Fra abiezione e stilizzazione: corpi femminili, corpi lesbici e corpi queer nella comunicazione visiva globale

Giorgia Aiello

Abstract


Since the 1970s, feminist and LGBT scholarship has extensively focused on the impact that advertising, television and film have on the standardization and objectification of the female and lesbian body. However, little attention has been given to the images produced in global(izing) communication industries such as branding and stock photography. Brands and stock photographs alike may seem to be more invisible, although and perhaps because they are in fact much more pervasive than “traditional” media images. These images originate from major centers of post-industrial capitalist power and are used and consumed by multiple actors, ranging from communication professionals to ordinary consumers. In this article, I offer an in-depth critical reading of some key communication resources of two global corporations: the global coffeehouse chain Starbucks and the world-leading provider of stock photography Getty Images. First, I examine some of the key branding strategies used by Starbucks, with a specific focus on the deployment of the female body in the mermaid logo. Second, I examine Getty photographs aimed at representing lesbian subjectivities for a variety of uses. The differences that set us apart, or the eccentricities of our bodies, are increasingly exploited in globalizing contexts that require differentiation and distinction, though within the rigid structures that underlie the economic, political and cultural marketplaces of contemporaneity. For this reason, in my analysis I also and foremost focus on the visual treatment of key “abject” or “queer” features that characterize images produced both by Starbucks and Getty. In this way, I ultimately highlight some of the dynamics that underlie the coding of differences, rather than the homogenization of discursive practices in contemporary communication. 

Keywords: lesbian, female body, queer, abjection, stylization, Starbucks, Getty, branding, stock photography, visual communication, globalization


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15167/2279-5057/ag.2013.2.3.57

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