Putting Pretension Back Into the CCSC Elections
Written by Bwog Staff
Ever wonder how Saussure would interpret the Flex party’s campaign posters? Sam Cohen, the Blue and White’s official semiotician, has the answer.
First off, what is semiotics?
Semiotics is the study of symbols and signs. This includes both written/textual symbols, as in words, as well as things like traffic signs and cultural icons, basically everything that attempts to communicate information. The goal of semiotics is to describe what makes a sign a sign, how it conveys its information and what steps are taken to understand it.
What are your qualifications as the B&W’s official semiotician?
In high school, I took a class in semiotics
So looking at this poster from the Flex party, what message does it convey to you?
Reinforcing one’s message is very important and Flex decides to beat us over the head with theirs. The icon of strength is supported by the signifier “STRONG” referring to the same referant (to mix Saussure and Pierce in an exciting new brand of semiotics!). The message is simple and powerful, vote for us, or we’ll beat the crap out of you, we’re strong.
Looking at this flyer it’s impossible not to think boy band (plus a groupie??) bringing to mind screaming pre-teen girls and 90s nostalgia. Who doesn’t miss the 90s? Vote for evolution and they seem to promise to bring it back! In terms of the name evolution, I think it alienates a large segment of the voting bloc– I’m talking about creationists and the rest of the Christian right. Also, it seems to cry “look at me! I’m a monkey!” We definitely don’t need more monkeys in positions of power.
Now this one is interesting. This flyer sets out to create a new symbol, a new arbitrary sign signifying a concept. I think it accomplishes its job. The whirly whatchamacallit is clearly supposed to represent “fusion” which, clearly, is the name of this party. This is a strong and clear connection. The concept of fusion is an interesting one, however, with many different layers. It has of course the ideas of togetherness and power, as well as Gillette razors and shaving cream, all positive attributes. However it also brings to mind Nagasaki, no so positive anymore is it?
This poster has a major contradiction going on in it. The party’s name signifies openness, approachability and well, access, wait that’s their name, damn, see what a good job they do? But that’s besides the point. The bracketing of the word access is unfortunate as brackets ‘[ ]‘ most definitely mean something is closed and boxed in. Also the poster itself is blacked in, also trapped. Access, what are you, open or closed?
The structural and ontological metaphor here is quite striking. The party’s name and vision of openness is reinforced by the open space in the poster. The use of metonymy of place for people, Columbia for its students, lets us feel included in their party. Nice poster, but why are they carrying jackets? Is it hot? About to be cold? They create a lot of unanswered questions and I’m just not sure what to think.
Given your expertise, can you make a prediction as to what parties will win?
It’s hard to say. The posters are pretty different and advertise their respective parties in different ways. There is, however, one common trait that makes picking a winner much more difficult, which is that, overall, the flyers are really boring.