Olympics Is Rhetoric

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Joleanna Tran
English 1020
Professor Tiffany Mitchell
September 6, 2012

Olympics: Worldwide Forum
Rhetoric is defined as “the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing” and “language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience”. It can also refer to describing meaning as a whole or “a vehicle for meaning whose aim is often to identify, inform, or persuade an audience.” The Summer Olympics and rhetoric do not sound like they have anything to do with each other, but in fact, the Olympics is one of the most communicated mass media events occurring to date. Without the games, many issues would have gone unnoticed, such as underprivileged Muslim athletes, unstable inter-country relationships, and even bad televising. They bring countries closer through mutual appreciation for sports and help build bridges between them but at the same time exasperate teams with pre-existing affairs. Today, the Olympic games are highly commercialized and it is hard to look past the media hype and intense product marketing, but they still act as great median for communication between viewers and athletes, alike.

Rhetoric is composed of readers, writers, and texts and uses those elements to transmit meaning. The part that connects the other two is the text. The texts of the Olympics are the results of each event, the viewers’ reactions, and news stories focusing on key points of the games. They are the entirety of the games, and they are also what is primarily used for persuasion and for making impressions. How one might look at each text could vary from another solely based their culture, personality, values, or even their opinion of the writer.

Next, there are the readers, such as the audience and those viewing the events via television or the Internet. Also, judges are actively viewing the athletes and their performances. The readers are the ones taking the text and information and processing it into something they can readily understand. The games can definitely be compared to a “language” in the sense that it is something left up to the viewers to interpret. Readers have the ability to analyze the texts in many different ways, therefore comprehension of the games is infinite. They could support one issue and berate another. If they decide to state their opinion openly, via speech or social media sites, they could be considered the writers as well. Also, when the judges criticize the athletic performances, their rulings could be considered part of the text, making them writers, too.

The writers of the Olympics can be characterized by the host country’s coordination of the opening and closing ceremonies, broadcasters, viewers on social networks, and the athletes. They are whom or what the text is composed of or by. The host country makes up the setting and plans the opening and closing ceremonies, and if they were hosted in a different location, the themes and ideas would also be altered. Athletes are authors, as they create the results, and can be compared to the main characters of the text. As main characters are the primary focus in stories, prized athletes play the roles of heroes and heroines to their countries. Without them, nations would not have as much pride and satisfaction in competing in the Olympics.

Viewers, although mostly classified as readers, have developed excessively due to the increase in social media. Emily Bell of The Guardian UK, wrote an article describing the troubles that surfaced during this year’s events. She said that during the 2012 Summer Olympics, web traffic statistics showed “dizzying levels of increase”, making this year the “first social media Olympics” (Bell). Twitter, Facebook, and texting have made it available to let everyone know what you are thinking, literally whenever. The trending Twitter hashtag “#NBCfail” went viral when NBC decided not to show the 100 m final (Bray). Viewers in the US were livid due to international “tweeters” posting results...
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