She sits across from her ex-boyfriend, a calm, brave face in place, and asks him what led to the downfall of their relationship. Please watch the video, produced by The Scene, before continuing:
Within the first four hours of this video being posted on Twitter, it received 96k retweets and 216k likes. People’s reactions varied drastically. In response to this video, a rhetorical and multimodal analysis will be conducted, digging deep into the reasoning behind what makes this video persuasive and how this video elicited polar opposite emotions.
Given the cultural context of romance that is associated with Valentine’s Day, people often think of the love instead of heartbreak. Although the topic is heartwrenching, the producers at The Scene captured this story beautifully. On the surface, the documentary form is simplistic, meaning the sole focus is on the couple, but its simplicity enhances the viewer’s experience by avoiding unnecessary distractions. The dusky and dim hues (the visual mode) create a sense of mourning. Similarly, each person is wearing the color black which, according to color psychology, is symbolic of grief, death, or negative connotations. Metaphorically this visual implies the death of a relationship and stages of grief.
As the video fades in, a soft music begins to play, its slow melody setting a sorrowful tone. The music tugs on our heartstrings like a Sarah McLachlan SPCA Commercial, causing a sympathetic rise of emotion. The aural mode helps to convey to the audience the sorrow and hurt that Kourtney is experiencing as she hears the truth from Leonard regarding his multiple affairs. Furthermore, notice how the producers used linguistic modes (how words and language function) to add emphasis to the sorrowful tone. The words fade in, each word slowly becoming whole. This is symbolic of the truth coming to light.
After Leonard confesses that he had sex with other girls the video pans back, allowing us to witness Kourtney’s reaction which was the feeling of pain filtering across her face as she tried to hold back tears. We’re able to tell that she’s hurt because of the gestural mode, or body language, conveying as much to the audience. As the camera pans out, we see that Kourtney and Leonard are sitting opposite of one another, their heads hanging downward, shoulders are slumped, and chests are narrowed. This body language suggests emotions of feeling defeated. Then slowly they look up, making eye contact, and the word “broken” appears in the void between them. The breaking of the “K” is a metaphor for the breaking of Kourtney’s heart.
As the video continues to play, the audience listens, watches as Leonard is brutally honest with Kourtney about what he did. Watching Kourtney process the information, witnessing each initial reaction, draws the audience into experiencing her raw emotions. As the story continues to unfold, the audience becomes enamored with the how the couple works through the situation. The audience progressively begins to make the connection that the point of the story is recognizing how actions impact others, the hardships of healing, and moving on without remaining bitter. This is conveyed linguistically and then emphasized when the audience watches the small epilogue stating that:
Kourtney and Leonard now live in different states. They still talk regularly.
By the end of the video, the audience finds themselves in one of four states:
- Crying with a mixture of anger
You can personally view some of the reactions on Twitter and tweet your response.
Overall, the author of this video successfully and effectively persuaded the audience to emotionally respond using multimodal techniques given the rhetorical situation.
Please comment if you have something to add to this analysis and share if you agree!
Warmest Regards & Mahalo