Rhetorical Appeals Essay
A pet is defined as a domestic or tamed animal or bird kept for companionship or pleasure and treated with care and affection. Some people believe that pets are the most loyal friends you will ever have. Anyone who owns or has previously owned a type of pet, whether it be a dog, cat, fish, rabbit, or anything else, understands what it is like to have something so innocent depend on you. When purchasing a pet, you are taking on the responsibility of nurturing and caring for someone other than yourself. I chose a commercial by the ASPCA that raises awareness about animal abuse.
The goal of the ASPCA is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” I chose this commercial because I am an avid animal lover and I have both a dog and a cat at home. They are a part of my family, and I would never let anything bad happen to them or mistreat them. The thought of poor animals being abused or neglected for no reason at all disturbs me beyond belief. Why would someone choose to purposely abuse an innocent creature who has no way to defend itself, and has done nothing wrong? I do not understand people who do this.
Through this essay, I want to state the reasons why I was attracted to this commercial and how it swayed me to support the association. Additionally, my goal for this piece is to represent how rhetorical appeals can be used not only in writing, but also in media. Even though this commercial is most likely geared more towards animal lovers, it does an excellent job of grabbing the attention of viewers who may not have a strong connection with animals in their own lives. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eXfvRcllV8
************** Rhetorical Analysis through Animal Cruelty
Imagine that you are walking through the mall and notice the pet store on your way to the nearest Macy’s. In the window of the pet store you see two healthy, happy, golden retriever puppies waiting for someone to come take them to a permanent home. You are in awe of how adorable they are. Unfortunately, you cannot afford a puppy right at that moment, so you move forward with your errands at Macy’s.
Later that day, as you are driving home, you drive through a neighborhood that is in poor shape. Out in the front yard of one of the houses, there is a fenced yard with a somewhat large dog standing in the grass. As you drive by, you notice that the dog is extremely skinny and you can see the dog’s rib cage through its skin. Also, the dog seems to be limping around the yard. Twenty minutes later, you finally arrive home and the image of the poor dog is still in the back of your mind. You think to yourself how anyone could possibly treat an innocent animal that way. In 2006, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) created a commercial starring famous singer/song writer, Sarah McLachlan, to raise awareness towards animal abuse and to raise money to help the thousands of mistreated animals in the United States.
The commercial starts out with clips of abused animals and slides with facts about these animals, and then moves on to Sarah McLachlan giving a speech about the society and how it would be beneficial to donate money to the foundation. All three of the rhetorical appeals (pathos, ethos, logos, and kairos) are used in this commercial in order to sway the opinion of viewers towards being against animal cruelty and helping to save the lives of countless animals.
The first two rhetorical appeals used in the ASPCA commercial are pathos and kairos. They are demonstrated in multiple ways throughout the commercial. The first emotional appeal that viewers will notice is the somewhat sad music in the background, which is Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel”. Just listening to this song will evoke sadness. This is because the lyrics of the song are mildly depressing, and an example of this would be the lyrics “You’re in the arms of the angel, may you find comfort here.” These lyrics are symbolic towards the commercial because the ASPCA would be considered the angel, and the animals who are saved by the foundation would be able to “find comfort” when they are rescued.
The next element in the commercial is the slideshow of pictures and videos of abused animals that plays along with McLachlan’s song. These pictures show many different types of animals that have been physically abused and malnourished. The melancholy music, along with these images, cause viewers to feel for the animals and want to help them. Thus, using pathos to cause the viewers to lean towards helping these innocent creatures, instead of ignoring the issue. Kairos is used in the way that everything in the commercial has perfect timing. The music immediately starts playing, which effects viewer’s emotions. Every element of the commercial comes in at the perfect time and is organized in the right way to persuade viewers.
Ethos is the next rhetorical approach used in persuading the viewers to help the ASPCA and to stand against animal-related violence. Famous singer/song writer, Sarah McLachlan, is featured in multiple ASPCA commercials and is a strong supporter of rescuing animals in need and helping to raise awareness about animal abuse and neglect. In the video, she is petting a yellow lab, giving the impression that she is an animal lover and wants to help them. Also, the music playing in the background is Sarah’s song referenced above, which adds sincerity to the commercial. “Angel” was not written specifically for the commercial, but because the meaning of the song is relevant to the ASPCA’s cause, it was used.
Viewers who see a celebrity such as her representing this organization may be more inclined to donate to the ASPCA. Although, some might question whether or not McLachlan is an expert on the subject and if the information she gives is credible. Towards the end of the video, she says “that for just $18 a month, you can save many animals from their abusers.” Through this statement, she causes viewers to feel like they will make a difference and become heroes, if they donate their money. By emphasizing the price, McLachlan wants convey to viewers that just a small amount of money, can go a long way in helping the foundation. This is a prime example of ethos because McLachlan uses her music fame to encourage the audience to support the organization, even though she is not an expert concerning animal abuse.
Logos is the final rhetorical approach that ASPCA uses in their anti-animal abuse commercials. Certain facts are listed in order to show that this organization has made a difference in order to rescue animals that are abused and/or neglected. However, these facts cause the logical appeal to be weak because they are quite broad and non-specific. For example, the commercial stated that in the last year, thousands of animals were rescued.
Then, it continues to say that for thousands of other animals, help came too late. This statement proclaims that there is a large number of animals who need to be rescued and/or helped, but it does not give specific statistical evidence as to exactly how many animals are in need. The amount of animals listed that need rescued may seem exaggerated, because there is not a specific number given. Also, it could seem like a rhetorical fallacy. For those who need these facts in order to be convinced of an argument, this may cause the viewer to lose interest or not believe the information in the commercial.
In conclusion, I chose this ASPCA commercial primarily because of the way it appealed to my emotions. I was immediately drawn in while watching it and could not look away. The strongest rhetorical element for this commercial is pathos because of the strong emotional relation it creates.
Ethos is equally represented in the commercial as well because of the celebrity reputation of Sarah McLachlan and her starring role in trying to convince viewers to help out the ASPCA through donation. Kairos is also well embodied through the element of excellent timing, and how each part of the commercial fell into perfect rhythm. Logos is the weakest rhetorical appeal represented because the facts listed are not detailed and quite general. Accordingly, I would argue that this commercial is extremely effective in showing the general public the seriousness of animal abuse. And because of this, viewers are more inclined to contribute to the association.