Style in a Micromessage


This page consists of a simple message using white text on a black background.
The font is plain looking, but “more by the nature of the media,” and “than by the
content,” are in bold print. The words are located on the left side of the page, and
there is an image of a television screen with a test pattern on it. The various colors
are pastel looking, and grainy. Toward the top of the test pattern there is another
worded message contained in a black box. It is made to look as if it is part of the
test pattern, and states in white lettering, “DUE TO FCC RULES WE MUST BLACKOUT.”
The upper case letters are as they appear on the TV screen. The letters are white.

The enthymeme’s claim is that “Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the
media by which humans communicate than by the content of the communication.” The
datum, shown on the test pattern screen, displays one way the media can shape the
way we can be communicated to. The presupposition is that the media has become so big
that it and it’s governing agency are in charge of what you see.
There is a chiasmus evident here as the words communicate and communication are used. As
stated in the textbook, it helps make what may be an antithetical statement more pointed and
memorable. This repetition could also be indicative of an isocolon. Irony exists in the image of
the television screen. The screen says “WE MUST BLACKOUT,” but it’s clear to see that the screen
isn’t completely blacked out. Finally, I’m going to go out on a limb here and state that the two
statements on the artifact are yoked (zeugma) together by the word “BLACKOUT.” The media
and it’s keeper (FCC) both “shape” society using many techniques, including blackouts.

The implied rhetor is astute and counting on an astute or educated audience to understand
the message being presented. The implied rhetor is concerned with the role the media plays
in shaping society along with the help of government agencies. I also know that Marshall
McLuhan is an expert on communications. The quote I remember is, “The media is the message.”
The intended audience is probably somewhat media savvy. Certainly, the audience uses the
media for entertainment and informational purposes. The audience in all likelihood IS society
at large, because nearly everyone has been exposed to some facet of the media.
The exigence is that the media presents material in such a way that it influences or “shapes”
the way society thinks and acts.

Logos – the logos appeal is the statement containing the repetition of the words communicate
and communication are used. It appears contradictory at first, but it makes sense the second
time you read it. It makes an inference, and that is that the traits of the media are what really
influences people. All we have to do is compare Fox News and CNN. Same information, but
completely different analysis, or “spin.” The irony of the blacked out screen with the test pattern states
that not everything is blacked out; just the things that the FCC thinks we probably shouldn’t see.
The zeugma shown earlier supports the logical conclusion that the FCC and media are linked.

Ethos – The audience may not know that McLuhan is the rhetor, but his authorship lends
credibility and trust due to his reputation. The statement on the artifact also leans towards
general moral quality and honesty. It’s apparent that the rhetor is intelligent.

Finally, I think that this artifact is very effective in getting its argument across. Upon reading it, and
looking at it, I know that it certainly currently applies in America. The first things that came to me
were, “this guy’s right,” and censorship. The media does shape the way we
think and act. All one has to do is compare Fox News and CNN. Using the last presidential campaign
as an example, the two candidates were projected in different manners. The opinions of the
people (media) presenting the same information varied decidedly. The media has brought into the
open the division in the country and shaped society to the point where it has become
quite polarized. When I think of the FCC, the first thing that comes to mind is censorship. It’s
ironic to think that the FCC is the only entity that practices blackouts, especially by their rules.
Some controversial news items are not shown on some news networks, and that is a form of
censorship. The difference between the statement and the image on the screen is that the media
can impose a blackout without the public even knowing.
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