Civic Artifact Analysis

As an example of rhetoric which takes notable advantage of kairos, I’ve provided the advertisement above.

If you can’t see the caption at the bottom very well, it reads, “The number of car accidents involving children increases during school holidays. Please be extremely careful!” And so we see the first mention of the rhetorical situation: A school holiday was most likely coming up when this was printed, and so a message like this would have been in perfect time to give drivers a head’s up.

The second way kairos is taken advantage of in this ad is through the image of the man driving on his cell phone. The conversation about how cell phones distract us from everyday life and what really matters has been going on for about a decade, and keeps getting brought up again with each new generation of smart phone. Another crisis revolving around cell phones is their increasing involvement in car accidents, which is why it’s become illegal to use them while driving in most states. The large majority of the audience this ad is directed to also own cell phones, and so showing the man on his phone is something they can relate to. They’re probably already aware of the risk based on recent conversation, so it takes less explanation for them to accept that something which they own and operate can be so deadly.

And finally we get to the kicker. Look at the picture, and look at the rear-view mirror. You’ve probably already noticed, but the eyes of the child they’re about to hit line up exactly with the child sitting in the backseat of the car. This is directed at anyone who’s ever cared about a young child. Subconsciously it’s saying to the viewer, “What if this was your son, daughter, little brother or sister, niece or nephew, grandchild or cousin, who’s about to get hit? What if this was your young loved one, sitting in the back of your car, while you hit that child?” In this case, kairos is audience-specific, and the emphasis in recent years on responsible driving really digs deep here. If the audience didn’t care as much about kids, this appeal to pathos wouldn’t work. But it does, and the fear this ad instills really hits close to home.

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3 comments

  1. provide automotive parts

    Civic Artifact Analysis | Brave New World

  2. I think you’re right about the effect of kairos in this advertisement, it definitely exponentially increases the impact on the audience. Something else to consider in this advertisement might be the pathos and ethos.

  3. Chandler Grace Snow

    I find what you have to say interesting, and also strongly agree with it. I almost believe that a better term for feminism would be “equalism” however, that has bad connotations in its own right I suppose. When I was in my social studies class last year, we were looking over something modern related to feminism, and many of the girls were shocked to learn that we are not equal in todays society. I believe that part of the oppression comes from the idea they get that they are equal, because they are told so, even if in actuality our opportunities are not. They had never heard of the glass ceiling. I have had a close male friend of mine once argue with me that women are equal in our society, “You see them in the government, you see them as CEOs, so clearly they already have equal opportunities.” Sure, those exist, but only to a select few women, who probably had to work a lot harder to get where they are than would a man in the same position, and there are definitely much fewer women in said positions. Due to the fact that women are the ones who carry the child, women often have to pick between a career and a family, which is not something a male has to deal with. In countries like Sweden where the equality is closer than that of America, the population is declining because women want to have a career instead of being stay at home. Perhaps that would be a starting point for another blog entry?

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