Visual Rhetoric – shadowswife

No Extra Life

0:00-0:01: The beginning of the ad shows what seems to be, based on the masculine voice, a man entering the hallway of an empty building. What we can see so far are a few chairs, a counter, a refrigerator, a lamp, and a sofa. There’s a box on the bottom left-hand corner with the text “cdrone714” and says “Alright!” next to it. In addition, there’s a moving map that displays a simple blueprint of what the inside of this building looks like and where this person is located in this building. We can assume that this is the man’s point of view and he is playing a video game with his friends. The text on that box might be his username and he is currently letting his friends know with enthusiasm that he is in a random house.

0:02-0:04: The man’s gaze shifts from side to side as he approaches the two rooms in the house. He has passed the kitchen and is currently in the room where the sofa is located. The room has a small bookshelf, another chair with a footstool, and three paintings. The textbox now shows more of this person’s conversation with his friends where this man is confirming that he’s in the house and another username, “jnixc”, asks about his surroundings. With nothing out of the ordinary insight, the man’s response was, “nothing yet.” Based on the feminine voice, this “jnixc” is a female who is playing this game with this man. We can assume they are probably playing a video game that involves stealth, based on how empty the house is, and their objective is to find something in this house without getting caught.

0:05-0:07: The man’s gaze shifts downwards to the sofa and small table that’s in front of him. There’s a blanket sitting on the sofa and on the table, there’s an Xbox controller, some notebooks, and a small stack of magazines. We can assume that this house is the home of a family of three or four because that Xbox and notebooks might belong to the kids’ and those magazines are for their mother and/or father. However, before it is assumed that the house is fully empty, the man hears a vibration and lets his friend know that he has heard something. He shifts his gaze to the stairs that leads to the second floor of the house. We can assume that he has heard the vibration of someone’s phone in the house. Therefore, there’s a possibility that there are people in the house.

0:08-0:09: The man is letting his friend know that he is heading upstairs and rushes to the top of the second floor. The hallway of the second floor appears to be dark, but you are able to see a couple of paintings or pictures on the wall. The girl responses back to the man, letting him know that she’s nearby the house. With the newfound evidence that there are people in this house, these people are probably hiding from them.

0:10-0:11: The man rushes into an empty room with a small table. It turns out that he has entered one of the bedrooms in the house, but there’s still no sight of this family or anyone that possibly lives in this house.

0:12-014: There is the sound of a beating heart and it is starting to beat faster as the man looks inside a drawer in the bedroom. The drawer contains some clothes and a package of bullets, but the man claims that whatever he is looking for is “not here.” We are unsure as to what this man is looking for, but we at least know that his objective is to find something in this house. However, with the increased heart rate in the background, we can assume that he is nervous about something and that the gravity of this mission is severe.

0:15-0:17: The man’s gaze shifts upward, away from the drawer as his beating heart continues to rapidly beat at a fast rate. He exclaims to his friend that the gun isn’t in the drawer and he hastily exits the bedroom. Now that we know that this man’s gun is gone, we can assume that this man is in danger and desperate to find something to defend himself in his house. In fact, based on the tone of both the man and woman’s voice and the beating heart in the background, the seriousness of this scene can make us assume that he might not actually be in a video game.

0:18-0:22: The man rushes through the second-floor hallway and shifts his gaze in multiple directions. His heart continues to beat fast as he is starting to have a shortness of breathing. He begins to approach a door that’s at the very end of the hallway and yells out for a boy named, Cameron. Out of fear, he starts to aggressively bang on the door, continues to yell out this boy’s name, and desperately asks if he’s in the room on the other side. Now we know that this man wasn’t the one in danger, but it was possibly his other friend or son that was. With the gun gone, the door locked, and the phone left on silent, we can assume that this Cameron person took the gun and purposefully locked the door to commit suicide when the man and woman weren’t home.

0:23-0:30: The final seconds of the ad ends with a melancholic atmosphere when the scene backs out. The man continues to bang on the door and sobs for Cameron. The words “with gun suicide, there is no extra life” appear on the black screen with the addition of some advice on how to store your gun safely. It’s now clear that the ad was on gun suicide and that people must be cautious with possessing a gun; however, with the occurrences of the boy, we can assume that Cameron was probably depressed. All in all, the ad was most likely suggesting to be mindful of any signs of depression and to be cautious as to where you hide your gun because you may never know if someone may use to commit suicide.

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4 Responses to Visual Rhetoric – shadowswife

  1. shadowswife says:

    Aside from removing the audio description, what were the other things I was advised to change? I know I have went over the assignment with you, but I just want to have the feedback here as a reminder.


  2. davidbdale says:

    You’ll need to decide for yourself at what point you change your mind about what you’re watching, Shadowswife. It never looked like a video game to me, but that’s because I’m not a gamer. I thought from the first frames that we were watching body camera footage of a police emergency response team. It’s a little odd that the front door to what is obviously (to me) a family residence opens so promptly, indicating no hesitation or resistance (and no need to wait to be invited in). You’ll want to do a better job of indicating that the “box” on the screen is not a physical box in the room. Call it something that you can refer to in a word or two going forward. You’ll also want to describe how the camera “scans” the room. Do we get clues about what it considers important from where it aims itself first, how much time it spends on which details? Does that behavior indicate to you that the “first person” is familiar with the layout? Or, as a gamer would, does the player have to carefully “take in” the whole layout before deciding where to go next? Would an unfamiliar person “know” that there is nothing more than the one big room on the first floor? Could there be a hallway to the left leading to more rooms? When the player turns quickly to the right and heads immediately up the stairs, does that indicate that there’s nothing else to see on the first floor? Or does he/she have some knowledge (or fear, or motivation) that causes the prompt decision to take the stairs? In other words, what can you conclude about the person in the room based on where he/she goes?

    Does that help?


  3. JS says:

    Reading this post was hilarious given that it excessively convolutes and complicates a very obvious scenario conveyed in this Ad Council (public service) commercial.

    Within seconds, it becomes highly apparent that Cameron’s father is on the phone with Cameron’s mother narrating his entry and pathway through the family home, knowing that their son was in danger. The father enters the bedroom, finds that the gun is missing from the sock drawer, and it can then be assumed that Cameron is likely dead from a self inflicted gunshot wound behind the locked door of his own bedroom.

    The failures of this Ad Council commercial are numerous:

    1) The target audience is parents and the target message is to lock up guns to prevent them from being used by children, which renders meaningless all of the video game references (the chat frame in the bottom left corner, the username handles, and the blueprint / map in the bottom right corner). The video game references simply distract from the message which would have been stronger had they eliminated the in-set frames and focused solely on the voices and POV camera action.

    2) Why did the father go to his sock drawer first if he suspected his son was in mortal danger? In reality he would’ve frantically searched for Cameron before anything else, let alone wasting precious seconds looking for his gun).

    3) Why did the father stop shaking the door and weep rather than smashing the door in with his foot? His son may be bleeding to death, or may be about to shoot himself, yet he stopped trying to enter because the door was locked.

    4) Again, why all the video game references in this ad? The target audience implicitly was not gamers, but parents who own guns, and the message was to lock up guns kept in the household.

    Confusing. But not as completely confused and off the mark as the review written above. Wow. That’s what your understanding was when you watched this???! Lol 😂


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