Semiotic Analysis:
Looking For Alibrandi and T.V Commercials

Matthew Ranker (alias), the adolescent in my case study watches 10 hours a week of television, that is approximately 1.5 hours of ads daily. For this analysis I viewed one hour of television and recorded the ads. I looked at what the ads were saying and how they were saying and the gap between this and the reality of how things really are. I found that every ad on television projected a distorted view to suck the viewer into the myth and therefore buy their product. Often the image of the people in the ad contradicted what the ad was selling e.g. In the Kentucky Fried Chicken ad, there are two young slim spotless teenagers, eating junk food. The reality is, this ad was on three times in the hour that I was viewing. If an adolescent were to eat that much junk food, they would not be slim or have clear skin any more. They would become over weight and when they looked in the mirror and saw their own image and compared this to the stick figures in the commercial, they probably would not be happy like the tow in the ad but more likely to become depressed about their own appearance. The Unfortunate thing is that many adolescents use the media as their yardstick for reality. This can be very damaging as only a few people could ever live up to the images and lifestyle that the commercials are projecting. Instead of giving the straight out data I have encapsulated the data into what I think life might be like if you took the ads seriously.

When I see the Pantene girls swaying their hair from side to side, how silky soft and yet how strong their hair looks and realize all I have to do to achieve luscious hair like this, is to lather myself up under the shower for fourteen days with Pantene ultra v, I think "YEA BABY!" Then I swish my hair from side to side a few times and although it does not move at all, I think it's probably because I haven't washed it for a few months. Besides, they are not allowed to use false advertising on TV and in fourteen days my hair would be much longer, I think I will add it to my shopping list. Reality is, that I will end up spending heaps more on the most expensive hair product when at the rate I wash my hair It would not matter if I got a shampoo priced in the middle of the range. Either way I will never, ever be able to have the Pantene hair girl's hair. Unless I brought a wig!

When I see the square general transform into the hip Michael Jackson type at the end of the Swatch Watch add, I think, yea I'm getting a bit boring in my old age, I don't want the kids to think I'm boring, I need some excitement in my life. I'm going to throw out my pocket watch and get a Swatch Watch - woo! Reality check, a watch is not going to change my personality. If I don't want the kids to think I'm boring buying a Swatch or a Cardin or Timex will not make any difference, it will not change my personality. If I don't want the kids to think I'm boring than perhaps, before I throw my pocket watch I might think about taking the kids on an adventure or playing with them.

Or I'm just about to cook dinner and I'm a bit hungry and I hear "4811111 pizza hut!" So I go to the phone and call for a Big Brother Meal deal but I am tragically disappointed when they inform me that they don't deliver from Lithgo to Katoomba. Brilliant, sneak past security guards and into Big Brother but cop out on Katoomba when it's only 45 minutes away. I don't feel so bad when I realize that by the time my pizza arrived it would probably be cold. Suddenly, I hear a sexy, steaming hot, moist voice telling me Dominos will bring me a piping hot pizza. The nearest Dominos to me is 45 minutes as well but I believe it will be all right because Dominoes have hot cell technology. Again I am heart broken cause the bastards want to charge me $30 bucks to deliver it. I'm desperate for a pizza now so I look for the yellow pages to see who will bring me a pizza but the book is missing so I go online. Unfortunately, I get side tracked and by the time I have checked out the new smash hit program Big Brother online, all the pizza restaurants are closed. Foolishly I end up buying a pizza oven from E-Bay which sets me back $200 dollars.
These ads come on the television right before dinnertime and when you are hungry you want to anything. My dad used to say, I'm so hungry I could eat a horse and chase the jockey. I'm sure there is a law against that. Pizzas from these fast food places are terribly fattening but of course you don't see an obese figure tucking into a pizza. An image of the reality would probably cause the target audience to loose their appetite.
If me, a grown man can get so easily sucked in by the ads, what chance has my adolescent case study? I am wondering if when he says that one of the qualities he is looking for in a partner is image, if it has anything to do with the media. If when he is watching the Hungry Jack's Whopper Toblerone meal deal ad, with the beautiful, sexy, young, skinny guy and girl, if he couldn't see himself having fun, hoeing into his Whopper with a girl unless she had the same image as the beautiful girl in the commercial. If by image he means, an image like the beautiful slim models in the just jeans add or the pretty young slim sultry waif dressed in a bikini, who intercepts the lifesaver and seductively throws it down her gob. I also wonder if when he says that in the future he would like to own the right brand car, how he has come to the conclusion of what the right brand is, if it wasn't for the media. If image and brand are so important to him what sort of dilemmas will he face when he realizes that with his Asian looks he does not conform to these stereo types?

Looking for Alibrandi

Looking for Aibrandi is an Australian film, in 2000 it won Five AFI awards including - Best Film -Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress in a Leading Role- Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Greta Scacchi) - Best Achievement in Editing.
It is the story about an Italian - Australian family, grandmother, mother and daughter, seen through the eyes of the 17 year old daughter, Josie Alibrandi. Josie is searching for her identity, her sense of belonging to her culture; also she is confused about what she is going to do and who she is. She confides with the audience through narration her fears, worries, joys and aspirations, placing the audience in a privileged position. Adding to this effect is the film's use of the fly on the wall camera work. Which encourages the viewer to empathize with Josie's plight and to experience the Italian - Australian Culture that is presented from the inside. We see Josie gradually accepting her cultural roots, deal with the suicide of the guy she admired and fantasized about marring, John Barton. She also has to come to terms with discovering who her real father is, meeting him and eventually asking him for help. We see her deal with other issues like, socioeconomic and racial prejudice and her sexuality. At the end of the film, although Josie has been through the wringer or as Stanley Hall puts it, the 'storm and stress' of adolescence, the audience is left with a positive feeling about the Alibrandi family. That is, they have all grown closer and more tolerant towards each other and that Josie with be just fine.
Identity is one of the film's main themes in the context of social class peer class and individual class. Carly Bishop picks on Josie at school because Josie is in a lower social economic class than she is. Carly's father bulldozes over Josie when she had broken his daughter's nose until Josie's father even up the dynamic of the relationship between Carly's dad and Josie, both gender wise and socioeconomic. Gender stereotype issues are prevalent throughout; Carly gets all the attention because she is a model. Josie make jokes that Carly is dumb and is jealous because she thinks Carly is the most popular student only because of her looks. Josie is captain of a winning debate team, which does not rank her highly in the popularity stakes and this fact reinforces her belief. Ethnicity plays an important role in Josie's identity. All the way through the film she is grappling with a culture identity struggle. At school, Josie and her friends are outcasts because of their ethnicity. Socially she feels that the Italian culture is so strong, she imagines that she cannot do anything without her grandmother's spies disapproving and reporting her every move back to her grandmother. We see though that she is gradually coming to terms with her ethnicity as she defends her culture against Jacob Coote when she thinks he has made a racial remark. The social economical issue is a big deal with Jacob as well. He could not relax with his relationship with Josie until he realized that Josie was poor as well. It didn't matter that he was school captain, he though he could not socialize with Josie because she was going to a private school. The individual class struggle is another main theme. Through the suicide of John Barton, Josie questions her sense of self because she looked up to John Barton. She admired him and thought he had the world to offer and so was shocked at his death. She wondered how she was going to make it through this world when someone like John couldn't. Josie was still grieving and couldn't believe how quickly life went back to normal after John Barton's death Jacob support throughout this period was on individual class level. He had experienced grief with the death of his mother and could identify with Josie's pain.
To conclude Looking for Alibrandi traces adolescence and the search for identity in contexts of social economical, ethnicity and the media. There are several other themes running through but really it is about, some of the issues adolescents must deal with in passing on their way to adulthood.


Produced by Robyn Kershaw, Tristram Miall (executive) Directed by Kate Woods, Writing credits Melina Marchetta (also novel)
Cast (in alphabetical order)
Leanne Carlow.... Sera Conti, Elena Cotta.... Nonna Katia
Michael Gallina.... Robert, Kick Gurry.... Jacob Coote
Anthony LaPaglia.... Michael Andretti, Tyrone Lara.... Anton
Pia Miranda.... Josie Alibrandi, Geoff Morrell .... Mr. Barton
Matthew Newton.... John Barton, Greta Scacchi.... Christina Alibrandi, Diane Viduka.... Anna Selicic, Kerry Walker.... Principal (Nun)
Leanna Walsman.... Carly Bishop
Cinematography by Toby Oliver, Film Editing by Martin Connor
Production Design by Stephen Curtis, Production Management -Will Milne.... Unit manager, Second Unit Director or Assistant Director James McTeigue.... First assistant director Paul Sullivan.... Third assistant director
Art Department Gillian Farrow.... Stand-by props, Sound Department Sue Kerr.... Boom operator, Visual Effects- Alaric McAusland.... Executive producer: title sequence & digital effects: Dfilm Services, Other crew -Adam McCulloch.... Title designer, Lisa Tomasetti.... Still photographer - Runtime: 103 minutes - Country: Australia - Language: English - Certification: M (Australia and New Zealand)
Release Dates: 4 May 2000 (Australia) -.... 28 September 2000 (New Zealand)

2. G. Stanley Hall, Santrock., John W., Fifth Edition (1993) Adolescence an Introduction, University of Texas, Dallas Brown and Benchmark (p2)

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