Multimodal Projects in Politics

In chapter one of our textbook Writer/Designer the author discusses the importance and overall relevance of multimodality. The five modes of communication aural, linguistic, visual, spatial, and gestural all appear everywhere throughout our increasingly digital world. If a text uses one of more modes of communication, it is considered multimodal. In the last few days I began observing just what forms of communication appear throughout different varieties of media and text. Immediately when thinking of this concept, I was reminded of my sophomore year political science course which explored the many different ways politicians will manipulate their advertisements to evoke certain responses. For example: black and white filtering may signify a negative and bleak view of one candidate. When color floods into the scream, the “better” candidate’s voice is often ushered into the screen with upbeat music and positive visual details. It was for this reason I decided to focus my observations on political texts and forms of media.

In the above Hillary Clinton advertisements, Clinton’s campaign uses all five modes of communications. Linguistically, Clinton edits Trump’s clips to include his use of the F bomb. Despite the fact that in reality Trump only mouthed the word on screen, video manipulation emphasized his poor used of language in regards to his unnecessary curse word and his bad mouthing in regards to immigrants being “rapists and murderers.” The campaign’s organization of words into distinct sentences and phrases to make Trump look terrible and their candidate look presidential is a direct use of the linguistic form of communication. The visual perspective used of seeing the television screen through the eyes of our children evokes great emotion from the audience, making us question what we want our children to see. By the use of dark colors in regards to Trump’s segments and the bright coloration of Hillary’s speech the campaign uses visual modes to evoke a strong response from viewers. On top of both linguistic and visual modes, the video incorporates aural mode through emphasis, sound, music, and Trump’s aggressive tone of voice. The arrangement and organization of the video, beginning with children looking puzzled at Trump and more optimistic and happy towards Clinton in the latter part of the ad, is a direct use of spatial mode. And lastly the facial expressions between the young children in the foreground coupled with Trump’s intimidating hand gestures is an incredibly descriptive example of the gestural mode. As evidenced above, the Role Models ad does a fantastic job of incorporating all five modes of communication and in turn being successfully multimodal.

Video and other online forms of media are certainly easier to make multimodal. While Trump as a candidate on screen can be seen gestural and vocal, that cannot fully be portrayed as a mode of communication in writing. Despite this roadblock, newspaper article still can articulate more than just the two dimensional words on a page. Linguistic mode is evidenced by the blatant organization of words into a paragraph. The visual mode can be seen by the picture that accompanies the article. While the emphasis may not necessarily be audible, emphasis can be applied to words on paper through quotation and subject matter, making the mode arguable aural.

Through my observations of different texts in regards to political coverage, video coverage and other forms of digital media are much more successful at being multimodal, and is the most common form of consumed media in today’s generation. Without the digital aspect it is almost impossible to incorporate gestural and spatial modes of communication.

One thought to “Multimodal Projects in Politics”

  1. I agree that Hillary Clinton’s campaign ad is powerful, and it is cool to see it that way from a different point of view now, by looking at the way it incorporates all five modes. You did a good job of analyzing each part of the video, and really showing the reader how each mode works by giving clear examples and explanations from the video.
    While you only chose to analyze one multimodal work, I like that you compared the multimodality of videos and other technological forms with the traditional newsprint, as I wouldn’t have thought to compare these two and I like that you are kind of in defense of the newspaper, which I agree with. It is fascinating how you found a way to explain how the aural mode works in a newspaper, great description.

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