Semiotics and Rock Music:

The “ram skull” or “the horns” symbol made with hands that signifies rock, allegedly created by Ronnie James Dio. Despite the fingers having no real connection to rock music, the hand gesture is a symbol that has come to represent rock music through convention and vague association to musicians. It is a sign that promotes togetherness, loud music.

The sign itself is said to represent the horns or a ram skull and its associations with satanic rituals involving skulls. A lot of the music that the creator of “the horns”, Ronnie James Dio, was producing touched upon these subject matters. So, whilst the two protruding fingers may be seemingly completely symbolic, its roots are in many ways linked to the signified, suggesting it is in fact an index type of semiotic rather than a symbol.

Semiotics and Film Posters:

To instantly place a Hollywood film in space, to set a scene, the most common way of doing this is with a black backdrop with white twinkles in it, perhaps even larger circles. This, of course, represents stars, space and planets. This is an example of a semiotic icon that immediately represents space by resembling it. Without even having to focus on constellations or any particular pattern, white dots on a black background means space.


We can then build on this by using index semiotics such as spacesuits and cold, glowing blue lights. These two link to space without objectively representing it. Much like smoke signifies fire, spacesuits signify space travel and communicate that information without us having to ask what the suit is for etc. In this way the function of the semiotic sign is to set the scene very quickly, so as to address more in depth points about the story without having to incessantly reinforce or re-explain the setting.


Challenging Semiotics:

 All of these semiotic methods serve a purpose, be it an evolutionary association to avoid danger or just for the purpose of visually communicating the setting of a scene very quickly. However these associations, links and signs can be manipulated and used quite vindictively.

The tabloid media are infamous for their slander towards Islam. In many ways it can be seen that newspapers such as the daily mail have abused semiotics and viciously reinforced terrorist imagery with the peaceful religion of Islam.

When a newspaper with some imagined authority and an incredibly wide audience continuously reinforce a negative association of a minority of a culture, many who don’t question their sources find it hard to ignore, and root themselves in what they are being told to fear, hence the rise in Islamaphobia in the UK. Even in spite of a muslim mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a semiotic approach to propaganda from tabloid and other right wing news can be used to spin hatred via signs and association.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s