So, I was standing in line today at Walmart (I went to price TV stands for my apartment at school) and they had this ad running on their TVs over their Money section. I wasn’t really paying attention to it, but I happened to see the captions playing underneath the action and I happened to read it and found it to be very rhetorically savvy, especially for a store like Walmart (no, offense to Walmart or their customers is intended, rather Walmart isn’t, by its own admission and pricing structure, a Macy’s or Nordstroms, or other upscale retailers.
The Best at What It Does
This is an (older) tagline for Wolverine, the marvel anti-hero who is now an icon in popular culture. As a pure brawler/warrior, Wolverine styled himself as the “best at what he does.” The same could be said for this advertisement/PSA as it truly does what I have tried to do in this past semester. I won’t bore you with a scene-by-scene breakdown, but it challenges the viewers perceptions in terms of ethos (credibility of the speaker), pathos (appealing to the viewer’s emotions), and logos (a logical, fact-based argument). I actually want to start with the last one as it pulls a “fast one” by giving a statistic, but then not giving any source for that statistic, but trusting in the viewers’ ability to be swayed by simply throwing numbers/statistics around. The ad acknowledges what it did in a very clever way: it straight tells you what it did and then leaves you, the viewer, to draw your own conclusions from that knowledge. It then makes you question your assumptions. Similarly, with ethos and pathos, the ad makes you question the speaker–is this a “good” guy, does he have my interest at heart or his own, is he trying to scam me or is he just informing about scammers, etc. The authors of this video play with ambiguous lighting, a morally “gray” character, and verbal trickery, to try to mimic the ambiguous nature of scammers and their scams and the inclusion of bits of truth mixed with lies in order to throw you, the mark, off target.
Right now, many of our youth–I’m speaking generally here as there are, as always, exceptions to this rule, are simply too gullible when it comes to matters of credibility. They confuse entertainers and having a good time with being a credible source. Just because someone is famous, doesn’t make them credible, and yet, I see it all the time in class. So many students defend stars or people whose methods don’t yield results, simply because they “know” of them, or because they “enjoy” them, but denigrate those who do get results because they are unknowns or because their styles are not a flashy or flamboyant as the “stars.” While I intend to use this commercial/PSA in future classes, I don’t think that it will do much good until we can get students to understand the fact that just because you like what they have to say, doesn’t necessarily make them “credible”–not until you do some digging around on your own to see if they are really as credible as they want to appear to be to you, the viewer.
- Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
- Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
- Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)