A Bathesian Analysis of Commander Worf? Done and done.
A Vaguely Barthesian Analysis of a Sexy Picture of Commander Worf that I Can No Longer Find
Roland Barthes’ contribution to the work of semiotics via the deconstruction of signs into the signifiers and the signified has made way for Communication Studies to analyse advertisements according, not only to the images presented, but to the current societal trends present within the culture they have been created in, or something.
Applying he Barthesian Analysis to the sexy picture of Commander Worf, which I can no longer finds, requires knowledge not only of Worf as a character within the structure of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but also the album cover of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass Whipped Cream and Other Delights. This particular cover features a naked woman, holding a rose, covered in a heap of whipped cream covering all her dainty lady bits. One must assume she was raised in an all-male household, as any woman with a strong female influence knows that nudity plus any food item is a yeast infection waiting to happen. Alas, Herb Albert does not appear to care.
The image itself was then appropriated by an unknown artist (as the time of this paper writing, access to the appropriated image has been revoked. However, as a challenge was ordered and subsequently accepted, I feel the need to continue with this project.) The image took the face of Commander Worf and digitally placed it over the yeast factory and her whipped cream clothing, thusly creating an image of a sultry looking Worf, covered in whipped cream and gazing seductively at the viewer.
In this way, the knowledge of the appropriation of the image alters the consumers concept of both the signifier and the signified. The consumer acknowledges the signifier as the altered image of Worf, looking all hot and bothered by with his big ol’ head creases. The signified, however, must be then examined by utilizing a series of other theories, including but not limited to Feminism and just why covering a woman in whipped cream and making her pose is both a very itchy mistake, and also a monumental waste of perfectly decent whipped cream that would be better served on top of some sort of fancy coffee drink such as a B52 or a Spanish Coffee.
Examining the signified image, consumers might be able to relate the change in image as a commentary on the heteronormative nature of our society. By ‘feminizing’ Commander Worf, the artist suggests that the gender of the Klingon people is not inherently determined through Earth’s cultural lens, but open for interpretation. Further more, the lack of Worf expressing femininity through Star Trek:TNG and Star Trek:DS9 suggests that despite being in touch with his clearly whipped cream loving side, the Klingon Commander cannot outwardly express his true desires as he is under pressure from Klingon High Command. By illustrating both his sexuality and gender through this image, Worf becomes a character free of the confining natures of both his culture, and our own.
Given that both Star Trek’s take place in advanced civilizations (although arguably culturally stagnant), it is shocking to discover that the cultural attitude of gender remains hinged on previously heteronormative ideas. In that way, the artist of this piece might be suggesting that while much within our society changes, people still remain really freaking stupid when it comes to being all judgey-judgey about gender and sexuality. If Commander Worf is battling this particular inner demon, how many other Klingon’s are as well? When, we might ask, will humanity as a whole learn that it doesn’t matter who you bone as long as you get consent and respect your partners wishes? Perhaps the artist, in all his or her knowledge of culture, is suggesting that without properly addressing this apparent ‘valued’ aspects of our culture, we may never reach Star Trek-like achievements.
Ultimately, one must ask what Commander Worf is truly thinking as silky whipped cream drips lazily upon his brow. Does he feel free? Is he no longer under the constraints of a tyrannical culture that frowns upon his food-related fetishes? How did he achieve such a sense of freedom, and how might we all join him in the same carefree culture that he has found himself within? Also, who is going to clean up all that whipped cream?