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.)

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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).