Visual Rhetoric Argument—kingofcamp
*Important Note* Describe what is happening in great detail AND THEN judge WHY the director chose to show these images using PATHOS, LOGOS, and ETHOS
In the first second of the ad, viewers are introduced to a family leaving from the front door of their suburban (what seems to be) neighborhood. As the lens slowly moves outwards, the mother of the assumed family is carrying a young toddler along with a transparent cup containing some type of liquid. The liquid that resides in the cup isn’t specified as viewers are overwhelmed by the chaos of the family. On the mother’s right (the viewer’s left), the father of the assumed family carries an abundance of children’s toys, a stroller, a diaper bag, and a cup himself. Behind the father, and hardest to see, there is another child who looks down below, out of the lens view. Most notable, is the video’s professionalism contrasting the family’s overwhelming presence.
The director chooses to use ETHOS in the first frame of the ad. By using ETHOS, viewers are reassured credibility firsthand as the camera work is professional and the state of the video is clean-cut. The use of ETHOS in the first clip is a warm welcome to viewers, as viewers can trust the source this ad comes from—by looking at it’s visual appearance.
As time moves along, so does the lens angle. In the second clip of the ad, the video’s perspective shifts drastically. Now viewers have an apparent view of the family and the chaotic state they are presumably in. This outward perspective reiterates the point that the family is not orderly, like most parents of young children. The external point of view better helps viewers understand what is going on in frame. As the second clip suggests, the family is leaving their home trying to go somewhere. That “somewhere” is not specified, and viewers aren’t sure if that “somewhere” will be specified.
Once again, the director uses ETHOS to demonstrate the source’s, which in this case is “Ad Council”, credibility. Predominantly, the director uses the family’s character to persuade its audience members. As inferred, the family is a bit disorderly, having young children, but there is a sense of reliability that the family carries. As most parents can probably relate, either now having young children or once having young children, life can get messy having young children, causing chaos. The visual appearance is still clean-cut, convincing viewers that this source is reliable and real.
Within these short two second clips, viewers are given a close up of the mother and are quickly brought back to an external point of view. This brief close up of the mother causes confusion and curiosity for viewers. Questions such as, “Why is the mother being pinpointed?” and, “Why is this interaction so brief?” naturally arise. As the camera closes in on the mother, viewers can clearly tell that the mother is looking at something out of frame. Again, viewers do not know what this “thing” the mother is looking at which causes curiosity and wonder. After this brief internal perspective, the lens is brought back to an external point of view. Viewers are back to where they started, seeing the family of four leaving their home walking towards the lens. The only difference being, now the father looks to be either scolding one of his children (who walks and is not carried by the mother) or is talking to one of his children. Viewers are not sure what is being said exactly which arises more curiosity.
These short two-second clips are packed with PATHOS. The use of vivid emotions created by the family also spark emotion radiating from viewers. The clearly expressive family denotes personal curiosity and wonder within viewers. There isn’t much context in these two frames, which the director does purposely. The lack of information, the lack of ethos and logos, forces viewers to solely rely on their intuition—their PATHOS.
After shooting from a further perspective, the lens focuses on the little girl walking next to her father. The little girl is clearly in her own head, not consciously aware of the world around her, as most kids tend to be. Viewers note the little girl tugging on a blue and green baby toy that rests on the diaper bag the father carries. She keeps tugging on this toy, trying to get what she wants. Not in a selfish way but more innocent and care-free type of way. In the next frame, 0:06, viewers are exposed to a drastic change in the little girl’s attitude, becoming more aggressive in her pulling and tugging. Eventually this aggression leads to the beginning of the father dropping, the stroller that is tucked away underneath his armpit.
In these frames, the director chooses to use PATHOS once again. The little girl’s attitude is clearly noticeable and cannot be missed (as the close up shows). The use of, once again, vivid emotion glorifies the aggrieved tone of these two seconds.
This short second unpacks a lot of action and detail. Within this second, the father visibly drops the stroller from his grasp. As viewers take that in, the lens immediately moves from the whole family, though the focus suggests viewers should keep eye on the father, to the mother again. Back to the mother, in this personal close up, she looks clearly distressed and to be yelling something to the father. By viewing the mother from such a personal point of view, the audience knows that the mother’s focus is on the father dropping the stroller.
The director uses PATHOS in this one second clip. Not just the little girl, but the mother and father are highlighted to be full of emotion. Viewers become aware that the use of pathos is pivotal to expressing key messages. This one second clip reiterates the messiness of the family an enhances the idea that the family is struggling to pay attention and to stay orderly.
These three seconds of the ad show a lot to viewers. In the first second of the selected section, second 0:08, the lens drops back to showcase the entire family’s struggle. In this frame, the little girl who caused the father to drop the stroller looks directly at him. Meanwhile, the father continues to struggle with juggling everything in his hands. Besides him, the mother is highlighted in this frame. Like the father, the mother too struggles with carrying all this added weight (physically not metaphorically though we can argue that point too). The mother is clearly in a state of distress as her improper posture tells the viewers. In second 0:09 the lens is back to a close up of the mother. Her telling face calls attention to her panic. Mouth wide open and eyes not focused, the mother struggles to hold everything. Second 0:10, the close up changes from the mother to the father. In this frame, the father to not only tries to regain control of the stroller but also begins to loose grasp on the diaper bag.
The director uses PATHOS within these three seconds. These three seconds are heavily packed with emotion which draws attention to the family’s struggle to “keep it together.” Both the parents and the children are expressive in their emotions which persuades viewers to pay attention and consider the outcome of what may happen next.
*Worth mentioning* Before frame 0:08, the father looked to be holding either a soft pretzel or hot dog bun in his mouth (to further prove the point of being disorderly). After second 0:07 the soft pretzel or hot dog bun is no longer in the father’s mouth. By adding this, viewers can infer that within that second, 0:07-0:08, the father had dropped whatever was in his mouth.
Within these three seconds, a lot happens to the family. In the first second, 0:11, the frame changes twice. The first time, the lens captures the whole family from their left side. Within this shot, the mother is bent over, holding her child, struggling to walk normally. Next to her, the father is upright looking directly at his daughter who still tugs at the blue and green baby toy. The little girl’s demeanor is much calmer but there is a hint of selfishness. The next frame, still at second 0:11, the lens focuses on the farther who now is trying to take a bite of something—which looks to be either a soft pretzel or hot dog bun (again). As the father takes a bite, he is struggling to keep everything together.
The next second of the video, 0:12, the lens changes perspectives yet again. This time, showcasing the entire family as a whole. In the back, the father struggles to hold onto the stroller, yet again. In front of him, is the mother and two children. The little girl who was previously tugging the toy now walks in front of her mother, holding her one hand behind her head. The last second, 0:13, the lens shifts angles and viewpoints. Viewers are now positioned ground level, focusing on the fathers shoes and lower body (specifically his legs). In this frame, viewers are aware of the father, of course, but more specially, in the background, there is a car which is blurred.
These three seconds are jammed with PATHOS and ETHOS. Beginning with pathos, once again, viewers are drawn to the family’s expressive emotion. Ethos is now also being implied within these three seconds, specially second 0:13. In this frame the viewers are focused on the fathers shoes but just ahead of him, the car is blurred in the background. The subtle hint of the car implies that Ad Council and its reasoning for this specific ad, is a credible source by showcasing the car in the background.
The pace starts to pick up during the duration of these three seconds. Seconds 0:14-0:15 highlights the little girl, who previously was tugging at the baby toy. The little girl is quite open and expressive, featuring a happy smile and auras of joy. It is during second 0:16 where the lens changes. Viewers are now placed on the side slightly behind the car—capturing the entire family. During this second, the little girl who was just highlighted previously, drops her personal toy.
These three seconds are again packed with PATHOS and ETHOS. Pathos because of the little girl’s expressive mood palette, which viewers quickly pick up on and later ethos because the lens includes the car which affirms the source’s credibility.
Within these four seconds, the lens changes perspectives a total of four times. In the first second, 0:17, the mother, while holding her baby, places her cup on top of the car. The lens changes when it hits second 0:18. This second features the little who and her father. As the father waits for the door to open, the little girl stands and watches the car door, “magically slide open.” In the last two seconds, 0:19-0:20, the perspective changes two times. In the first half, the lens is focused on the mother holding her baby, a personal close up. In the second half, the angle is shifted from outside to inside of the car. The frame highlights the father buckling his child into her car seat.
These three seconds use ETHOS and LOGOS. Viewers are now well aware of the source’s credibility by showing the car. But how can viewers trust Ad Council’s credibility? By using logos. The father strapping his child into her car seat is a bold argument. The argument being that “we [Ad Council] are going to showcase our credibility by using all these logical devices and by showing this car, now to prove that point, we are going to have the father buckle his child, proving our very point.”
The four seconds of the video ties up the commercial beautifully. In the first second, 0:21, the lens hyper focuses on the father buckling his child. This again is a bold argument, using logos, logic. The logic here is, “buckle you children to prevent disaster.” Viewers may ask, “and how do you prove your point?” The point being, make sure your children are buckled up in a car because it will prevent disaster. How Ad Council proves their point is genius. By showcasing this “disorderly family” and reading between the lines, this family foreshadows what could happen. It would be “a disaster (or mess)” if the family were to get into an accident and lose their children all because their seatbelts weren’t buckled.
In seconds 0:22-0:23, the little girl who was buckled in by her father, spills, what seems to be popcorn, everywhere. These two seconds use pathos, causing the viewers to either feel maybe joyful or laugh at the little girl’s mess. In the last second, 0:24, the lens hyper focuses on the mother buckling the baby into the car seat. This second also uses ethos and logos. The same logic, which deserved the father’s actions, can be applied to the mother’s actions.
Link to video:
If you want to rise to the top of the Feedback Please queue, King, drop me a specific Reply here describing the sort of feedback that would help you the most. Is it your Argument, your Sources, your Research technique, your Logic, your Rhetoric, your Organization, your Grammar, or something else that you’d prefer to have help with?
I am confident with my ability to describe the video but what I worry about is the second paragraphs of each explanation– my explanation of how each second of the video uses ethos, pathos, and logos.
I don’t see what you see in the first two seconds, King. You’re not obligated to see the scene as I see it, but consider this perspective. I see a mom and dad who express complete confidence that they’re going to manage their complicated excursion. The first two seconds play out in slow motion, giving mom a chance to do a graceful, choreographed spin. Her hair flip and her upturned chin say “I’ve got this, and the day is mine.” I don’t know why dad’s gazing at the sky above the houses across the street (that feels like an editorial error to me), but he does not look overwhelmed by all the stuff he’s carrying. To me, even though he’s “carrying it all,” the look he shows me is that he’s “got it all covered.” They don’t even have to consider the child following behind them. That child will find his/her own way without supervision.
I don’t need you to point out ALL CAPS ETHOS and PATHOS going forward, but to this viewer there’s plenty of pathos built into this first couple of seconds. We can’t help but pull for this adorable family unit heading out on an excursion. The lengths they’ve gone to to plan for all contingencies is heart-warming.
You seem to think nothing more needs to be said about your cast and your scene than that they’re presumably a family leaving a suburban home. But you’d certainly point out the home’s disrepair if it showed. And the terrible weather if it were stormy (or threatening to storm) or if there were snow on the ground or frost on the windows. You’d mention if one character was white and the partner was black and the children were of mixed race.
You’d mention if they were closing the door when the video opens. To me, the fact that we don’t leaves open the possibility that they aren’t leaving their own home but retreating in disappointment from the home of a family member they were hoping to visit with all their gear but who turned out not to be home. Closing the door behind them would have squashed that option.
Does any of that help you recognize how much you’ve left unsaid about both what we’re looking at and the judgements we draw from what we’re shown?