Roland Barthes Mythologies: A Critical Theory of Myths.

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Roland barthes essays mythologies

Barthes criticism of mythology is based on capitalistic consumption. As a consumerist society we are trained to desire that which is owned only by the cultural elite. When we acquire this object of desire it no longer has the power it once had because it is consumable and accessible. It has become ubiquitous and ceases to have the same meaning it once had. Through ubiquity objects become myth: Hollywood represents America, wine signifies France, and Islam the Middle East. A cultural myth exists in only excess; it is something that goes beyond itself in making meaning. The very object is transformed into something grander and more profitable. For example, if I were to say “it’s as American as apple pie”, the apple pie as an idea has become excessive; it has grown beyond itself into something bigger than it actually is; in this myth apple pie has become synonymous with everything that makes America great. It does not matter that the British make better apple pies than Americans. Observable fact does not trump the excess. Myth is the means through which meaning is projected, unfolded, and consumed. Myth is the power that controls society.

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Roland Barthes, “The World of Wrestling.” Mythologies (New York: Hill and Wang, 1972), 15.

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