I can't resist blogging about the Budweiser Clydesdale Super Bowl advertisement. It was, by far, my favorite of the evening! I suspect I'm not the only one who was touched by the story of "our newest foal," so I looked for a way to explain why it had such mass appeal. I turned to sociocultural literacy theory as a framework for unpacking the layers of meaning. I was delighted in what I discovered.
So far, in our ADLT 650 foray into sociocultural literacy theory, we have examined the power and dominance of one literacy over another. The dominant literacy subsumes the voice of others. As students, we have learned to look for and interpret these instances of power and resistance between the literacy practices of different cultural groups. Super Bowl XLVII was chock full of dominant American literacy. I admit, I watched it because I wanted to be part of the "in" crowd who would be talking, blogging, and facebooking about it today. I wanted to belong to the dominant culture, even if it meant altering my behavior, and quieting my voice, in order to fit in.
The Budweiser Clydesdale horses are a classic example of an American literacy artifact. I probably don't need to write about the numerous meanings, slang phrases, and metaphors Americans have about horses. However, Schein (xxxx) cautions that deciphering the true meaning of artifacts requires an understanding of the deeper, basic assumptions of the culture. Schein says artifacts are superficial, they are the top layer of literacy meaning and practice. If we dig one layer deeper, we find cultural beliefs and values (things we believe and love about horses, the connection to being a parent). We can dig even deeper and discover that our basic cultural assumption is to be humane and value all life.
But wait, it's not just Americans who love and value horses and have parental heartstrings. Furthermore, it's not only Americans who are humane and value all life. The beautiful, American Clydesdales are an artifact with shared basic assumptions of many cultures. The superficial meanings may vary, the values and beliefs may vary, but the basic underlying cultural assumption is the same. The Budweiser advertisement is an artifact representing universal basic assumptions, it reaches out to other Cultures with it's universal appeal. It doesn't require English to be understood.
OK, that's not rocket science; I'm sure all humans value cute, fuzzy animals and sad songs. Here's my delightful discovery using a sociocultural literacy perspective: there are powerful, positive interactions between dominant-Social and submissive-Cultural literacy practices through certain artifacts that share deeper, basic assumptions. While we students (I) have been looking for ways dominant literacy overpowers another literacy (the negative), we (I) have not taken the time to look for ways they come together (the positive). I will go one step further and suggest positive interactions require more awareness of each other's (Social v. Cultural) literacy practices because they are based on deeper assumptions. Schein (xxxx) discusses the ways basic assumptions can lead people to see good or the bad in others. I am so happy to find good; I need to find positive ways literacy practices interact. There is power and resistance, there is also sharing and uniting. The advertisement reminded me to look for both.
So, if you have a moment, indulge one more time and watch the video. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Susan