Thank You For Smoking

The most prominent rhetorical techniques in the movie, Thank You For Smoking, were hyperbole, disinterest, and re-framing. Re-framing was the technique Nick Naylor used most often. When Naylor encountered opposition to tobacco usage, he would turn the argument into something else that was critical of his opponent. For example, in a conversation with the Vermont Senator, Naylor turned the discussion of the health side effects of tobacco into a conversation against the health side effects of Vermont cheddar.  He did this again by criticizing the hypocrisy of the senator demanding the end of the tobacco farmer on the same day as criticizing the end of the American farmer. Although the original conversation was not about the senator’s campaign, Naylor used this to show the inconsistency of the senator’s platform. Re-framing is a means of distracting the audience from the real issue at hand, which is Naylor’s case, is the health defects of cigarettes. In order to re-frame the issue, Naylor also utilized the technique of kairos, which relies on seizing the moment at which people are most easily persuaded.  He uses kairos simultaneously as re-framing because he understood when and how to distract to then push his own agenda.

Disinterest was also used as a persuasive technique. As a job obligation, Naylor had to persuade the aging Marblo front man to take a suitcase full of money as a bribe to stop public criticism of the cigarette company and he did this using disinterest. Naylor acted like he was on the Marblo man’s side. He said all the possible things the man could do with the money, but Nick claimed he knew the man would do the right thing and not take the money, even though he knew the Marblo man would. Naylor distanced himself from any interest in the man’s choice because he claimed that it would be good for him to donate the money because if he took it, then the Marblo man would have to stop publically trashing the cigarette company. Naylor acted like he did not want the man to stop speaking out against the company and then “accidently” dropped the suitcase so the man would see how much money was at stake. Naylor knew the Marblo man would take the money, but by acting like he wouldn’t, he was even more persuasive to the Marblo man because he realized how much he could benefit from the money, even if that mean keeping quiet.

Hyperbole was also used in the movie. Naylor overly exaggerated his own talents in persuasion. Such quotes such as, “You know that guy who can get any girl? I’m him, on crack” or “Michael Jordan plays ball. I talk”. Naylor’s confidence had a real effect on how many people he was able to persuade and distract against the effects of cigarettes. Hyperbole and confidence affected how he talked to his audience. He even told his son, “you never need to be right if you know how to argue”. Hyperbole, as well as disinterest and re-framing, allowed Naylor to argue successfully in order to distract his audience from the damaging effects of smoking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *