Visual Rhetoric- oaktree1234

PROFESSOR NOTE:

Oaktree starts with a very strong first set of notes that blend keen visual descriptions with visual analysis.

I respond with detailed observations about the first :01.
Please review before you post your own Visual Rhetoric draft.

0:01-0:02 The ad begins with a close up of a dinner plate that appears to be only half finished. We can assume the meal being eaten is dinner since the plate has peas, macaroni and possibly chicken on it. The room is very dim implying that it’s later in the day. The half-drank glass of milk next to the plate shakes just slightly as if a door was just slammed. A crumpled up napkin sits alongside the plate as if someone had thrown it down in a hurry. It appears that this plate is not located in a restaurant, rather a home. The worn, wooded table, simplistic silverware, and smorgasbord of foods on the plate imply this is a casual home cooked meal. This scene automatically appeals to the pathos of the viewer since it’s a comfortable, familiar setting. 

0:03- 0:13 The camera pans to a middle aged man sitting at the same table that the unattended plate was on. He appears to be a working man, dressed in a shirt and tie. The fridge behind him is covered with cards, calendars, sticky notes, and artwork, implying that this man most likely has children. We never see another parental figure in the clip implying this man could be a single father. The man glances upward with an irritated expression on his face. The direction of his gaze seems to point to the ceiling or top corner of the room. He then glances back down at his plate only before quickly glancing back upwards towards what perhaps could be the upstairs of his house. The man winces as if a loud or startling sound just occurred. He clenches his jaw and looks away with a distressed expression. He looks off into the upward direction of the room one more time and lets out a deep sigh. By creating this visual of a working class man raising children on his own, they are appealing to the viewer’s ethos. Who’s more trustworthy than a hard working single father?

0:14- 0:21 The camera pans backwards revealing the entire table the man is sitting at and more of the room. We see that the man is in what appears to be a middle class home; no lavish furniture or appliances. The man is again looking up at what we assume to be the upstairs of the house. He utters only a couple words while still looking in this direction. At 0:16 the words “Never stop being a dad.” appear on the screen, implying the other individual is his child. He then slowly lowers his gaze until a notification on his phone pulls his attention back to the table and he grabs his phone. The careful selection of scenery adds to the ethos appeal. By demonstrating that this man lives an average, middle class lifestyle, he is instantly more relatable and seems credible. The pathos of the viewer are also targeted through the text on screen. A vast majority of viewers either are a father figure to someone else or have a father figure in their lives. The impact of “never stop being a dad” is that the viewer is forced to imagine either not having their father figure in their lives or no longer being that figure to someone else.

0:22-0:23 The screen pans to a close up of a text message conversation. The most recent incoming text message reads: *heart icon* U 2. This response indicates that the man was previously telling his child he loved them. This short clip automatically appeals to pathos by demonstrating the bond between a father and child. 

0:24-31 The camera pans back to the man’s face. After reading this heartfelt text message, he appears to look relieved, much different than the beginning of the clip. He shakes his head as a subtle smirk creeps across his face. He pops what appears to be a french fry in his mouth and continues to shake his head as he chews. Finally he glances back up to the upstairs of the house, where we assume his child has been residing. This scene is relatable to parents as well as children. The ad suggests that although being a father isn’t always easy, it’s well worth it.

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2 Responses to Visual Rhetoric- oaktree1234

  1. davidbdale says:

    This is a brilliant first draft, oaktree. I have read only the first segment, but I’m very impressed wit the combination of description and analysis you’re showing here. I will make just a few observations on your first segment. I have not watched the video. I haven’t even gotten to 0:02. I’m making notes while looking at the opening static image.

    0:01-0:02 The ad begins with a close up of a dinner plate that appears to be only half finished.

    A strong opening, but I want to suggest that if we didn’t know we were watching an “ad,” we would not draw that conclusion from what’s on screen. This could easily be the opening shot of a movie or TV show, so as first-time viewers, part of what we try to determine is what sort of visual product we’re watching. It comes on screen, we don’t know what it is, we balance several hypotheses about what we’re watching, we withhold final judgment until we get enough clues, but we analyze from the very beginning.

    We can assume the meal being eaten is dinner since the plate has peas, macaroni and possibly chicken on it.

    You’ve already called it a dinner plate before you describe the meal, so is it the size and shape of the plate or the contents that tell you it’s dinnertime? Here you offer the food as the primary indicator. You haven’t said whether the meal looks appetizing, well-prepared, nicely presented, or otherwise. You don’t say whether the peas appear fresh, frozen, or canned. Since we don’t know the purpose of this video yet, it could be an ad for a home delivery food service. Is it? Are we supposed to want to eat this meal, or is it a prop to indicate someone has left the table? You didn’t mention the silverware, crossed over the plate. Notice both handles are propped against the edge, keeping them from the liquid in the bowl of the plate. A person who didn’t expect to finish this meal might pile the silver on top of the food. A person who will return to the meal wants to keep the handles clean. A person who left the table in a tremendous hurry wouldn’t have crossed the silver on the plate at all. If this is a police procedural drama, and some off-screen violence has occurred, the presence of one fiy on the edge of the plate would indicate it had been left unattended longer than a few minutes. So the ABSENCE of some clues also helps us determine what sort of video this is, and how long the diner has been away from the table.

    The room is very dim implying that it’s later in the day.

    Or early in the day. But you’re right, the combination of dim light AND the food types says evening.

    The half-drank glass of milk next to the plate shakes just slightly as if a door was just slammed.

    That’s fascinating. I’m looking at a still, so I haven’t seen that. Liquid in a glass on video is a common trope meaning there’s an earthquake. Your interpretation is more benign. Or not. Maybe the diner rushed out of the room and slammed a door behind.

    A crumpled up napkin sits alongside the plate as if someone had thrown it down in a hurry.

    Also fascinating. I see the napkin. I wouldn’t have said it indicated a hasty departure, but any interpretation is valid for a viewer trying to make sense of a scene.

    It appears that this plate is not located in a restaurant, rather a home.

    That’s a very logical conclusion for several reasons, most of which you’re about to mention. Again, the absence of clues is very telling. If we’re meant to know this is a restaurant, countless clues could tell us. Since we know everything in the scene is deliberate, we know where we’re not.

    The worn, wooden table, simplistic silverware, and smorgasbord of foods on the plate imply this is a casual home cooked meal.

    Right. That and the absence of other tables, restaurant place settings, etc.

    This scene automatically appeals to the pathos of the viewer since it’s a comfortable, familiar setting.

    It does, you’re right. Does it also indicate anything about the demographic of the owner of the home and meal? Is the home owned by a Hollywood studio executive or by a hardware store accountant?

    I know there’s no way to be sure how to answer SO MANY questions on the basis of so little information, but I postulate that our brains don’t wait for all the evidence before they begin to draw conclusions. Makers of videos know that, and they start to manipulate us immediately to draw the RIGHT conclusions.

  2. davidbdale says:

    You didn’t ask for feedback, Oaktree, but I’m glad you posted early to give me a chance to interact on the blog with a good first draft that still offers multiple possibilities for improvement and revision. Thank you.

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