Rhetorical Analysis In-Class Exercise

Resource Used: https://www.thoughtco.com/proof-rhetoric-1691689

Procedure: Students agree on a work of popular culture that they have all seen or read. Then, they are divided into groups of four. Each group of four takes one of six parts of the parts of a speech listed below. After working together for 5-10 minutes, each group articulates their portion of the argument. Then, all the groups come together and give their portions of the argument to form a complete six-part whole.

Rhetorical Situation 1:

A broad coalition of parents have decided to appeal to the MPAA because they think The Incredibles should be censored. It teaches violence, sexism, elitism, and confuses children about what is real and what is fake. We are responding to this coalition and defending The Incredibles.

Exordium The movie the Incredibles is more than just a cartoon movie for kids. This movie teaches family values and the importance of working together, challenging your obstacles, and being ambitious. We grew up watching this movie many times, and although some may think that this movie teaches bad habits and ideas, we believe this movie emphasizes the importance of family values above anything else. A prime example of how the movie has had a positive impact are the people in this room. We grew up watching the movie and we turned out fine.
Narration This movie is realistic because it shows deeper patterns of human behavior via the superhero emergence, chaos, etc. We need cultural ideals to strive towards.
Division Three criticisms made of The Incredibles are largely undeserved…though the movie contains violence, it doesn’t glorify it. Less violent than other superhero movies. Also argues that it promotes sexism, but the damsel in distress scenario has a twist – the wife saves the husband. Elitism is just a metaphor for alienation and being an outsider.
Proof/confirmation Teaches by example: family matters (i.e. Parr family as a unit). Teaches character building (social element/other people matter). Teamwork is good. Some family dysfunction is normal. Don’t underestimate people.
Refutation Unrealistic (but encourages creativity); shows strong family bonds; not patriarchal because family comes together and fights.
Peroration Past generations of children have watched TI and cherished the ideals it represented. Rather than glorifying violence and teaching kids stuff that is fake, it teaches kids to fight for what they believe in. In addition, it taught important values and gives examples of a family that isn’t perfect but comes together in the end. Children who watch this movie can see how the family made it through their issues and remained a family. Following the release of the movie, few other children’s films have valued such strong family ties. Robbing children of the ability to watch this movie and learn from these characters would be a disservice to imagination and creativity and the future bonds of family everywhere.


Rhetorical situation 2:

A broad coalition of parents have gathered together to petition the MPAA to ban Hunger Games because of its violence, anti-authoritarian themes, and its subversion of traditional gender roles. You are tasked with defending the film.

Exordium There’s opposition to the movies due to violence, anti-authoritarian themes, etc. but we saw the movie and we don’t murder our friends! Insert compelling example here – maybe about someone who claimed Hunger Games made her murder her friends, but really it turned out that something else did.
Narration Rather than seeing the Hunger Games as supporting violence an murder, it shows how young people are able to stand up against bad guys and gives important examples to today’s young people, esp. young women.
Division Hunger Games is violent. But it’s just entertainment – don’t worry your kids won’t take it seriously! Stronger messages can be sent through messages of the hunger games such as honor, camaraderie, sacrifice. Teamwork! Serves a greater end that is good enough to make up for the means
Proof/confirmation Why each of the bad things you hate are actually necessary. Anti-authoritarian teaches you to stand up for what’s right. Violence showcases reality of the tyranny of the government. Sometimes dystopian authoritarian places are really so bad you should be against them! Gender roles necessary because of movie’s environment. Katniss didn’t have a father – but don’t worry she gets married later!! Biblical example of Ruth changing gender roles to be provider.
Refutation You say that the audience is really impressionable. Showing violence to an impressionable audience and gamifying death is, indeed, potentially VERY PROBLEMATIC! Also, we do agree that glorifying the use of weapons can be bad. And undermining authority can hurt kids’ relationships to their authority figure. But…. Death is gamified but it’s still super sad! Not dehumanizing. Also, sometimes it is good to be anti-authority and not overly trust anyone who seems like an authority figure. Children shouldn’t blindly trust people – what about strangers with candy?!
Peroration Do you really want your kids to be unprepared for the violence, funny gender roles, and bad authority of college and high school and adult life? Teach by examples – with teamwork, etc.


Rhetorical Situation 3

Jurassic Park has been made mandatory viewing in school systems across the U.S. This infuriates a broad coalition of scientists and creationists who think the movie promotes bad science or undermines religious values and worldviews. They appeal to the MPAA to ban Jurassic Park. You are tasked with defending Jurassic Park.

Exordium Science lets us manipulate the world around us, religious tells us what’s right and wrong. Both are closely related to Jurassic Park – not just an action movie, but instills proper values into its viewers. Anecdote about a famous scientist or theologian who only became one because of the movie!
Narration Recently, schools have adopted viewings of JP into their curriculum…promotes pseudoscience, creationists worry that people might think dinosaurs are real. PTA hates the wasted time. But the movie is fundamentally didactically valuable – important to make a distinction between fantasy and reality in terms of decision-making
Division Basis for both parties to agree on (events in JP shouldn’t be repeated). Divergence in perspectives that JP is actually educational on what not to do. Freedom of speech is more important than your quibble!
Proof/confirmation This is a way to get children interested in science (engages them through entertainment); better way of educating them about dinosaurs than just a textbook. Educational gains outweigh the bad science/theology problems. Teaches moral virtues like actions have consequences.
Refutation Outdated science/inaccuracies (true). But we just need to historically contextualize it, not jettison it completely (good for the time). Animal rights activists might not like the cages – but they’re missing that it’s not real! Genetic modification is an ethical debate/playing God. But it exposes children to both sides of the argument – good and bad things about genetic modification. Separation of church and state – don’t ban our movie!
Peroration JP teaches not to misuse technology. Good lesson for students to learn, especially today. They’ll miss out on some of this valuable material if you ban the film.







Categories: Uncategorized