Instagram and or Facebook are used by almost everyone in our current age. What is posted, how it is posted, what is written as a caption, and even what is not posted are all forms of rhetoric. Every part of a person’s social media page is meant to illustrate only the positives of their life. Before the age of social media trying to seek out this rhetoric was much harder. People often times wrote in journals what they deemed important.
In the same spirit, I have kept a semester-long record of items that I found to be important throughout my first year at Georgetown. In the following blogs I pick out fascinating forms of writing that I saw throughout my week and analyze them.
Seeing family and friends over Thanksgiving, it is almost impossible to be grateful. This holiday brings a spirit of gratitude that is so strong that often times people begin to feel grateful for even the smallest things in life. In short, it is a really positive time… for a day. Afterwards, it is off to the stores to literally tackle one another for cheap products. It is unfathomable to me how people can feel so thankful for what they leave, yet a few hours later literally physically harm one another in order to get more items. Although this phenomenon is fascinating, I was more intrigued by some of the sales that stores had listed. Yes, some of the sales were very attractive with extremely low prices, however just as many were not that much lower. Still, people were dying to get these items. I found it incredibly fascinating how companies used the rhetorical atmosphere of Black Friday in order to discount items less. In other words, they claimed to have extremely good sales, yet in reality, they did not discount their products that much. Nonetheless, they still succeeded by targeting the feeling that black Friday shoppers get. I think that this strategy is very effective because companies take advantage of the rhetoric behind black Friday. Every customer assumes that the sales listed are once in a lifetime and that they have to purchase the item quickly before someone else comes and grabs it, or in order to have enough time to continue to find the good deals. By playing to this feeling companies are able to “fake” having incredibly good deals.
Over thanksgiving break I was able to travel back to Houston, Texas to see my family and friends. After talking to my family, hanging out with my friends, and getting over those first two days of initial shock to finally see everyone again I was able to just lay down in the morning to play Xbox with my little brother. My brother, David, is a Junior in high school and is a very studious and ambitious student. So, as we often did before, we sat down to play Xbox and talk about everything and nothing. After talking about his social life, tennis game, and everything in between we finally arrived at the conversation of school. He talked to me about his classes, the teachers he liked, the teachers he did not like, and what he was struggling with. He mentioned to me that writing was not his favorite class because he struggled with trying to understand what his teacher wanted. After complaining to me for the better part of fifteen minutes he finally said, the only good part about the class was reading The Great Gatsby. Immediately I got a sense of excitement as I recalled what I had written for my first commonplace book. I asked him if he had his book and once I had it in my hands I immediately flipped to the last page and read “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (Fitzgerald 180). Being back home yet spending already three months in University, I thought about how this quote applies to my life now. I think that now this quote represents a sense of maturity and growth that comes from “leaving the pack”. Leaving to a place far away from home is necessary in order to grow and seek out opportunities that will leave me a better future, however, this does not mean that I have to let everything fall into oblivion. As far as my friends and I might be, we all have such a strong bond with one other that keeps a part of each of us in the past. While we recalled past memories at a friends home, this sense of being in the past yet creating a new future was evident. We were creating new memories with each other at the moment, yet living partly in the past. I now see this quote in the sense that these life-long friendships will always contain pieces of the past (they are called memories) and that is a positive attribute.
Doing some research into what DC has to offers I stumbled upon the National Portrait Gallery (yet again). Looking at the “highlights” of this museum I was not surprised to see the presidential portraits listed as a “must see”. And so, as the internet tends to do, I clicked away at several links until I was deep inside the internet. One click led to another and eventually I arrived at an article describing the controversy behind the artist, Nelson Shanks’ portrait of Bill Clinton. Nelson Shank painted the formal portrait for Bill Clinton, and like many of his other works, it was hung in the National Portrait Gallery. The article described the subtle shadow of a blue dress that the artist placed in the painting and the underlying meaning that it has. On the left side of the painting, there is an unformed shadow. The artist revealed that this shadow is of a dress that he purposely laid by him while he painted. He said that it was meant to represent the blue dress from Bill Clinton’s infamous scandal; it represents none other than Monica Lewinsky. The artist claims that he deliberately placed this here in order to subtly show that Clinton is perhaps one of the best liars of the century. The Clintons realized this and in their frustration demanded that it be taken down. Looking at the rhetoric behind this painting, it is obvious that the artist saw great importance in detailing Clinton in this manner, even if it meant risking that his painting not be seen. Yes, the painting was taken down, however, the significance still lives on in things such as the articles that have been written about it. In other words, the artist was successful.
As a part of my real estate course within the McDonough School of Business, I was tasked to go out into various parts of the city in order to analyze certain properties. Essentially, it was a street analysis of a block within DC or Virginia. One of the blocks that I focused on was right across Key Bridge; Arlington, Virginia. More specifically, the area studied was North Lynn Street between Lee Highway and Wilson Boulevard; the block that surrounds the large Deloitte building. I found it very interesting how this area was organized. It was surrounded by coffee shops, fast food restaurants, farmers markets, and big offices. Reading more into the history of the area I realized that this was what was known as the business district. This area is located in the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, which is a designated 17-block mixed-use urban centre that is an innovative economic hub. Continuing to read about this area I realized that the entire place had been organized to fit the needs of the big offices situated there. Every part of the Rosslyn area was rhetoric. The offices brought people to the area, the shops fed off of them during lunch, the coffee shops fed their addictions, and the vibrant restaurants that open late kept them there all day. Looking at how even large city planners organize their districts, everything is rhetorical.
On Wednesdays, my week takes a small break. I finish class by 1:45 pm and have the rest of the day. Most of the time I go back to my dorm to do homework, go to the gym or go out to eat. This week I decided to go take advantage of what DC had to offer. I went towards the national mall and walked for a few hours. After a while, I decided to go to the national portrait gallery. Here, I walked around until I made it to a third flow gallery that seemed very interesting. At the end of the hallway, there was a statue that seemed incredibly ominous. It had felt as if I had stumbled upon a secret floor that was hidden from the public. A floor that only I had the privilege to see, and at the end of it, a statue waiting for me. I approached the statue and felt a genuine sense of fear. The mix of both the statue, the entrance, the painting behind it, and the fact that the floor was virtually empty filled me with a sense of deep fear. It was the first time that I felt scared to be around something that was created to be so beautiful. I took a step back to read the description of a statue. The statue is of the wife of Henry Adams, “Clover” Adams, who committed suicide in 1885 by drinking chemicals. Henry Adams thus commissioned this memorial to be made to encapsulate ideas of being beyond joy and sorrow. The statue truly evokes a feeling of despair or something beyond human understanding. I knew instantly that this statue had to represent a tragic past life. Sure enough, the suicide confirmed this suspicion. The closer I got to the statue the more glaring the eyes became. It seemed as if I was truly looking into the eyes of someone who had suffered so much. At one point I felt as if it was merely a matter of time before the statue awoke from its eternal slumber in order to whisper something to me. Needless to say, the rhetoric of both the statue and the location within the museum gave this piece a true sense of fear and despair.
This week has been incredibly stressful… and it is only Monday. Well, actually, this week is very busy, which meant that the weekend preparing was arguably more stressful than this week. Nonetheless, both the preparation for this week and this week itself have been very stressful. With projects, presentations, club meetings, papers, and midterms it feels like I have no time to just lay down and breathe. Going on a huge rant with one of my friends back home about this, he told me to just think about going back home for Thanksgiving, and how great of a break it will be. He sent me a link to this song and told me to take three minutes to listen to it and then keep on working. I took a break to listen to the song and was instantly brought back to memories of the summer. This was a song that my friends and I overplayed throughout the entire summer and listening to it brought me back to those days. The lyrics of the song have no real meaning to me. In fact, I had not paid that much attention to them until now, however, just the rhythm of the song was enough to bring me back to those memories. It was fascinating that just one song was able to bring back so many specific memories. Not only that, but the song came with a certain indescribable feeling of happiness and nostalgia. It not only reminded me of the summer, but it brought back the same feelings that I had then. After listening to this song I felt a very strong sense of peace and was able to regroup before continuing to tackle the immense amount of work that I had. It gave me the peace of mind to continue to focus on what needed to be done and it gave me the strength to make it through this week. That one song was enough to give me the motivation to finish the week strong.
With the midterm elections being today, it seems that the media is full of advertisements and articles covering the elections. Going through my social media feed in the morning I came across articles and videos covering one of the most popular races, the Texas Senate race. Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz have been going head to head for the Senate seat throughout their campaigns. Beto has been gaining a very large following and is now a big threat to Ted Cruz. If Beto wins the Senate race, the state will see a dramatic shift.
Of the advertisements that I have seen coming from Beto, I found his interview with Stephen Colbert to be one of the most impactful. In this interview, Stephen Colbert makes jokes about both Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke. However, his jokes towards Cruz are clearly derogatory and harmful to his campaign. For example, before the interview with Beto, Colbert said that Cruz feels so threatened by Beto that he bought advertisements to be shown during Beto’s interview. Statements like these portray Cruz in a negative connotation. Calling him the “zodiac killer” and making jokes about his desperate attempts to save his Senate seat are all rhetorical tactics used to give Cruz a negative connotation.
On the other hand, Colbert makes jokes about Beto that create a welcoming and positive connotation around his campaign. He jokes about Beto’s past experience in a band (a quality that his target demographic relates to) and avoids serious topics about his past. Mixed within these jokes are serious issues that have come to define Beto’s campaign. Colbert asks him about his stance on immigration, specifically his views on the proposed wall that Trump wants to build. This allows Beto to further push the ideals of his campaign onto prospective voters with the comedic relief of being on a late night talk show.
More so, Beto’s target demographic is more likely to watch clips of him on a late night show than they are to read about him in a newspaper or even watch him on television. The fact that this clip was put on YouTube was an attempt to appeal to young voters. Therefore, Colbert’s talk show within itself was a very effective platform on which to communicate with voters. While disguised under the comedic atmosphere of a talk show, Beto’s appearance on “The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert” was a very powerful advertisement. The rhetoric of the setting, approach, jokes, and interview questions were all very effective in appealing to the ideals of Beto’s target demographic.
At Yates they play the news on each TV by the treadmills. As is typical for most all televisions in public areas, they play what is most important. Sporting events and the news seem to be a common occurrence. Perhaps because we go to a very politically oriented University, most of the televisions are turned to the news. One morning I noticed this discussion going on. I was only able to listen to a very short fragment of the discussion, however the more important point was the title that was put on the screen.
The title that is given underneath the screen on the news is meant to be an attention grabber. The role it plays is to persuade people to stay on that channel and listen to what is being said. I thought it was very interesting that the word rhetoric was tied with the GOP Midterm Push and more specifically with Trump’s campaign. It shows not only that rhetoric truly is at the root of everything, but also that the news cast thought rhetorics role in politics was a strong enough attention grabber to their audience.
In terms of the context of the news cast, I thought it was incredibly fascinating what was being said about rhetoric. The discussion revolved around the different ways that both parties have been talking about issues. They analyzed primarily the language coming from democrats. Trump’s campaign manager was bashing the rhetoric of many democrats for giving off the wrong impression. He believed that the democrats were misleading the people with their rhetoric. However, being that he is Trump’s campaign manager, he surely played a role in the rhetoric behind Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Throughout Trump’s campaign he used various different forms of rhetoric to better appeal to his target audience. The way he crafted his speeches and the places where he chose to speak to the media all were rooted in a form of rhetoric. His campaign manager, thus, bashing the democratic party’s use of rhetoric is completely ironic.
Listening to Childish Gambino’s song “This is America”, I found a lot of the lyrics to be very impactful. This song has been critically acclaimed for being charged with a lot of underlying meanings. Childish Gambino littered the lyrics, as well as the music video, with ideas that reflect the current state of our society. The lyric that stuck out to me the most was “This a celly (ha) That’s a tool (yeah)”. In this line the artist refers to a cellphone as a “celly”. Thus, he is saying this is a cell phone and it is a tool. Within the context of his music video and in the context of the rest of his song he is referring to the role that cellphones play in modern society. When this lyric is said, the scene in the music video is of a bunch of chaos happening and people filming it on their phones. You can see a police car, fire, violence, and overall disorder being filmed. I think that all of this refers to issues such as police brutality and general violence. This lyric, in the context of the music video, shows that cellphones can be used as a positive or negative tool. On one hand filming these events can give them exposure and make the rest of the world aware of these issues. However, on the other side of the coin is the idea those who sit and film these events occur are doing so instead of actively trying to solve the problem. The side that Childish Gambino sits on is not too clear, although it can be inferred that he thinks that exposing police brutality and other types of violence is a good practice. Overall, I think that the power of this rhetoric comes from the way it is seamlessly put into the song. It is very catchy and repeated by millions of people. Also, I think that the music video visualizes the point that Childish Gambino makes in a very powerful yet discreet way. Incorporating pop culture with current issues was a very effective form of rhetoric that sparked a conversation over the events that were happening at the time.