Monday, December 10, 2012

SMopularity: Rhetorical Analysis of SModcast

A section of Trent Hunsaker's rhetorical analysis of Kevin Smith's rhetoric in various podcasts...
Earlier, I mentioned that Burke's theories state that people use rhetoric as a means of identification. One of these types of identification as defined by Burke is plain and simple, "It flowers in such usages as that of a politician who, though rich, tells humble constituents of his humble origins" (Borchers, 151). This type of rhetoric is not deceitful and builds on historical similarities between rhetor and audience. Kevin Smith uses this direct identification with his audience in many ways, including Burkes example of economical status. Highlands: A Peephole History is a podcast series where Kevin Smith speaks with his childhood friends and family members about growing up in the small, New Jersey, seaside borough of Highlands. On one episode of Highlands, Smith talks with his mother about the economic conditions in which he was raised, and tells an anecdote to her about his school lunches:

The microwave was a pricey item. It took us years to get a microwave. But we had a toaster oven ... You would take a big thing of tinfoil, put chopped-meat ham in it, you'd put some cheese on it, then you would cook it in the toaster oven, and give it to me in a bag, and be like, "When you get to school, put it on a radiator."  So I'd get to school and put the bag on a radiator to keep it warm ... It was awesome. Problem was, every mother fucker in class would be like, "Sister Teresa, why does he get to warm his food on the radiator?" And I'm sure Sister Teresa was like, "Don't bug him because he's got poor food. Just don't bust his balls." (Smith, "#012: The Tooth Fairy)

Smith's use of rhetoric in telling this anecdote is direct and unassuming. Those who reside within Smith's podcast universe of discourse are familiar with his monetary success. Like in Burke's example, they would be able to make connections of how his humble begins are proof that they too could obtain this success and have thus played their role as an audience member, in self-persuasion (Borchers, 151).

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