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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Volume 2014, Issue 202


Visual semiotics and the national flag: A Kenyan perspective of Anglo-America's globe-cultural domination through mainstream music videos

Fredrick Ogenga
Published Online: 2014-10-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2014-0060


This paper argues that America and Britain have succeeded in globe-cultural domination through visual semiotics and commoditization inherent in their music videos. The paper argues that Anglo-American music, often in different genres, has virtually penetrated different parts of the globe where it has been appropriated to suit the local context. However, the visual semiotics represented through their music videos reveal how they have succeeded as the de-facto authoritative authors of dominant discourses replicated elsewhere. The most visible aspect of this power play is represented in the symbolic and occasional explicit display of the American and the British flag in many of their music videos and the flashing of the “green back” – US dollar. The lyrical content celebrates the “successes” of global materialism and cultural neo-liberalism as championed by the two nations. The paper uses critical political-economy theories of the media in the context of cultural studies. It further uses semiotics as a methodology to critically deconstruct the meanings behind Maroon 5's “Like Jagger” music video from a Kenyan perspective.

Keywords: Anglo-America; Maroon 5; critical political-economy; cultural studies; cultural homogeneity; Kenya

About the article

Fredrick Ogenga

Fredrick Ogenga (b. 1978) is a lecturer at Rongo University College 〈braco_od@yahoo.com〉. His research interests include critical political-economy of the media, postmodernism, media and nationalism, and international communication. His publications include “Mugabe must go: The South African press representation of the Zimbabwean crisis” (2011); “Is peace journalism possible in the war against terror? The Daily Nation and the standard representation of Operation Linda Nchi in Somalia” (2012); “Fast-track progam, electoral land-grab or local South African Press expressing fears of a Zimbabwe in South Africa? The representation of Zimbabwe's economic crisis, 2000–2008” (2012); and “The Daily Nation coverage of the Hague trials and the construction of peace discourses in Kenya” (2013).

Published Online: 2014-10-01

Published in Print: 2014-10-01

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2014, Issue 202, Pages 533–553, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2014-0060.

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