Seth Stephens Eng. 103s010 M. John Assignment #2 10/20/2011 God Fearing Politics and STDs The media that Americans have at their disposal is constantly trying to persuade the viewer to whatever idea that they feel Americans should adopt. Whenever any U.S. Citizen turns on their television, they are immediately exposed to a constant stream of persuasive rhetoric. Being in the film industry or the advertising industry in our society requires one to understand and be able to actively implement certain rhetoric strategies. The types of rhetorical strategies used are no secret, though, and can be noticed and analyzed freely. By understanding the methods that authors and artists use, one will find it easier to comprehend the message that the author is trying to convey. One of the most highly reviewed and criticized methods of speaking one’s mind in our culture is the usage of a “Political Cartoon.” Learning to analyze that medium of expression provides a thorough understanding of Rhetorical Strategies and their uses. Political cartoons offer expression towards a very specific demographic. They appeal to United States citizens that stay up to date with political topics and current events. That is the general demographic, where as depending on the cartoon it will most likely have an even more specific audience. Realizing the audience takes the person that is viewing the cartoon one step closer to analyzing the image, and the better understanding what they are reviewing. The cartoons themselves come in many different shapes and sizes. If you draw your attention to Figure 1, you will find the political cartoon by polyp.org.uk. The image seems simplistic, but there are many different elements that will interact with the audience’s perception providing specific reactions and thought processes. One of the first things that you will notice is Stephens 2 the silhouette of the crucifixion scene depicting Jesus Christ in the front with the caption contrasting the color of the silhouette to draw attention. The caption reads “Jesus’ Final Words”. This provides the audience with a visual of the setting of the cartoon, considering nearly everyone in our society knows who Jesus is. Jesus is arranged at the front of the image to highlight the fact that he is the main focus of the cartoon. He is making a statement regarding politics, and the Figure 1 – This is a political cartoon depicting Jesus Christ criticizing the author bolds words like “don’t”, “twisting”, and way “right wing” politicians use his “bullshit” to emphasize the importance of the words. teachings. (Geezertalk) There are lines drawn around Jesus’ illustration depicting a sense of emotional turmoil, more than likely to make his statement seem exceedingly dire in nature. The argument in Figure 1 is for politicians to limit the use of religion for political stances. Using the shock factor of one’s messiah to grab and hold on to the audience’s attention is similar to writing using a shocking statistic to grab one’s attention in the introduction of an essay. The jolt of attention by emphasizing one’s idol as the main character is a strategic way of persuading the audience to side with the person or thing that they are so respectful of. One is more likely to follow something they look up to rather than something or someone that they have no ties to. This is why it’s very important to consider the production’s kairos when devising a way to convey one’s message. Figure 1 is very obvious when it comes to determining how it appeals rhetorically. It heavily relies on the use of Pathos and Ethos. God (or Jesus, in this case) is supposed to be the embodiment of all that is moral and ethical. For hundreds of years the teachings of the Bible Stephens 3 have been looked at as a moral compass that many people use to govern their lives. A very large amount of our population is humbled by the very image of Jesus. When someone uses such an idolatrous scene as a theme for their message, it will heavily effect the emotions of those that the scene would affect by itself. The political cartoon in Figure 1 offers a humorous outlook on the current state of politics in the United States of America. It uses Jesus Christ to set its stance against the usage of religious figures as a backbone for political movements. Jesus argues against the usage of his words out of context. Manipulating the perception of one’s comic is crucial to securing the response that the author wants. Using things like bolded words and contrasting the white words on the silhouette are methods of using the audiences mind in favor of the author. Offensive material is one of the strongest ways to appeal to pathos. Analyzing political cartoons is a great example of interpreting biased information. The down side to analyzing political cartoons is the fact that the argument is generally one sided. The point being made is directed specifically at the flaws in a political position or a current event that affects the nation as a whole. Authors of political cartoons know the bounds of their constricted demographic, and use the lack of generality to their advantage. With a more condensed target audience, the material that you use can be fine tuned to appeal to those that you wish to address or impress. There are other types of media that aren’t quite as biased, and have more variety when looking at their demographic. The persuasion can be focused on a variety of different topics as well. Another type of media that can be easily analyzed rhetorically is advertisements. They are found all throughout our television programs, lining our streets, on buildings, on telephone poles, etc.. Stephens 4 Advertisements all are constructed with the intention to persuade the people viewing them, whether it’s to support an organization or to sell some sort of product. Ads strategically place text and images based on the type of media and the way that it’s presented. They also use methods like desaturation of portraits excluding portions that help convey whatever the author is trying to convey. The kairos of the advertisement can vary depending on the style of writing that the author wants to use. Understanding the advertisement will lead you to better decision making. Figure 2 depicts a great example of an ad looking to inform its audience of something that would be considered a threat. They make the main focus of the photograph the male’s face, while using soft shadows and lighting effects to draw attention away from the woman in the background, making her a subsequent detail in the advertisement. The captioning is completely separated from the image itself so that formatting tricks can be used to draw attention towards the main topic that the author wants the audience to be aware of. HIV is in a large font, bolded, and separated from the rest of the text. It’s obvious that the author is singling out HIV as the main focus of the Figure 2 – This advertisement depicts a man faced with a potentially life altering decision based on his text portion of the advertisement. This actions in the near future. The text is used to raise awareness on HIV. (Seeley) makes the horrors of HIV contrast directly with the man’s facial expression in the photograph. The rest of the text is in lower case letters, and the font is exponentially smaller. This does not mean that the text is not important, but the focus should be on the HIV aspect of the issue rather than the fact that they are in North Dakota. Stephens 5 The usage of North Dakota in this setting is intended to be comedic relief in a much more serious matter. The arrangement of the advertisement plays a large role in the interpretation of the photo. The fact that the photograph is black and white leaves the reader to focus on the facial expression of the man rather than the colors in the photograph. The shadow over the woman’s face makes it to where she isn’t noticed over the male. The bold HIV lettering makes the reader focus on that as the main focus of the ad. After you understand what you’re looking at, the “joke” leaves you thinking. Finally, they leave a link so that you may go find more information if you desire. The pathos of the images shows the somewhat ashamed look on the female’s face leaving the audience feeling sympathetic. It’s a choice between fulfilling a primal desire and the potential effects that it will cause in the future. The image really affects people that can relate to the severity of the situation. The male shows signs of fear and confusion. He is presented with a dilemma, and put into a very high risk situation. The logos is located within the text specifically. It provides a specific danger that the audience needs to be aware of. It provides you with a fact that makes should jar a realization of the viewer’s current location. Just because you’re in a certain place, obvious dangers are located everywhere. No one has immunity to the risks involved. Finally, it gives you a link to more facts, and different ways to become informed. Providing what seems to be a credible source makes this ad seem more appealing. The feeling of security leaves the audience more willing to believe whatever is trying to be argued. The ethos focuses on the scene that is located in the photograph portion of the ad. The woman is faced with the ethic dilemma of whether or not she should sleep with this man who she has presumably just met. She does not know whether or not he has any contagious diseases, and Stephens 6 we don’t know whether or not she has any. The characters are also put in the position of telling each other. Would they be willing to make a decision knowing it could, and probably will, harm the other party? Rhetorical strategies are used because they are efficient in accomplishing what they are meant to accomplish. They provide a deeper level of understanding for the audience, and are used by the author as an invaluable tool. Understanding rhetorical strategies and implementing them into one’s own writing is the only way to advance the technique of persuasion and manipulation. One cannot reach his or her full potential without utilizing all of the tools at their disposal. Making a deep impact is the purpose of any formatted document or published media, and without striving to achieve one’s full potential when persuading their audience they will never achieve the sense of connection within that rhetoric triangle require to make a concrete and lasting stance on a subject. Stephens 7 Bibliography Alfano, Christine. O'Brien, Alyssa. Envision. Pearson, 2011. Print. Geezertalk. "Was Jesus a Progressive or a Conservative?". www.sodahead.com. 2010. Digital. 1 October 2011. Seeley, Shannon. "Print Ad Rhetorical Appeals". Blogspot.com. 2009. Digital. 1 October 2011.
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