4 April 2019
The mall exercises its thorough and discreet authority not only in the regulation of behavior but in the constitution of our visible, inaudible, public discourse. It is the source of these commodities through which we speak of our, identities, opinions, our desires (Norton, 84).
In todays postmodern age, as individuals we are constantly bombarded with brand associated images almost everywhere we go, from companies all around the world. These companies advertise their brand with the goal of having it viewed and recognized by as many people as possible.
Most people understand this and recognize it as an issue, although what people fail to understand the negative impact it creates on a newer generation. In order to understand the potential danger these brands create, we must examine how these companies use semiotics to mold and shape how we think, while simultaneously disregarding the after-effects of these strategies. In the essay “The Signs of Shopping”, by Anne Norton, she determines the ways in which malls, and home shopping networks shape and create a false sense of identity for women.
In the first part of her essay, Anne analyzes the ways in which malls and catalogs can convince you who you are, by marketing certain products that condition you to a specific cultural identity. She believes malls designed to be an impulsive gathering place for public socializing and activity. Anne then goes on to state how she believes the mall has come to exploit the lifestyles and identities of people, especially those of young women.
This is absolutely true, each mall is designed to be as enjoyable and as enticing as possible for every consumer. So when a public place, such as a mall becomes more enjoyable, people are far less likely to recognize and speak against an aspect that is undoubtedly wrong. In this case, malls are easily able to sell products, and promote advertisements that degrade women. These public spaces have become so normalized, that we never question the morality of these companies as we walk past rows and rows of storefronts at a mall. She moves on to make the claim that the mall appears to be a public place, but however it is not. It is designed to appear public due to the variety it appears to offer, however this is not the case. To no surprise the layout is designed by those who own and manage the stores in the mall. Giving them the power to show what they want, which ultimately shapes our identity because we arent really choosing for ourselves. This engineered identity becomes especially developed for teenage girls. A demographic that is easy to take advantage of due to the fact that their true identities have not yet been developed. These girls, in prowling the mall they embed themselves in a lexicon of American culture Stores hang a variety of identities on their racks and mannequins. Their window displays provide elaborate scenarios conveying not only what the garment is but what the garment means (Norton, 84).
The next identity that Anne believes, is that shopping at the mall creates is the identity of the housewife. Some of the first shopping ads tailored towards women started to appear in the 1960s. Back then, they marketed the practice of shopping, showing people that it was an occasion. Some ads went as far as stating that shopping, was an activity in which women could escape the confines of their homes and enjoy the companionship of other women. Thes ads created a consumer identity for women back then. Brands pushed the ideology that women were no longer just homebodies, wives and mothers. They also influenced the creation of false dichotomy through ads. Showing that shopping was a rebellious act, creating the image of subversive troublemakers, whos only form of rebellion was demonstrated through shopping. Women were led to believe that happiness was easily gained through shopping, which became a reality because When she spends money, she exercises an authority over property that law and custom may deny her. If she has no resources independent of her husband, this may be the only authority over property she is able to exercise (Norton, 85). Norton makes a compelling argument when she encompases some of the aspects of being a woman in todays culture, however in the essay The Science of Shopping by Marcus Gladwell, he brings up a compelling argument against Nortons claims.