Dead Island Audiovisual Analysis

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Dead Island: Audiovisual Rhetorical Analysis
Dead Island is a video game where players are trapped on an island resort and have to fight zombies in order to survive. The trailer for the game does not focus on how the game is actually played, which is the norm for game trailers, but instead sets up a narrative that is different from society’s typical view on zombies. The trailer also has more depth and emotional pull than most advertisements. It pulls at the heartstrings of its audience by using a touching visual narrative and accompanying it with emotional music. It is in our culture to create meaning and definition of things because we are afraid of the unknown. The Dead Island trailer alters our culture’s typical view of zombies and of advertisements, as there has not been a video game trailer similar to the narrative or musical accompaniment of the Dead Island trailer. This trailer makes a successful and compelling advertisement because the visual narrative and the music work together to create a memorable, emotionally jarring, and unique piece unlike other trailers. The game trailer is supposedly nothing like the actual game. The game is a typical zombie-apocalypse game where the goal is to kill zombies without a second thought; not a very elaborate or touching storyline. Zombies in pop culture are a bit romanticized. Like vampires, people fall for the dark fantasy, the idea of a twisted reality where humans aren’t the top of the food chain and death isn’t a serious topic. Zombies are no longer considered human beings – they are monsters and all they want to do is kill, so it’s okay to kill them and move on. Referenced in an analysis of civil rights artwork, “Danielle S. Allen has observed in Talking to Strangers, sacrifice is ‘‘a democratic fact,’’ a fundamental means by which democratic rights are achieved. Yet, for whatever reasons, citizens often remain unaware of this ‘‘fact.’’ So, as Allen observes, photojournalism and other visual images are important rhetorical means of illustrating the moral challenges facing them,” (qtd. in Gallagher, Zagacki 191). The Dead Island trailer does illustrate the moral challenges facing people, not just in a zombie-inflicted dystopia, but in society. When the zombie you plan to shoot is just a monstrous creature, there are no qualms about shooting it and focusing back on survival, but when that zombie is remembered as a loved one, as a human capable of having emotions and behaving like a human, it becomes harder to kill them. The game trailer takes an alternative approach for its zombie-interested audience: it shows that these monsters were real people living normal lives. The family being focused on in the trailer’s narrative was on a vacation to an island resort – they were unsuspecting and unprepared for the catastrophe. The trailer is sad, emotional, and sympathetic. It reminds the audience that a zombie apocalypse isn’t cool and exciting, like pop culture makes it seem, but is devastating and sad. The trailer uses four of the six functions that music can serve in an advertisement: memorability, structure, entertainment, and climax. It creates tension and somewhat resolves tension using the tonality of the music. The narrative follows a sequence of events, but is played backwards so the audience has to figure out what is happening. The 18 split-second splices of real action jammed into the video interrupt the sequence of events played in the backwards narrative, but also show that same sequence of events, just at normal speed and in the forward manner that they actually took place. These moments specifically occur at 0:33, 0:36, 0:41, 0:51, 1:02-1:03, 1:06, 1:12, 1:18, 1:23, 1:26, 1:34, 1:37, 1:45, 1:53, 2:01, 2:08, 2:14, and 2:24-2:26. The entertainment is mainly built up in the narrative. The story is emotional and well-structured to follow the music, and the narrative cannot be played in normal order (played forwards instead of backwards) because then it no longer lines...
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