Rhetorical Devices in Media
In order to analyze rhetorical devices in the contemporary media, I decided to choose the music video of the famous American heavy metal band, Five Fingers Death Punch, from Las Vegas, Nevada. The name of the discussed song is “Wrong Side of Heaven.” At the first sight, it is a typical song telling about the problems people face in course of their life, which also underlines the difficulty of making a right choice. However, the video accompanying this song provides the additional message, narrowing the main idea to a very specific problem. This music video tells about American veterans who fight for their country, swear to defend it, and risk their lives. However, when they come back home after the years spent in other countries fighting, they find out that they are left on their own. They have paid their duty to the country, but the government does not care about their future anymore. In order to persuade the audience in the importance of this ethical issue, the authors of the video use the main rhetorical devices, such as ethos, logos, and pathos.
The video contains a lot of statistic data about the problems veterans face after the national serving. This information appears from time to time at the bottom of the screen, showing terrifying figures. For instance, many of these veterans became homeless; about 300,000 veterans have to sleep in the streets of the United States, and about 1.4 million are at risk of becoming homeless (5FDPVEVO). Nearly 67% of them served in the army for at least 3 years in honor of their country (5FDPVEVO). Many of them have lost their families due to increased rate of divorces among military couples, which rose up to 47% (5FDPVEVO). In this way, the band pays attention to the widespread phenomenon that exists in the contemporary United States. In fact, the country calls people to defend its interests, but after veterans have paid this duty, they are completely forgotten. Neither government, nor their own families assist them in returning back to life. Therefore, it can be said that the main message of this video lies in the fact that the government, as well as ordinary citizens, ignores the problems which the veterans face after national serving. They risk their lives without a doubt whether they make a right or a wrong choice and expect to receive at least approval and support for their actions and courage. However, they are forgotten by those who sent them on war. Veterans lose their brothers of arms and come back home having nothing but sorrow and incomprehension of why nobody notices and wants to help them.
It is important to analyze the target audience of the video in order to understand the scope and efficacy of its message. It could be stated that the target audience of this video includes the listeners of this genre of music or fans of this rock band, as they are likely to watch it. However, the issue raised in this video concerns everyone, because it is the problem of the entire nation rather than a specific category of people. Hence, the target audience is quite wide and includes not only veterans, but also their relatives and friends. Currently, this video collected more than 41 million views on YouTube within the last year. After analyzing some of the comments, I came to a conclusion that many of those who watched this video did not have any connection to rock music. In other words, it can be said that the band successfully delivered their message to the people of various ages, genders, ethnicities, and social strata. Unfamiliar audience might involve those people who do not like this genre of music. Nevertheless, I think even the individuals who do not prefer this music could easily perceive the message of this video. Another unfamiliar category contains politicians whom this message concerns first and foremost. However, the direct audience including veterans’ families, relatives, friends, etc. is reached successfully. As it has been mentioned above, the appropriate audience cannot be outlined, because the message is addressed to everybody. The foreign policies of the country depend on the decisions of politicians, who are elected by the citizens of the country. Hence, claiming that politicians are the only guilty or the only target audience is not a correct statement, because the well-being of a country depends on people’s choice of leaders who execute the will of their nation. Hence, the target audience could also be considered voters, as the choice of a right or a wrong leader may change the negative attitude to veterans.
The ethical issue presented in this video is a careless attitude towards those who protect their nation. One may argue this statement, saying that the policy provided by the American government always guards such interests as protection of borders or people from external threats. Nevertheless, the idea of this message is not a dilemma of ethical or unethical behavior of the American soldiers. In fact, the government does not notice the problems of soldiers who agreed to sacrifice their lives. The government uses the soldiers for its purposes and, afterwards, leaves them on the streets without home, food, money, and any support. This phenomenon does not refer only to the U.S. society and veterans; one can find similar examples in other countries, too. Hence, this video is designed to make people think over their attitude towards veterans. They cannot be judged for what they did because they swore to protect their nations and follow commands. Sometimes they may act wrong, but it is a job that must be done by somebody, and this is the greatest sacrifice they could make. The video insists that it is an existing ethical problem, and ignoring homeless veterans is not a right way to solve it. While soldiers swear to protect people, people promise to support soldiers. Soldiers perform their duty, but people often forget about their promises when the war is over. As a result, soldiers become deceived by those whom they swore to protect and whom they believed. Betrayal, ignorance, disdain, and indifference are probably the major ethical issues which are presented in this music video.
Logos and pathos are clearly demonstrated in the analyzed music video. The authors’ logical appeal is implemented by means of the spectators’ comments and opinions. The reviews themselves are the reasons which explain why the theme of the video is so important. Besides, the footage contains strong inner logic, and its arguments are defended well, which proves the importance of logos. Pathos is displayed in this music clip as well, especially in its theme and the ideas the authors cover in their video. The main aim of the video is based on pathos, since the major reasons for creating this clip are to evoke such feelings as sympathy and empathy in the audience and viewers. Speaking about ethos, it could be stated that, on the one hand, it is absent in this artwork, since the Five Fingers Deaths Punch band does not represent any authoritative character for the entire society. However, on the other hand, the artists are rather authoritative in the eyes of their listeners and fans. Thus, the ethos in the music video “The Wrong Side of Heaven” is oriented on a certain group of people.
The above mentioned stylistic devices enhance the delivery of the message that is present in the music video. Pathos appeals to the audience´s feelings and emotions, which the video easily evokes in viewers. Logos shows the importance of this issue for the veterans who fought for saving their country and population. In contrast to logos and pathos, ethos does not make any significant contribution to the artwork. Any other artist can perform a song on this theme and find their audience, since it is a matter of taste. Contrasting to ethos, logos and pathos heighten the ethical issue which is present in the video. Logos explains what particular problems veterans have to face and how indifferent the rest of the world is in its attitude towards the people who risked their lives. Pathos heightens the issue by evoking the emotions and feelings of the audience. Pathos makes people understand that they do not usually consider this problem or try to provide at least little help to the people who rescued their lives.
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Other rhetorical devices that could be used in a video of this kind include allusion and understatement. While allusion can make the message of the video even stronger since it would show real examples, understatement can make it less important. In case of understatement, there would be no serious statements in the video that make people think deeper about the problem.
I believe that in order to convince audience, any analyst should use such rhetorical devices as logos, ethos, and pathos. While other techniques may depend on a speaker´s desire to use them in order to enhance their speech or make it more convincing, logos, ethos, and pathos are obligatory. Therefore, one can state that the authors of the video succeeded in their aim to create a persuasive artwork that makes people realize the hidden reality of the forgotten veterans.
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