Typical Cultural Productions Which Reward Cultural Criticism's Thick Description
|illustrated advertisements for a type of consumer product||Disneyland or any other "theme park"||multiple episodes of a TV series or "reality" show||Barbie dolls||a movie and its sequels and "prequels" (e.g., Star Wars, Terminator, etc.)|
|expressively coded hand gestures||Sci-Fi magazine covers from the 1950s||striptease||customized automobiles||backpacks|
|a fast-food restaurant chain||brochures or web pages from a college's illustrated admissions literature||representations of "Romans" or "Indians" or any other stock character in popular film||board games||ceremonial beer consumption|
|a series of promotional advertisements for a political candidate||the use of cigarettes in black-and-white Hollywood films||gift giving in a specific culture||clowns in a specific culture||crime reports in the local paper|
|a mall chain store||public "apologies" or "taking full responsibility" statements by entertainers or politicians||midnight bowling||children's organized play on a playground||corporate "positioning" advertisements after a scandal|
Roland Barthes was a public intellectual, not a scholar, and he did not give the impression of being a man who worked hard. He wrote about what he knew, or about things he could research merely by observing popular culture in and around his Parisian home. That takes some courage, since cultural criticism aims to deconstruct the myths of "ordinary culture" by closely examining its production. Look around yourself and see a little bit of "The Matrix" in operation. For added help, see this email exchange with a student trying out ideas about what to choose for a "text" in this Working With paper.