Science of Mixed Messages

Wells_Jean-Mixed_Messages.normalReceived a thoughtful comment from a reader about the mixed messages we receive in light of Nike’s campaign to promote Oscar Pistorius as a weapon, warrior and “bullet in the chamber.”

The campaign hit a concrete wall when Pistorius’ girlfriend was found dead after he allegedly discharged a weapon 4 times in the bathroom where she had retreated.

The bullet metaphor used in the campaign took on real meaning when life imitated art.

Mixed messages are nothing new in the North American media landscape where women are instructed to be simultaneously tough and sweet, and where men must be brave and compassionate.

Researchers have come up empty-handed when drawing clear linkages between media messages and our thoughts and behaviors.

But we can at least examine and deconstruct the messages even if we can’t pinpoint true-life effects of viewing of anorectic models and butch Lumberjacks on our collective psyche.

Even though we lack evidence to support media effects on audiences—the empirical evidence is slim–we can protest images that disparage us all—whether we are women, athletes, homosexuals or American Indians.

Image from Jean Wells called, Mixed Messages, from


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, authenticity, film, framing, Indian, journalism, Native Science, science, science communication and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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