Visual Rhetoric-Dohertyk9

0:01: The scene instantly transforms from a black screen to an aerial view (possibly taken by a drone?) of what could be considered the ideal countryside; to a view of very lush green fields, trees, a broad river cutting through, and a hazy gray sky. The land appears to have been altered slightly for human use, possibly for farms, possibly for a pasture for animals.  Large swaths of land have been cut out for use.

This cuts out and is overlapped by an image of a rabbit. The rabbit looks animated, not realistic, and wears a blue collared shirt. It is running from side to side up what appears to be a steep hill. As in the previous picture, perhaps even more so, the grass is a very bright, lush green. No word better describes the scene than “verdant”.

The author’s purpose is very difficult to decipher from this first frame. The potential purpose could be:

  • to protest animal cruelty
  • to promote a wildlife reserve
  • to protest for nature conservation
  • to outline the beauty of nature and promote respect for nature
  • to promote recycling
  • to promote a particular area for travel
  • to promote an airline or helicopter ride
  • to promote a brand of gardening equipment or seeds
  • to promote gardening/home grown food
  • to promote a certain pesticide OR to protest the use of pesticides
  • to promote a brand of lawnmower or earth-moving tool
  • to protest animal captivity
  • to promote an area to live in/housing in a particular area
  • to promote nationalism for a particular country-or peace in wartime(?)/anti-war
  • to promote hunting OR to humanize animals by dressing them like humans to paint how horrific it is to hunt them (protest hunting animals)
  • to promote a brand of laundry detergent by showing that even after running through the hills and horribly staining the shirt, the rabbit will still be able to get out the tough stains
  • a perfume commercial for the “smell of the mountains”
  • to promote the theory of evolution because even rabbits will one day become sophisticated enough to wear shirts
  • to promote camping
  • to promote hiking
  • Et cetera.

0:02: It becomes clear that the rabbit is running over hills to get to his destination.

0:03: The scene changes yet again, to display a garden. A rabbit is running along a path through the garden. It is clear that it was meant to be a garden because of the rows of crops and sunflowers. Also, the fence surrounding the area and the sticks with the shirt over them (likely an attempt at a scarecrow) gives it the appearance of warding off predators and protecting the plants. Also, the rabbit in this scene is not wearing a shirt.

0:04: The view zooms in again on the rabbit, this time very close so that you can see his feet making an impact on the ground as he runs. This is perhaps to show that he is running very quickly.

0:05: The viewpoint shifts yet again to show the rabbit with the blue shirt. It appears as though he is waiting for the other rabbit. He is smiling, gesturing for the other rabbit to follow by waving his arm forward.

0:06: The viewpoint changes to show two elks(?) who are looking very purposefully in one direction. The grass is very tall there and reaches the elks’ waists. The area that the elks are looking at is quite the opposite; it appears to be well maintained and is bordered by buildings, possibly houses. The elks share a look that seems to imply a mutual curiosity.

0:07: The gates of (likely) the same garden as earlier are opened and a hoard of different types of animals are pouring through. Most notably, almost all of these animals are wearing some sort of clothes on the top half of their bodies. The pig even appears to be wearing a purple suit jacket. All of the animals seem to be very pleased.

0:08: There is a close-up of a furry hand (likely a rabbit’s) pulling a carrot from the ground.

0:09: Another hand pulls a different crop out of the ground.

0:10: A rabbit wearing a red top with a black collar is smiling as he throws cucumbers to a rabbit that is mostly out of view.

0:11: The same rabbit in the red top is sitting against a row of crops next to another rabbit with an unbuttoned blue/green collared button-down shirt. The rabbit in the red is smelling a carrot, presumably in the manner that a person would smell a delicious-looking meal. The other rabbit is already biting into another vegetable.

0:12: The rabbit in the red top bites down on the carrot enthusiastically. The two rabbits then share a glance, happily chewing their food.

0:13-0:14: The rabbit in the red is now lying next to a different rabbit, this one wearing a tied yellow shirt. Both of the rabbits have jovial expressions as they make snow angels in piles of some sort of vegetable.

0:15: All of the rabbits are lined up in a conga line, lifting their feet in sync as they happily dance.

0:16: Something is thrown at the rabbits as they move forward in the conga line.

0:17: The scene shifts to a white background, where three rabbits with no clothes are huddled around a pile of vegetables.

0:18: One of the rabbits jumps in the air, throwing the vegetables like confetti. Another of the rabbits follows suit, while the third rabbit watches. The words “Cook it” appear behind the rabbits.

0:19: The words “Store it” appear underneath the words “Cook it”. Finally, the words “Share it” appear beneath the “Store it”. The rabbits in the scene pick up more vegetables from the pile on the floor.

0:20: The words “Just don’t waste it.” replace the other words in the background. The rabbits continue celebrating the raining food in the air.

0:21: Three different rabbits, one in red, one in yellow, and one in green, are leaning in towards the viewer. The scene has changed again and the background is tall grass and plants surrounding a bridge. The rabbits are frowning, as in confusion.

0:22: The rabbits’ expressions change, suddenly lighting up.

0:23: The scene changes again to show a rabbit hole with light pouring in from the entrance. On the right of the scene is a table with presumably salt and pepper shakers on top, as well as a tea kettle. In the center of the scene is a rabbit with an armload of vegetables. Two rabbits are watching from the side with enthusiasm and perked ears. The rabbit carrying the vegetables throws them in the air. The camera reveals two more rabbits, four in total, that struggle to pick up the vegetables as they look at the rabbit that had been carrying them with confusion/disbelief.

0:24: The rabbit with the blue shirt is viewed from below as he jumps off of a stand containing a tall crop. Three rabbits from below look up with surprise. The words, “better ate than never” appear at the bottom of the screen.

0:25: The rabbit in the blue shirt is caught by the rabbits below. All of the rabbits look at the viewer directly and smile.

0:26-0:35: The screen changes to reveal “savethefood.com”, the AdCouncil logo, the NRDC logo, and stacked jars of food.

11 thoughts on “Visual Rhetoric-Dohertyk9”

  1. I’m just getting started, but I’m impressed with what I’m reading so far, DK.

    0:01
    Your ideal countryside, even as briefly as we see it, shows signs of human intervention. It’s not nature in the raw, but nature transformed a bit. The fields are fringed by trees planted in rows. OR many trees have been removed to create those fields. The fields are not visibly plowed, or planted in rows, so it would be unfair to call them farms, but they could be pasture land for livestock farming. The camera, for a split-second, is not stationary, but moving slightly forward, so we’re moving ahead with it into this landscape. The image could be generated by a camera on the head of a parasailer, or taken by a drone.

    For this exercise, the time to begin to speculate about the author’s intention is: from the first frame. Is this a travelogue designed to make us want to visit a green country? Will it be a commercial for adventure by air? Is the mood, evoked in the first few frames, positive or negative, seductive or threatening?

    That slight forward motion we first experienced picks up speed when the scene cross-fades to the rabbit running, also forward. The subtle indication is that our first point of view was the rabbit’s as it reached the edge of that overlook into the valley. Now we’re running with the rabbit, following it closely from above (still in our parasail, just kidding) as it runs its zig-zag route across the grass. The rabbit might zig to find better footing; or he might zag to keep predators guessing. He’s not running through an open field. The 50/50 shadows indicate he’s in or on the edge of a stand of trees.

    Do we sense danger in the scene? Or is this a bucolic small adventure of a cute accessible woodland creature? Just one second into the video, we know we’re being manipulated, but how? This first second is the introduction to an essay. What’s the likely thesis?

    Would you like me to read further?
    Do you want to make any changes first?
    Is there a section or moment you want me to consider?
    (I thrive on the interaction, DK, as you know. Respond, please.)

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  2. This was very helpful in clarifying what you were looking for in this assignment! I wasn’t sure when I was writing this. I noted the second-to-second details but wasn’t sure how in depth each second should be. Is the main focus on the first second, with fewer notes for the others?

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    1. That depends. The universe of the first second is very broad, but it narrows as we eliminate competing interpretations. Once we establish the author’s intentions, we can focus OUR readers’ attention on the methods used by the videomaker to persuade us.

      (When you Reply as “Anonymous,” your comments don’t appear in the sidebar, and they require approval from an administrator before they show up below the post as well. It’s a pain, but best to log in to WordPress before leaving comments.)

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    1. Spectacularly so. Thank you. (The actor you use as your avatar I recognize as the flawed and troubled lead investigator in Broadchurch. What character is he playing in your image?)

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      1. (In the image I chose for my avatar, he is playing the role of the doctor in the show Doctor Who. I chose it because I liked the inquisitive look on his face.)

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    1. If you feel that the rest of my visual rhetoric needs updating, then by all means. Otherwise, I’m unsure if it is necessary.

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  3. A few things I have noticed watching the video. It’s actually pretty perplexing if watched too closely. —That rabbit running through the garden without a blue shirt can’t be the same as the rabbit in the first frames not wearing a shirt unless the rabbit has replaced his shirt on the scarecrow, but he’s running toward the scarecrow that’s already wearing a blue shirt. Huh?
    —You don’t identify the rabbits as the instigators of a shared food community, but that’s the intention, isn’t it? Those elk who react to something are probably receiving the alert that it’s time to raid the garden?
    —The garden is enclosed not only by a pair of white picket gates, but also by a set of electric wires. The conga line seems unimpeded by the wires but instantaneously they’ve been reinstalled behind them as they leave the garden while the picket gates are still open. Huh?
    —What’s with the clothes? Are they cute and human-like so we’ll sympathize with these marauders who are stealing crops they have no business sharing? If so, why aren’t they consistently clothed? The naked rabbits against the white background aren’t the only anomalies. Unnerving.
    —Are we to celebrate this mass theft of food meant for others?

    I’ve said repeatedly that everything in a very short film like this is intentional, designed to deliver a coherent argument, but I’m wondering myself if this one is successful by that standard.

    To me it feels “found.” Could it be that the video existed before the campaign to celebrate food community and “not wasting” was “cooked up”? If the directors of this video appropriated a piece of found footage to suit their purpose, I could understand better its failures to seamlessly communicate a clear narrative.

    What do you think? Is it good argument? It’s clearly an argument. Is its message clear and persuasive?

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    1. I agree that the themes in this visual rhetoric don’t necessarily run together smoothly. I found it difficult when I was first analyzing the video to find the author’s intent. It seems to jump from one idea to another without any clear flow, and it barely comes together in the end. I don’t think it makes a very good argument, because the actual purpose is muddled until it is deliberately spelled out in words in the last few seconds. The video that we analyzed in class had very clear signs in the beginning that keyed the audience into what argument would be made in the end.

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