I wanted to share a little story of something that happened recently with you as an example of why I get all itchy whenever we talk about semiotics. It’s not that I don’t like semiotics outright, it’s just that I cannot escape the thought that signs only have significance in their relationships and meanings to people. While I acknowledge that when we examine a sign with respect to its relationship to relevant discourses we are putting it within a context, I feel like semiotics doesn’t acknowledge the extreme amount of interpretation required for viewing that sign in a particular manner. So here is an example that I think illuminates my point. The other day Lynn and I were driving to campus with another friend and the subject of the video “Leeroy Jenkins” came up. For any of you not familiar, here is the video.

Our friend said that she doesn’t like this video because of the racial overtones it has. Lynn and I were really surprised – we’d never recognized any racial themes to the video at all. Our friend was shocked that we hadn’t. For her, the name Leeroy automatically meant that the “character” Leeroy was black and the fact that he references chicken at the end (something I totally didnt catch until after I watched it again after this conversation) bring up all sorts of racial cues.

Lynn and I both discussed at length how to us, the name Leeroy connoted a lower class, hick type that usually, in our minds, white. A few days later our friend shared with us the urban dictionary entry for “Leroy”. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=leroy  If you scroll to definition #3, clearly more people than just our friend connote the name with the racial stereotype.

The point is that clearly before this conversation took place, Lynn, myself and my friend all would have come up with very different semiotic readings of this same video. The differences in lifeworlds meant that we didn’t view the signs the same way at all. I understand that because a semiotic reading is just that – a reading – it is not really right or wrong, but this still just does not sit well with me. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of not acknowledging lifeworlds in semiotic analysis.

Just thought I would share – happy paper writing!
Also, it’s taken me literally over half an hour to submit this post. And I can’t figure out how to get the link to be a link, sorry bout that. Not happy with wordpress right now – geeze louise.

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