Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Truth About Creative Style

The article “The Truth About Animal Shelters” was written by an unknown author, claiming to be a manager of a pet shelter. The article was originally posted on Craigslist, but has since made its way around every corner of the internet. It appears on numerous animal websites, both for and against pet shelters, and has over one thousand views on Facebook. The context of the article varies, depending on which website you view it from, however, the intended audience remains the same. The article is geared toward animal lovers and pet owners alike. The article uses creative style to create graphic images for the purpose of creating an emotional appeal intended to persuade people to avoid dropping their pet off at animal shelters. While creative style is used effectively to create an emotional appeal, the article is missing a solid call to action needed to form a lasting effect on the intended readers.

The article uses several rhetorical devices in order to create an emotional appeal. “Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals.” In this phrase, the author uses hyperbole to emphasize the point that shelters are not always the best place for your pet. “When it all ends, your pet’s corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back, with all of the other animals that were killed, waiting to be picked up like garbage.” Similarly this phrase uses both metaphor and simile to create a gruesome image in the reader’s mind. Although this author primarily uses creative style to drive home her point, plain style is also utilized in order to convey what that point actually is.

In the beginning of the piece, the author says, “I am posting this (and it is long) because I think our society needs a huge wake-up call.” The author then proceeds to describe the horrific conditions pets face at an animal shelter. It is made clear that the author wants the reader to take something away from the piece, but it isn’t until the end that the author tells the reader what the purpose of the piece is. “I just hope that maybe I changed one person’s mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog.” While this is a clear desire the author has regarding the reader’s reactions, it isn’t a particularly specific call to action.

Many of the readers, such as myself, already avoid breeding dogs, taking their pets to the shelter or buying dogs from a pet shop. Most persuasive essays have a call to action at the end of them, the more clear the call to action, the better. Its hard to get people to do anything, especially if it changes their lifestyle any, so a clear call to action is one of the best ways to get people to do what you want. This article has a rather weak call to action. “My point to all of this is DON’T BREED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER PETS DIE!” This could seem like a good call to action, its actually a call to inaction. Inaction is easy, but its also forgettable. By the time I am ready to get a dog of my own, I might already forget this article, despite its creative attempts to burn graphic images in my mind.

My main argument regarding the successful persuasion of the audience is that this article lacks a clear call to action. However, sometimes persuasive articles don’t need such a clear call to action. An argument could be made that this article wasn’t intended to change the behaviors of the readers, but instead intended to change their attitudes about pet shelters. The author writes, “I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.” This sentence seems so support a change in attitude as opposed to behaviors. It is possible that the article was intended to attempt to change the idea that animal shelters are to blame for the death of so many animals. The author might have wanted people to stop blaming the animal shelters and instead start blaming the people who abandon their pets. However, because that purpose seems ambiguous and is not clearly stated, it can also be deemed a failure of persuasion.

There are different types of persuasion, emotional appeal being only one of them. Sometimes persuasive arguments utilize statistics and facts to support their argument. Other times, like this article, only use emotional appeal in the form of graphic images and horror stories to support their argument. However, the best persuasive arguments utilize both facts and emotional appeal. Although this article lacked in facts and statistics, this is a very compelling article, especially for any animal lover. On the surface, it seems that its job is done: scare people away from dropping their animals off at a shelter. But it does nothing to persuade people from adopting an animal from the shelter, in fact, it makes me not want to step foot into a shelter. The creative styles used were effective in creating gruesome images, but they also served to make people feel guilty about dropping their pet off at a shelter. Guilt tends to lead to anger, and if the guilt is strong enough, the mind will push these awful images deep down, until they are forgotten. I see two ways of improving this article. The first is use plain style to voice a clear, solid call to action. The second is to use more creative style to beef up the benefits of adopting a pet from animal shelter, leaving the reader will positive feelings about shelters and a clear way to help.

By: Pearl C.

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