Post #4: A Dramatistic Perspective of Shrek

The Ogre-View:

Shrek (2001) follows the titular character on his journey to reclaim his swamp and return to his life of solitude and removed from society. At the very least that is how it starts out. Instead, the motivations for the hero Shrek changes into one of yearning to be loved and accepted. This shift from isolation to a desire for his personality and actions to be justified warrant a dramatistic analysis.

The Scene:

The setting of Shrek’s journey follows across sweeping wilderness but this allows for the bonding moment between Shrek and Fiona. If it were not for the isolation these two characters find themselves in then the two would not have been able to connect. Ultimately what this does is justify Shrek’s behavior and isolationism while endearing him as a character to Fiona and the audience. His distrust of others is broken down and made clear but also juxtaposed thanks to the environment.

Purpose:

The original goal of the quest is to gain the swamp and the freedom of being alone back. However, the journey fundamentally changed Shrek and his new purpose was to save the person who saw him for who he was and not the stereotype that surrounded him. The film’s message that being yourself is key and there is always someone out there who will appreciate you for who you are.

Agency:

Shrek is shown to be a quite capable agent beating up all of Farquad’s knights in a WWE style tournament. In doing so he is shown to be able to accomplish great things on his own with little to no outside help. This agency justifies Shrek’s world view because he does not need to rely on anyone because of that it reinforces his solitude.

The Act:

The act of saving Fiona both from her captivity but also from her marriage to Farquaad rejects Shrek’s original morales and shows his growth as a character to someone who now desires and even needs companionship within his life.

Analysis:

Shrek (2001) starts out with a character who rejects the world because the world has rejected him but slowly through consistent growth and challenges has this world view challenged and it drastically changes him into someone who enters into an emotionally stable place where he can now trust others, have relationships, and be truly happy.

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Blog Post #3: Narrative Analysis of “Piper”

The video: https://youtu.be/qAIRXIckfMA follows the little fletching Piper as it overcomes the fear of the ocean and hunger to become one of the best birds on the beach. This video has no spoken word and instead relies on the animator’s artistic choices to evoke emotion out of the bird and into the audience. Piper the bird overcomes a lot in this 4 minute short and steals a place inside the audience’s heart fulfilling the energizing aspect of a narrative perspective. It also transports the audience from the humdrum and complication of their own life into the small but large challenges of a baby bird, Piper being as cute as they also manage to create a sense of identification by harping on the audience’s sense of good and wanting to see something good succeed.

Piper is a small and adorable little bird that the audience immediately latches onto due to Piper’s seeming helplessness in the world that the audience is watching. It is no particular dangerous or imposing but the bird is small and what would be a little ripple on the water to us seems like an insurmountable tsunami to Piper which endears them to our hearts. The ability to watch Piper grow and overcome their fear through nothing but their actions lifts the audience into a joyous state as the underdog that you immediately start rooting for becomes more confident and capable in the eyes of the characters around them as well as to the audience itself.

The narrative’s morale is baked into Piper’s success. Piper learns to hunt for the mollusks by imitating a sand crab and not by following directly in the steps of the other birds around it. Watching Piper overcome the challenges and fears of the ocean is not only satisfying for the audience but includes the lesson that not everyone who is around you can accomplish the same goal the same way and going about things differently can often be advantageous. This message while often repeated and touted especially in the education field was struck upon strong in this short while not feeling overdone. I believe in part that this is due to the lack of dialogue within the short. It leaves more to the imagination of the audience and lets them infer their own values and system into the short without being beat over the head with, a good, but a ubiquitous message. Overall this is a class act in storytelling that accomplishes it’s a message without being heavy-handed or tone-deaf. It is enjoyable to watch, has a clear and strong message, and endears itself to the audience through a cute and adorable bird.

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Blog Post #2: A Neo-Aristotelian Critique of Chaplin’s Final Speech in “The Great Dictator”

The Great Satirical Speech

Considered among the best movie speeches since the conception of Cinema, Charlie Chaplin’s final speech in “The Great Dictator” is a powerful address that seeks to provide a counter to the rising tide of militarism, fascism, and antisemitism that was at its peak during the films original release of 1940. The speech can be found here for reference: https://youtu.be/J7GY1Xg6X20.

The Rhetorical Situation

Charlie Chaplin, a superstar among the silent film industry, wrote and produced this film that satirized the contemporary global political landscape. The film premiered in 1940 to great acclaim. However, the speech at the end was criticized for being overtly political but modern viewership has latched onto it as a culturally significant and powerful speech that holds relevance into the 21st century.

Demographically the speech is meant for any viewer as Chaplin only distinguishes the common man from the dictators, the greedy, and fascists. The irony is that while the speech is given Chaplin is dressed as a character that directly parodies Adolf Hitler and even stands up on a pulpit to deliver the speech. But the framing of the shot focuses nearly solely on Chaplin and his face without any stress put on the setting which aides the speeches global message.

The Canons

Chaplin opens his speech with the central ideological tennant of peace on Earth and goodwill to all. He offers no inartistic proofs, this speech being solely an emotional appeal to the audience. The use of vivid dialogue to induce mental imagery and the contrast of the language he uses to compare the goodness of people to the cold machinery of violence. This pure emotional approach does limit his effectiveness as the orator but the delivery is so impactful it generally makes up for it.

The arrangement starts by equalizing everyone in his speech. He brings everyone up to the same level both engaging the audience and also supporting his central thesis of all men are good and equal. This transitions into what he is viewing as wrong with the current world, that being the greed of those in charge despite the technology existing to leave no one in want. This is strengthened by a sort of  A then B style he uses to state what is wrong with what is “correct. A solid paragraph is constructed like instead of X we need Y. This lays out his overall philosophy and generally, no one finds its disagreeable seeing as the Y in this construction is usually ideals like compassion and peace. The last major piece of the arrangement comes from the fact that in general, he addresses an audience without any restrictions but he does call out a specific group, soldiers who he urges to lay down their arms and not fight for the dictators and those that would have them die for their own gain.

The style of the speaker uses language that focuses on the idealistic emotional elements of human language that is then juxtaposed with the cold language of machines and money that is devoid of pleasantries, machines which are recognized as useful are conceded as not being used in a moral manner. This constant juxtaposition of natural and moral elements in the speech helps embolden the message of peace as the appropriate end and the goodwill of man overtaking the greed of the dictators. The individual is presented as part of the group, both of which are stated as being ethical and good-natured. This is all to enforce the idea of rejecting the militaristic rhetoric used by the people that Chaplin is satirizing.

His body language mimics that of the newsreels of Hitler’s speeches with the explosions of intense movement followed by smaller gentler moments where the camera zooms in closer to the face and the expression changes from passion to earnest desire to be understood and heeded. Only one image interrupts the speech and that is of a woman on the ground who is acting hurt when he is speaking of the destruction wrought by the greed of the dictators.

The delivery makes it appear that the speech was committed fully to memory, however, as this is a movie production there might have been cues and even overdubs on the final product.

Curtain Call

With the canons in mind, the speech is a tour de force of emotional impact that is expertly delivered and practiced. However, the lack of logical appeals limits the argument and provides no real solution. His argument, while noble, is ultimately based in his ideology and while it serves as a fantastic rallying cry it does little in the way of actually convincing those who disagree to change their opinions. However, it might push the moderates into his corner and away from the other.

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Blog Post #1: Hello world!

Welcome to Rhetorical Criticisms of Pop Culture! I am Glenn Spencer a senior English major at Longwood University with a minor in Rhetoric and Professional Writing. This blog will be using various rhetorical and analytical lenses to deconstruct and critique various types of media that fall into the realm of pop culture with an emphasis on multimodal media. Many of the pop culture artifacts that this blog will discuss shall be curtailed to my individual interests with the occasional foray into subjects that fall outside my particular scope but will be interesting nevertheless. Individuals who are also in the rhetoric field might find this blog interesting in a broad sense and maybe if a post hits upon a specific topic of interest then the audience could be expanded.  This blog is made for Engl 301-01 but the framework of its content might also provide a platform for continued work outside the class.

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