Visual Rhetoric Rewrite- gabythefujoshi


From the first frame we see a red puppet that resembles Elmo, but taller with brown hair and bread. He’s wearing a blue, button down shirt with gold-colored stripes. The shirt resembles a typical dad shirt which I believe was done on purpose to let the audience know he is a dad. His similarities to Elmo would further indicate he might be Elmo’s dad. Elmo’s dad is staring straight at the camera, giving the audience his attention and is asserting a serious aura, that he has something important to say. Elmo is a beloved Muppet from the famous children’s show, Sesame Street, making the PSA a celebrity endorsement. Having not only Elmo but his dad appear grabs the attention of kids who love Elmo. Assuming the PSA would be played during other shows that perhaps are meant for a different demographic, kids would see a Muppet appear and stick around to watch the PSA, thinking Sesame Street is on.

The background appears to be a bedroom with mint green walls and dark teal doors. These are colors that aren’t normally used in the bedroom of a parent, they are more bright, leading us to conclude we are seeing Elmo and his dad in Elmo’s bedroom. Further evidence that we are in Elmo’s room is the shelf with books, a doll, and rocket ship toys in the background. There are stars on the left side of the frame and in the middle behind the dad, is a poster of space. All these little details are meant to depict a child’s room, establishing within the first second that this PSA is meant for children. Also, the director may have added the elements of space to get kids interested astronomy or due to a personal preference for space themed rooms. All this is done at the 0:00 frame.

At 0:01, I noticed Elmo’s dad angled his head to the right side of the frame.He started out looking straight at us, but he changes his direction, unable to look at the audience in the eye, almost like what he is about to discuss a controversial subject. Given the time the PSA was made, the difficult topic that Elmo’s dad is about to talk about is the ongoing Covid pandemic. He also has his mouth open, ready to say something, which we can assume is related to the pandemic. Also, his hand is against his chest, around where his heart is. The posture here perhaps is to suggest he’s a kind-hearted person. The posture can also suggest that what Elmo’s dad is going to say about the pandemic is heart-breaking to him, the situation pains him, establishing that the pandemic is something to be taken seriously.


While Elmo’s dad is talking about how school is a lot different nowadays, he is looking down as the serious music is playing in the background. His hand that was originally on his heart, he is gesturing it in and out, removing his hand from his chest and putting it back. I believe this suggest that he is playing with the audience’s heart. This was done on purpose to invoke a sorrowful or downhearted emotion, suggesting that the changes made to how students learn is a bad thing. The PSA is emotionally manipulating kids by mentioning a new situation they are facing that they are confused and frustrated by. Kids no longer can go to school, see teachers, or play with their friends in the same way as before. Many kids can relate to this situation that Elmo’s dad is describing so seeing the PSA makes viewers connect on a personal level.


Suddenly, after the mode has been melancholic and serious about the changes of the learning system, Elmo appears. Elmo, a beloved Muppet from a beloved show, Sesame Street, which further establishes the celebrity endorsement utilized in the PSA. The director intentionally changed the mood with the arrival of Elmo because he is a beloved character and kids get excited seeing them on screen. However, he is wearing a mask, Elmo isn’t seen as kids normally see him. Change, the PSA is making the kids undergo more change by featuring Elmo with a mask, something that has not been seen before. Its purpose is to normalize the idea of wearing masks. In a way, it’s manipulating the audience’s emotions by associating COVID regulations with a kids show puppet.

Elmo goes on to joyfully explain the importance of wearing a mask while staying apart from his friends, further establishing that wearing masks is a norm that everyone does. What further validates the claim is Elmo’s dad nodding his head as Elmo is talking, agreeing with it. This will also gain the attention of parents in seeing a good father figure agreeing with the important Covid regulations. They will probably allow their kids to watch it more, making the PSA gain more views. If Elmo is wearing a mask, kids will want to wear one as well to be like their idol. To make the mask more appealing to wear, his mask is also quite colorful, with trucks on it. Making the mask look colorful and fun, kids will be more inclined to wear it.

I feel the director intentionally changed the mood with the arrival of Elmo because he is a beloved character and kids get excited seeing them on screen. Having Elmo explain the Covid-19 regulations in his recognizable and digestible voice, high energy, and radiating positivity, kids will be more susceptible to listen to those regulations.


Elmo’s dad agreeing to what Elmo said is a form of positive reinforcement as well as a parenting method to encourage children when they have done something admirable. The reinforcement to the viewers that wearing masks and staying six feet apart is something positive and will gain praise. Another form of asserting that these regulations are a positive thing is when Elmo is looking at his dad and nods his head when his father is speaking, agreeing with what he is saying. Elmo’s dad also points his finger upward in the direction of the viewer as a cue to remember what he is saying because it is important. They both take a breath, a way to show they are both relaxed, making also the audience relaxed. In Elmo removing his mask, the audience will be delighted in seeing the face of their favorite Muppet, making them want to stick around for the rest of the PSA.


“We’re all in this together.” This line is that has been oversaturated in media, but it’s a line that gets the point across, both exclamatory and reassuring. It sets a common ground to a shared problem that everyone around the world has. It’s an inoffensive line which was delivered for this reason. Parents would want this kind of message to be pushed to their kids, so parents would be more inclined to let their kids watch this advertisement. Also, both Elmo and his dad are looking at each other as they laugh together at the end when he says it’s time for school. This establishes a friendly mood, a drastic change from the beginning of the PSA that started off serious. The director showcased Elmo’s dad moving his hand from and back to his heart in the beginning to symbolize how the audience’s emotions are swayed. The PSA was trying to sell the reinforcement of following Covid regulations to children, using celebrity endorsement to make it more enticing to the kids to follow.

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1 Response to Visual Rhetoric Rewrite- gabythefujoshi

  1. davidbdale says:

    Beautifully observed and analyzed, GabyTheFujoshi, but you’ve ignored an essential component of the assignment, which is the obligation to watch and analyze the VISUAL components of the presentation WITHOUT AUDIO.

    That means you’ll have to strike all references to Elmo’s voice, the background music, and any other elements contained on the audio track.

    How much of what is left can be conveyed with VISUAL components alone?

    Finally, any thorough RHETORICAL analysis would include your impression of how well the author accomplished her goal. Based on the visuals alone, did she communicate everything she hoped to visually?


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