Audience Matters

While walking along Panorama Drive, in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood today, a bumper sticker caused me to chuckle. The message seemed so appropriately placed on a vehicle parked in what locals might call a well-to-do, liberal enclave. Above the one proclamation another exclaimed: “Keep the Mexicans. Deport Trump”. So surely the driver’s meaning is unequivocally plain: Fewer weapons saves lives. In other words, disarm Americans.

I laughed when passing, because interpretation could be far removed from intention, or purpose. There are anarchists, terrorists, and other people—such as those wanting to rid the country of haughty liberals—who might see something quite good and affirming about “More Guns, More Death”, reading the same sentiment with a divergent meaning that is justified by a different, or even opposing, ethical worldview. For one audience, the slogan is an admonition. For another, it’s an invitation—a call to arms, so to speak.

As a writer and journalist, I am intrigued: The bumper sticker is a fascinating case-study, illustrating how personal beliefs and biases shape our perception; how audience matters, and the ways words effectively—or not—communicate to the intended like-minded group rather than be embraced with contrasting meaning by another like-minded group. Do you get the point, or must I further repeat?

I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to shoot the Featured Image, which is the first edited using Capture One Fujifilm 12. I cropped the original RAW file—composition chosen to remove license plate—and applied Pro Negative standard film emulation. Typically, this would be done in-camera, but Fujifilm and PhaseOne make the filters available in post-production, using Capture One. The perpetually-licensed software replaces Photoshop Lightroom Classic, which subscription lapsed last week. I long ago tired of paying $9.99 monthly, with annual commitment, to use Adobe’s editing suite.

Photo vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/170 sec, 63mm; 10:50 a.m. PDT.