Monday, September 7, 2009

How are visuals and multimedia rhetorical?

Visuals and Multimedia are always rhetorical because they always have a purpose whether it be visible or not. Foss, Foss, and Trapp define rhetoric as communication. In our tech savvy society rhetoric as visuals can be anywhere from a presidential candidate's image to the scandal sheet magazines one almost always sees in shops. The rhetorical messages can be as simple as buy a product and be as beautiful as the woman in the advertisement or this candidate is the one to vote for because they support families.

An interesting example of rhetorical meaning in visuals/Multimedia can be found in gaming, most prominently in job class and design and color a character wears. A White Mage, which is usually female (but not always) and what they wear influences how they are perceived: everything from their personality to the way fans view them. Besides practicing benign white magic, they usually generally dress in robes and heals injured characters with a staff. However, in many cases, these characters have a serious flaw in design as producers propose what in gaming is called the quiet "damsel in distress" heroine who must wait for their love interest to come come and rescue them, heal people and don't serve much more of a purpose than these "feminine traits", which is why it can be argued that female characters in games are entirely male dominated and male defined and are by and for male gamers. (In many cases female gamers hate female characters more for their characterizations than how they are dressed) Male protagonists are usually of the warrior class and aren't defined by their relationships with the heroines.

In addition to job class, visual rhetoric is very prominent in a characters game design and the color they wear. I play a Japanese game series called Final Fantasy, and color defines a character's story. White/black are in general reserved for characters in mourning, red/pink is what heroines wear and symbolize love and passion for a cause (these heroines are usually happy go lucky character tropes), blue is usually reversed for heros being the opposite of red and silver hair is reserved for villains. Character design is rhetoric to a gamer cause it not only governs personality, jobs and history but a character's legacy. Now a famous example of this is from a FFVII heroine named Tifa. Although she is a shy, quiet, martial artist and a member of a group saving her world, she is most well known among all 12 games for how much "slutty" her design is than anything else and her character is demonized for it even 12 years after the game was released which goes to show how powerful visual rhetoric really is. This is also unfortunately one of the hotly debated issues on all of my forums.

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