Post #6: Pentadic Criticism, Selections for Critical Essay #2

“Animal Control Pet Adoption P.S.A. Full 1:00”

For my artifact, I will be examining a PSA created by the Oakland County, Michigan Government promoting pet adoptions.

Agent: The animals at the Oakland County, Michigan animal control center

Act: Animals staring at the camera from behind the bars of a cage, a dog being led into a cage by an animal control officer, and a dog being adopted and taken to a new home.

Agency: Using images of sad, scared and homeless animals to evoke a sense of emotion to encourage people to adopt animals from the animal control center.

Scene: The Oakland County animal control center in Michigan, primarily parts where animals are kept until they are adopted.

Purpose: To encourage people to adopt animals who have been seized by animal control in order to provide healthy, happy homes for homeless pets.

The dominant term in this PSA is perhaps the agent, as the animals featured in the video are the starting point for all of the other terms. Without the animals, there is no purpose, agency, or act. One of the ratios in the PSA is agent-agency because of the images of the dogs and cats behind the bars of the cages creates a strong emotional response to animal lovers. Without the agent, the agency of the video would not exist. Similarly, another ratio is agent-purpose. The purpose is to promote adoptions at the Oakland County animal control center, and the message would fall apart without displaying the animals who are in need of homes.

Second Critical Analysis Paper:

For my critical analysis #2, I am going to be using metaphoric criticism to examine negative relationships in Taylor Swift’s songs. I really want to pin down an overall, arching metaphor for her music that displays a more negative outlook on relationships.

Post # 5: Metaphoric Criticism

Taylor Swift’s “Mean” lyrics:

For the artifact I will be examining for metaphoric criticism, I will be taking a look at the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s song “Mean”.


For the context of the song, Taylor is singing about a person in her life who has been negative towards her, in possibly an abusive way. She gives examples of how this person has used words to hurt her and question her talent. The person she is singing about has humiliated and shamed her. However, towards the end of the song, she is in a place where this person can’t harm her anymore because she has become somebody and all that person will ever be is mean.


Some metaphors in the song include: “You, with your words like knives and swords and weapons that you use against me”; “You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard calling me out when I’m wounded”; “You, with your switching sides and your wildfire lies and your humiliation”; “somebody made you cold”; “Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me”.

Most of these metaphors are related to how this person is making her feel negative about herself. She is using language that evokes a strong negative reaction to describe the “meanness” of the person in the song.

Message/Ideology of Song:

I think the overall message of this song is that no matter how horrible and mean someone is being to you, as long as you keep your head up one day you’ll be able to rise up and overcome the negativity, and all that person will have is their meanness. Towards the last few lines of the song she goes from equating this person with tearing her down and making her feel bad to someone who is “a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life and mean”, indicating that that person is the one losing in the situation. This song is really encouraging to people who have experienced people like this in their lives and urges them to ignore it and stay strong because better things will happen to you.

Taylor Swift albums
Taylor Swift – Speak Now
Credit: Big Machine


Post #4: Ideological Criticism and Peer Responses

“Campbell’s Soup Gay Parents Ad”

Campbell’s Soup Ad featuring a gay couple

For my artifact, I have chosen a unique and arguably groundbreaking commercial made by Campbell’s which features a gay couple feeding their young child Campbell’s soup. The commercial is one of the few in the United States that features a same-sex couple. One of Campbell’s aims as a company is to feature real people. Their tagline is “Made for real, real life” so by including a gay couple feeding their child the “family friendly” brand soup, they are spreading a message about depicting their customers as they really are, without discriminating against sexual orientation. The audience of this ad is American families who enjoy the products from the Campbell’s company, and possibly international customers as well.

a.) Presented Elements

The presented elements in this ad are two gay father’s feeding their child Campbell’s Star Wars soup. They use the popular quote “I am your father” as a pun because they are both fathers. Campbell’s beings the ad with only one of the fathers visible, quoting the film to his son, who he is spoon feeding soup, then, the camera pans over to the other father repeating the same quote. The ad is a surprise to the viewer the first time it is presented because we do not usually expect to see same-sex couples in commercials. Campbell’s tagline is “Made for real, real people” which is inclusive not just to heterosexual couples, but now the company is also representing same-sex couples, which many companies do not do.

b.) Suggested Elements

Suggested elements in this commercial are Campbell’s making a statement to other large American companies about depicting their customers as they really are. The tagline of “Made for real, real people” is almost a challenge to other companies who have yet to include more diversity in the people who represent them in their ads. By including a same-sex couple in their ad, Campbell’s is setting the bar for other companies to follow, as they are in touch with their “real” customers.

The Ideology of Campbell’s Soup ads

This ideology of this commercial is an ideology of inclusion of diversity. This commercial is empowering same-sex couples and families in the market as they are being included in the phrase “real people”. In the past, gay couples and their families have been something that the media tends to shy away from or hide from. Campbell’s inclusion of them in their ads, which are directed towards families and having the goal of being representative of real people validates same-sex couples in the eyes of the media. This artifact is asking its audience to understand that not all people are the same, and that’s okay. It wants the audience to be okay with same-sex couples because they are a real representation of people in the world, just as a bi-racial couple or a family of immigrants are real representations of people.


Post # 3: Generic Criticism

Generic Participation: Generic participation is determining which artifacts participate in which genres.

Is Star Wars considered to be part of the fantasy genre?

Many Star Wars fans are split over which genre the space adventure series fits into – fantasy or science fiction (sci-fi). The fantasy genre is described as being set in a fictional world/universe, using magic or supernatural elements in the main plot, theme, or setting, contains magical or unique creatures, and is distinguished from other genres according to the plausibility of its events. Sci-fi, on the other hand, is characterized by: dealing with imaginative concepts such as technology, space travel, time travel and extraterrestrial life.

While at first glance, Star Wars appears to be strictly categorized as a sci-fi series – it includes space travel, advanced technology such as space crafts and death stars, and includes extraterrestrial life on pretty much all of the planets that are visited by the human characters. However, Star Wars also fits into the fantasy genre with its magical element of “the force” used by Jedi characters. “The force” is unexplained by any form of advanced technology and is described by Obi-Wan Kenobi as “the energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” While the use of words like “energy field” lead the audience to believe that “the force” is based on science, not all of the characters in the films have access to the ability, giving a more magical element. Another element that could be argued to fit into the fantasy genre is the non-human creatures in Star Wars. It is all a matter of how you define extraterrestrial life and magical or unique creatures. As most of the planets in Star Wars are inhabited by humans and these creatures, can they really be considered extraterrestrial beings? On Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tattooine, humans and Jawas (strange little creatures who collect scrap metal) live in harmony together. Similarly with the wookies, as one of the main characters, Chewbacca would not be categorized as an extraterrestrial being, as he is the companion of the characters.

Star Wars participates in the fantasy genre by its magic-like element of “the force” and the little creatures that cohabitate on planets with the humans. While the films are predominately viewed as strictly sci-fi, with a closer look they also fit into the fantasy genre as well. It’s overlap between both the sci-fi and fantasy genres make it possible to form an analysis for either one.

Word count: 418

“Star Wars: A New Hope movie poster”

Post #2: Neo-Aristotelian Criticism

“President Obama Speaks at 9/11 Museum Dedication” May 15, 2014

The rhetor of this speech is President Barack Obama and the topic which he is speaking is the remembrance of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The purpose of his speech is to bring people together to honor the families, survivors, and the lost lives of the attacks at the dedication of a museum. The context of his speech is telling specific stories of heroic people who helped to save lives on that day, but also to express a message of hope and patriotism.

The audience of this speech is the American people who watched the events unfold in horror, the family members and survivors of the attacks, and also the world, as the speech was televised. He is speaking not only to those in attendance of the dedication ceremony but also to Americans at home, many of whom also potentially have a story in relation to the 9/11 attacks. By televising the speech, it could also be an attempt to speak to American enemies to let them know that America will not lay down, but instead will stand tall and persevere in times of tragedy as a strong, united nation.

He uses pathos with the specific story of “the man in the red bandana” who helped people escape the towers during that day. Obama also picks certain artifacts within the museum such as a wedding ring, a dusty helmet, a shining badge which helps in the narrative of real people and heroes perishing in the towers. He invokes his credibility by mentioning how with the help of the navy seals he brought down the orchestrator of the 9/11 attacks. For logos, he gives a rough estimation of how many died as a result of the attacks. I would need to look much closer for more examples of logos in the speech.

Post #1: Introducing My Blog

Hello! My name is Haley Klepatzki and I am a senior English major with a minor in rhetoric and professional writing. Along with rhetorical criticism, which I am taking this semester, in the past, I have taken visual rhetoric, rhetoric of presidential debates, history of rhetoric, and technical writing. I am taking this course as an elective and am hoping to gain a better knowledge of how to properly analyze specific artifacts through different rhetorical lenses.

The purpose of this blog is to share my ideas and thought process on rhetorical criticism. Some of these ideas will include the different types of rhetorical criticism, such as neo-Aristotelian criticism, generic criticism, ideological criticism, metaphor criticism, and pentadic criticism. I hope to share this blog with my professors, peers, and anyone out there willing to read about rhetorical criticism. This blog is not just a requirement for my rhetorical criticism course but is also a tool to establish myself as an academic writer with complex ideas on rhetoric.

“The Difference Between Knowledge and Skill.” The Difference Between.