Short Analytical Essay – IRON MAN
Choose a specific children’s or young adult toy, film, book, board game, video game, or action figure (e.g. a Dream Bride Barbie, a G.I. Joe, a Star Wars lightsaber, a Percy Jackson film or Harry Potter novel, a Bratz doll, a Ninja Turtles playset—the choice is up to you!) and perform a semiotic analysis of it. Consider the following questions: How is this subject meant to engage children? Any secondary audiences besides children? Why does it have the appearance that it does? How is it packaged and physically designed in order to appeal to those target audiences? What age groups and genders are targeted? What are the implicit messages at work (for example, a Dream Bride Barbie might suggest the desirability of traditional heterosexual marriage, or a G.I. Joe might teach children that physical strength and patriotism are part of successful masculinity) and how are they similar to/different from the explicit messages (facts about the subject, such as name, price, slogans or catchphrases, warning labels, etc)? What desirable attributes or cultural myths are evoked? To what purpose? How might children identify with this subject or use it as an example when forming their own identities? Does this subject appear in any other media, such as cartoons or video games, and how does that other media reinforce or complicate the messages?