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Paper 1 overview:textual analysisConstructing the identity of the“Hip Urban Professional” ValeryeAntantis, CMC100 Magazine: The New Yorker
Thesis Through an analysis of the appearance, as well as the situation and setting of the man and woman as implied by this Banana Republic ad, the constructed identity of the “hip urban professional” can be seen as a juxtaposition of obfuscated wealth and support of the progressive “green” movement.
Appearance • Obfuscation of Wealth: Dressed chic, fashionably, but not as conspicuously expensive or “flashy” as D&G, Armani, or other designer brands. Clothes look less expensive than they probably are. No indicators of wealth here, despite the fact that they are enjoying a “life at work”. • Green/Eco-conscious: Man biking in a suit on his “commute”, acting out of character for a professional (who would most likely own a car). This man appears to be “rebelling” against expectations, acting in a more “responsible” way (reducing his carbon footprint!) • “Hipness”: Signifiers of wealth aren’t “edgy”, the gritty type of “cool” that is generally associated with young people living in an urban setting. These people are well put together, but dressed in an eclectic, casual way, further characterizing them as “progressive” and “aware”
Situation/Setting • Obfuscation of Wealth: Urban living is generally expensive, requires employment. The copy implies this fact, but there are no indicators of work or wealth (no briefcase, relatively casual). These people are enjoying what appears to be leisure time activities, despite what the copy says, engaging in free activities like riding bikes and climbing trees. • Green/Eco-conscious: Engaging in free and eco-friendly activities, incorporating these into their daily lives at work. • “Hipness”: Enjoying their “commute” and “li[ves] at work” in a carefree way, enjoying the environment
Identity • Obfuscation of Wealth: Young professionals with decent jobs living in a big city, climbing trees and biking- doing things that are free (not activities generally associated with professionals), “rebelling” against what they’re expected to act like. • Green/Eco-conscious: Enjoying the environment and acting in an environmentally conscious way makes them appear more cultured and aware, progressive • “Hipness”: Man and woman have an “edge” from acting out of character- dressing in a way that is generally unexpected of young professionals (casual, less expensive). They have decent jobs, but can still act leisurely and take time to be environmentally responsible, engaging in progressive activities (ie riding a bike to work instead of driving)
Conclusion The adoption of a “green”, eco-friendly lifestyle allows young urban professionals to hide their wealth, giving them an “edge” and thus, a sense of “hipness”. This allows for the construction of a desirable identity (successful, but still “hip”) that is in turn very marketable for Banana Republic, but the actual legitimacy of the progressive, environmentally conscious movement is removed.