Media Bubble- “medienkritisch” enough?

If you’ve been in the Brecht-Bau today, you’ve probably seen posters advertising the blog Media Bubble, which is a self-proclaimed “medienkritischer” blog produced by master’s students in the Media Studies department and supported by the Uni. I have to admit, my first thought was positive- after all, why wouldn’t I be excited to see that other departments were also taking up the idea of blogging and approaching media in a critical way? And I was impressed by the poster design- the clever “…bis die Blase platzt” motto connects both the title of the blog and the poster’s image, a woman in the typical “I have to pee” pose, knees together (you can see the poster here).

When a comment of the person I was with caused me to examine the image closer, however, my initial enthusiasm was dampened. Why, you ask? Well, the problem is that this poster uses the same visual language of advertising that Jean Kilbourne criticizes in her videos. That is, the poster uses a sexualized image of a woman to sell its product, in this case the blog, in a way that is problematic.  The woman’s body is presented as attractive and clearly feminine; her proportions and clothing (dress, bare legs, and high heels) reflect gendered beauty norms. This in itself might not be degrading, but her image is also cropped, as is common in mainstream advertising, so that her head is not visible; her body is made object. In addition, we could say that the poster plays on a certain stereotype of women as childish; putting a grown woman in this pose infantilizes her, reminding one of a child who hasn’t yet learned to control her bodily urges in a more subtle way. I’m not sure if the poster would work the same way if it were a man depicted.

Maybe it’s the prevalence of this types of images which prevented me from seeing this image as problematic to begin with. But now that I do see it that way, I find it somewhat disappointing that it would come from a blog which supposedly works to view media “critically” and deconstruct these very depictions. I’m not saying the blog itself is sexist or that its entire premise should be viewed with suspicion; to the contrary, a quick look at the homepage suggests that their articles are worth reading and make valid points about contemporary media. And if the goal of the poster is to promote the blog and increase traffic, I expect that it will be very successful in this aim. But I would have rather hoped for a poster that really demonstrates the type of critical work the blog is supposed to do, rather than simply reproducing the (sexist) strategies of mainstream marketing.

2 Responses to Media Bubble- “medienkritisch” enough?

  1. vanelch says:

    I have neither seen the poster nor read the blog, but I think your description is detailed enough to comment on your post.
    I actually like this way of advertisement in this context. What better way is there to deal with today’s media critically than to initially use its own formulas and patterns?
    People who are looking for media-critical blogs or articles will find them anyway. In contrast, people who do not think critically about sexist advertisments and media are drawn to the blog by exactly that kind of advertisement-style that is about to be criticized.
    This way you do not only reach more people with your message, but especially those that might reconsider their way of thinking after realizing how they ended up reading the critical article in the first place.
    To me, this sounds like a very effective strategy (if it is used properly).

    • I agree that the poster is effective at getting people interested in the blog, and you might be right that it is their strategy to lure people into a critical perspective by using tried-and-true advertising techniques. I have also thought quite a bit whether it’s possible that the poster could be part of a larger project to question these strategies or research their effectiveness, but I still haven’t really found an indication that this is the case, that is, that they have reflected about this on a higher level than “this will get us lots of viewers.” I just think that there might have been a different but equally clever way of showing the viewer their critical project.

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