“Find an article or advertisement that represents one of Portland’s subcultures and provide a two-paragraph analysis. How does the group mark itself? What are its practices? What is its guiding logic or philosophy? How does it define itself in relation to other groups?”
The Portland Hash House Harriers (PH4) are a hash group that started in 2001. PH4 is a chapter of the larger, international Hash House Harriers (a.k.a. HHH, H3, or simply “Hashing”) which is a group of non-competitive running, social, and (most of all) drinking clubs. Each week the club organizes a series of “hash runs”, and the runners who take part call themselves “hashers”. According to the “Hash History” document from the PH4 website (http://portlandhumphash.org/), “Hashing originated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938, when a group of British colonial officers and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in a fashion patterned after the traditional British Paper Chase or ‘Hare and Hounds’, to rid themselves of the excesses of the previous weekend.”
The group meets every Wednesday at 6:30PM – they mingle for a half an hour or so, and then the hares leave at 7:00. The one or two individuals who have been chosen as the hares for that night set out to lay a trail, and ten minutes later the rest of the group (the “pack” or the “hounds”) follow. The trail periodically dead-ends at a “check” where the hounds must finish all the alcohol stashed at the check before continuing on. Often times there are false trails or short cuts marked in chalk along the way, and people in the front of the pack communicate to those in the back by calling “On On” whenever they feel like they are progressing in the right direction. Each hash trail ends at an “On-After”, which is an opportunity for the group to socialize and drink lots of beer. Usually, they gather and recount funny moments from the night’s run, and they initiate new members by giving them a name.
All of the members of the group are addressed by their hash names, aliases that have been given to them by the group. Hash names for the PH4 group include: Rack ‘Em and Crack ‘Em, CrabShaft, Gayzelle, Backdoor Draft, Sheepshagger, and Barely Manbelow, just to name a few. Members like it because it gives them an opportunity to hang out and get sloppy drunk with people that they ordinarily would not interact with otherwise. From the moment you show up to a hash, your alias or alternate character takes over - they take the hash names, hash terms, and rules of play very seriously, and members rarely, if ever, break character. Most of the names are sexual in nature and there are “flash checks” during the run, which leads me to believe that the hash run also provides members an opportunity to express and act on desires that are not otherwise considered “politically-correct.” They often define themselves as a loving, non-discriminatory group of “drinkers with a running problem”. As long as you love to hash, the hash will love you back.
THE SEMIOTICS OF NIKE’S ‘OBJECTIFY ME’ AD:I chose this ad because it was one of the reasons why I changed career paths and decided to work for Nike. The gritty nature and bold tag line on this ad are what I was initially attracted to the first time I saw this. If you are a female athlete, especially one who has any ounce of feminism within, then the giant “Objectify Me” should make you a bit mad at first. From the 10,000 foot view you see a girl with her shirt off (a sight that would normally be associated with women being objectified), and just this one line. The fact that this statement stops you in your tracks draws you in to ready the smaller copy below the tag line. This is where it all makes sense, where you find out how obsessively Nike has been studying women to make better products especially for her. Everything about the underlying copy seems either inspired by quotes and feedback straight from her mouth, or grounded in data and research findings from her. Upon first reading this ad in its entirety, I remember thinking, “They took the words right out of my mouth!”After reading the small-face copy, you inevitably revisit the image and large tagline above it. You now realize that “Objectify Me” is a challenge, as if to say, “Go Ahead, TRY ME”. This effect is echoed by the athlete’s stance in the image. The interesting thing about this ad and the reason why I particularly enjoyed it is that it does not call attention to any products in particular. It simply presents Nike as “the brand that understands women” and will later benefit from this alignment in the broader marketplace. The notion of Lauren Fleishman ‘challenging’ you to understand her might be even further amplified if this ad was used globally, in markets where there is a more conservative attitude towards women. I also think that the choice to use black and white for the image both isolates the emotion and also nods back to “black and white tv times” when it was more common to objectify or depersonalize women.