These terms were often thrown around between 1968 and 1998, during the troubles in Northern Ireland.
For those of you who don’t know, ‘the troubles,’ was the name given to the conflict that occurred between British Unionists, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain apart of the United Kingdom and Irish republicans, who wanted Northern Ireland to be granted independence. Throughout the 30 years that the troubles spanned, 3600 people were killed.
You must be thinking, “Um, excuse me, I thought the assignment for this week was about how we read the media, the marking criteria didn’t ask for a history lesson.”
Although the contextualisation of the Irish troubles may be boring to some, it is vital to understanding how the text below is read.
What is immediately represented in the image: three soldiers, three guns, one blue sky and one Irish flag. This arrangement of images, is what I discovered last week to be the signifier.
The signified image, however is a little more complicated. On Facebook last Thursday, I stumbles upon a video of a dancing baby pig. I showed the video to two different people: one who loves pigs, the other could not care less. As you can probably gather there was a difference between the two reactions about the signified image: positive and indifferent, caused by the different ideas held about the animal by both parties, following?
Just to spell it out, the way an image is viewed is impacted by a persons ideology, or, a set of ideals and beliefs that one possesses.
A British Unionist would have viewed the above image with a large amount of disscontempt. They would see three terrorists posing with guns – representing the violence that Irish Republican groups brought with them. The words used in the mural “our day will come” would be seen as a threat, combined with the guns shown, a startlingly obvious display of what these people would be prepared to do to throw them out of the country they reside in.
Meanwhile, show the same image to an Irish Republican during the troubles, and it would have been viewed a little differently. The three triumphant freedom fighters, are celebrating in honour of achieving their long sought after goal, reuniting Ireland once more, appropriately in front of the flag that many gave their lives for. The bright blue, cloudless background along with the text “Our day will come,” represents the possibilities of a new tomorrow and and Ireland free.
The real question is, what do you see?