Word-up — A lesson in language

Rhetoric and metaphor are used pervasively in the media to persuade and represent a point of view.  This effective use of language allows the writer or broadcaster to set the stage and formulate the proper backdrop for the audience to receive the news or opinion in its desired frame.    Rhetoric can be more insidious in its aim to influence the thought and conduct of an audience whereas metaphor is utilized more to translate a story or represent current events through cultural symbols and comparative thinking (in my opinion).  The Richie Havens Woodstock song “Freedom” uses “a motherless child” as a metaphor for freedom (in my opinion).  Freedom is portrayed as an orphan, has no one to guide and protect it, and is always in a precarious situation, under constant threat of attack and of not surviving.The short film “Black and White” was more of a direct use of rhetoric by the Soviet propaganda to influence thought about the American way of life and how brutal our form of government is by allowing such prejudice and abuse among our peoples. Dave Silverbrand’s documentary on the Dominican Republic uses baseball as a metaphor of that country’s hope for a better life.  As of 2010 approximately 10% of all major league baseball players are from the Dominican Republic.  It is their way out and in a way their religion. 

Some cultural symbols come to represent different things than they once did transpiring in the media as events unfold over time.  On his recent visit to America, Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Obama agreed to an extension on the American lease of two Chinese Panda Bears.  Once a symbol of friendship between nations, the Panda now sadly represents the only issue the two greatest powers on earth can somewhat agree about.  Human and religious freedoms; be damned, currency rates and trade agreements; forget it.  Political prisoners and democracy; no chance.   But at least Washington gets the Pandas for 5 more years.  They wanted 10.

 David Exley

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