A ‘Sign’ of the Times – Semiotics

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and how they are interpreted.”

People perceive and interpret Information in a variety of ways. Hence, when an image is presented to the people, the people interpret that image in different ways.

Shaun Micallef is an iconic Australian comedian who has starred in many Australian television programs over the years such as, “The Shaun Micallef Program(me)”, “Thank God You’re Here”, “Talkin’ ‘bout your Generation”. On the 25th of May 2012, Shaun Micallef put to air a program called “Shaun Micallef’s: Mad As Hell” which was a comical program that was heavily based on Australian politics. Each episode reflects on the political events of that week and then proceeds to mock these events. A subject that commonly reoccurs is Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

There has been a lot of controversy about Tony Abbott recently, whether it be the things he says, or the things he does. Tony Abbott is a symbolic representative of Australia, however, many people do not see him that way, as they believe the way he acts and behaves in the public sphere is somewhat inappropriate. Moreover, in the majority of the episodes of “Shaun Micallef’s: Mad as Hell”, he is often depicted as the fictional villain Voldemort from the Harry Potter Franchise.

tumblr_mkkevrIugr1rup001o1_500When this images appears on the show, it is welcomed by laughs and giggles, because what is initially seen is Tony Abbott’s body with Voldemort’s face. This could be interpreted in many ways but one of the primary interpretations would be that the decisions Tony Abbott is making as prime minister of Australia is the equivalent to the actions and decisions of the evil fictional character Voldemort. By associating Tony abbott with Voldemort, Shaun Micallef is immediately isolating and further alienating him from the Australian public.

Another way this image could be interpreted, is that the image simply shows the physical similarities between Tony Abbott’s face and Voldemort’s face. However, that then could be interpreted as associating Tony Abbott with an ugly snake-like man. Yet it all depends on your perspective on the character Voldemort, whether you think he is attractive or not.

Furthermore, people who haven’t seen Harry Potter and saw this image would just be clueless as to what it meant and may just interpret it as an unusual picture of Tony Abbott. Thus, this image and portrayal of Tony Abbott as Voldemort demonstrates the science of Semiotics.

kim-kardashian-paper-magazineAnother controversial image in the media has been the images of Kim Kardashian in the “Paper” magazine which is a contemporary magazine keeping up with the latest news in TV shows, Fashion, celebrities and so-on so-forth. 
The exposure of Kim Kardashian’s Bottom on the front page of Paper magazine spread like wild fire throughout all forms of media causing all sorts of trouble. People had many different views on the topic; That it was okay and that Kim Kardashian should be proud to show-off her body, that it was provocative, pornographic and perverted, that it was silly and a waste of time, that it could further the on-going body image issues associated with youths.

If an individual was to glance at this image for the first time, they would see a nude woman looking provocative. If they were to look further into the meaning of the image, they would question it, ‘What does it mean? Is it sexual? Is it art? Is it a fashion statement?’

Celebrity, Actor and Comedian Russell brand touches on this controversial image of Kim Kardashian in the Youtube clip below:

Therefore, Semiotics explains and demonstrates the notion of what is seen and what is interpreted.


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