The film A Sea Change provides an interesting example of the rhetorical strategies that people use to talk about the topic of ocean acidification. The members of mainstream media often use scare tactics such as apocalyptic framing to catch the attention of an audience and make their message sink in. A Sea Change starts out with a very apocalyptic tone but quickly uses the sentimental appeal of the protagonist’s family and grandchildren to make the issue even more heart felt to give added influence to the suggestions that the film ends with. The rhetorical strategies used by the director of A Sea Change are intended to motivate viewers to take action against ocean acidification.
Different rhetorical strategies have very different effects on audiences; the group of them used in A Sea Change seem to succeed in their goal of influencing audiences to take action. The movie opens up with a series of interviews with scientists and other authorities who use phrases like “mass extinction” and “dangerous territory”, and make statement including “within 50 years all coral may disappear” and “Are we screwed? Yeah”. The purpose of these statements at the beginning of the film is a scare tactic to capture the attention of any viewer. Very few people find it easy to ignore a large group of scientists telling them that they are going to die or that the world is coming to an end. The prediction of a problem leading to the end of the world as we know it is called apocalyptic framing. Once the viewers are hooked, the director of the movie then switches over to an emotional appeal by introducing the grandson of the protagonist. The idea of a questionable future for innocent children around the world is the main motivational part of A Sea Change. People do not want to feel responsible for a bleak future for others, especially if they have or plan to have children of their own. So what can these concerned viewers do to help? Once again the director changes gears and begins to focus on current efforts to reduce the causes of ocean acidification. The examples given include a hotel that has a heating and cooling system that produces no CO2 emissions. Perhaps the more eye catching example is the wind-turbine company. This example is important because it suggests to the viewers that by investing in this company or a similar one they can make money while promoting clean energy that could lead to an end in ocean acidification. The director of A Sea Change uses rhetoric to present a very compelling story about ocean acidification.
The rhetoric of A Sea Change follows a logical progression that allows it to have an increased effect on viewers. The apocalyptic framing draws people in, once they are hooked the director makes an emotional appeal by discussing what could happen for future generations, finally she tells the viewers what they have to do to save the oceans. Maybe this combination of strategies will help the film to be more successful than so many other articles and journals on the topic. Hopefully it will get the public support that is needed to stop ocean acidification.
Thoughtful observations, Kitt. But I was struck by your comment about the film being “more successful than so many other articles and journals on the topic.” Are you referring to both scholarly and non-scholarly literature when you say this? Do you think such literature has been ineffective at conveying ocean acidification to its intended audiences, and if so, what gave you that impression? You don’t have to reply – just something to think about!
I was saying that maybe it will be more successful than other things on the topic because I think that ocean acidification is not as well publicized or as widely known about as it probably should be.
The apocalyptic appeal as well as the scientific proof will have a greater effect on emotions and hopefully elicit a greater response.