The artifact is situated on a black background with what appears to be an older version TV screen to the right, with the SMTPE Color Bars (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers), which were used to calibrate monitors, and actually won a "technical emmy" in 2001-2002. I have provided a link below explaining what the SMTPE Color Bars are and what they were for. Over the tv with color bars are the words "DUE TO FCC RULES WE MUST BLACKOUT" all in capital letters, white old-fashioned font (you can tell by the "D"--looks like really old video game fonts) over a black bar.

To the right of the tv image are the words "Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which humans communicate than by the content of the communication." The bold words in this statement are also bold in the artifact, highlighting the words "more by the nature of the media than by the content." The font for these words appears to be a typewriter type font, again, indicating age. Again, the font is white on a black background.

There is no stamp on the meme indicating where it came from or who published it. However I am told the rhetor -- or at least the author of the words-- is Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), a Canadian professor, philosopher, and public intellectual (wikipedia). It appears that one of his most famous quotes is "The medium is the message." Even if I hadn't been told of the author, I could have Googled the phrase and he pops up.

The text on the TV screen, "Due to FCC Rules We Must Blackout" refers to the Federal Communications Commission, which "regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories" (https://www.fcc.gov/about-fcc/what-we-do). I read about their rules some and I couldn't come to a conclusion why the rules would require a blackout. They regulate things like mandating radio towers to have lights to planes don't crash into them. In order to understand this meme, I had to do some reading on who the FCC was and why their regulations would lead to a blackout, or call for a blackout.

Upon further research, I found that the FCC released a statement in March of 2015 that "the National Football League voted to suspend its broadcast television blackout rules for the 2015 football season." (This particular assignment feels a bit like Alice tumbling down the rabbit-hole). So possibly the meme's statement "Due to FCC Rules We Must Blackout" is referring to this? Maybe not to the football statement in particular but possibly it is used as a metaphor-- ? I can't imagine this is about football.

And it's not. A call to my dad, who is a football guru of gurus, informed me that the Color Bars and FCC message are related to syndicated shows and protecting the local channels. Local channels request to have blocks put on certain shows so as to be certain people are watching them on their local channels. Today you don't see this screen, you see another one that says "due to FCC rules, we can't carry this program" and it will often tell you where you can go to watch it. It's about advertising dollars, my dad said-- protecting the local market.

It could be that the Color Bars/tv image is a metaphor for McLuhan's quote. Thinking about his quote, it seems to be saying that people are shaped more by how people communicate than by what they're actually saying. We can see this in the recent election's demonstrations and riots. These people aren't mean, abusive people, and what they want isn't horrific. But how they're going about it is detrimental, and it is scaring people so much so that they aren't listening to what they're actually saying. (this just helped me understand McLuhan's quote). Possibly the image relates to the quote, in essence, by saying "make sure the method you use to communicate is along the correct lines-- you will influence people more by your methods than by your words-- and if you screw this up, there will be a blackout in communication." Something like that.

Besides metaphor, here are some other tropes/schemes/figure of thought that could be in illustration:

All of these features work together to make the argument: the quote is carefully crafted, employing all the tropes/schemes listed above, and with the image, the message is "make what you do match what you say or there will be a "blackout" in communication. Align (color bars) your actions (nature of media) with your words (content of communication). The indication with the color bars was always (when I was a kid) that something was wrong with the tv, or rather, the network or station. It was down. It couldn't communicate to me right then. Communication was interrupted. Our communication is interrupted if our method is off, so calibrate it. Make sure it's on, because one of them is shaping people.

If you do the digging, you find what the FCC does and that the Color Bars are from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, which won an award for this in 2001-2002. That brings ethos to the artifact-- these are two long-running organizations. One federal, one not. Also the fact that the author of the quote, Marshall McLuhan, was a professor, philosopher, and public intellectual, well known enough to have a wiki page explaining him, lends ethos. I suppose the image of the old tv / screen/ color bars/ static also lends to ethos-- this was our old tv, the pioneer of modern technology and communication. Its "retro" now so could be seen as having some weight: the "grandfather" of technology, so to speak. The fonts that imply age also lend to ethos-- with age comes superiority, knowledge, wisdom, and importance-- being that on the tv, the fonts are all in caps. The whole artifact seems to be implying wisdom --ethos.

The tropes/schemes employed by the artifact easily lend to ethos-- the quotes are well written, use repetitive phrases and words, irony, and metaphor. There is a lot packed into this little punch. One would have to think to create such a phrase, which tells me that he was educated, and thought about what he put in a phrase, how he ordered one. This phrase most likely didn't just pop off his head-- he sculpted it-- knowing we (his implied audience) would read it and be influenced.

It is influential. It makes me think I had better let my actions and words run together, line up. Or people will "hear" my actions and be shaped by them, but not my words. In fact, the two disagreeing equates hypocrisy, which does not lend itself to ethos at all.








SMPTE Color Bars
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