“America First,” Slogans, and Subtext

You may have noticed that the president is using the slogan “America First” just as much as “Make America Great Again.” You probably haven’t thought twice about this. I mean, what American doesn’t want to put America first? We have to take care of our own before others, right?

If words were just words, that’d be fine. but we all know (especially if you’re a writer or reader) that there’s more to words than face value. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it (like sarcasm), and what images, symbols, or memories it evokes. There is text, context, and subtext.

Marketers agonize over the right slogans and symbols. You only have to watch a few commercials to see this in action. Remember Puppymonkeybaby? Why did they choose that chimeric combination? Why did they have it dancing around? What were they trying to say about their drink?

Or with campaign slogans, what does “Make America Great Again” make you feel? What about Obama’s “Yes We Can”? Or Reagan’s “Morning in America?” They’re all saying similar things, but they have different subtext. It’s the subtext that appeals to and empowers different people, and that’s why I’m bringing up “America First.

america first kkk

Continue reading

Advertisements