Rhetoric Visual Analysis: Amy Winehouse Essay

The year was 1967. It was the year that the world was introduced to a magazine known as the Rolling Stone.

The Rolling Stone was given birth by Jann Wenner, a 21-year-old music lover from San Francisco, California. The magazine was named after a band, a song and the idea that change and movement could keep people young. The magazine was created on a borrowed $7,500 to address the interests of a younger generation that viewed rock and roll as more than just music, but as a lifestyle.The Rolling Stone is successful in understanding and exploiting the views of the most devout followers of rock and roll and has grown to become a Fifth Avenue enterprise worth over $250 million dollars. On June 14th 2007, British singer/song writer the late Amy Winehouse was featured on the cover of the Rolling Stone. Most commonly known for her out of control behavior, the magazine is trying to contradict her reputation by making her look timid shy and quiet.

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From the way her head is down and tilted and from her arms being down by her sides this pose represents one of a little girl that feels guilty for doing something wrong. Amy’s puppy dog eyes look straight into the camera as if to say I have changed and am now a different person. On the cover, Amy is basically taking over with a surprisingly timid look and a huge beehive hairstyle.

The magazine name is barely seen behind her figure yet everyone can still tell it’s the Rolling Stone from the design they have developed and used in each issue.We can tell just by the “Rolli ne” on each side of Amy’s head that it is in fact the Rolling Stone by the structure that has become a trademark of the magazine. With only “Rolli ne” being visible, the magazine is implying that they are so well known that they don’t need to show their title on their magazine for it to be identified, bought, and read. The headlines are kept to the left, below the masthead. The first reads “Summer Tours” in a larger red font. Underneath, four band names are listed in a smaller black font, respectively: The Police, The White Stripes, Velvet Revolver, and Dave Matthews.

Similarities between the bands are represented by the names being positioned in an organized fashion with the same color font and size. The four bands are similar in that they are all rock bands influenced by different genres of music. “The Diva and Her Demons” is in the same red font as the first headline “Summer Tours” but is a tad smaller, yet still larger than the band names its beneath. The two headlines “Summer Tours” and “The Diva and Her Demons” in red are presented with greater importance with the use of a bold color and large font.

Summer Tours” appears to be a little larger, filling in the space under the title. The headlines and the artists also appear to be color coordinated with Amy’s tattoos on her left arm, which is a similarity that catches the eye. The image of Amy takes over the middle of the cover shifting towards the right side. Amy’s name is placed across the bottom left merging into the middle, on top of the image of herself.

As she is the main story of this issue Amy’s name is placed over her body, instead of behind, to be seen easily and clearly.The position of her name in the bottom corner in such a dull color suggests that Amy’s picture is enough for people to know who and what the issue is about with out her name being flaunted in a bold text across the center. The light blue color used for her name is the same of the title of the magazine and also her bra strap. The similarity in color between the title and her name suggest that Amy is a big part of the Rolling Stone by being an even bigger part of the music and lifestyle they represent.The similarity between her bra strap and the magazine is implying that the Rolling Stone represents and approves of sex symbols.

The similarity between her bra and herself is that she is well known for being a sex icon because of the numerous sex tapes she is in. Amy’s body language is extremely telling as how the Rolling Stone is trying to present her. Her stance being the main element of the image seeing as the plain white background had no involvement with anything other than her picture. The background of the cover is used to focus the attention on Amy.It implies that Amy doesn’t need any glam or glitz to be on the cover. Amy’s clothes are a binary to her body language. The plain black vest she is wearing reveals flesh, cleavage and her blue bra strap which contradicts her shy image given off by her stance and look on her eyes. The contrast between her stance and clothing imply that she’s still a wild child.

Her wanting to be forgiven look on the cover is conflicted by her death on July 23rd 2011. Amy was found dead with empty vodka bottles in her room and over five times the legal limit of drinking in England.Even though the Rolling Stone is trying to convey her as innocent in the picture, we now know that she has not changed her outlandish ways by drinking herself to death.

Amy’s tattoos are a larger part of her identity and the identity of the rock and roll lifestyle that she and the Rolling Stone represent. Considering that Amy’s tattoos are one of the few main focus points of the image, the importance of these tattoos for Amy and to the magazine are strongly defined. Amy getting her first tattoo at the age of fourteen with her parents realization that “I would do whatever I wanted, that was it, really. (Diva and Her Demons, Rolling Stone) and her progression to a collection of 14 in 2007 alone show the importance of tattoos to Amy and the rebellious attitude of the singer. Tattoos are a large part of the rock and roll culture, which the Rolling Stone represents implies the reason why Amy’s tattoos on her arm that’s visible on the cover are the same color as the headlines. Amy’s Beehive hairstyle and ample amount of eyeliner on the cover is the same as always. This implies that it’s the real Amy Winehouse and readers are getting her own opinions and thoughts inside of the magazine.Amy flaunting her everyday look on the cover also can imply that her musical talents and accomplishments are enough for her to represent the rock and roll lifestyle with out an extravagant costume or make up other rock stars may need to portray their image.

In The Politics of Staring: Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography written by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson the visual rhetoric of the exotic can be compared to the cover of the Rolling Stone. “The visual rhetoric of the exotic presents disabled figures as alien, distant, often sensationalized, eroticized, or entertaining. Amy’s facial expression and stance that contradicts her rebellious behavior makes her seem large, strange and unlike the viewer. People being used to Amy’s wild ways and her reputation for out of control drug use could be thrown off by her innocent look making her seem almost like an alien to the person she actually is.

By portraying Amy on the cover as a binary of her actual behavior the viewer may also see the photo as strange and unlike themselves, being that the lifestyle the Rolling Stone magazine represents and caters too, is also known for drug abuse.Although the Rolling Stone contradicts Amy’s wild behavior by portraying her as timid shy and quiet, with a guilty and wanting to be forgiven look, her death proves that she is and always be a wild child no matter how the magazine wants to present her to their readers. Even though Amy is being displayed as innocent we know she is far from it with her drug and alcohol habits.

Amy’s childish look and puppy dog eyes saying I have and am now a different person show that her look on the cover all a long was a cry for help.


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