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Audience & Pathos Appeals
For the most part, the Vlogbrothers maintain a rather constant audience during their videos; they are, after all, the aforementioned leaders of the Nerdfighter community. As such, the majority of their content is geared toward such a group, as it is Nerdfighters who are most likely to watch the Green brother’s vlogs. As they have very specific opinions on most topics, John and Hank seldom appeal to an audience who disagrees with their sentiments for the sake of convincing their ideological opponents to change their minds on any particular subject—such as the state of the country’s current political climate or controversial current events.
Therefore, the viewers of their vlogs are of mostly a similar mindset-offering a limited chance for the two to have a meaningful exchange of ideas with their adversaries. It is for this fault that both brothers have regretted the style of some of their content; in some of their recent videos, they have voiced their concern that their videos have become an echo chamber rather than meaningful discussions.
On the Banning of Looking for Alaska seems to fall under the same categorical fault. One of the few areas where this rhetoric is ineffective is in pathos appeals—addressing the proper audience. Nowhere in the video does Green make an attempt to convince his opponents of their faults; he never addresses those who banned his books in an effort to change their minds. Instead, he makes the assumption that his viewers are the same as they usually are: Nerdfighters who agree with his opinions.
It is in this way that the rhetorical message Green is sending does not meet its full potential. If he began his vlog by clearly stating the audience for whom his message is intended, the video would likely have gotten a wider audience and watched by more people who disagree with his beliefs. If, for example, he had titled his video To Those Who Challenged Looking for Alaska and reworded his message so that it retained its most effective rhetoric but addressed a more appropriate audience, his message would have been more effective and might have had a greater impact on the censorship community.
Despite this one fault, On the Banning of Looking for Alaska is nevertheless rife with examples of effective rhetoric, from clear logical arguments that appeal to the viewer’s sense of ethos to subtle yet lasting impressions of authorial credibility. This particular Vlogbrothers video is one of the most effectual and concise of them all, in terms of exigence and urgency as well as successful appeals to ethos and logos, and will likely stand the test of time as one of the Green brothers’ finest YouTube moments.
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