The film the Da Vinci Code (2006) was the first thing that came to my mind upon reading that the topic of this lecture would be semiotics.
The film has examples of the exploration of semiotics throughout. By viewing, contemporarily mundane symbology in the setting through different lenses, those of a different historical context and cultural interpretations, the protagonist is able to read & understand more of the world presented to them compared to other characters.
Semiotics Lecture Notes
Semiotics – Study & examinations of signs & symbols. Context affects connotations & interpretations. Signs & sign-systems within society.
Semiotics linked with structuralism.
Signs can be assembled together to form codes, connotations that can be inferred when signs are connected.
Semiotics can be used as a system to read the world around us & understand the core aspects of meanings.
Origins of semiotics lies with linguistic studies, trying to understand language as it stands at any one point in time. Ferdinand Saussure (1857 - 1913), Charles Pierce (1839 - 1914).
Language is the vehicle for which the brain expresses its experiences.
Language carries an inherent ideology, as it develops throughout time alongside cultural ideals.
The exchange of ideas is facilitated through language.
Written language is full of signs, words, signs are arbitrary and irrelevant from the subject they represent. Signs function because they are different from others.
Myth reflects a cultural perception of signs.
Barthes influenced by Karl Marx. Communism, demonstrably, the most dangerous ideology present in the modern world.
Barthes writes about Parisian wrestling as a vehicle to discuss semiotics.
How is the role/ character of each wrestler defined and communicated to the audience?
The commentator introduces them describing their physical power through height and weight statistics, prior knowledge of them is inferred by the experienced audience reaction (booing for the Giant Haystacks, cheering for the Big Daddy) audio queues of celebratory trumpets bolster the introduction of Big Daddy. Body language of the wrestlers themselves as they are introduced conveys their disposition, Giant Haystacks steps out into the ring and merely makes his presence know by raising his arms, whereas Big Daddy saunters around the ring appealing to the crowd with his boisterous movements.
What is the role played by the commentator?
The commentator describes events of note within the ring, and prescribes a tone to current events with their reaction to events and rhetorical questions building tension around the action.
What about the role of the referee?
The referee enforces the pre-determined rule-set on the match, providing the framework for which the action may take place within. The referee also provides a visual comparison of a normal man contrasting against the titans in the ring. The referee’s actions can be theatrical in nature, as he contends to negotiate control over the giants in the ring. The presence of the referee represents control of the match & fair play, when he is absent from the action, anything goes. The referee is as much a performer as the wrestlers themselves.
Crowd response is the action in the ring clear to follow? If so how is this made possible?
The general tone of the action in the ring is clear to follow, some specific incidents may be somewhat obscured from the audience unintentionally. The commentator leads the audience through the action. Exaggerated gestures from the wrestlers and referee add clarity to the action.
Based on observation would you classify wrestling as a sport?
It’s theatre, a performance. Sport, as I interpret it, is a competition between athletes pushing themselves to their absolute limits to succeed within the parameters of an event, wrestling just does not have the authentic competitive nature of a true sport.
Wrestling has all the trappings of a sport, but wrestling is not a sport, it is a performance. Wrestling sells the appearance of passion without the true motivation or consequences of real passion.
Roland Barthes' Mythologies Notes
Barthes describes wrestling as an open-air spectacle, this inspires the idea of romantic freedom, and accessibility. A form of entertainment for the common people.
The idea that wrestling is a sport is quickly dismissed in favour of the view that wrestling is a performance, a form of theater. However Barthes does address some wrestling that is done in a sporting context, true wrestling, an actual physical competition with victory being the primary motivator of the wrestlers involved.
The audience's awareness of the true authenticity of the fight is declared as irrelevant, as they are only concerned in the shallow perception of the contest within the ring. Spectators view wrestling for the spectacle of action, as long as the show is good the suspension of disbelief remains.
Exaggerated gestures and a clear framework, or language, of how the wrestling bout occurs helps the audience members understand the narrative being performed.
Wrestlers are presented as avatars of morality, and such alignments are made obvious from the moment a wrestler enters the ring, their actions, their gestures, even their attire paint a character that each wrestler plays upon the stage. Barthes discusses the concept of the Salaud, the "bastard", or in modern wrestling terminology, the Heel. The salaud plays into their role to make the crowd despise them, creating a passionate investment in the wrestling bout. The salaud's character is built of established cultural stereotypes, the cultural language is exploited, so that the audience recognises that they should despise the salaud.
Gestures are exaggerated and embraced by the wrestlers, a clear display of unbridled passion in each action creates a compelling performance to invest the audience.
Wrestling is used as a vehicle for audiences to vicariously play out a battle between good and evil, to grapple with the struggle of morality through the performance afforded to them by the wrestlers.
Elliot Watson, Illustrator with a background in historical swordsmanship and all the weird and wonderful trappings that entails.