When I first started English 301, I was excited to begin this course. I love studying popular media in my free time and analyzing the core rhetoric of the objects. My favorite type of popular culture is memes. When the class began, we covered different perspectives on popular media. These perspectives provided me with different aspects of what popular media is condoning or rejecting. In addition to studying these perspectives, the class is required to do postings on their analysis of the perspectives. This exercise as well as my Critical Essay 2 improved my rhetorical skill.
Understanding the Perspectives
Before this course, I understood rhetoric as anything can view as rhetoric. In other rhetoric classes, I studied other definitions of rhetoric such as Cicero’s definition of rhetoric. Which is, ” A good speaker, speaking well”. In this class, popular media is the main focus. The textbook talks about how popular culture influences us and how we view the world. One of the terms that brought up is called Mediated Popular Culture. This is defined, “as the everyday objects, actions, and events we experience through media channels that may influence us to believe and behave in certain ways” (Sellnow 3). From this definition, we get an understanding of how the media is rhetoric. This also strengthened my previous understanding of rhetoric.
I understand that rhetoric in popular media is more visually rather than words. That is because, in our day and age, we have social media and video distribution platforms such as Youtube. We are flooded with all kinds of information, and that is caused people to accept different identities and even embracing different cultures. One of the best examples, I cover is my Symbolic Convergence posting of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. That film and book present the audience on both the drug culture and the 1960’s counterculture.
Symbolic Convergence defines as a group of us vs them mentality, and that is what this book and film represent the 1960’s drug counterculture. However, it is still popular with the Baby Boomers and even with Gen Z for the rebellious messages. Despite this, I failed to capture a topic that really captured all of Gen Z. The older generations know this and enjoy it, but unless you are a fan of Hunter S. Thompson or Johnny Depp, you would not be familiar with the book or the film. The internet does help obscure films to be accepted and reach mainstream acknowledgment, but that is not always the case. I learned that day is that do more thorough research on the demographics of a media topic before presenting it. The best perspective that I found to the most interesting to study the popular media was the Neo-Marxist Perspective.
When I heard the phrase Marxist, the image that went through my head was the communist movement during the early 20th century. However, the textbook pointed out that it is not the intention of the perspective. This is based on Karl Marx’s ideology of the class struggle and the hierarchy. The main goal of this perspective is, “expose material conditions and economic practices shape dominant ideology regarding taken-for-granted assumptions about who ‘ought not to be’ empowered” (Sellnow 135). One of the activities we did in class was looking at one of the pictures and analyze the context and hidden rhetorical message with this perspective. It also gave me a new perspective on how consumerism affects how people and persuading people to buy things.
In order to be efficient at anything, you must know the important foundational parts. With this course, we analyzed the main ideas and representations of the culture. The blog is one of my favorite rhetorical exercises because it allows me to present an artifact without as much stress as a regular presentation. One of the favorite presentations is the previous post, for the Media Centered Perspective. This perspective I covered the Fallout franchise and it allowed my skills as a rhetor to come out. The imagery of the franchise contains many rhetorical messages, that the audience or players are exposed to. It contains the existentialist dread of the end of the world, human nature, communities uniting, and cultural reality. This topic is the one I used for my Critical Essay 2. In a lot of ways, I learned that I am good at writing rhetoric, but there are some struggles that I need to work on for the future.
The biggest struggles are my public speaking, I have a stuttering problem when I am presenting sometimes. My biggest fear is that my audience would find it boring or uninteresting. This causes me to make my presentations feel sloppy. The largest struggle is understanding my audience. Despite being in the Gen Z demographic, I do not have a complete understanding of that group. That is because I am not on social media, most of my friends are older than me, and I focus on my work. However, despite this, I still try to do research on what is popular to know my audience.
Despite these struggles, I know that there is no such thing as a perfect rhetor. Life is a learning experience. That is what makes it fun, we are all going to have struggles, it is what just makes us human.
Effects on Future
My goal after this course is to apply what I learned for my next classes. The experience in presenting is always beneficial to have at any time in life. When I graduate in 2021, I am hoping to transfer to the Appalachia School of Law. The skills that I learn here will be beneficial at the law school. In some ways, it is required, because what they will be doing a lot is mock court cases to practice being in a courtroom scenario. For those who do not know, law schools are set up similarly to colleges in that there are preliminary courses before deciding your major. This is the same in law schools, students take a couple of courses that are required for freshmen, and then you pick you a certain branch of law you would want to pursue. The particular field I am interested in Administrative, which is legal documentation and even governmental law. In these preliminary classes, everyone would have to perform in a mock court case with a client you have to defend.
Rhetoric plays a role in the court because you have to argue with logic and reasoning to persuade the judge and jury (audience) to your side. Understanding what is popular with your audience it would help strengthen your charismatic power in the courtroom.
Popular media is all around us. The messages we see every day affect us as people. This course presented me with that knowledge and now I have the tools in understanding the audience’s mindsets. Rhetoric is simply the communication of the ideas and thoughts of the speaker or the medium.
I hope everyone has a good summer and I hope to see most of you guys next year. Stay cool and stay healthy.
Sellnow, Deanna D. The Rhetorical Power of Popular Culture: Considering Mediated Texts. SAGE, 2018