exercise.
      2. USM 2: Link to University of Iowa site to skim articles and send me an email.
      3. USM 3: Sexual objectification exercise
      4. USM 4: Political and economic contexts (anti war & IBM links)
      5. USM 5: Name that context! exercise
      6. USM 6: Cultural definitions of men and women exercise. Link to audio clip from The Rock and video clip from a cell phone commercial.
      7. USM 7: Discussion of Rayban ad and quotes from Berger on women's "split self"
      8. USM 8: Humorous quotes
      9. USM 9: Repeat USM 4 using media literacy tools

  2. Context: Ads as forms of communication (AFC)
    1. Ads themselves: For ads to work, they have to get their message across.
      1. Quote from Arthur Berger on the aesthetic composition of ads. "Factors such as line, shape, dimension, lighting, design, spatiality, color, and perspective. . .
      2. Link to Arthur Berger's Checklist for Analyzing Print Advertisements
      3. AFC assignment 1: Link to DuMaurier/ Chloe exercise
    2. The paradigms the viewer brings to the ads.
      1. AFC assignment 2: paradigm influence
      2. AFC assignment 3: bring in media examples showing possibility of varying interpretations
    3. The philosophical system of values and beliefs assumed by all ads
      1. AFC assignment 4: 3 quotes by John Berger - paraphrase exercise
        1. "Publicity adds up to a kind of philosophical system....
        2. "We are now so accustomed to being addressed by these images that we scarcely notice their total impact....
        3. "Publicity is not merely an assembly of competing messages: it is a language in itself which is always being used to make the same general proposal....
      2. AFC assignment 5: Link to Kira St. John's Wort and Clairol ads exercise; bring in examples of make over ads

  3. Context: The fantasy life of ads - Assignments for pairs to do in a computer lab outside of class
    1. Quote from Berger: "Publicity can never really afford to be about the product ..."
    2. Questions about ad from Toyota
    3. Quotes from Berger and a paraphrase exercise
      1. "Publicity speaks in the future tense and yet the achievement of this future is endlessly deferred...."
      2. "The fantasy life of ads explains why ads can remain credible."
    4. Discussion on what dreams and hopes you have....
    5. Questions about collage of man/ woman ads with application to Berger quote, "With this you will become desirable...."

    6. Questions about 2 Finlandia ads

    7. Discussion of ad for American Express and domestic partner issue

    8. Comparison of 7 with American Express ad targeted at African Americans
    9. Discussion of 212 Cologne ad

  4. Context: The anxious consumer (AC)
    1. Quote from Berger: "The purpose of [ads] is to make the spectator marginally dissatisfied . . .
    2. Quote from ad exec: "Advertising deals in open sores. . .
    3. Psychogenic profiles.
    4. Quote from Meyers: "At the heart of Madison Avenue's new, elaborately engineered system of persuasion lies one fundamental premise. . .
    5. AC assignment 1: summarize arguments from Meyers and Campbell
    6. SRI link and quotes
      1. "SRI Consulting's VALS Program is based on the basic forces driving consumer choices . . .
      2. "Every vendor wants to get close to its customers by understanding behaviors. . .
    7. AC assignment 2: Link to SRI
    8. Meyers' 5 psychogenic categories - table
    9. AC assignment 3: Link to sample ads to categorize

  5. Context: The political economy of ads
    1. John Berger's analysis of the role of ads in capitalism. 2 quotes:
      1. "Publicity is the culture of the consumer society. . . (Berger)
      2. "Ad Alley's wizards. . . (Meters)
    2. Using the concept of ideology; link to ideology handout; ads present a sham democracy (Berger)
      1. Link to Barely There ad
      2. issue appropriation; link to Southwestern Bell & Monistat ads
      3. Quote from Berger: "Publicity turns consumption into a substitute for democracy. . .
      4. Rebecca photo from Helen Stummer vs. Vogue ad
    3. Link to for review of Ways of Seeing
    4. Berger's analogy between ads and oil paintings; link to Nicole Kidman ads and John Sargent portraits

Works cited:

  • Andersen, Margaret L. and Patricia Hill Collins, eds. Race, Class, and Gender : An Anthology, 3rd edition. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1997.
  • Berger, Arthur Asa. Seeing Is Believing. Mayfield Publishing Company, 1998.
  • Berger, John. Ways of Seeing, reprint edition. Viking Press, 1995.
  • Males, Mike. Framing Youth. Common Courage Press, 1999.
  • Meyers, William. Image Makers. New York, 1984.
  • Ontario Ministry of Education, Intermediate and Senior Divisions. Media Literacy Resource Guide. 1989.
Created by Kathryn Russell
SUNY Cortland - Philosophy
Last modified on 8-17-99


Created by Kathryn Russell - SUNY Cortland
Last modified on 7-17-99