Within the United States, there is a cultural identification with a number of issues. Depending on the perceived impact that any issue may have, it may draw numerous protests and arguments from a number of different groups that either oppose or support the supposed move. In the political cartoon displayed, the scene demonstrates the vast differences in media and public attention to the bankruptcy of Hostess brands in comparison to the more urgent but long-term issues of environmental degradation and decline. As such, the cartoon is an accurate commentary on the different levels of attention that certain issues obtain in comparison to others. By subtly suggestions that American are distracted by trite events and occurrences, the cartoon displays the difficulty that important issues have in gaining traction in both the media and public consciousness.
Pathos is used very effectively within the political cartoon to display the emotions that the artist feels toward the mass public outcry and response to the closing of Hostess Brands. Mainly, the artist conveys his disgust at the level of outrage that is displayed by the mass media and popular culture in comparison to other issues that are more critical in the public sphere. This is effectively portrayed through the contrast displayed between the left and right sides of the cartoon. The right side is filled with angry protestors carrying signs in outrage, and visibly displaying their rage at the current plans of the company’s closing. On the left hand side, the environmentalists and other individuals passively look on with a look of boredom and despair (Aristotle, 2010).
Essentially, this conveys the shift in the cultural awareness and care toward certain issues within the environmental field. More specifically, the author wishes to redirect the attention of the viewer by displaying the state of the environmental movement and its role in society. Although the movement has made great strides in establishing its agenda and making certain legislative progress, there have been a number of failures. Instead of caring about the environment and other critical issues currently occurring within the country, many individuals are happy with the shallow banality of being outraged at an iconic food manufacturer for filing bankruptcy. Although it may have impact in the short-term, it does not compare with the importance that environmental care and maintenance will have on society as a whole. Instead of carefully following important issues, Americans have resigned themselves from active political involvement and prefer to aim their outrage at the low-level news that may impact their day to day life in a noticeable (if insignificant way). Emotion is a controlling feature of this political cartoon, as the wishes for the reader to feel the same type of rage and anger that the protesters on the right panel feel (Wisse, 1989).
The logos within the cartoon is effectively created by portraying the Hostess protesters as foolish and ultimately naïve. The artist wishes to establish the meaningless of their outrage by displaying the disproportionate passionate response that the news that facilitated within these individuals. The silent plea is one that begs the reader to consider whether such events justify such a response, and for the reader to identify causes in which such outrage and disagreement would be better served in the long run. Through the statement of “We’re doomed.”, the artist sees the fate of the environmental movement as ultimately demoralizing, as they are unable to draw the same level of public interest and engagement as such a minor event.
In reality, the cartoon is a more vindictive accusation of American culture and its love for the flavor of the week. Although such news is trivial and ultimately meaningless in the long-term, it nevertheless dominates the agenda for a time before it is replaced with yet another piece. Through such media attention, important issues are often left by the wayside as after constant distraction, the public loses its interest in various important events as they are buried by shallow, meaningless, events. The sheer level of the crowds between the two differing groups in the picture is intended to serve as an accusation towards the audience (Durham Tech, n.d.). Essentially, the audience is made to feel guilty and foolish for spending so much time on such a meaningless issue. This message is effectively woven throughout the entire cartoon, and is not lost within the overall picture that the artist is attempting to paint for the audience. The message is clear and obvious to all individuals involved.
Through a number of rhetorical strategies, the political cartoon accomplishes its goal of demonstrating the sheer ignorance and shallowness that many individuals within the United States treat critical issues. The outrage and emotion that was seen over the closing down of Hostess brand foods was overwhelming in comparison to the attention gained by decade’s long campaigns to instill environmental regulations and government/industry action on creating a sustainable environmental policy. Pathos and logos are used effectively within this political cartoon, and the artist’s main point is accurately portrayed within it. Ultimately, the artist wishes to remind the general public that there are more critical issues to be worried, and that the closing of Hostess will not spell the end of the world; failure in protecting the environment, however, will in the long-term.
- Aristotle. (2010). Rhetoric.
- Durham Tech. (n.d.). A General Summary of Aristotle’s Appeals. Retrieved from http://courses.durhamtech.edu/perkins/aris.html
- Wisse, J. (1989). Ethos and pathos: from Aristotle to Cicero.