Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tennessee Williams sought to generate a theatrical performance that would go beyond the mere realism of traditional theatre. He writes that "When a play employs unconventional techniques, it is not, or certainly shouldn't be, trying to escape its responsibility of dealing with reality, or interpreting experience, but is actually or should be attempting to find a closer approach, a more penetrating and vivid expression of things as they are" (Production Notes: 467). The "plastic theatre" that he created in "The Glass Menagerie" utilized music, images, and dialogue to effectively create Multimodal Rhetoric.
An aspect of modern society that almost all Americans experience on a daily basis is advertising and commercials. One industry that spends lots of money on this is the auto industry. How many times have we seen the basic auto commercial listing the car's safety features, horsepower, sound-system, and the "hot deals" that you can receive if you buy the car immediately. To grab a viewer's attention, car companies should stray from these conventional techniques, and create an advertisement that utilizes multimodal rhetoric to persuade a potential buyer to purchase its car. Dodge does an exceptional job of this in one of its advertisements for the Dodge Challenger, both of which were debuted on Super Bowl Sunday, the prime-time for advertisements. Here is one example:

The video begins with the sound of an old antique violin, playing a solemn, melodic tune while a soldier is panicking in a sprint. The soldiers clothes accompanied by the historical sounding music inform the viewer that the setting is in the past. Then, one can infer that the video is set in the American Revolution as the soldier greets a bunch of redcoats, and the British flag is displayed. The image of the general sitting on his horse with his wig and an undaunted nature as he tells an order to the soldiers reflects the pompous, overconfident attitude the British held towards Americans in the war. The camera then panels over the landscape which resembles America at the time: It is wide open, flush with green fields and trees, with mountains in the distance. Most likely it is in the West, and the true American adventurous spirit of venturing out into the West is conjured.
Then comes the roar of the Dodge Challengers as they race over a hill with the one in the center carrying an American flag with the American soldiers running behind them. The British soldiers start to flee-characteristic of the American Revolution as they were hit by quick, fast ambushes many times (guerilla warfare). The driver of the car is then revealed, it is George Washington, with a face of poise and determination-the true American leader. Without any dialogue thus far, the commercial has displayed the car being advertised, and has invoked patriotic feelings in all the viewers. At last, the first dialogue appears after the Americans are scene routing the British, "Here's a couple things America got right: cars and freedom", and the advertisement ends with George Washington standing proudly by his challenger and then the Dodge flag waives and the model, "Dodge Challenger", is shown.
The advertisement successfully utilized multimodal rhetoric by employing sounds like the violin music and the roar of the challenger engine; the images of George Washington, the open/free American landscape, and the British soldiers retreating; and the deep American voice that puts a strong man's voice behind the final resounding sentence. The commercial effectively persuaded the viewer that the Dodge Challenger is a true American muscle car and should be bought by real American men. The commercial invoked a memory of the American Revolution that was based on true facts. The nation did rise above all odds and defeat the mighty British army. Did they have Dodge Challengers in the war? Of course not! But the fearless and bold attitude of the American people was real; and as we all know, we won the war.

1 comment:

  1. Andrew-- Great job finding an example is our time that juxtaposes memory and multimodal devices. The "stagecraft" used in the ad work effectively to support a national memory. Mrs. R