When I first began this course, I was truthfully a bit confused about how there was enough content on revolution to span a full class year. Now at its conclusion, I know there’s enough on the matter to last a lifetime. While the course exposed me to matters far beyond the American and French revolutions, it also led me to wonder about the word revolution itself. In my definition of the term, I noted the vast uses that revolution can be used to name- the aforementioned societal shifts, but also in marketing and branding as a “game-changer” or on a personal level with the revolution of change, just microscopically. My father, whose B.A. is in advertising, opened my eyes at an early age to the importance of words, particularly when you can only use so many of them. The question I have to wonder is why revolution? What does the term convey to someone, and how can it encapsulate so much meaning?
This project, of sorts, comes out of my original portfolio theme from my freshman year. My plan was to talk about consumerism and the prevalence of “revolution” as a marketing and branding term. As you’ll see below, I collected photos of some of the instances where I saw revolution in a product name or an advertisement. Even today, I came across an instance of revolution as I was planting flowers, with flowers being labeled as the “revolution mix”. At this point, I can’t say I’m surprised, but it did (again) bring up thoughts about how revolution presents itself in modern society? The words we use derive meaning from their usage. When a work, like revolution, becomes more prevalent in a new sense, there can begin a gradual change towards that new meaning. It certainly doesn’t occur overnight, but it happens quite commonly throughout history, and with the emergence of technology and our constant interconnectedness, there is potential for an accelerated process. To some, this probably sounds like a conspiracy or a ruse to begin gatekeeping language, but hopefully you’ll see this as a call to look at our language beyond the academy. While in the ivory tower there’s debate as to whether or not the Civil Rights movement was a revolution (a real 2018 HUM debate), there’s new generations whose first exposure to the word is through mascara advertisements instead of history or politics. If we want “revolution” to be a term of great weight and respect, we have to consider the process of resocialization that’s occurring under our noses, on our television and phone screens.