Visual Rhetoric-thecommonblackhawk


The advertisement begins in black and white with a view from above, presumably from a helicopter but could possibly be from a tall building. The lack of color seems to exemplify the drama of the scene. What seems to be an “American Dream” neighborhood is shown with the streets flooded with water. From what can be seen, the neighborhood consists of about 33 homes (about 4 rows of 8 with the furthest street from the camera having a cul-de-sac). There are 5 vehicles that seem to be abandoned in the middle of the cul-de-sac with various other vehicles that seemed to have been left in the driveways of the neighborhood. There is also an open field behind the neighborhood that is also flooded with water.

What is striking about the image is that the water is deep enough to cause a reflection of the landscape. Each home, tree, and bush have their reflection shown underneath them showing that the entire neighborhood is in fact underwater. While the water is deep enough to cause a reflection, it is also noticeable that the water only reaches the top of the wheel of most of the vehicles shown. This shows a sign of hope that while extensive damage has noticeably been done, it is not to the point of being correctable.

Finally, at the bottom right of the screen, the sentence “WHEN THE FLOODS CAME” is pictured alluding to the fact that there will be more aspects of this video relating to the flooding seen. With what can be seen so far, it is hard to identify where it is that was flooded and when it happened. The cause of the flooding is also not clear.


The picture is still back and white and now shows an older African American man (possibly around 70) sitting on a rocking chair on what is presumably the porch to his home. Behind him is a home that does not seem to have been well kept with dirty and chipped siding and beat down doors and windows. The man pictured is presumably staring out at the flood waters in front of his house. The water level is high with only a single step between the water and his porch. This picture really shows the severity of the flooding.

The man pictured is wearing a white tank top, jeans, white socks, flipflops, sunglasses, and a baseball cap. The expression on his face is one of disbelief. There is also a pair of what seems to be tall rain boots sitting in front of his doorway. How the man is dressed and the condition of his house suggests that he is in poverty or in danger of becoming so. The words “IN BATON ROUGE AND SURROUNDING PARISHES” are plastered across the screen. There is no missing them. These words help to explain where this flooding took place and who it was that was affected by it.


With this scene still being in black and white, it is safe to assume the rest of the video will be as well. There is an angled camera view of two young African American children around the age of 5 or 6. The kid closest to the camera seems to be smiling with his hands gripping the half open window they are peering out though his mouth cannot be seen due to the window being in the way. The second kid has a look of curiosity and possibly sadness. Both of them bare a look of innocence that only a child can have. Several cars that seemed to be parked can be seen in both directions on the side of the road. Directly behind the car that the kids are in, a huddle of two or three people can be made out but what they are doing is not clear. The phrase “THE CALL WENT OUT” is posted at a decent font which seems to be explaining that Baton Rouge called our for help due to the flooding.


What is pictured here is 4 different boats each with at least 2 people in them. The people are all wearing t-shirts and shorts which shows that they are not first responders, but everyday people.  The general vibe of this scene is one of unity. These boats are floating in water that fills what seems to be a street. There are cares off to the side of the road in the distance which shows that what used to be a road for driving can now only be navigated on a boat. On the boat closest to the camera, 3 men standing in the water which is knee deep, are helping a woman sit down in the boat. Behind them is a fleet of 3 more boats which seem to either be looking for people who are trapped, or escaping the flooding waters themselves. “THOUSANDS GOT UP” is the phrase posted across the middle of this scene. This most likely defines the goal of those pictured within the boats.


This scene is a camera angle from behind. What is shown is the back of 3 small boats with motors in the water. There seems to be 8 men pictured and at first glance, those pictured could be mistaken with those from last scene but if looked at longer, it is clear that those pictured here are police officers or another type of first responders. They are piloting their boats in a line and seem to be looking at house to their right. The house is almost completely submerged under water with the water level being about a foot shy of the roof at some parts. The phrase “AND ANSWERED THE CALL” is shown at the top of this scene stating that the help that Baton Rouge sent for is being answered. What has not been answered is by who is this being answered?


A man wearing shorts, a t-shirt, a baseball cap, and a utility vest is pictured here walking in water almost two his knees. A house is pictured behind them which could possibly be where he is coming from. It is not known if his role was that of assistance or of someone needing assistance. He is looking down as he walks, (probably so he does not step on anything dangerous) so his facial expression is hard to see. From what can be seen in the shadow, he seems to be determined. No phrase was attached to this scene unlike the others.


Here we see a man in nicer clothing, a shirt with a collar tucked into slacks with a belt and wearing a baseball cap, talking on the phone looking straight ahead. He is standing in water of which the depth cannot be determined. He is looking at a jeep that has its headlights on and seems to be coming towards his. It seems as though the man pictured is talking on the phone with the driver of the jeep but that could also just be the timing of the photo. It is clear that the man is standing on what used to be a road because just off to his right, there is a speed limit sign stating that the speed limit is 15 MPH. There is also a row of mailboxes to his left which indicate that he is probably standing on a neighborhood street.


Three people are pictured here sitting on a boat on what seems to be a neighborhood street. Their boat had just passed a car that is almost completely submerged underwater with the passenger door left wide open. Two of the people on the boat are wearing jackets and baseball caps and seem to be pointing towards a house that is possibly submerged by water. Behind them, someone wearing a poncho with the hood up seems to have their eyes fixed on the vehicle that is submerged. The hood being up could along with what seems to be little pellet splashes in the water point to the fact that it is probably raining. Maybe the cause of all of the flooding seen is due to the storm that this scene seems to be depicting. The phrase “SAVING PEOPLE” is going across the screen which may be a major indicator as to what the people in the boat are doing.


The same phrase “SAVING PEOPLE” is shown in the middle of the screen. This picture shows a man (about 20) in shorts and a tank top pulling a boat through another street that seems to have been flooded.  In the boat that he is pulling sits a kid about the age of 14 and what seems to be the 20 year old’s father (due to the receding hairline). It is very clear that it is raining doe to the sheer amount of splashing that is being caused by the raindrops hitting the water.


Four dogs on a boat are pictured here. They seem to be curious and a bit confused with all of the commotion. The boat that the dogs are on is tied to another boat that cannot be seen very well. Next to the unseen boat is what is presumably a man on a kayak probably talking to those on the boat pulling the dogs. The phrase “SAVING PETS” is in the middle of the screen explaining that the amount of help Baton Rouge has received has even been extended to pets. It is not clear if the dogs pictured have owners, belong to the same owner, or belong to whoever pulls the boat. Who every they belong to, it’s a strong sight seeing people come together to assist animals who could not help themselves.


We see a medium sized dog that looks scared and traumatized being held by someone with two arms. It seems as though the person holding it is standing in water because the two people behind them are standing in water next to their boat. The people behind the person with the dog have backpacks on and it looks like they may be going out to try and assist in any way that they can. The same phase “SAVING PETS” is on this screen alluding that the dog pictured was saved. Whether or not the dog belongs to the person holding it or not is another question.


The silhouette of a woman is pictured standing in what is probably her house. She is facing away from the camera with her hands on her hips most likely in disbelief in what she sees. She standing in what seems to be her kitchen, due to cabinets being on her left, in ankle deep water. A caption that says “AND IT’S ONLY THE BEGINNING” goes across the screen. The woman pictured has body language that says shocked yet determined which goes well with the caption. It only being the beginning is probably referencing the battle that those affected by the storm are about to face. Getting their lives back together will not be an easy task. This is amplified by the picture of the woman standing in her own kitchen in ankle deep water.


Picture here is a long flatbed tractor trailer truck filled with a bunch of sacks with detailed information on them. The sacks are tied down to the flatbed with straps and are presumably filled with food or other necessities. A second truck can be seen to left of the first truck meaning that this could possibly be a truck depot where supplies are being taken to. This is probably one of many truck stops in the effort to get supplies to Baton Rouge. This scene is the first scene that does not show any type of flooding probably acting as the light at the end of the tunnel for everything going on.


The exact same picture described above is pictured here except there is an advertisement for a website going across the middle. “” is the name of the website and is explaining to the viewer that they to can help with the flooding at Baton Rouge by going to this website. This helps decipher what is being depicted in the scene in that it is probably a necessity of some sort to the people who were affected by the flooding.


A young girl is seen hugging possibly an older sister from behind. They both have smirks on their face and seem to be better off than everyone depicted in the scenes before. This is probably to show the extent of how much help can make a difference. There is no water in site and their home behind them seems to be in tact. This made it clear that the people of Baton Rouge have a fight a head of them but every single aspect of help they receives works to bring back the community.

Our Turn To Help

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8 Responses to Visual Rhetoric-thecommonblackhawk

  1. davidbdale says:

    01. Very nice, BlackHawk. Does the choice of angle tell us anything? We could have been shown a street-level view, but that would indicate the observer got down there with the devastation. We might also have been distracted by individual houses or stranded individuals. So, does the God’s-eye-view indicate the filmmakers’ purpose? And about those cars. Couldn’t they have been driven to safety? Did the floods come so quickly their owners couldn’t react in time? Do they suggest a mystery of that sort?

    03. As I suggested, we are now contemplating the plight of one individual. So, was it important to have that overflight view first, to establish that the 30-second spot will address the needs of many, not merely this one old man?

    06. Those cars again. And more unfortunate individuals. Is three-for-three enough of a sample to suggest that the flood victims were primarily African Americans?

    08. Hmm… I don’t see the street. I don’t know what it suggests of value to the message, but we’ve left that residential neighborhood where we began.

    10. I agree the rescuers are more clearly professional responders. Do the different water levels indicate that the flood was widespread? If confined to a neighborhood, the water would reach much the same level on most houses, right?

    13: Is he wearing a camouflage vest with many stuffed pockets? Is that a clue that he’s a well-prepared rescuer? Or a flooded-out resident carrying as much as he can take from his residence?

    15: By now you should be wondering about the tactic of using still photographs in black and white, BlackHawk. What is the rhetorical advantage of that technique? Does it heighten the drama? Create a sense of shared experience, an everybody-in-the-same-boat feeling? Does it emphasize or de-emphasize the individual tragedies? How does it reinforce the “Thousands got up” message?

    17: Strategically, is it a good idea or a bad idea to interrupt the images of professional responders saving citizens with this image of what appears to be a man saving his son and father? Good note about the rain, which is the last thing anybody needs.

    18-19: Dogs with their owners would send one message, BlackHawk. Does a number of dogs without clear companions indicate anything else?

    22: You come close to saying but don’t quite indicate that she’s no longer looking for rescue. Did you mean that? The rains have ended and she’s back in her flooded home to begin the long cleanup process? (Otherwise, “It’s only the beginning” could mean the floodwaters are still rising. Right?) How do we know she’s back home?

    23-26: You’re good at this, BlackHawk. I think the double line to the driver’s left of the truck means the one we’re looking at is on the highway headed for the flood zone? Agree?

    29: Mostly agree. Anything you can say about the models that would encourage donations? They were no doubt selected for that reason.

    • thecommonblackhawk says:

      Wow. Looks like I have a lot of work to do on this one. This is another comment that slipped through the cracks. I will be back at it when time permits

  2. davidbdale says:

    Provisional Grade at Blackboard

    • thecommonblackhawk says:

      Hello sir,
      I have come across a bit of an issue when it comes to this assignment. The video is no longer available and was taken down for unknown reasons. Do you have any advice?

      • davidbdale says:

        You are a lucky guy because your professor remembers things, sometimes, that turn out to be valuable. I’ve never needed this before, but I searched
        1. “archived google pages” because I had a vague recollection that saved things could be retrieved. That led me to the
        2. “Internet Archive Wayback Machine.” (Never forget this tip!)
        3. I copied the original url for the Ad Council video you reviewed into the search field, and
        4. that led me to a calendar showing recent “saves” of the original to other urls. (Whee!)
        5. Choosing AUG 26, 2016 from the calendar of recent saves led me to this:

        That archived page is what you’re looking for.

        • davidbdale says:

          I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be able to share this with you.

          • thecommonblackhawk says:

            That is insane! What a valuable tip! Thank you so much! I will be editing this throughout the day because right now I am at work but I will make sure I am not late with it because my conference is tomorrow. Thank you again!

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