Landscapes of Global Capital
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Look at this sequence of scenes that we have frozen and isolated out of the WorldCom generation d commercial. Considerable effort has gone into staging the sequence of framed pictures behind the young man. Each image is virtually identical, with the exception that in each frame the figure is moved closer to the edge of the frame until it begins to exit the frame on the right side of the screen. On closer examination, we see that the figure is standing on a scooter and that the figure is the same person that we have been following in the foreground.

Now, we recognize that relatively few viewers are attentive enough to notice this little visual joke in the flow of the commercial. This is hardly the most important visual image in the ad; it is merely one among many signifiers that dot the backgrounds behind the portraits that are being drawn of WorldCom's "generation d."

Still, no matter how obscure these images may be, someone went to a lot of trouble to make and insert these frames. So, why go to such lengths to create this carefully arranged foreground/background juxtaposition? We believe that this part of the background is included as part of the hailing mechanism of the commercial. That is, we might speculate that the ad agency thinks the placement of these images will appeal to some part of their target audience.

We speculate that this visual construction is a way of hailing the viewer as someone who is visually media-literate and has a visual sense of humor. Generation d, after all, has grown up not only with technology, but also saturated in the media. This offers savvy viewers a self-reflective joke about the mechanical reproduction of images in a society of the spectacle. Is this a way of defining generation d folks - that they not only are unafraid of computer technology, cool and laid back, they also have a keen sense, accumulated from a lifetime of watching tv, of critical distance with regard to media representations?

What could it be that the producers of this ad thought they were communicating by so artfully constructing this frame?

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Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey