Rhetorical Criticism – Final Reflective Blog Post

When I signed up for ENGl 301, I was taking it only taking it to cover my writing intensive and thought nothing more about it. Thinking the class was only going to talk about how pop culture used rhetoric in it like ethos, pathos, and logos. This goes to show how much I knew back then. What I sign up for was an in depth do it yourself analyzing of artifacts of your choosing for each perspective making you think what tv show, movie, or game would make a great artifact for the perspectival that week. This allow me to, in my opinion, dive deeper into each perspective and how it work because I was already using an artifact that I choose which means I already had a good platform for me to start analyzing it with the perspective and learn how each one persuade or shape our identities.

Rhetoric define in our textbook is messages designed to influence people. As forms of communication evolve, so has the ways rhetoric is used evolve, from how a speech is given to persuade you to move to an underwater city from my first blog post breaking down Andrew Ryan speech at the beginning of Bioshock using the neo-Aristotelian approach to how a story and it characters can teach kids about morals and how the narrative perspective helps people notices how stories can shape people’s morals.

During the course of the class we gain an ”increased awareness of the relationship between the nature and functions of rhetoric,” during which is how sign makes you think of something else and how these sign in groups become symbolical for them. In my blog post looking at the Dark Souls community with symbolic convergence perspective. The community would take voice lines and gestures from Solaire of Astora, a non-player, who the player meets in the game and give new meaning to them inside the community where only they knew them. An example of this the community would use “praise the sun!” gesture where the player makes a Y-shape with their body and stand on their toes. This became a universal sign of hello in the game, because there was no voice chat, but is also used outside of the game in real life to see if other and part of the Dark Souls community. The gesture had no meaning to it when the game came out, but became this icon sign for the community because of one character.

When looking at each perspective to see” how rhetoric act to persuade us and shape our identities” when looking at, Hey Arnold!, for both a blog post and my second essay, I used the narrative perspective which is how through storytelling can conveyed the persuade message by having a moral. I found that, Hey Arnold!, target audience is kids ranging from six to fifth teen watching the show. The show has a linear narrative to allow the viewer to keep track with the story and by using flat character that the viewer know what they are going to do allows the viewer to understand their actions and consequences in the episode and understand the moral because of this.

As my major is photography, I deal with a more visual base medal with little to no text with the image I have to be able to convey my message with only images. Only having an artist statement which talks about the main idea of my project being at most a paragraph to convey the message. I have to rely on symbols in my images for people understand the idea of my project. Even though we didn’t explore the visual perspective chapter in the book because of the virus I looked at it any why because my major is deeply rooted in signs. From reading it I already knew about semiotics. When I’m working on a project I always need to think about the meaning attach to object and how the viewer might understand the message because of object.

After taking these class, I have more of an understanding of rhetorical and how it is deeply rooted in pop culture and after using different perspectival looking at artifacts with all of them being shows, movies, and games that at some part of my life left an impression I now know that rhetorical was a part of this. Going forward from this class I still know I have a lot to learn about rhetorical, but I now know how to look at pop culture in a different perspective now.

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Post #8: Media-Centered Perspectives

Hey Arnold! is a cartoon that was on Nickelodeon. It follows a fourth grader named Arnold, who ends up solving or helping someone with a problem. The show was episodic, so each episode would cover a different problem some being more realistic and some being a little far-fetched, but the show would use it cast of characters to best of it abilities to show problems that people can relate to, but to also give the characters life. With that being said, for a kid’s cartoon it teaches a good amount of life lessons that is easy for kids to pick up on. Looking at the episode, “Arnold Betrays Iggy” and how it demonstrates the moral that you can’t please everyone. Using narrative perspective to help bring the moral of the story to the surface and using the media-centered perspectives and the parasocial relationship the show uses to make the viewer understand the moral.

Narrative Perspective

Narrative perspective is used to examine ideological arguments through storytelling. The moral is ideological argument proposed directly or indirectly about how we ought to or ought not to believe or behave. This is done by breaking the story setting, character, the way the story is told, the events and how event has a cause and effect from each one, and also who the target audience is. The setting is Hillwood the city where everyone lives in Hey Arnold! The plot for the episode is Arnold see Iggy (the cool kid) in bunny pajamas and promise that he won’t tell anyone what he saw. When two of Arnold friends find out what Arnold was laughing about they tell everyone at school what Arnold saw. Arnold then spends the rest of the episode doing anything to have Iggy forgive him from doing course or finally at the end of the episode putting on bunny pajamas himself and publicly humiliates himself only for Iggy to ask Arnold what he needs to do to make up for having put Arnold though it. Now this is a kid’s show so the episode is linear and the character themselves are flat. You know what the characters are going to do because they are predictable. This is fine for a kid’s show because for that age group the story doesn’t need to be complex to make the viewer have to find the moral it simple and to the point. From the accident of other kids finding out about Iggy secret to Arnold humiliating himself to try and please Iggy. The moral is that you can’t always please everyone and hope that the other person understands.

Media-Centered Perspective

Media-Centered perspective is to help demonstrate the unique ways in which the medium itself influences people and society. Using the Parasoical relationship theory which is a one-sided relationship where one party know a great deal about the other party. In this instance the viewer relationship with Arnold. It creates this bond of intimacy because the viewer beings to feel for Arnold even though Arnold is a frication character. This is because of two things, one is realism how believable is the characters and their encounters are perceived. Arnold is a nine-year-old kid, who promise to keep a secret only for it to be found out and he tries to makes amends with Iggy. Having a promise break or secret revel is normal issue that people deal with one a normal base. The second part is privacy the viewers is allowed to know the characters more personally because they can see them in the privacy of their own home. At one point of the episode Arnold is in his room talking to his grandfather about his problem and how he should fix it. The viewer can tell that Arnold does care about how he messes up and is trying to fix it, and also allow them to feel more attach to Arnold and his struggles.

Conclusion and implication

In the episode, “Arnold betrays Iggy” the viewers learn that is that you can’t always please anyone and are you can do is ask for forgiveness and hope the other person understands. Kids can relate to Arnold because he fits in their age range and the setting is realistic to real life making it easier for the message to come across to them then a fantasy setting and characters.

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Post #7: Feminist Perspectives

Mulan(1998 film) was made by Disney and was based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. The movie takes place in Han dynasty where the viewer follows Fa Mulan, a daughter of an army veteran. The movie has a masculine hegemony where gender and power inequities are account for multiple masculinities and how other hegemonic structures are oppress and reinforce this idea in the movie to only use Mulan as a model for breaking the masculine hegemony in it. Using the radical feminist perspective will help break down the movie and the ideas around it.

Plotline

The movie starts with Shan Yu, the leader of the Huns, breaching the Great Wall. The emperor orders for an army and that one man from each family must join. Mulan’s father an army veteran who can barely walk without the help of a cane must join because there is no other male in the family. Mulan decides to steal her father’s armor and disguise as a male to take her father place. Mulan goes through military training where she learns how to be a warrior and later save all of China.

Radical Feminist Perspective

The radical feminist perspective assumes that inequities and oppression stem from how the system creates men and women differently and the value associated with them. Looking at this and the masculine hegemony in the movie. We can already tell in the first song of the movie, “Bring Honor to us All” where it tells the viewer what a woman should be for their man. The lines are “Men want girls with good taste, calm, obedient, who work fast-paced, with good breeding, and a tiny waist” Later in the Movie the song, “Girl Worth Fighting For” Mulan ask, “how ‘bout a girl who’s got brain. Who always speaks her mind?” all the soldiers say no and go back to how they want one who can cook, clean, and adore them not one on the same level as them. The movie reinforces with the songs, but also every time Mulan is not pretending to be a guy no one will listen to her.

Mulan acts as a model for breaking masculine hegemony of the movie and what a woman should be. She is cunning, resourceful, and caring. The only reason she joins the army was so her father who is now weak doesn’t need too. In the movie, she shows her cunning side. When are the other soldiers are trying to climb the pole with the weights they brute force it, but never make it anywhere. Mulan instead used the weights as a climbing tool to make it up there. The viewers agree with Mulan because of her reason.

Li Shang is the anti-model for the movie. He fits the masculine hegemony and also the opposite of Mulan. His plan for everything is brute force and he is single minded to complete his goal. When the Huns ambushed them on the mountain instead of thinking away to escape or defend he wants his men to try and take out Shan Yu instead. Mulan used the last cannon they have to cause an avalanche which happens to take out all of the Huns in one fell swoop. The viewers disagree with LI Shang for how hot head he is and how his plans boiled down to brute force which makes Mulan more desirable

Conclusions

Mulan shows the Masculine hegemony back in china back then, but also challenges it by creating a model through Mulan that shows strength alone and being a male doesn’t always makes the best hero, but one of cunning, resourceful, and caring does and it can be a female.

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Post #6: Neo-Marxist Perspective

The Amazing World of Gumball is a children’s cartoon on Cartoon Network where Gumball Waterson, Waterson family, and friends get into weird situations. The show is episodic and only fifthteen minutes long. Each episode normally parodies some form of the moral of the story that kids would normally learn. Neo-Marxist perspective allows us to be able to exam texts and uncover the underlying arguments that either reinforce or challenge ideology of people. Using the episode, “The Bumpkin” I will show the more desirable convenient life style for normal people compare to the undesirable life style of a bumpkin

Neo-Marxist Perspective

Neo-Marxist Perspective examines how “material conditions and economic practices shape the dominate ideology about who ought to be and ought not to be empowered” by looking at the model ,who portrayed as normal and desirable, and the anti-model, who portrayed as abnormal and undesirable. This will help determine what the hegemonic argument in the story. Hegemonic is the privileging of a dominant group’s ideology over that of other groups.

The Bumpkin

In the episode, “The Bumpkin” Gumball gets tired of conforming to modern society and everything that comes with it and ask his classmate Idaho Potato, who a country bumpkin that doesn’t know anything about subara living, to show him a simpler lifestyle. Inside the Waterson’s home it shows them eating fast food and entering themselves with electronics. As soon as Idaho start showing them what he does instead of this like playing outside and eating healthier foods with the joke of because he a potato he eats soil instead of actually food, but is actually talking about how we rather eat something that taste good then something that is better for you. At the end of the day the family decide that Idaho lifestyle is better and goes to bed. Gumball gives up and spends all night doing the things he rejects and show Idaho what a more modern lifestyle is all about. This sends Idaho into a shock because his body could handle the modern lifestyle. At end of the episode where Idaho is revived and ask if the family would like to live with his family. The Waterson family quickly leaves and goes to a fast food restaurant.

Breakdown

The Waterson family is the model for the episode. Their normal and more desirable lifestyle of modern conveniences like fast food and election entertainment at most of the viewers are probably accustomed to. Even though throughout the episode they slowly come to like the simple life style it shows at the end that they rather have the easier life. Gumball himself shows this the best with him breaking under the pressure of Idaho’s lifestyle by staying up all night enjoying TV and junk food. Idaho is the anti-model for the episode. His simpler lifestyle of doing everything outside, eating what you grow, and doesn’t know what technology is. Yes, thought the episode is made for jokes, but also reinforce to the viewer that what they have is better than what Idaho has.

Conclusion

In the episode, “The Bumpkin” shows the modern-day lifestyle of conveniences is taken for granted, but non-the-less is a normal and desirable. It also shows that with this modern-day lifestyle that it brings happiness and easy to the Waterson family and viewer. Neo-Marxist perspective allows us to be able to look at The Amazing World of Gumball and be able to break it down to figure what ideology is being reinforce.

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Post #5: Symbolic Convergence

In 2011, FromSoftware and Hidetata Miyazaki, the series creator, created a dark fantasy role-playing game called Dark Souls the spiritual successor to Demon’s Soul. Dark Souls at the time was the only game that allowed players to come up with their own story because Miyazaki form of storytelling was minimalist. By leaving just enough information, but having it ambiguous and giving every item in the game a story tie it to. It allowed the player to create their own story. The game itself was unforgiving and people would give up playing it. With all of this, the game became a huge success making three more game to go with it. Dark Souls 2, Bloodborne, and Dark Souls 3. This created the Soulsborne community where die-hard fans come together to talk about the games and to play together. Using Symbolic Convergence, we can analysis symbolic cues that help shape and sustain the community.

Symbolic Convergence Perspective

The Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT) was develop by Ernest Bormann. SCT is where people with shred narratives create a community around it. I will look at the Soulsborne community and examine the symbolic cues that the community used to sustain the games. Before analyzing, we need to see if there is a community and how many are participating in it. On Facebook there are 828,768 people who like it and on Reddit for the first game there are 262,000 members and 882,000 people if you add all the subreddits. We also tell that the game is well received and better than other games that came out around it because it won the Community Choice Game of the Year award and was placed first on GamesRadar’s “The 100 best games ever” list.

Symbolic Cues

Symbolic Cues are like an inside joke where only the people who make the joke get it. These cues can be anything from a voice line to a gesture a character made. The community used these to remove the outsiders. I am looking only at Dark Souls 1 because there is a treasure trove of cues that the community used. I will be highlighting some of the big ones. There are multiple cues that come off of one character. Solaire of Astora is a non-player character (NPC) that the player meets throughout their journey. The first time meeting him he talks about how he wants his very own sun and fans love him for his overall friendliness and being plain jolly in a world that is dark and everything is trying to kill you. He asks the player if they would like to have him help and if the player says yes, they are given an item that allows you to help other players online. The cues here are a couple. First when you say yes to him, he says, “But, use this, to summon one another as spirits, cross the gaps between the worlds, and engage in jolly co-operation!” The community quickly started using the term jolly co-operation to one of another instead of co-op.  This is escalated more by the community because if you join Solaire’s covenant of the warriors sunlight you are called a “sunbro” due to you joining the covenant, but also when you’re summoned into another world you are bright orange like the sun. The community also uses an item called the pendant that can be picked as a starting item in the game. Some of the items are useful like a key that opens up doors early for the player or firebombs that can be used to kill enemies. The pendant does nothing, but if a new player asks what item to use the community will tell them the pendant. It is used to see if the person knows about it or not. The one that the community is known for is the “praise the sun!” gesture where the player makes a Y-shape with their body and stand on their toes. This became a universal sign of hello in the game, because there was no voice chat, but is also used outside of the game in real life to see if anyone is part of the Dark Souls community.

Conclusion

Dark Souls has been out for nine years and with three other games that are part of the Soulborne community and with a remaster of the first game it has brought in more people in the community or has rekindled an old love for it from older fans keeping the game alive keeping it in the third phase of the life cycle called consciousness sustaining. I will say that even these cues are from this community and people who play the game get the references, but because of the internet and memes these symbolic cues are now out for everyone to use, not just the community does this hinder the community keeping non-like minded people out.

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Post #4: Dramatistic Analysis

Batman: The Animated Series is based on the DC Comics of Batman. The Series was known for its film noir aesthetics, darker tone, artistic presentation, and brings a comic superhero to more modern audiences. As a kid, Batman was my favorite superhero and TV show and to this day I still find myself coming back to it. Even though the show is targeted for kids, it has more adult-oriented themes to it, that now that I am an adult, I have a new-found respect for it. I will be using Dramatic Perspective for this blog post. I will look at the episode, Heart of Ice which is the episode where Victor Fries becomes Mister Freeze and his backstory unlike most villains is tragic and sets him apart from other villains.

Heart of Ice, starts off with Mister Freeze talking to a ballerina in a glass dome promising he will get revenge against the person who took her from him. After this, Gothcorp offices around Gotham start getting robbed with all of them being related to the buildings being frozen. Batman then finds out that someone is trying to make a “Freeze Ray” that could freeze the city. Batman later confronts Mister Freeze at one of the offices to try and stop him. Mister Freeze escapes and Batman starts trying to find out who Mister Freeze is. Batman sneaks into Gothcorp’s offices and finds a security camera tape of an accident. The accident is Victor Fries recording that he has put his wife into cryogenic stasis due to her being terminally ill, to give him time to find a cure. Ferris Boyle the owner of Grothcorp comes in to have it shut down stating that he has cut the funding to the project and he is using the equipment without authorization. He has one of the guards disconnect the equipment which would kill Fries’ wife. Fries takes one of guard’s guns and tells them to stay back. Boyle shoves Fries into a table of chemicals which fills the room with toxic gas making Fries unable to live without be under subzero temperatures and enables Fries to save his wife. Mister Freeze show up at an awards ceremony where he confronts Boyle stating that he took everything away from him and he will have his revenge. Batman comes in and stops Freeze before he could finish his plan and also gives the tape to a reporter telling Freeze he will have his justice against Boyle. The last scene is Freeze talking to the ballerina asking his wife to forgive him that he failed to avenge her.

Screenshot from Batman: The Animated Series

Dramatic Perspective is to break down a character’s motivation and how they justify their actions, so they will be redeemed by society. I will use Mister Freeze, from Batman the animated series, as the character for this perspective. The Pentad will be what I use to help explain this, by breaking it down into five elements of drama. One, the act, what is the rule breaking behavior. Mister Freeze is stealing from Gothcorp’s offices to create a freeze ray to take his revenge on Ferris Boyle. Two, the agent, who is doing the rule breaking behavior. Mister Freeze, formerly Victor Fries a scientist who must wear a suit that keeps him alive after an accident which causes him to be only able to live in subzero temperature. Third, the agency, the tools or means use for the act. That would be the freeze ray that he uses to freeze the building with Boyle in it and the suit that keeps him alive and give him super strength. Fourth, the scene. Gotham City, but to be more specific, the award ceremony. Fifth, the explanation to why the agent did the rule-breaking behavior. Mister Freeze wants revenge for himself and his wife against Ferris Boyle for turning him into a monster and having no means to save his wife. With this we get to the motive where this goes beyond the purpose to argue, but what justifies the rule breaking. We can label Mister Freeze under two of the three. One being Mortification, where the agent confesses his guilt and is punished for it. Mister Freeze asks his wife to forgive him and he is in jail for what he has done. The second label is victimage, where the guilt is absolved by blaming someone else. Mister Freeze blames Ferris Boyle for turning him into person he is now and for what happened to his wife. He also states that he is doing it for his wife who can no longer live because she in a stasis.

Screenshot from Batman: The Animated Series

Batman the animated series takes a villain and instead of just making him a basic villain, they give him a tragic back story that makes the viewer feel for him, but can also see where his actions are also justifiable by using dramatic perspective and the pentad to help lay it out for the viewer.

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Post #3: Narrative Analysis

Hey Arnold! is a cartoon that was on Nickelodeon. It follows a fourth grader named Arnold, who ends up solving or helping someone with a problem. The show was episodic, so each episode would cover a different problem some being more realistic and some being a little far fetched, but the show would use it cast of characters to best of it abilities to show problems that people can relate to, but to also give the characters life. With that being said, for a kid’s cartoon it teaches a good amount of life lessons that when I was a kid, I was able to pick up on. I will be breaking the episode, “Stinky Goes Hollywood” for this blog post and I will be using narrative perspective.

Screenshot from Hey Arnold!

The episode, “Stinky Goes Hollywood” takes place in Hillwood the city where everyone lives in Hey Arnold!. This episode follows Stinky Peterson, a country boy who would normally be a flat character for being a stereotype of a county hick, but ends up having character developed. The episode starts out with all the fourth graders seeing a sign asking for kids to audition to be the next “Yahoo Soda” spokesperson. All the fourth graders are going to the audition to see if they will win and Arnold asks Stinky if he wants to come to the audition also. Stinky decides to come, even though he said he didn’t have any talent at all, but would come because a friend asked. Stinky becomes the spokesperson and lets the fame go to his head and during this time everyone is liking him more because of his fame. This goes on until Stinky is giving Arnold a tour around the studio where they overhear the director (the antagonist) who said the only reason he hired Stinky is because he was a country hick and they wanted to have someone dumb to appeal to people for them to buy their soda. After hearing this Stinky decides to decline the money, instead of swallowing his pride for money.

Screenshot from Hey Arnold!

The episode is only fifteen minutes long and has a linear narration to it, showing how each event had had an impact later in the episode. From Stinky becoming the spokesperson to him finding out about why he was hired only for him to decline the offer. The characters in this episode are Arnold, who even though the main character of the series, he is a flat character for this episode with him being there to help the plot along. The director is a flat character because he is the antagonist for the episode and he is there to be the obstacle for Stinky. Now we have Stinky who is a round character because even though he fits in the stereotype of a county hick he then breaks that stereotype by showing that even though he has this new-found fame, he won’t let it change him if it means he has to damage his pride. This being a kid’s cartoon the target audience would be kids from seven to fourteen, because the characters are around that age, so the audience can relate to them, and also the plot is simple that they would able to pick up on the morals of the episodes.

Screenshot from Hey Arnold!

With Hey Arnold! being episodic it allows the writers to address certain morals for each episode. With, “Stinky Goes Hollywood” it addresses it better to keep your pride and who you are than someone that you aren’t. With the target audience begin preteen it helps them understand that it better to be yourself and be proud in that, instead of being a someone that your aren’t.

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Post #2: Neo-Aristotelian Analysis (Persuasive Strategies/Effects)

Bioshock is a first-person shooter game that came out in 2007. It’s takes the player into the underwater city of Rapture built by Andrew Ryan, who has the dream of creating a utopia away from land that isn’t ruled by government, religion, and ethics. This utopia, like any other story, quickly becomes a dystopian society. The player comes to rapture after a plane crash in the middle of the ocean and the first thing you encounter to is the same speech that everyone who came to rapture listens too. This speech is what I will be laying out in this blog of how it is a great example of Neo-Aristotelian.

The Rhetorical Situation: We first need to figure out a couple of things before we dive into Ryan’s speech and how he persuades people to live in his city. One, who is the speaker? The Speaker is the Businessman Andrew Ryan the man who created the city. Two, who is the audience? That would be the player in the game, and is also the citizen who now populate Rapture. Third, why does the speech begin given and what is the exigence of it? The speech is begin given to persuades like-minded people that they are begin held back by government, religion, and ethics. In this speech, Ryan has acknowledged that people are begin held back and have already taken action to fix it by creating Rapture, he just needs to persuade them to come. The Fourth, what are the constraints? Ryan’s obstacles are people who aren’t like-minded to him.

Now knowing what the Situation is let’s break it down on how Ryan’s speech is successful by breaking it down to the five canons. First invention. Ryan is asking the audience, “Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?” he then answers it three times back-to-back that you aren’t entitled to it, but someone else is. He then explained how he has fixed the issue by showing the audience Rapture and right after that gives a couple of examples of people who can live there with no fear of oppression. He uses artistic proofs to support his claim. He makes the audience question why their hard work is going to someone else and not to them. Then he shows his creditability by showing you Rapture, that his dream is a reality and you too can join him. Second, his arrangement the way he structures his speech. He first introduces himself and then ask the question followed by his answers before he gives his solution to the problem. He takes a moment before giving his answer. Then he continues by giving a couple of examples. He cuts it into three parts, first being question, second being the answer, and third begin examples.

Screenshot from Bioshock, 2007

Third his style. It one of charisma and dramatic. He keeps his voice in the same tone, but puts emphasis on a couple of words like every time he says, “No” and “Impossible”, and “Rapture” to capitalize on those words to persuade people that his idea is the city. Fourth is it memorable. During his speech, he shows the audience visuals of the problems, before he goes on to show us Rapture and when he says each one an image is there to have word association with image. And the Fifth, Delivery: Even though he isn’t present, his voice carries the speech well making his points on the problem and the solution, without raising his tone makes him seems calm, but he knows when to emphasize certain words to reinforce his ideas and taking pauses to add suspense to his next word. Also showing you thought images and showing the city itself when he says it in his speech helps drive home his idea.

The overall effect and implications of Ryan’s speech is right away he has people coming to live in this city that he created on the ideas in his speech. The long-term affect of it is really easy to know because the player shows up after the rapture has turn dystopian. That his idea of not being held down by government, religion, and ethics is the sole thing that destroys the city

Source: Bioshock. Irrational Games. 2K Games, 2007.

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Post #1 Introducing your Blog

Hello, my name is James Conner, a photography senior at Longwood University. I have been shooting sports and portrait photography for the last 10 years and am now working on the art side of the media.

The purpose of this blog is to analysis rhetorical tools used in film, pop culture, and multimodal texts that help them convey meaning in them. Yes, the blog is for my class, so my audience will be my classmates and professor, but also for anyone who would like to read what I’m thinking about how rhetoric is used in these forms of media. The content that I will be focusing on is film, tv shows, youtubers/streamers, and video games and how rhetoric is used in them to persuade, shape ideas and also influence the audience. I’m mainly dealing with them because I’m an avid movie goer and gamer, so I’m more at home with them and hoping to be able to comb out how rhetoric help shapes and influence them.

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