One of my favorite things to catch up on is John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight videos. It is an interesting dynamic given that he uses digital rhetoric within his show that is captured BY digital rhetoric.
The majority of the video is of him educating the audience on a particular subject. With occasional images, quotes, and videos to supplement his argument. Each of these things provides important detail, helps to build ethos and pathos, as well as provides a context for the exigence of the topic, and provides important detail.
Besides the use of digital rhetoric in his direct argument, digital rhetoric is involved in filming the entire episode. When filming, the camera person has to be cognizant of the angle to capture John Oliver’s face, how zoomed in the camera should be, etc. These things, no matter how seemingly trivial, impacts how the audience perceives the argument being made, and essentially influences John Oliver’s ethos.
Since there is an audio component to the video, it also plays a factor in building ethos. A huge part of this is tone. Sarcasm is something that is used a lot in the video, which is really important for the audience to pick up on in order to fully understand the argument being made.
All of these things–the use of images, videos, audio, tone, angle of the camera–all add up to persuasive strategy. It is fascinating to see how all these things come together. If the argument John Oliver made were instead on a flat sheet of paper, it would be much less engaging and exciting.