Visual Rhetoric-ComicDub

0:00-0:01 The video begins with a low-angle camera shot of a gray SUV parked in the driveway, of what seems to be, an average suburban house because there are trees surrounding the house meaning it is most likely not in the city. The property itself seems to be well kept but not completely perfect, with some stains on the siding of the house and leaves on the roof, again to convey the feeling of an average suburban house. There is also a basketball net in the driveway which likely means the family living there has children. The branding is removed from the car most likely to help give the impression that this is not an advertisement for a vehicle company. Three of the car doors start off as open but are then shut by the end of the first second to show that multiple people have entered the car, presumably the family that lives there with the parents in the front and the children in the back. This 1 second from the beginning of the video appeals to the pathos of the viewer by setting up a relatable scene to most people.

0:01-0:04 The camera now transitions to the inside of the car where three kids are seen in the back of the vehicle, one in the very back row of seats and two in the middle row of seats. The camera starts off focused on the two boys in the middle row of seats who appear to be maybe 10-13 years old. Based on their facial expressions, the two boys seem to be screaming at each other while fighting over something in their hands that cannot yet be seen, tugging it back and forth. The camera now pans to the girl in the back row of seats who is presumably the older sister of the two boys. She is wearing pink headphones with which once again, no branding,  while listening to music, indicated by her dance-like motions. Appearances wise, the children look like they are well cared for healthy kids. This again appeals to the pathos of the viewer showing a relatable normal family with a familiar scene of kids fighting in the car.

0:04-0:05 The camera transitions to a middle aged man who is sitting in the driver’s seat of the car. It can be assumed that he is the father of the children and also looks like your average dad, indicated by his attire. The man is seen staring straight ahead, ignoring the two boys fighting in the back, looking like he is waiting for something to happen. 

0:06-0:08 The camera now transitions back to the girl in the backseat who is blowing a big bubble of gum that looks like it is about to burst. It then pans over to the boys who are continuing to scream at each other while fighting over something, still not yet seen, in their hands. This scene is likely created to show how loud the inside of the car must be with the bubble of gum about to burst and the boys screaming. This once again appeals to pathos, creating the scene of a noisy car that most families with more than 1 child can relate to.

0:08-0:14 The camera now transitions, for the first time, to the front passenger seat of the car where you can see a middle aged woman, presumably the mother of the family, sitting. She is looking up into the rearview mirror, looking back at the kids in the back seats of the car. You can see her start to open her mouth and based on her facial expression, it seems as if she is about to yell at the kids for misbehaving. You can then also see the father look back at the kids through the rearview mirror as if to see their reaction to what the mother is about to say. The camera now focuses on the girl who’s gum bubble finally pops. At the same time the bubble pops, the camera pans out to the boys where it is revealed that the object they were fighting over was a bag of cheese puffs that now explodes all over the car due to them tugging it back and forth.

0:14-0:19 With cheese puffs still flying through the air, the camera transitions to the dad’s face. He is once again staring straight forward looking like he is waiting for something to happen with a face that says, “can you please just stop already”. The camera now shows the two boys continuing to yell at each other with the mother in the foreground starting to say something. The two boys immediately stop arguing and look at their mother whose lips can be made out to be saying “now” with a stern look on her face. 

0:19-0:22 The camera transitions to the kids in the back seat who all have the look of someone who just got scolded. They all can be seen to immediately reach for their seatbelts and plug them in. From this it can be inferred that the mother was telling them to “put their seatbelts on now”. This again appeals to pathos as we all can relate to the emotions felt when being yelled at by our parents.

0:22-0:25 The camera now transitions to the dad who is now looking back at the kids. After watching the kids buckled up, he gives a little smile followed by a sigh of relief as if the kids putting on their seatbelts was what he was waiting for this whole time. He then looks forwards and puts his hand on the steering wheel showing that he is now ready to drive away. This too appeals to the pathos of the viewers as it conveys the relatable value of the importance of seatbelts as the father waited for his kids to buckle up before pulling out of the driveway.

0:26-0:30 The remainder of the video shows the car pulling out of the driveway into the street of what is now confirmed, a suburban neighborhood. As the car starts pulling away a logo for the NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, appears on screen along with a little slogan that reads, “Never give up until they buckle up.” This now reveals that the ad was about safe driving habits, sending the message to make sure everyone is buckled up before getting on the road. This final 4 seconds of the video appeals to ethos by showing the branding of the credible NHTSA.

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2 Responses to Visual Rhetoric-ComicDub

  1. comicdub says:

    The type of feedback I would like to receive:
    – If possible, I was wondering if you would be able to leave feedback on what I would need to change or improve upon for the rewrite of this assignment.


  2. davidbdale says:

    Beautiful work, ComicDub. I got a clear sense of what you were watching, almost all of which was confirmed eventually when I did in fact watch the video. You did a good job of blending visual details with rhetorical analysis as well. Just a comments that might help you with a few revisions.

    —Not only the car branding but the specificity of an actual license plate was also scrubbed in the effort to achieve universality. I will note, however, that only California uses the sequence NLLLNNN for license plates (where N=numeral and L=letter).
    —It might be important to know which 3 car doors closed. We don’t know while we’re watching whether it’s significant or not, but our brains do notice that we can see “mom” through the windshield without knowing yet who she is, and we wait for further evidence before deciding whether it’s relevant.
    —Once we’re inside the car, we might further wonder how the girl got into the “wayback” and whether just the boy on the driver’s side has recently entered the car along with the driver.
    —One curiosity not addressed is how, considering the car doors just closed, the boys are instantly engaged in a tug of war. Could it be that the driver’s side boy brought the bag of cheese curls with him, triggering an immediate battle to own them?
    —You didn’t mention once the mild ethnicity indicators. Are they irrelevant?
    —You never mention the non-specific sports apparel of the boys.
    —When I saw “dad’s” first facial expression, it was not what I expected from your description. You also did not mention what I saw as deep gratitude to his wife for being the “bad guy” on the seatbelt issue. I wonder if you think he might have relented and simply pulled out of the driveway if she hadn’t been there to enforce safety.
    —You didn’t mention the prominence of his wedding band.
    —I was not prepared to see “mom” flick the cheese curl off her shoulder. Those things flew all the way into the front seat.

    Small details, but they are nonetheless part of the scene carefully designed by the “author” of the argument and therefore probably worthy noting.


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