We are all Witnesses

The image is minimal yet powerful in the message that it conveys. The bulk of the ad consists of a solid black background, with Lebron’s image –from his chest up –displayed wearing his Cleveland jersey and his arms spread out wide. There is a short phrase of text included on the top that reads: “We are all witnesses.” These elements, while seemingly simple and minimalistic, speak to the sports culture present within the United States in terms of the perceived value of athletic prowess, the almost godlike reverence given to successful basketball players, and the effectiveness of the image –building effort.

Athletic prowess is valued very highly in American culture, in part because athletic prowess connotes strength, masculinity, high level of muscle control and reflex, and essentially, the ideal male body type. The masculine, sterile black and white effect and the single light figure really highlight Lebron’s presence. To that end, this ad and the portrayal of Lebron as a very well muscled man, coupled with the fact that the observer’s view is from the bottom so that the viewer is looking “up” at Lebron, suggests a hierarchy of body type and ability. Sports and athletes are revered exceptionally highly within U.S. society.

Furthermore, the image connotatively presents a godlike or superior image. The “looking up” element of the advertisement and the caption “We are all witnesses,” suggest that we are in the presence someone great and someone above the rest of society. Also, while not included in the ad, the fact that many people used to refer to Lebron James as “King James” reflects the way that sports enthusiasts often regard basketball players as some sort of superhuman figure. This mindset, arguably, is dangerous insomuch that it may prove rather destructive to the self-esteem of “normal” individuals. It also suggests a stark imbalance of projected ability and value in regards to professional athletes and people of other important professions.

However, this image-building element can be false, differing from the fact in reality, while it still presents the message due to his reputation and skills. The image-building element of the advertisement comes into play when one realizes that Lebron James has not actually won any NBA championships; rather, he focuses on building his image and honing a reputation that his reality has yet to live up to. However, because of the mass proliferation of advertising and promoting, this kind of “false” image building is very possible.

In conclusion, the purpose of this advertisement is to promote not only a brand or an individual, but a cultural mindset regarding sports, athletes, and what should be valued within modern American society. It plays into the ideals of what the definition of masculine is, and what kinds of physical skills and characteristics are to be coveted and respected. It also underscores how professional athletes are perceived as more than human and how they are individuals that the common man should bow down to and be grateful to witness.

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One Response to We are all Witnesses

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    I really like how you ground your arugment about superiority of the athletes and athletic ability in the specificities of the image. The attention to details such as the camera lens is great. What do you make of his outstretched arms? You mention it, but I’d like to hear more. This analysis also reminds me of the reading by Messner in the first week of class, particularly how he highlighted the subject position of the reader of the Monday morning sports page. Any thoughts on this connection?

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