An Illusion of Life Analysis: Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks

Today’s top radio hits are usually similar sounding electronic, dance and party sounds that have sweeping build-ups, catchy choruses, and that are fun to dance and sing along too. However, there are some exceptions to this consistent theme. The uncharacteristically mellow song ,“Pumped up Kicks” by Foster The People, was an immensely popular song not too long ago. However, although the instrumentals are easy on the ears, the message that is depicted in the lyrics contradicts the calming sound and it’s that violence is acceptable towards members of a higher economic status and of ideal family situations. It is arguable that this incongruence is the reason for the songs success in modern radio music. While most songs exhilarate listeners with loud and fast rhythms accompanied by simple lyrics, in this song the tension between the musical sound and lyrical content can be somewhat exciting for two reasons: First of all it allows one to feel energized while still maintaining a calm composure. Since Sellnow mentions that music does not evoke feeling, but rather it represents them (117), songs like “Pumped up Kicks” can be appreciated by both excited and tranquil listeners; this universal compatibility is very alluring because sometimes simply exciting or mellow music just isn’t appropriate. The second reason is that the incongruence allows for the morally unethical message of the song to appear more acceptable.

The song is about a little boy named Robert who appears to be neglected by his father and doesn’t seem to have a mother or any siblings. After finding his father’s “six-shooter gun”, he learns to cope with his father’s absence via violence (2011). The virtual experience consists of comic lyrics as it tells the tale of a young boy that has triumphed over the odds. He also has discrete and sadistic ideas for the future which situate the lyrics within a dramatic illusion, “Robert’s got a quick hand. He’ll look around the room, he won’t tell you his plan.” Furthermore, the chorus of the song is very simple and repetitive, making the song fun to sing along to, but the message is dark as it implies that Robert wants to console for his loneliness by harming children who are economically well off which can also imply that they have “desirable” families: “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks better run, better run, out run my gun. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks better run, better run, faster than my bullets.” The overall message conveyed by these lyrics is that one who belongs to a lower economic status and a poor family situation is entitled to empower themselves by eliminating people who live better than they do. It is a very vicious moral and it would normally be rejected outright by the masses if it wasn’t for the song’s emotional content.

The virtual time of the song is composed predominantly with release patterns. The chorus is slightly louder than the verses, but generally the sound is still predictable, mellow, soft and connected. Also, there aren’t too many instruments playing at once either which further builds on the song’s release rhythms.

As soothing as the sound is, the difference between the emotional and conceptual messages in the song is what makes the normally unacceptable message depicted by the lyrics seem nonchalant and feasible. All of the lyrical content of the song would normally be paired with music that consists of mostly intensity patterns. According to Sellnow, songs with comic lyrics and dramatic illusion are best represented by intensity patterns because optimism is enthusiastic and the future is unresolved (118- 120). Songs with lyrics similar to “Pumped up Kicks” that also consist of mainly intensity patterns do exist, but they are not palatable by a larger audience as they are targeted at a smaller sub-group of people. Through the rhetorical ascription utilized in this song though, members of the sub-groups previously mentioned would listen to it, but general listeners can also tolerate its harsh words because of its generic, animated sound.

There is an effective use of strategic ambiguity in the song too. Most of the verses are composed of seemingly non-related and harmless sentences, but they connect to form controversial ideals. For example, in the second verse, Robert “reasons with his cigarette” then tells someone, “Your hair’s on fire, you must have lost your wits, yeah?” Upon the first time hearing this line, one might be confused. Eventually though, the listener will deduce that the cigarette and all that it stands for is the foundation for Robert’s moral system and it allows him to cause an innocent victim harm whilst blaming them for not being able to protect themselves against his obscure “wisdom”.

To summarize, “Pumped up Kicks” by Foster the People is an incongruent song with soft, smooth and mellow instrumentals that mask lyrics that approve the sinister message of violence against the wealthy and fortunate. Consequently, if listeners do not take the conceptual content of the song seriously, they may become desensitized to this form of violence and actually consider it to be acceptable. Since many radio listeners are children, allowing sly rhetorical persuasion like this to manipulate the acceptable set of ethics can produce unsettling results in the future.


A Music Perspective: Who Says by Selena Gomez

A music perspective: Who Says Selena Gomez

Audience: teens, individuals with low self esteem

Virtual Experience:

The song, Who Says, uses both comic and tragic lyrics, mainly because it is about being yourself, and having confidence in yourself, by knowing you are worth a lot and that you can do whatever you set your mind to. This is found in the lyrics, “ Who says you’re not star potential? Who says you’re not presidential?”.  The lyrics to this song also have more of a poetic illusion, communicating a sense of finality by lyrics that mention that you can do whatever you want as long as you believe in yourself, and that in the end all that matters is that you believe in yourself. Also, another thing Selena Gomez has in her song lyrics is strategic ambiguity because self confidence and high self esteem is not something that many people believe they have, and many people have difficulty handling these situations, with everything seen in the media about how you ought to be, for you to be beautiful.  This song has a goal of trying to get individuals to know that they are not worthless and that they are beautiful inside and out.  I personally find that this song helps me a lot when I’m feeling down, and it helps boost my confidence.

Virtual Time:

Rhythmic structure: slow tempo, predictable (release) and fast tempo lyrics (intensity)

Harmonic structure: Mellow (release)

Melodic Structure: Long held notes, conjunct (release)

Phrasing: Legato, soft (release) and accelerando (intensity)

Instrumentation: few (release)

This song, Who Says, by Selena Gomez has a calm tone to it, and I find it relaxing.  Even though the chorus has a faster tempo, I think its supposed to get the listener into a happy mood.  As well the music doesn’t seem to be using many instruments, making it a release pattern type of song.  This song also had many repetitions in the rhythm of the song in the chorus, making it predictable. During the song you can also notice that the pattern definitely shifts between intensity and release patterns, mainly between chorus and rest of the lyrics.  As for what is particular for this artist, I would say it is very typical of Selena Gomez, as a lot of her songs change between intensity and release, and a many of her songs also speak about confidence, and feelings.


I would consider this song to be congruent because the main pattern of song is release and most of its lyrics are tragic with poetic illusions.  This song has an overall happy tone to it and a very boosting melody to it.  I find this song does exactly what I would expect it to do with respect to the lyrics.


The implications I get from this song is that it is teaching the youth to have high self esteem and confidence.  This song helps individuals see that they can do what they want in life if they set a goal for it. Also, the beauty shown by the media, isnt what real beauty is, because real beauty has to do with whats inside your soul and what your heart believes is beauty for yourself.

Illusion of Life Through Rise Against’s “Prayer of the Refugee”

With many punk rock bands the idea of fighting against the norm and bringing awareness to oppressed groups is a unifying strand and from this ideal and their use of upbeat intense music and gritty lyrics they tend to appeal to young adults (both male and female) aging from 16-30. The band Rise Against is no exception to this umbrella of punk rock bands. Just from their band name, it is evident that Rise Against is an active group when it comes to shedding light on controversial societal norms whether they lie in the realms of politics, social habits or even daily human interactions; furthermore, their presence on the mainstream platform of music has made their messages extremely effective because of their great listener appeal. One of their songs in particular that shed light on a very controversial issue in the United States of America is “Prayer of the Refugee” (2006). The context of the track illuminates the struggles of immigrants to the US and at the same time acts as a call to action and unification for these oppressed people’s rights. Through effective congruent patterns the song ultimately acts as both a “prayer” and an “anthem” for the oppressed immigrants of the US by shdding light on their oppression and calling them to action. This post will examine the virtual time, virtual experience and congruity of the song to determine how it accomplishes the spread of its message.

Prayer of the Refugee is a very interesting track to analyze under the “Illusion of Life” perspective because of its combination of a wholly congruent pattern through both intensity and release patterns coupled with comic-dramatic and tragic-poetic lyrics respectively throughout the song. If we take a look at the virtual experience of the song the first thing to note is the title; as a “prayer of the refugee” the song acts as a both a plea for salvation and an anthem for the “refugee” or US immigrant. The beginning of the song appears to be the plea for salvation as the lyrics depict an immigrant sharing his experiences with a young child. With a sombre tone the refugee tells the child “stories of a better time; In a place that we once knew” clearly referring to their country of origin where life was better and they weren’t “the angry and the desperate; The hungry, and the cold”. These lyrics from the first verse and the first half of the second verse portray a tragic and poetic illusion as the protagonist appears to be coping with fate and dwelling on the past to communicate a sense of finality because they have “left all this behind [them] in the dust”. From here however Rise Against changes the course of the song entirely by shifting the virtual experience to a comic and dramatic illusion thus also converting the plea into an anthem or a call to action. Through amplified and yelled lyrics like “we’ve been sweating while you slept so calm” and “We’ve been pulling out the nails that hold up; Everything you’ve known” the refugee shows how the immigrants have been beating the odds and fighting to change the system that they have become trapped in. Furthermore, the chorus of the song, which is yelled with great anger and enthusiasm, is a message from the refugee that he or she does not need to depend on anyone anymore and they don’t need us to hold them up anymore because they are strong enough to hold their own ground thus continuing to develop the idea that the immigrants have beaten the odds. The final verse of the song solidifies the dramatic illusion of the lyrics as the refugee is telling the child to take the reins and continue the refugees’ fight, that it’s time for them to be on their way and “broken windows and ashes; are guiding the way” so they may let their voices be heard and “sing though the day;…of the lives [they’ve] reclaimed”. The First generation immigrants have broken the barriers (windows) and burned the bridges (ashes) so that it’s up to the new generation to firmly plant their rights and their ways of life in their new home. Through the use of strategic ambiguity the song persuades it’s listeners to take heed of both the plea for salvation and the call to action without using specifics within the language; thus ultimately leading the listeners to become aware of the oppression of the refugee but not to think that he or she is weaker than them in any way even if that was not the listener’s initial perspective.

The analysis of the song’s virtual time produces very similar results in that the song begins with a release pattern that leads into an intensity pattern which also cements the idea that the track acts as a plea that transforms into an anthem. Throughout the first verse and the first half of the second verse the music primarily demonstrate release patterns with a predictable slow tempo, a constant harmonic structure, legatos and little instrumentation. Just as in the virtual experience of this song it is at this point that the track changes direction. Just as the call to action begins the drums suddenly increase in volume and speed, the base and guitar becomes more frantic and a background harmony builds up that adds to the intensity of the remaining verses and the chorus. The patterns that demonstrate this intensity are an unpredictable driving tempo, a dissonant harmonic structure, accented phrasing with many crescendos and multiple amplified instruments. The shift from a release pattern to an intensity pattern is effective in illustrating that during the plea for salvation the refugee seeks sympathy and desires fellow US citizens to become aware of his position yet when the shift occurs the refugee is now calling out to his fellow immigrants so that they can understand that they are strong and they must unify to continue beating the odds and thus the intensity pattern is effective in pumping up the listener and rousing their excitement towards the cause.

Although Prayer of the Refugee alternates through different virtual time and experience it still displays a wholly congruent pattern. During the first verse and part of the second verse the message is a clear appeal for the awareness of oppression towards immigrants in the US which is conveyed via lyrics that are tragic and music that follows a pattern of release. This congruence along with the idea that the audience isn’t being directly addressed but is instead listening in on a conversation between the refugee and a child ensures that although the message may be overly depressing the message will not be short-lived but instead heard and understood. Furthermore the use of congruency of lyrics with a comic and dramatic illusion with an intensity pattern functions effectively as an “in-group”message to rally the immigrant group towards the cause of changing the system and standing up for themselves without the dependence on others by making the message aggressive and evoking.

Implications of this effective use of congruency could be an overall awareness and appreciation for immigrant minority groups in the US from the young listeners of today; consequently this may go against the US melting-pot culture which in turn could lead to a more diverse and dynamic social system in the country. Ultimately Rise Against’s Prayer of the Refugee effectively uses a dynamic congruency patterns to illicit feelings of both sympathy towards immigrant minority groups and passion for change and unity within those groups.

The Illusion of Life Theory: Yelawolf – The Last Song

Rap music as a genre, has been under fire for most of the time it has existed. With it’s use of metaphors, analogies, and word play over top of produced beats, the genre rarely in my opinion gets the credit it deserves as a form of expression and story telling. Rap music exists in our pop culture today and cannot be ignored. The purpose of this post is to analyze an artifact that delivers a concise and relatable message to it’s listeners.

Michael Wayne Atha, better known now for his stage name Yelawolf is an American rapper from Gadsden, Alabama. You may know him through his association with Eminem, since he is now signed with Shady Records. Growing up, Atha moved around several times with his single mother who ended up dating several men that had various influences on his life. After attending several schools, rap music, and the hip – hop lifestyle  gave Atha a sense of belonging. Atha eventually graduated from a community college and moved to California to pursue a career as a professional skateboarder. Injuries made this dream short lived and pretty soon Yelawolf moved into the music scene and his career was born.

Virtual Experience

This track entitled “The Last Song” is the last song on Yelawolf’s debut album Radioactive. This will become important later in the analysis. First off in desribing the lyrics, Yelawolf uses both Comic and Tragic lyrics. Since the song in particular is about growing up not really having a whole lot, Yelawolf emphasizes the importance of beating the odd when he says ” So I don’t give a fuck if you ever lay eyes on top of my new shoes homey. I just wanted you to know I didn’t need a dollar from you I got ’em myself.” Here Atha is focusing on his childhood and how he was teased for not having enough money to buy shoes. He later goes on to talk about buying shoes at a Goodwill store. Later in the same verse Yelawolf says  ” So I turned into an asshole young and dumb smokin’ weed. Vandalizin’, robbing houses, stealing cars that was me. But everything I did I had to see, feel the pain, had to grieve. To become who I am and I’m proud of the man I came to be.” This is a direct attempt to beat the odds that are clearly stacked against Atha in this song. The only way he feels he can safe himself from his situation is by “capitalizing on oppurtunities to beat the odds” (Sellnow, 119).

Atha also uses many phrases that I would consider Tragic lyrics. Here the protagonist (Yelawolf) is forced to accept certain truths about his fate. Since this song in particular talks about Atha’s childhood without having a Dad, right away he is subjected to living a lifestyle he did not choose or probably want. In regards to not having a father he says ” See I’ve been lost ever since I could walk. Lookin’ for my daddy and anyone of momma’s boyfriends who would talk. Or listen to me when I spoke instead of lookin’ at me like a joke. Or leavin’ me behind leavin’ me to cry when you treated my momma like a ho. But I learned quick that my daddy was never gonna come around”.  Atha is forced to live without a father, which causes him to have a void he feels he needs to fill by establishing a relationship with one of his mom’s boyfriends. Unfortunately these men are in no way good suitors or father figures so again Atha is left  to live his own fate. Later he states ” No new kicks, first day of school I’m Goodwill bound” meaning that his fate of living in poverty limits him from having things he needs to survive. Atha never asked for this he is just stuck with it.

Yelawolf uses both Poetic Illusion and Dramatic Illusion in this song. He uses stories from his past, as well as looking towards the future. Many of Atha’s stories, like feeling lost without his Dad, buying shoes from Goodwill, vandalizin’, drug use, and robbery are all examples of Poetic Illusion. Secondly he also looks into the future during the chorus when he sings ” Daddy can you see me? I’m putting on a show. In the magazines hear me on the radio. So what do you think huh?”. Here Atha is looking into the future wondering if his father will ever be proud to here his son’s accomplishments. The second example comes when Yelawolf talks about his father being drunk on the floor keeping company with the picture of his son on the shelf.

Lyrical Ascription

Many of us have been affected with divorce either directly or indirectly. That is why this song in particular speaks to those who have been victims of divorce and feeling the effects of being brought up by a single mother. When Yelawolf says ” See I’ve been lost ever since I could walk. Lookin’ for my daddy and anyone of momma’s boyfriends who would talk” he is speaking about the affect it had on him during his childhood, mainly feeling lost. Although it may come accross as anger, Atha forgives his father at the end of the second verse by saying ” So if you see him now momma don’t give him the cold shoulder just give him my message, Just tell him”.

Musical Ascription

Although you may not feel this is a rap song, you would probably be misinterpreting the beat itself. However this beat and many like it set the tone for countless rap songs, which can be indentified by hip-hop heads everywhere. The target audience I would argue are pre teens and teens who have been affected by this common issue.

Virtual Time

Rhythmic Structure: slow, consistent tempo (Relsease)

Harmonic Structure: constant/mellow (Relesease)

Melodic Structure: conjunct/smooth (Relsease)

Phrasing: Legato/smooth (Relsease)

Instrumentation: few (Relsease)

As I stated earlier, this is the last song on Yelawolf’s album, and most of the virtual time elements are all intense on every other track except this one. It may be because this is the closing song on the album, which might set the tone for the theme of forgiveness or closing.


In my opinion the beat and it’s release patterns set the tone for the emotion of this song. Atha  uses mostly anger and frustration but also hope and forgiveness. In some aspects the song may be incongruent in the way Yelawolf delivers his lyrics but in terms of emotion the music and lyrics fit perfectly. From the release patterns, to the comic/tragic lyrics, and the poetic/dramatic illusions, the song is congruent.


The target audience as I stated earlier would be pre teens and teenagers who have been affected by divorce or have been brought up by a single parent. Yelawolf clearly states that no matter what your life situation you can always make the best of it as he has. Even though his methods were not always ethical (stealing, drug use, vandalism etc.) he made the best of his situation, offering hope to those listeners with similar troubles. This song is a perfect example of an effective in-group anthem as it uses the hip-hop genre to convey messages to a target audience that make up the majority of the listeners of rap music.

A Music Perspective Analysis: The Temper Trap- Sweet Disposition

The Temper Trap- Sweet Disposition

The song Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap represents how in life and relationships there are ups and downs but we can’t give up. Played twice in 500 Days of Summer, the message is conveyed in the movie in the relationship of Tom and Summer. For 500 days, Tom is challenged by the unrequited love he feels for Summer. The song is played once while the couple happily explores the city and Tom shows Summer his favourite places, and again when they are reunited on a train after their breakup. The movie shows how in a relationship (and life) there can be magical and happy times followed by sadness and the “friendzone” but you can’t let it get you down (instead you get back at it by dating someone ironically named Autumn).

The guitar at the beginning sets the upbeat tone with the continuous chord that leads into the lyrics. The singing starts off soft and slow. The drum beat sets in gradually, bringing the beat of the song up even further. The artist’s voice is high pitched for the first stanza of lyrics, still soft, but getting louder and more intense. The guitar intensifies and then returns to the same chords from the start creating a burst of energy in a mellow scene. The voice changes for the chorus, less soft and more defined, emphasizing certain lyrics with increased volume for A moment, a love the second and third time it’s sung.  The song gets louder, more instruments are introduced and the singing volume is way more intense. The vocals are held longer and louder before going back to the quieter tone from the beginning, more upbeat though until the end. Compared to other songs by Temper Trap the tempo and tone of voice he chooses to use is unique and different than their usual dance tunes.

The lyrics are primarily dramatic illusion and comic. The main lines that are repeated throughout the song are A moment, a love, a dream, a laugh, a kiss, a cry, our rights, our wrongs, and Won’t stop ‘til it’s over, won’t stop to surrender. A moment, a love… describes life. We are happy for one reason, and sad for another. Things happen that we can’t control and we have to fight through the downs to appreciate and enjoy the ups. The first lyrics sung in the song are the title, Sweet Disposition, which essentially describes life with its ups and downs that challenge us. Things happen, but that’s just life. The subject of the song is confident in overcoming these ups and downs that he has been and will be faced with and not giving up. However, the lyrics suggest strategic ambiguity with the pronouns you and we. The audience is uncertain of who that subject is, whether it’s the artist referring to someone else like a love that he wants to stay with in a relationship in hard times or himself in overcoming the feats in life. The lyrics could be suited for either life or a relationship though. “Oh reckless abandon, like no one’s watching you” is saying that you have to do whatever you’re doing for you and not because of what others think, which is relevant in both a relationship and life. “So stay there” could also be either talking about commitment in a relationship or about oneself and how you must stick through whatever situation.

The congruent combination of comic lyrics and intensity patterns in the music create an upbeat song with meaningful lyrics that make you unsure if you should cry or dance. The lyrics are motivating to not give up, but sometimes that is hard. If we look at Tom Hanes who falls madly in love with Summer who doesn’t love him back, it could be hard for him to not give up. Situations vary for all audiences but the song is still uplifting.

In 500 Days of Summer Tom asks Summer, “Why didn’t it work out?” and she responds, “What always happens? Life.” Whether it is love or life, we are challenged with ups and downs and we can’t give up or stop ‘til it’s over.

A Gender/Feminist Perspective Analysis – One Tree Hill Series


One Tree Hill is an American television drama that follows the lives of two half-brothers, Lucas Scott and Nathan Scott. Dan Scott, the father they both share, manages to keep his two sons far from each other but not until the past and present collide do they find out what relationship they have. Dan Scott is seen as the ultimate role model for both of his sons while in the meantime he plays the “mother role” for one of his sons, Nathan, since his mother was always occupied with work. The season series revolve around close family interrelationships and how the love between 2 half brothers evolves as the time goes by. The target audience for this show is people between the ages of 16-23 that enjoy watching American Drama series.  In the show bending of hegemony leads to playing around with the gender roles and violating the status quo in which gender normalities are altered and some things are seen to be more “normal” then the others. The bending of hegemony can be understood through the liberal feminist perspective, more specially the oppositional, preferred feminist reading.

Lucas Scott is the shows primary protagonist. Lucas is a sensitive, talented street-side basketball player, but his skills are appreciated only by his friends at the river court. Throughout the series, Lucas learns to despise his half brother especially because he was his competition. In the meantime, Lucas was raised by a single parent, his mother, Karen. In many episodes Karen tries to play a role of a father but she fails to get her point across. In these instances she is seen as being “odd, unsuccessful and unhappy”. This demonstrated that Lucas’ mother was not suited for the position of being the “father” of the family. Therefore a site of struggle was identified. Moreover, when Lucas had finally been introduced to his half brother Nathan, he was called a “sensitive girl” by his friends. Lucas struggled to comprehend that he had a half brother and that he had finally met him. He had gotten emotional and he had portrayed this “ladylike” gesture that his friends thought wasn’t entirely masculine of him to do. Lucas never had a father by his side to teach him “not to cry” or “to take it like a man”. That portion of his life he had missed on had been depicted in that specific moment.

Furthermore, Nathan Scott known as the primary character in the series, is a popular, affluent basketball player who is also the star of his high school team. Nathan portrays this dynamic role where is the best looking high school student and he is the type that doesn’t take loosing for an answer. This role for him was seen as “normal” until his half brother came along and distorted his “image” and the way people perceived him as.  Nathan had taken his popular role as granted and had seen it as being “normal” and “desirable” by his colleagues at school. In the meantime, Nathan was also struggling to take on the pressure his Father, Dan Scott, was putting him through when it came to sports and family life. He had realized Dan was taking on the “mother” role since his mother was absent but yet refused to come to his senses. Nathan at one point had gotten fed up with his dad ordering him around all the time and had said: “you’re like a woman dad, being my dad is good enough, so stop please”, Nathan had realized how much it was agitating him that his dad was taking on the “mother” role and that he couldn’t handle his father undertaking all the duties a mother would.

Lastly, Dan Scott is seen as the primary antagonist who was a former college ball player and a owner of a car dealership. He ended up abandoning his ex-wife Karen and his son Lucas in order to marry Deb and to have his other son Nathan shortly after. Throughout Lucas’s life Dan was never present to fulfill the “father” duties since he had left him at a young age. Until later on does he find out that both of his sons are in the same town, and are competing to be on their high schools basketball team. In the meantime, Dan’s wife Deb was preoccupied with work and never had time to spend with the family. Dan had decided to take over the “mother” and “father” role for his son Nathan. Bending of hegemony is seen when Dan takes on the role as the mother of the house where he cooks, cleans, and coaches Nathan basketball. When looking at Dan’s role of attempting to portray both of the idealistic genders is it seen to be “normal” for him to be doing all of the duties but it isn’t seen as being “very ladylike” and it contradicts the gender identities. Dan’s role taking of being a mother as well had shown to Nathan how much of role model he was for him since he was capable of doing all of the “normal” parent jobs.

The Tree hill series challenges Hegemony and can be acknowledged as a liberal feminist perspective. Both of the brothers were lacking one of their parents as they were growing up causing the remaining parent to be dependent on to play both of the parent roles. As the two half brothers evolve from being enemies to loving brother they start sharing this incredible bond that was unbreakable. The Tree hill series demonstrated well the bending of hegemony and how the characters portrayed gender roles that were seen as “normal” or “desirable” in this American drama. Moreover, Dan was involved in role-taking where the ideals of the gender identities were undertaken and were altered to suit the characters lifestyle.

CW Television Network. One Tree Hill. February 6, 2012, Retrieved from:,+nathan+and+dan+scott&um=1&hl=en&bi

Feminism/ Gender Analysis – Internet Memes

Recently there has been memes circulating over the Internet on popular social media websites. Memes are short phrases or words that represents a certain cultural/ popular idea or symbol. These are used to spread the popular idea across the Internet, usually to draw attention or make a particular statement. I have chosen to do a feminist analysis on popular and constantly circulating meme’s. Currently on various websites such as,, and, memes that have the basic ideology that all women belongs in the kitchen and should be doing everything that involved cooking and housework. Such ideology is spread across North American websites and is seen by the general public, specifically the people who visit such websites. However, memes are also starting to be posted by adults, young adults, and teenagers on social media websites, such as Facebook. The messages of these memes enforces the idea of women should be stay-at-home mothers, and obeying the orders of men. This ideal women, is portrayed as desirable for men and women should act like this in society. It challenges the idea that women now are able and is acceptable to accomplish tasks outside the kitchen and home.

Behaviours and beliefs of these texts reinforces the idea of a women’s role is in the kitchen is normal, appropriate and should be desired. Where as the role of the men should be ordering the women to cook for them in the kitchen while they go out work, and/or have fun. In the first meme, “NO… you make me a sandwich”, it challenges the masculine hegemony in the form of the woman rebelling against the man’s order of making him a sandwich (being the most common form of food in memes that reinforces the role of the woman), and also using violence to ultimately make a statement. In this meme the woman’s role can be presented depending on how the audience’s view is. If viewed from a cultural feminist perspective both the man and the woman are capable in making “the sandwich”, and why should the woman be the only one making it. It offers a blatant, preferred reading as women are stereotyped with the feminine skills of cooking and cleaning in particularly at home. In this meme the woman is portrayed as the model and other women should want to be like this and rebel against the idea of making a sandwich for the men.

In a second meme, “WOMEN, know your place”, it is presented as normal, appropriate, and should be desirable for the women to always be in the kitchen. Here the woman, including the daughter, is portrayed as being happy while washing the dishes and watching her husband/father and son/brother play games and resting, and while the woman and the daughter is present in the kitchen. Also this included an occluded preferred reading, as there is not a direct message that women should look like this in the kitchen. The message, when viewed with a radical feminist perspective, emphasizes that women should not only be in the kitchen, but should look “happy” while being in their supposed place. It should be normal for a woman to look like this and act like this, which will create the “Perfect woman” for men. It demonstrates that the female audience should want to be like the woman on the game box, and a happy family would result from such roles. Also this enforces the hegemony that women are cookers, cleaners, and caregivers, while the men of the household is allowed time to relax.

With further research on the game box design and year of release, it is found that it was, and still is, the popular board game Battleship. This particular version of it was released in 1967, advertised “for all ages 8 to adult” (Isreal, 2011). During this period it was the third wave feminism, and during this time it was argued and had been focused on providing equal rights for both men and women. Also for the women to break out of the stereotype of being oppressed into their supposed roles. The audiences for this game would mostly likely be for the “white, middle-class, able-bodied, heterosexual people” (Sellnow, 92). This cover for the game reinforces the idea that this is a family game, but with the underlying message of women should enjoy watching from the sidelines.

Therefore in the first meme, the role of the women is reversed and rebelled against. The message that both the male and female audience may receive is that, cooking should and could be done by men and women. The ideology of women cooking for men is portrayed as undesirable and it challenges the status quo of women in society. Where as in the second meme the message is perceived that it should be normal for women to be in the kitchen, and also desirable to look “happy” while being in the kitchen. She is portrayed as taking the traditional role for women. The potential implication on society from this meme may be women are to act in this role and belong in the kitchen. As opposed to the first meme where the implication may be that women should rebel against the stereotype. Feminism has been a struggle for many years. Memes like the second one would only create a larger barrier, as it only enforces the ideology of the traditional women. With memes like the second one it breaks down some of the barrier as it provides a message that women can rebel against the society’s stereotype.

David K. Isreal “10 Awesome Paintings of Old Board Games” Mental_Floss. Mental_Floss, 1 Sept. 2011. Web. 6 Feb. 2012.

Sellnow, Deanna.The Rhetorical Power of Popular Culture. California: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2010. Print.