Analysis of “Sam’s guide to driving boys wild”

The article is a two-page spread from a teenage girls magazine. At first glance the readers eye is drawn to the biggest picture, round to a smaller picture and up to the headline. I think that this is done intentionally so that at first glance the reader can identify whom the article is about from the photograph (because she is a celebrity tailored to the same general audience as the magazine the target audience should recognise her). The headline then draws the reader in, in 2 ways. One is by shortening Samantha Mumba’s name to ‘Sam’.

It connotes a feeling of familiarity and friendship and gives the reader the impression that this article is connected closely with her and that if they read this article that they will have that with Samantha, someone they look up to. The second way it draws the reader in is by telling us the content of the article (it’s purpose) in such a way that the reader feels that the article contains a secret about how to drive “boys wild” and if they don’t read it they will never know.

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The small photograph next to the headline mirrors the word “wild” because a speech-bubble is next to her mouth and reads “Grrr! This connotes the feeling that Sam is a “wild” animal. This photo also helps to anchor the headline by again showing Sam and establishing the link between her and “driving boys wild” reinforcing the idea that she knows how to and this article will give you ‘the secret’. The sub-heading establishes more firmly in the reader’s minds that Sam knows a great deal about boys and flirting. This is accepted with ease because the reader can see from the photos that she is a beautiful, glamorous and successful (she is in an extremely expensive sports car) teenage girl who could easily drive “boys wild”.

The second sentence of the sub-heading gets the reader to continue looking at the article because of the way the sentence ends. “to turning boys’ heads… ” The dots at the end suggest that this article carries on and the sentence is unfinished. For me this forces me to continue looking at the article because I haven’t found a good place to stop. If a full stop had been placed there instead I would have paused in reading and been able to decide if I really did want to read the article.

As it is I continue to read on because I feel it is wrong to stop reading mid-sentence and ever since people are young, if they have to stop reading, they are told to finish their sentence. After reading the headline and sub-heading my eye is drawn around the text boxes that are split into seven groups. Each of them (except no. 3 which is partly obscured by a photograph) has a coloured rectangular frame around them. There are two ways the readers eye is drawn around the text boxes. One is through the composition of the article and the other is through the use of colour.

The photographs are, like the text boxes surrounded by a rectangle however the corners are rounded. This is important because it draws the readers’ eye around the text in an aesthetically pleasing way that seems very natural. This feeling is aided by the speeding blue car which is a repeated image forming an arc that draws the readers eye across the page in a very easy manner. I think it is interesting to note the part colour plays in this article. The seven text boxes are split into three columns. The first column contains 3 boxes. The second and third each have two.

The top of each column is red that draws the readers’ eye, the second is white and on the first column the third is light blue. I think the light blue is particularly effective because it does draw the reader’s eye and make them look at the box whilst not being too domineering and detracting from the red. When the reader finishes looking at the text boxes their eye is immediately drawn upwards to a blue column on the far right of the right hand page. This is achieved because of two images. One is a photo of Sam where the background has been cropped.

This works because her body creates a slight curve leading the eye in an easy and natural way upwards. The last car of the ‘speeding car’ arc is placed a cm above Sam’s head. This stops the eye from being drawn to the bottom of the page and instead the eye ends up at the top of a new column. I think that the article has been split up into columns to make the text seem shorter and easier to read so that it would appeal more to the target audience. The large area of the page covered by photographs also helps to make the text seem shorter and break it up.

The colour scheme is quite interesting also; it is red, white and blue – the colour of the UK’s flag. Much of what teenagers read today is Americanised or written by an American. I think that the colour scheme could draw the reader in because it is the UK’s flag colour which seems to say ‘this does relate to you and is realistic for you’, if only subconsciously. There are 6 photographs on the two pages, two of them I have already mentioned. A small circular one next to the heading and the cropped photograph of Sam used for compositional reasons.

The other four photographs are bigger and help to identify who the story is about and build up an image of her. The four main pictures all denote a woman who the article identifies to be Samantha Mumba sat in or in front of a car. The car is a very expensive looking sports car and is the same in all the pictures. The background (which is normally out of focus) looks like a Hollywood Boulevard with palm trees identifiable in the background of the middle picture. The car and surroundings build up a glamorous atmosphere that reflects onto Sam. The biggest of the pictures is a medium shot (showing her head and shoulders) of Sam.

The shot is taken from behind her as she is sat in the back seat of the car and she has her head turned towards the camera although we cannot see all of her face. Being sat in the back seat helps the photograph in several ways. First it makes the car look much more spacious and second it means Sam can lean back and look ‘cool’. The photograph is in colour and connotes a very glamorous atmosphere. The background of the photograph is slightly out of focus and I think that this is intentional because it is not as important as the subject of the photo, Sam and the car.

The photograph is taken at her eye level, I think because the photographer wants the reader to have a sense of equality with Sam. The relationship between Sam and the photographer seems very personal in this photograph and I think the reader is supposed to feel this. The way that Sam is sat leads the eye around the photo and then, almost points towards another picture which is what leads your eye to the headline. The picture is framed with a coloured line however unlike the other three similar photographs the image is covered in places by text boxes.

At the bottom the edge is slightly curved unlike the other photos, which aids in drawing the eye around the page. At the bottom the photo is overlapped slightly by a text box and the small ‘speeding car’ image. The right of the picture goes off the edge of the page and is overlapped by the text column. The box doesn’t reach all the way to the top, which helps in the continuity of the photograph and makes it more rounded and easier to look at. This also differs slightly from the other photos because it doesn’t have a caption. The second biggest photograph is to the immediate left of the first and is in colour.

It is framed in the conventional way for this article (rounded rectangular line) and depicts Sam sat in front of a car. The entire photograph is in focus except for a tiny part in the left corner this is because the rest of the photograph is it’s subject, Sam and the car. The shot is cropped at a slight angle making the photograph look professional and glamorous which is the image Sam is trying to project throughout the entire article. The caption in this photo anchors the image and tries to make sense of what she is doing there completing the photos narrative in the mind of the reader.

Sam is sat there because her tips haven’t worked. This is a joke and connotes that the idea Sam’s tips don’t work is laughable. The third biggest is on the left of the right hand page at the bottom. Sam is sitting in her car, this time in the driving seat (it is a left hand drive car). The entire photograph is in focus and it is in colour. It has been framed in the conventional way for this article. Sam is looking into the camera in a ‘sexy’ way and this feeling is anchored by the caption where she is described as “foxy”.

As with the biggest picture there is a very personal feeling between Sam and the photographer/reader. Sideways, down the edge of the photo, is some small white text that isn’t very noticeable. It is the name of the author and the photographer and they are so small because it isn’t something the target audience would actually be interested in. The final and smallest photograph is in colour and framed in the conventional way except for the left edge, which goes off the page connoting that the photograph carries on. It depicts Sam in a car putting on lipstick.

In this photo the background is out of focus so that the subject is the main focus and the background doesn’t detract from it. Sam is looking slightly off camera and into the mirror so that she can see to put on her lipstick. The caption tells what Sam is thinking and it is about what ‘he’ will think of her lipstick. The text itself is written in modern slang and simple language. Words are spelt in the ‘cool’ way e. g. ‘want to’ is spelt as “wanna” and ‘them’ is changed to “’em”. The style of writing is made to appeal directly to the target audience and is on the same level as them.

The image the text builds up of Samantha is that she is “foxy”, “wild” and “saucy”. The text suggests that if you follow her steps you can be that too. Alliteration is used very simply as two word sub-titles. “Fit fellas” and “Clubbing cuties”. This is used because it sounds good and quickly provides the reader with an idea of what the following text is about. There are two main themes in this article. The first is driving. There are many different aspects in the article that contribute to this overall theme.

There is the ‘speeding car’ logo, the photographs with the car and the word “driving” in italics in the headline. I think that the driving theme is used to identify Sam’s age as older than that of the average reader and makes her into a sort of icon that the reader should look up to and aspire to be. The second theme is the more important one and is what is supposed to attract the reader to the article. The theme is how to attract and flirt with boys. This article makes certain assumptions about it’s audience and has it’s own values.

The article seems to value flirting as a means of attracting boys. It sends out the message to the reader that you should go out and flirt if you want to attract them and if you don’t then you’re not normal. It also seems to value materialistic things such as the expensive car and fashionable clothes Sam is wearing. It also assumes that they want to read flirting tips and aspire to be like Samantha Mumba. The article seems to connote that if you read the article you can be like Samantha Mumba, sexy, famous and glamorous. The audience is teenage girls aged 11 to 15.

There are many ways to tell this such as the simple fashionable language used, the values of the article and the topic – boys. The magazine prays on their need to fit in and so assumes certain things about them and if it isn’t true it is the reader in the wrong and who isn’t normal. The layout, colour scheme, photographs and language are all made to appeal directly to this target audience and the main themes are what the writers believe the ‘ordinary’ stereotypical reader wants read and these are all made to represent that stereotypical image.

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