A metaphor is the use of something to represent something else. Metaphors are powerful in language and in visual representation, and therefore quite popular. In Arabic poetry, the use of metaphor is very high "so and so was a lion" and that sort of thing.
Sometimes metaphors are not only used because they are powerful but because there is a social convention against discussing something or other on its own terms. In this case, you have to be pretty creative to make sure that the association is clear enough. I saw a whopper of a visual metaphor yesterday that illustrates this quite brilliantly and ties in with my earlier posts with a sort of theme. (No, just wait for this.)
I was watching 10 minutes or so of a Bond movie on the Saudi movie channel, MBC 2 (it shows American movies pretty much non-stop). It has been doing a Bond kick lately on Saturday nights (we caught Dr. No a few weeks ago which was really funny to watch). I thought I had identified this one as "From Russia with Love" so I watched through the commercials to see from the little announcement of the movie name if I was right.
The commercial showed a fast food cup with a cover on it and a hand trying to insert a straw. The straw was pink and thin, and kept bending. The hand eventually gave up on the attempt and bent the straw a couple of times experimentally before disappearing and re-appearing with a big, thick, blue straw which it jammed into the cup successfully. Then the picture disappeared and a male voice said "Viagra!" while the word and a picture of the pill appeared on the screen.
I sat there for at least a minute trying to figure out whether I was shocked, amused, horrified or what. That is a pretty effective metaphor. More so the first time you see the ad, as (at least in my case - maybe I am just too naive) you really are not psychologically prepared for the punch line.
I plan to provide more neat, salacious Saudi advertising gimmicks illustrating synechdoche or something as they come up. It will make a very amusing series, won't it?