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A practice session for analyzing YouTube commercials – English 328: Writing, Style, & Technology
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A practice session for analyzing YouTube commercials

Don’t forget that the most important thing all of you should be finishing up now is a revised draft of your “invent your own technology” project, which is due by midnight Monday!  But I also want you to continue to thinking about the ancient style project (of course!) since a draft of that project will be due next week.  So, after the continued part, I have a couple of examples that we can talk about as a group, just to give you an idea about how applying ancient notions of style to contemporary commercials might work.

Now, I’m not going to recap all of the stuff in Crowley/Hawhee for all kinds of obvious reasons, and don’t take what I’m suggesting here as “the right answer.”  I’m just brain-storming a bit to get the ball rolling, and keep in mind that how you apply these different notions of ancient style are of course going to be debatable.

Commercial #1 A Diamond is Forever “Solitaire.”

Okay, a couple of thoughts I’m thinking about I’ll throw out there to “prime the pump” a bit:

  • I think this is “Grand Style,” especially because of the visuals and music and such, but I think the language is pretty formal too, especially at the end:  “The diamond solitaire.  A diamond is forever.  DeBeers.”  It’s kind of what you’d have on a business card, right?
  • The repetition of “more” is pretty striking to me.  I’m not sure what the name for this figure is though because on 243, Crowley and Hawhee don’t give a name to a word just repeated like this.
  • “Diamonds are forever” as a phrase strikes me as a paradox:  there are all sorts of situations in which the gift of diamonds is not eternal (e.g., people break up), but I suppose it is true that diamonds themselves do last a heck of a long time.
  • The whole scene has an element of “enargeia” to it in that it is a sort of vivid dream of a gift being given….
  • And, depending on how you feel about diamonds and their value, maybe the claims are a little hyberbolic?

Okay, on to a decidedly different commercial:

Commercial #2: Bud Light Paintball Commercial

Okay, I’m not going to offer any interpretations to this one, but I will ask some questions to get you started:

  • Grand?  Middle?  Plain?
  • What do you make of the “Too Light” and “Too Heavy?”
  • The word “Drinkability” seems kind of weird– what’s that in terms of a trope or a figure?
  • How do metaphors work here?

Commercial #3:  Head On!

I’m offering this up here because it is probably an example that no one else is going to consider for writing about because there’s so little going on.  It’s just repetition, right?  Is there something else going on here?  Do you think this is persuasive or effective?

Commercial #4:  Old Spice Man

Last but far from least, I wanted to bring up a commercial to talk about as a group you also might not want to use for this assignment for reasons completely different from the Head On commercial:  there’s almost too much going on here to talk about in a brief essay.  Mind you, I love this ad.  But with all the special effects and all the rest, I’m not sure it would be that easy to focus on a particular stylistic element.

That’s not to say you couldn’t use either of these commercials– that’s up to you.  I just think it’d be tough.

Posted in Class Assignments, Class Readings.

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