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Roland Barthes is famous as a semiotician, so there are a few ways one could give a Barthian twist to a TV commercial about a fashionable young woman using a washing machine and washing powder. Since semiotics deals with symbol systems, one would have to look at what the commercial symbolizes, or, in Barthian terms, what does it signify. Just as the map is not the territory, but a signifier for that territory within the limitations of the medium, the commercial itself is a signifier for consumerism, but the specific details of the commercial can be separate signifiers. The fashionable woman, the washing machine, and the soap are all separate signifiers, each with its own significance within the larger framework of the commercial. So... it could signify our obsession with the newest and latest products; consumer culture in general; society's attitude toward women's role as the one who cleans up; our relationship with technology; or any of a number of other interpretations, each of which would be valid within the context of the Barthian universe.
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