One of my favorite classes ever was one on Visual Communication, and it specifically focused on how visuals can communicate social messages and promote change in a strong and rigid culture. Here’s 2 of my favorite excerpts that I wrote (and provided visual examples with) for that class:
Visuality and War
This comic from Calvin and Hobbes seeks to commentate on the absurd notion of war as a solution and peace-maker. The comic is aimed at both the kids who read them and the adults who have been drawn to the comedic and intellectual aspects of Calvin and Hobbes. It gives power to civilians who may be anti-war and ridicules leaders who use it to get what they want. To add a more realistic and real-world tone, I’m adding one last image to this idea, of a man cleaning up helmets of the deceased after a WWI battle. This also demonstrates the tragedy of wartime, as the man symbolically smashes the helmets one by one, just as the individual soldiers were killed one by one — but are now reduced to helmets/numbers/pawns in a bigger tug-of-war between armies struggling for success by killing each other. In the end, it all comes down to individual death as a means of getting what you want. Both these images ask… is the death effectively worth it? Is there a better way?
Non-normative Gender Expression
Non-normative gender expression is expression of self identity that doesn’t rely on hegemonic gender norms. Harry Styles, a singer from One Direction, often dresses in a non-normative fashion. When someone that famous and with that large of a fanbase normalizes non-hetero-masculinity (by wearing women’s’ jeans, growing his hair out, painting his nails, isn’t afraid of pink, and wearing women’s shirts), it may inspire and empower others to express themselves in the way that they want with less backlash. Don’t even get my started on the positive body image mermaid tattoo he has, celebrating female anatomy that society often frowns upon such as saggy boobs and pubic hair. Harry has a huge female following, and if a man who is considered to be a sex symbol can wear women’s clothes then it may inspire others to open their minds to the idea that, as one queer magazine described his fashion taste “masculinity doesn’t make the man.”
For more of these, including writing about the horrors of Orientalism, consumerism, harmful gender roles, etc. go here