An Excuse to Get on Tumblr? Yay!

When I read that we needed to collect texts throughout this week for our assignment, I immediately curled up in a comfy chair in my room and spent a good hour or two on the Internet. After a good bout of searching, I’ve come up with a rather extensive list, perhaps more extensive than necessary, which can be found at the bottom of this post. I have no regrets.


(Me in my natural habitat)

A text, usually referred to as a piece of writing, is generally a piece of work that communicates a message. Overall, I collected nine texts, four of which had all five possible modes. Modes are elements of a text that assist in getting a message across to the audience. The five modes are linguistic (based on words), visual (based on imagery and color), spatial (based on organization), gestural (based on body language), and aural (based on sound). The others I collected covered three out of the five modes: spatial, linguistic, and visual. Some of the others contained gestural modes, but none of the four contained the aural mode, making it the hardest mode to find.

As for the texts that covered all five modes, all of them were videos. I suspect they are all in this format because video is the easiest way to have the aural mode incorporated into a text. They all came from the Internet and were all published recently. This is because I found them in the feeds of my most frequently used social media platforms: Facebook and Tumblr, with the exception of the political video I watched in sociology class. They all evoke some kind of emotion, good and bad, in addition to sending a message across. About all aim to evoke more than one emotion.

The two that are most similar to each other are the videos “Ahmed has a Clock,” and “The Broads Must Be Crazy.” Both of these have political messages about the discrimination of certain groups of people. In this case, it is women and Muslims, or more generally, Middle Eastern people.

“Ahmed Has a Clock” is a video to supplement the I Stand With Ahmed movement, a collective aiming to support Ahmed, a 14 year-old boy that was arrested earlier this week for creating a clock that his teacher believed looked like a bomb. The text is a video that was embedded in the Tumblr, with related tags attached to it. This covers the spatial mode requirement. As for the visual mode, filmography is a dominant feature. The skit takes place in two places, in a house with the boy and his uncle and in a room full of telephone operators. While the fact that people are talking fulfills the linguistic mode, a certain example emphasizes the point of a stereotype being used by comparing the situation of a child playing with a clock versus a child named “Ahmed” playing with a clock. While playing with objects is a normal activity generally for kids, once the operators know the child’s name, there is a completely different reaction: panic. This is where the music comes it, making the aural mode a strong aspect. No music plays at the beginning when the uncle sees the child playing with the clock. But once the name “Ahmed” is mentioned, suspenseful music begins and the situation suddenly becomes urgent. As the child continues talking, the music intensifies. Likewise, the gestural mode comes into play with this change in behavior. The operators go from typing calmly to shouting with their heads in their hands while the uncle goes from being calm to clutching the phone in panic.


The Broads must be crazy—belittled-women
“The Broads Must Be Crazy” is a satirical piece targeting the stereotype of women being very emotional, and therefore unfit to fill political positions. The host begins with several examples targeting Hilary Clinton for showing emotion certain emotions deemed “inappropriate” for the context. He furthers to give a myriad of examples men expressing the same emotions, and more. The organization of the page the video is on is like that of a YouTube playlist. The video is the most dominant element of the page, occupying the center of the page a little off to the left. On the sidebar on the right is a collection of related videos, so that the viewer can pick more to watch if he or she desires. Visuals are very important in this text, particularly the clips that the host uses to exemplify his points. Without them, he would have a harder time of supporting them. Rather than explicitly point out that the men were showing the emotions just as women were claimed to be, he sarcastically gives them excuses for the emotions and even false praise. In this way, the linguistic mode is made evident to be an important aspect of the video. While there is no music in this, laughter is the main aural mode, further supporting that what the false praise the man is giving is sarcastic and should not be taken seriously. Rather, to take it seriously is a silly thing to do in the first place, further expressing how obvious it is that both men and women can express emotion and still be in politics, and how women are being unfairly punished for what men in politics get to do. The gestural mode, I believe, was the most powerful one of the five. It’s primarily shown in the clips. The emotions that the political men express are so evident, that it solidly supports the points of the host. Secondly, the gestures of the host further indicate that that he is being sarcastic. Rather than send the message of this being serious and true, it sent the message that it’s ridiculous how males in politics get praise for emotion and not women.

Rather than make the case of “men shouldn’t be emotional in office” or that “”women should be able to be emotional,” the host only points out that there is discrimination at play that there should be no unbalanced ways of treating men and women candidates doing the same things, expressing the same emotions. This leaves the message a little open ended, allowing the viewer to think for themselves what should happen to stop this discrimination.

Rather than discuss the issues in the serious tones usually used, these videos used sarcasm and satire. I laughed heartily at them. The reason why, I believe, they were made this way was to point out something that is very obvious, but easily overlooked. While these examples are both videos, I acknowledge that not all texts that contain all five modes are videos. It just so happens that these were accessible to me and were published in a time period where they were more in my reach. In addition, they were the one that interested me. This experience of surfing the Internet for once has made me realize more how there is no one, right way to spread similar and even the same message. The idea that people shouldn’t be judged based on one part of their identity is expressed in in different in the two videos I talked about. We are not limited to a single word document, 12-point font with double space. There are so many avenues with which we can make our own expressions uniqueness ours to share, and I find this very encouraging.


Other texts that cover all five modes:

Wes Anderson – Mirror Effect


StoryCorps – Marking the Distance


Texts that don’t cover all five modes:

Jeff Wysaski’s Tweet via Hank’s Tumblr

(Spatial, linguistic, visual)


Word Count

(Spatial, lingusitc, visual)


They Pretend To Be Us While Pretending We Don’t Exist

(Spatial, lingusitc, visual, gestural)


An Animator’s Advice – Words by Chuck Jones

(Spatial, lingusitc, visual, gestural)


Microbeads – the Very Tiny Troublemakers

(Spatial, lingusitc, visual)


Katrina Soyangco

Katrina is a BCN and writing minor student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She hopes to someday become a physician, although not quite sure what kind yet. She’s not as cool as her older brother but strives to be.

2 thoughts to “An Excuse to Get on Tumblr? Yay!”

  1. Katrina,
    I’ll start off my saying that the picture of the dog with the laptop is epic.

    I was also almost embarrassed when I realized that I completely neglected to consider text messages, email, etc. after reading the first few paragraphs of your post in my own blog. It’s crazy how these often abbreviated, short messages can carry so much weight pertaining to the five modes we’ve discussed. And not only does a text message hold significant meaning by employing modes, but I feel as if we are often rewriting and rereading important text messages to ensure that we are getting our point across in the best way possible.
    Now I realize that text messages aren’t what you were referring to when you opened your second paragraph with “a text”, but it elicited all of the above in my own thought process regardless. I just feel that it serves as a strong reminder of the modal significance a small piece of text can carry.

  2. Katrina,

    I actually loved the layout of your blog post. You went into great detail regarding the two texts you found which utilized all 5 modes (I found that videos were the easiest route to find all 5 modes as well). I found the videos to be really moving. I also agree with your point that making a message doesn’t have to be a paper, that political messages are surrounding us every day in various modes (sometimes that we don’t even realize!)

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