Video Compostition Proposal

Everyone knows that the majority of successful YouTube videos all have one thing in common: kittens or puppies. Phew, I got this covered.

“Declawing = cats = viewers = potential success”

There is a particular video style that I am interested in for this project—namely, a casual video blog that incorporates my personal experiences, as well as research, about the harmful effects of declawing. I am advocating individuals to stop declawing their cats.

I will be co-hosting the video with my three cats, Angels, Skittles, and Kathy. I’ll try to insure at least one of their presences within the frame at all times (treat bribery will be necessary). Rather than just talking in front of the camera the whole time, I’ll film bits and pieces of cute cat videos/pictures to insert over plain audio recordings every once in a while to enhance several of my main points. I will not directly include other people in the video, however, I might include text screenshots between my parents and I as we discuss our cats and declawing practices. Also, I could record onscreen forums or articles to use as discussion topics.

The finished product will most definitely be different from any proposal or makeshift plan that I made prior to the filming experience. Most of the time, I come up with the best ideas after I begin the actual recording process. Compared to the other projects that are required for this course, I am the most excited for this one. I have a bit of experience in filming and editing video clips. As I kid, I made a few amateur YouTube videos that were not too shabby (but I’m not proud enough to distribute them to anyone that I personally know). 

The video will show evidence of extensive research and familiarity with declawing and include rhetorical concepts and design principles.



Rhetorical Analysis of an Audio Text

I spent nearly all weekend trying to find the purrfect audio text to analyze. I had to overcome several different problematic situations. Firstly, there were not many available options about my focal topic. There were maybe four podcasts that I could choose from. Additional radio advertisements were basically nonexistent about feline declawing. My choices were tragically slim. Do you want to know the worst part about finding an audio text? The majority of the potential podcasts were brutally boring. It was an intense struggle to pay attention to a few of the hour long ones (it would not allow me skip over specific parts…savages, they knew what they were doing). At times, I found myself staring blankly at my laptop and wondering why people with such monotone voices were talking in my ear. I would be ashamed of myself if I chose to write a rhetorical analysis on an audio text that could potentially make someone fall asleep. Hence, the search continued. 

Around midnight, I came across a nine minute podcast called “Ban Cat Declawing” by Veterinary Secrets on iTunes. Imagine my enthusiasm when I saw the length of the audio text. It was the shortest one that I had found, so I had unnaturally high hopes for its success. Fortunately, it was a hit—specifically, from 1:00 to 3:35. This section is excellent for my upcoming analysis. I can properly consider what this piece is trying to get the audience to do through the rhetorical aspects that the speaker, Dr. Andrew Jones, incorporates into his podcast. I plan to take into consideration the different elements—vocal delivery, music, sound effects, and silence—and how they affect the argument of the piece, as well as the relationships and context between those elements. This will be my first time critically thinking about sound, rather than visual stimulants. It might be a bit difficult at first, considering I am more of a visual person; however, I can just replay the 2 minute and 35 second clip repeatedly until I can successfully overcome my obstacles.

Ironically enough, Dr. Jones has quite a controversy surrounding him. He claims to have secret knowledge of the medical profession involving veterinarians—but only reveals it at a price. In his personal forum, he reports that there are safer, alternative, or “holistic” methods that could be used by veterinarians, but would result in a loss of money. This does not specifically correlate with the declawing issue; however, his medical license was revoked, which does discredit Dr. Jones’ medical advice. But do not fear, this just makes rhetorically analyzing his podcast so much more interesting! Perhaps instead of caring for the well being of claw-less kitties around the world, his purpose in discussing the topic is to merely gain a little extra fame for himself? It’s a question that merits more attention.

(Tip: This is a prime example for why it is a great idea to research credentials of an individual. If I had not have done this, my analysis may not have captured the full purpose that influenced this audio text.)

Audio Composition Proposal

After exploring the podcasts of The Memory Palace, I came across a master piece—episode 16, “Secret Kitty.” While the content of this composition does not pertain to my focal topic, it does have several key components that I would like to incorporate into my own audio creation. “Secret Kitty” is a heartwarming adventure of a spy cat who could not quite live up to the expectations of a knowledge-seeking society, and results in an untimely tragedy. The overall narration of the story captures the listener’s attention until the very last second.

Mission: To create a funny and entertaining story that is appealing to a large amount of people; however, through the use of rhetoric, it will also inform the public of the catastrophic effects of declawing.

Using the research that I have gathered, I will create a script for my audio composition that includes a fictional story, humor, and illustrates the argument towards my focal topic that declawing felines is inhumane. I do not want to create something that is boring. No one likes being forced to listen to something that is absolutely dreadful, so I’ll try my best to avoid that. Since a podcast consists solely of critical listening, and contains minimal visual components, it is extremely important that the topic and content is appealing to the audience. I will make sure to include a strong attention catcher to insure the audience’s undivided awareness. If nothing interesting is established within the first 10-15 seconds, there is basically no hope for the rest of the composition in the eyes of the public. 

Music or atmospheric sound could heighten the emotional effect of my argument. This technique should be used sparingly, rather than the entirety of the audio recording. It would definitely backfire if someone used too many alternative sounds since it could become a distraction. Emphasis on certain points will be followed with distinctive and intentional silence in order to shape the rhetorical purpose of my creation. As I write the script, I will continually try to appeal to the audience using my spoken words. Before even starting the recording process, I’ll practice reading my essay out loud and making the necessary changes in order to insure a proper flow of sentences. It is also important for me to adjust my tone of voice. Unfortunately, I am a bit soft-spoken so I’ll have to figure something out to fix that; however, I have been told that while giving a speech, I have the potential to put the audience to sleep with my calm and collective voice…is that a bad thing? I’m not entirely sure.

No one can escape sound—maybe listening, but not sound. Overall, I just want to create something that people can have a laugh at, but also realize the rhetorical aspects of it.

Cattitude Podcast

The article, “Sound Matters,” written by Heidi McKee was extremely eye-opening. We practically submerge ourselves in sounds without even realizing it. As I type this blog post, I hear the clicking of the buttons on the keyboard, the music on Pandora blasting through my headphones, the fan blowing in the background, the iconic ding ding of my cell phone notifying me of a new text message, and a door slamming shut notifying me that my solitude is no more. McKee illustrates a similar experience in her publication, and proves that there is never truly pure silence. It is a peculiar phenomenon. 

I am no stranger to podcasts. In fact, I have seven or eight different series on iTunes and Sound Cloud that I listen to on a weekly basis. It is a fantastic alternative to listening to the radio in the car. I can simply pop in my headphones on my commute to Miami and keep listening (commercial free!) until I get to class. This is basically a morning ritual. I have an hour and fifteen minute drive to school, and a twenty to thirty minute walk to my classes…needless to say, I am thankful for the podcasts. After listening to This American Life, I decided to research podcasts relevant to my focal topic of declawing cats. There is an audio series called Cattitude that is hosted by Tom Dock. Episode 22 discussed the controversy among declawing cats. I really liked his approach to this issue. He gave an objective and unbiased overview of the procedure and merely reported his own experience with both clawed and declawed cats. It is the listener’s own decision to take a stand for or against this controversy after being given the cold-hard facts. 

The podcast itself was rhetoric galore. When you first press play, you are introduced to an rather strange opening. I didn’t know whether to laugh or squint my eyes in confusion. Needless to say, it definitely caught my attention. After Dock introduced himself and made a few minor announcements, the first audio advertisement appeared. It was something about quality tuna for cats, but I’m not quite sure. There were also several questionable audio design choices that stood out. For instance, there was music playing softly in the background while he spoke to the audience. I have noticed this in a lot of different web series and podcasts, but I never really understood why people do this. Obviously it is important, since there is almost always some sort of music or sound effect being played in the background of important scenes in movies and television. It would be interesting to see people’s reactions if all of the background noise was removed from technology for a day.

Anyway, I feel that it is customary to end these research posts with cat videos. I present you with, “Happiness Finds Grumpy Cat.”

Manicure or Mutilation?

Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist and host of the television show My Cat From Hell, posted an informative YouTube video regarding declawing.

In this video, Mr. Galaxy addresses several key justifications against declawing. He states that declawing is inhumane, barbaric, and mostly cosmetic. In my opinion, this video is using extremely effective rhetorical arguments. His persuasive techniques accurately portray an appeal to ethos, pathos, and logos. This video sums up my entire opinion on the subject of declawing cats. I strongly suggest that any individual who is unaware of the declawing practices in the United States takes five minutes out of their day to watch this video.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), an organization promoting health and welfare of cats, released a declawing statement in 2015. The following points are the foundation of their position statement:

  • Declawing is an ethically controversial procedure
  • It is NOT a medically necessary procedure
  • Scratching is a normal cat behavior
  • Declawing is an amputation
  • It is a veterinarian’s obligation to inform cat owners on alternatives to declawing practices

This organization is ran by a panel of veterinarian professionals who are extremely dedicated and passionate about the quality of care that cats receive. I trust their opinions on declawing procedures. Not only should cat owners be informed of these alternative options, but I also feel that the legality of this procedure should be questioned in the United States. As it stands now, declawing is already banned in two dozen countries around the world. In recent news, a proposed ban on cat declawing got support in the New York senate. If this bill passes, New York will be the first U.S. state to ban declawing. Hopefully the other 49 states follow in their footsteps.

As I continued to research this topic, I found several other reliable resources. Jean Hovfe, a certified veterinarian with many years of experience, posted an article on Little Big Cat, stating the main ten reasons cat owners decide to declaw their pet.

This list includes:

  • To protect furniture or other property (95%)
  • They don’t know that a cat needs a scratching post
  • They don’t want to try to train the cat
  • They tried one or two things to train the cat but it didn’t work
  • Their other cat is declawed and they want to “level the playing field”
  • To stop the cat from scratching them
  • Their friend’s or family’s cat is declawed
  • They have always had declawed cats
  • Their veterinarian recommends it
  • Because they just do not know any better

The main problem that keeps arising is that cat owners are uninformed of the alternative options that could potentially save their felines from years of distasteful behavior. Declawing is not simply giving a cat a manicure, it is mutilating their paws.

No one wants to deal with an eternally grumpy cat. In order to avoid this, I suggest not taking away their primary defense mechanism. If you’re highly curious regarding a cat’s true motives, I suggest you watch this video (it does not pertain to declawing, but it’s still entertaining).

The Predictable Frequency of Visual/Designed Text

The delightful morning rays of sunshine had not yet made my acquaintance as I continued to encompass the warmth of my blankets. My morning routine is strictly habitual on the weekends—open eyes, check the clock, turn around, and fall back asleep until noon. After the initial awakening process is complete, I drowsily grab my iPhone and begin to browse my favorite internet pastime, Reddit. I was able to encounter numerous texts while residing in relaxation. The first post (mildly inappropriate) that I came across made me laugh until I cried. It was glorious.

Reddit - TIFU Eng 224

Not only did this post hold the undeniable effects of boisterous laughter, but also a formidable design scheme of text. The top of the website has reliable links to different Subreddits, as well as an eye-catching title and illustration for viewers. On the right-hand side of the page, there are different texts to provide an introduction to the Reddit community, regulations, notes, moderators, and advertisements (not all present in the screenshot). Based on a 2011 Reddit survey, the majority of the audience are male adults from the age of 18-24. This explains the neutrality of the specific web page and the chosen advertisements.

I came across an additional visual text when I browsed a popular “trolling” website (also known as a news satire organization), The Onion. At this point, I was pretty much on a role with reading hilarious articles. In this instance, it was “Johnson & Johnson Introduces ‘Nothing But Tears’ Shampoo To Toughen Up Newborns.” This lovely commentary screams irony and exaggeration. It’s fantastic. The Onion’s demography is similar to Reddit’s. It is mainly advertised to adult males. The article had a hysterical photograph of a crying kid with my favorite quote of the day, “Because it’s never too early to grow the hell up.” Obviously, I do not encourage the act of intentionally making children cry with the burning sensation of shampoo, but regardless, it’s funny. The website has a stereotypical design for news—fictional and non-fictional—publication with top headlines, most popular stories, recent news, and advertisements. The additional articles that are highlighted for the audience to read as they scroll down the page are all similar in topic to the original article—in this case, children.

Reddit - The Onion Eng 224

Lastly, in my journey of internet hysterics, I came across an article titled, “Missing Missy” on the website 27bslash6. This was not a typical site that I normally visit, but I had recently discovered it while browsing Reddit and decided to give it a shot. Ha, it was the best decision that I made all day. The format of the web page was a bit confusing at first, but I caught on quickly. The article was a series of correspondence between David Throne (the website creator) and his secretary via email. The satire was so intense—I can’t even begin to describe this prized jewel of the internet. Regarding the textual design, however, it had a unique format. There were links on either side of the page and a tastefully bland color scheme. In general, the website appeared to be solely focused on self-promotion, considering there were only advertisements for their own articles.

Reddit - 27bslash6 Eng 224

These were only a few of the visual texts that I encountered. Here is a complete list:

  •      Advertisements on social media
  •      Advertisements on popular websites
  •      YouTube promotions
  •      Hulu commercial breaks
  •      Pop-ups from online news articles
  •      Promotional advertisements for companies
  •      Bumper sticker signifying a cat owner
  •      Sign in Tim Horton’s informing audience of free WiFi
  •      Sale emails from clothing stores
  •      Pandora radio advertisements
  •      Netflix television show title screens
  •      Google suggested webpages

Overall, I discovered quite a few digital texts that Sunday afternoon. And of course, instead of having a productive day, I lazed around and procrastinated due to the catastrophic effects of the internet.

Digital Literacy Narrative

          Beeeep. Dialing. Pshhhkkkrrrkakingkakingkakingchchchchchchch. Ding, ding, ding. The sound of the high pitched dial-up modem rang throughout the nearly-vacant room. I practically jumped out of my seat after hearing the frightening sound. I glanced around the room to make sure that my parents did not come rushing downstairs to investigate the noise. After confirming that the coast was clear, I glanced towards the keyboard and started scoping out the buttons that I needed to push. I placed my hands awkwardly on the oversized letters; they certainly did not conform to the average hands of a six-year old. Typically, I would always ask my parents’ permission to use the internet, but that was mostly due to the fact that I had no idea how to turn the computer on. I was not fond of asking for help though. My mom would always hover over my shoulder to make sure that I wasn’t looking up adult content, whatever that was. I figured she was just paranoid. Unknown to her, I was taking mental notes the last time she helped me. It felt like the Windows 98 computer sprang to life after I loaded the Google webpage. There were so many options for me to choose from. I briefly considered playing Neopets or RuneScape with my lack of parental surveillance, but I quickly shook those options out of my head. A smirk appeared on my face. I had to concentrate; I was supposed to be here with only one goal in mind—to try and befriend my favorite childhood icon, Hilary Duff.  

hilary_duff_twitter_header_by_dufferstyle-d7hwgwu          Earlier that week, I had gone over to my friend Jessica’s house to catch up on the latest gossip between Princess Rainbow and Sir Tutti, otherwise known as our Barbie and Ken dolls. My mom would often drop me off at her house whenever she needed someone to “babysit” me. Of course, she never used that exact phrase. Jessica was a few years older than me, and her mother ran a home daycare business. I was surprised when I arrived that day because instead of playing with our most beloved trinkets, my older friend had other plans in mind. She dragged me to her computer and showed me a new website that she was obsessed with. When I looked up at the screen I squinted my eyes at the name of the webpage.

         “Xanga,” I said perplexed. “What the heck is a Xanga?” My friend rolled her eyes at my lack of knowledge with her newfound interest. She explained to me that it was a website where you could make friends, chat, and personalize your own blog. Since I was at a mere age of six, I still had no idea what she was talking about; however, there was one intriguing fact that caught my attention. “You’re…friends with Hilary Duff?” I almost squealed at the sight of my favorite actress and singer on Jessica’s list of  “friends.” Being a naive child at the time, the possibility that this person was an imposter didn’t even cross my mind. From that point on, I was determined to do whatever necessary to talk to Hilary. I had been granted access to use Jessica’s email to create my own profile, and I began to personalize it immediately. I added critical information, such as the fact that my dog’s name was Luca, and that I had two adorable calico kitties. Since I was one of the sharper crayons in the box, I created a fake identity and went by the name of Princess Rainbow. I was brilliant. By the time I left my friend’s house, I was already planning my evasion around my parents’ overprotective monitoring.

         “Let the internet-stalking commence!” I brought my thoughts back to reality and focused on the task at hand. The instant I logged onto my account, I sent another friend request to the teenage celebrity. I couldn’t fathom why she hadn’t accepted the many requests that I had directed towards her. I mean, who wouldn’t want an awesome friend by the name of Princess Rainbow? No one that I knew of, that’s for sure. Rather than dwelling on this fact for too long, I decided to scroll through Hilary’s profile and read all of her most-recent posts. I almost felt like she was one of my closest friends from all of the facts that I learned about her. As the time began to tick by, I realized that I should probably log off and try again tomorrow. The moment I turned off the computer and spun around in the rolling desk chair, I came face-to-face with my suspicious mother. I’m not sure if it was my shocked face, or the fact that I had no idea how long she had been standing there, but I knew one thing for sure, I had to create an elaborate lie, and fast.

         “Uh, hi mom! I was just looking for you, could you help me get the computer set-up? I really want to play Neopets!” She raised a single eyebrow and crossed her arms in front of her chest. She knew something was up. My lifeforce was becoming slimmer and slimmer. Out of pure panic, I started rambling on about Neopets, “Today is Queen Sparkle’s birthday, and if I don’t log on then I won’t be able to give her birthday cake, and if I don’t give her birthday cake then she won’t like me anymore, and then—”

         “No. You’re grounded.” My shoulders dropped and my head made contact with the desk in defeat. I made a mental note for next time to create an escape route.

         Approximately nine years later, I was sitting in my room with my laptop glued to my fingers. My eye twitched in frustration at the information I had just read on Yahoo News. Hilary Duff had just named her firstborn son after my dog, Luca. Coincidence? I think not. She never did accept my friend request all those years ago, but this may have been her action of repentance for crushing a young girl’s dream. Either that, or I’m just overanalyzing the situation.

         My first experience with social media began the day the I vowed to befriend my favorite childhood icon. Since then, it has evolved significantly. After Xanga, it was MySpace; after MySpace, it was Facebook, and now, it is Tumblr. All of these experiences have molded my digital literacy skills to excellency. An individual can learn a lot more from eating a bag of Cheetos and scrolling through someone’s blog, rather than flipping through the pages of a textbook.