Sitting will F*%$ You Up

Since we talked about moving our bodies last week, it seems only pertinent to bring up this poster that everyone’s been talking about in the blogosphere:

The creators of this poster seem to have struck an interesting balance between pathos and logos. They provide plenty of statistics with the scary goblin-like images to scare us into standing up. Plus, even though there are scary-Halloween images, the people themselves are hardly ever villainized. The objects themselves (chairs, tvs, etc) have shadows that are out to get us, but the people themselves tend to be bright cutouts. The obese cutouts, however, are represented in black much like the evil shadows. So, we’re clearly supposed to favor one over the other–feel aligned toward one of the other. It certainly does grab your attention, for sure.

Honestly, though, I will always favor the ads that offer a solution over the ones simply pointing out the problem. I mean, don’t most of us know we should be more active? Well, may I suggest more GirlTalk? I think that counts. 😉

Why Beyonce is Perfect for Rhetorical Analysis

My students and I were recently discussing context and how context can impact our analysis of a text, so I, of course, was scouring for the best materials to discuss context in the various ways we can interpret that. This led me to Beyonce. Or, more precisely, Beyonce’s video for “Move Your Body.”

We can, of course, analyze this video independently. Based on the setting of a school cafeteria and population of younger backup dancers, it seems natural to surmise that this video is aimed at the youngun’s of America, for instance. However,  a lot of these elements gain deeper meaning when we place the video in context.

Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, I first saw this video posted on a friend’s facebook and I could see that there was something going on that didn’t conform to all the typical moves of the music video genre. Usually, there would be more time spent on glamorous close-ups of Beyonce, cut-aways to other scenes, or some austere, artsy move (e.g. lighting, quick editing, black and white). So, I went in search of this greater context that must’ve been fueling the decision to approach this video differently. And, yes, there was a reason for all these things.

This video is connected to First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. No, really. You can see Mrs. Obama herself doing the dougie (and the running man!):

If nothing else, it takes a brave woman to dougie for all of youtube. But, I digress.

This campaign is intended to teach children how to eat healthier and become active so that they grow up creating a healthier America. This is important context for the Beyonce video. “Waving the American flag” actually makes sense now. As does the emphasis on apples, bananas, and other fresh foods that show up in the Beyonce video. And, of course, the campaign is in direct reaction to the increase in child obesity and diabetes that have occurred in recent years. That is a specific surrounding context as well.

Above all else, the long shots of everyone dancing together rather than a video that is cut up so you can only see portions of the choreography is important and related to this campaign. They want us to copy this dance. And they enable us to do that. Not only is the Beyonce video shot so that we, the audience, can see the specific choreography, but there are subsequent videos detailing the choreography steps.

A still shot of the entire dance:

An instruction of the steps:

And, you know what? My students dug it. I dig it. I find this to be one of the most persuasive music videos I’ve seen and I say it’s partially because it’s so connected to this greater context. They’re so focused on the purpose they want to achieve and, because of that, they’re able to appeal to their audience in a creative, yet ingenious way. (Oh, and the fact that she can dance in those heels just blows my mind.)

They know it too:

Beyond the Main Story

So, sometimes we watch things and pay attention only to the important story line and other times we notice what’s going on in the back ground.

This classic Disney cartoon seems innocuous enough:

And then we notice a particular wall-hanging:

father as sausage links

Disney is sort of known for these moves. His films and productions are often picked over to unearth hidden texts and hidden meanings. I find this interesting because, at least in this instance, it’s so very blatant. I wonder if adding these kinds of details work as a way to keep the viewer around. We watch it once and we enjoy it. We watch it again and we start noticing the ominous underbelly. It’s a thought.