Monday, December 6, 2010


Weight log: 209lbs (finally!)

I can't believe its not purple!
Roland Barthes, Mythologies
"One can trace in advertising a narrative pattern which clearly shows the working of this new vaccine. It is found in the publicityfor Astra margarine. the episode always begins with a cry of indignation against margarine: 'A mousse? Made with margarine? Unthinkable!' 'Margarine? Your uncle will be furious!' And then one's eyes are opened, one's conscience becomes more pliable, and margarine is a delicious food tasty, digestible, economical, useful in all circumstances. The moral at the end is well known: 'Here you are rid of a prejudice which cost you dearly!'"
Here's a video clip that might lend a helping hand in familiarizing yourself with the sort of advertising rhetoric that Barthes was talking about...

Also see this link here: http:Good Luck Margarine
The old prejudice being that there was nothing like butter - these commercials were able quite successfully, I would have to say in hindsight, at ridding ourselves of that old prejudice (if the dairy fridge at my local grocery store is any indication).
Barthes seemed to be arguing that these commercials were able to immunize the public into accepting the new form of food and rejecting the old form. It was unthinkable to make certain dishes without butter but then margarine came along and...
Well it swept into popularity - it became the new standard - it even could retain all the amazing flavor of butter...

and it could be healthy for you - and even sexy (see here)
So now margarine is the accepted "Established Order" according to Barthes. Of course margarine has had to clean up its act to keep butter at bay so transfats were eliminated from the edible oil product. (see here)
"It is in the same way that the Established Order relieves you of your progressive prejudices. The Army, an absolute value? It is unthinkable: (and here I should think any self-respecting Mennonite should be nodding along) look at its vexations, its strictness, the always possible blindness of its chiefs. The Church, infallible? Alas, it is very doubtful: look at its bigots, its powerless priests, its murderous conformism. And then common sense makes its reckoning: what is this trifling dross of Order, compared to its advantages? It is well worth the price of immunization. what does it matter, after all, if Order is a little brutal or a little blind, when it allows us to live cheaply? Here we are, in our turn, rid of a prejudice which cost us dearly, too dearly, which cost us much in scruples, in revolt, in fights and in solitude."
Now don't get too worked up about Barthes slam on the church. He was addressing problems in the church that at the time of this writing in the late forties and fifties needed slamming. Let's remember that this was precisely the time when under the auspices of church work residential schools, and significantly oppressive views toward women were rampant in the dominant church denominations in Europe (Barthes was French). What is important here is to think about the way that we perhaps have allowed ourselves to be inoculated against protesting the forms of corrupt and oppressive behavior that tends to sneak under our noses because we so willingly gobble us the advertising buzz around us. Delicio Pizza commercials are rampant - lettuce commercials not so much. Why is it that 'healthy' food like vegetables and fruit cost more than 'unhealthy' stuff like the bake-it-yourself-and-we-promise-it-will-taste-just-as-good-as-the-grease-drenched-stuff-you-order-from-Panago-pizza?
Sure there is broader religious and political critique available in Barthes words here but then even our choice of food is really a religious and political action. Right?

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