America, The Free?
Our country, founded on the premise that we are all created equal, endowed by our creator, with certain unalienable rights isn’t holding true to its declaration. In a recent study conducted by The University of Virginia, almost one in four Americans polled do not believe that all men are created equal. Equality in this country has been an issue long debated and dates back to the beginning of our founding, starting with women’s rights. Recently, the virus of inequality has spread to the gay community. Discrimination against homosexuals is wrong. As quoted by Harvey Milk “It takes no compromise to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” As the land of the free, majority of us have the right to marry and reproduce without judgment. Unfortunately 1.7 million Americans are not granted that right due to the inequality and discrimination against them. Macklemore’s “Same Love” and “Marriage = Biology” addresses inequality, discrimination and gay rights differently. Though “Marriage = Biology” presents its argument for assimilation in an effective, strategic and structured manner, “Same Love” utilizes ethos, style and pathos to establish the idea to influence the reader’s viewpoints on gay rights.
By definition, ethos is a Greek word meaning "character" that is used to express the guiding beliefs that characterize an ideology. The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence its hearer's emotions, behaviors, and morals. “Marriage = Biology” presents information on gay rights differently than “Same Love”. The National Organization for Marriage wrote and published “Marriage = Biology” to its website’s blog on October 15, 2012. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is an American non-profit political organization established in 2007 with the goal of preventing the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. It was formed in 2007 specifically to pass California Proposition 8 prohibiting same-sex marriage in California. The group has opposed civil union legislation and opposes gay adoption. The video “Marriage = Biology” reflects the viewpoints of NOM, presented in straight opinion. One of NOM’s core beliefs is stated in the video saying, “The law treats all people the same but not all behaviors are the same.” In other words, we believe that law treats every man and woman equally, but not every behavior they may desire equally. Psychologists believe that behaviorism is what makes a person. Same sex marriage and natural marriage are different behaviors with different outcomes, so the law treats them differently. The government has only three options in addressing human behavior. The government can prohibit a behavior, permit a behavior or promote a behavior. The ethos used in this video sets the tone for the entire argument against gay rights since the opinions given are from a particular organization devoted to opposition of homosexuality. There was not much of a representation for a counter argument, nor balance for those who support gay marriage. “Marriage = Biology” is styled in a simplistic fashion. It spews out opinions and information and has a monotonous narrator. Of the information given not much was memorable. There were not many puns, metaphors or fluffy rhetorical devices. However, there was an example of ad hominem or appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect. The video says that natural marriage is better than gay marriage because it “creates children, best raises children, protects women, civilizes men and lowers crime, poverty, and welfare which reduce government spending and deficits.” The previous statement is NOM’s political belief which has no research or statistics presented in the video to back it up. A minute later another bold statement was made inquiring same sex marriage hurts us and natural marriage raises kids to be civilized people. As stated earlier, behaviors are what make a person. Does growing up in a two female parent household make one less of a civilized individual? In Zach Wahls’s speech about family he tells the details of being raised by gay parents. His upbringings did not shape his civilization or credibility as an example to prove the Washington legislature wrong about the influences of gay marriages on children. The style of this video was easy to follow because of its power point format, but boring because of its impersonal narrator and dull slide shows. The strongest element in “Marriage = Biology” is pathos or an appeal to emotion. Though ironically narrated in a dull tone, the piece evokes emotion. The entire video was extremely opinionated and made strong assumptions but appealed to emotions by evoking anger or sadness for those who support gay rights and passion for those who oppose. By saying statements like, “Same sex marriage merely validates sex partners” NOM was bound to get a response, be it positive or negative. The purpose of the video was to get others to support the opposition of gay marriage. Rapper Macklemore uses ethos to his advantage through his platinum selling song “Same Love”. “Same Love” featuring Mary Lambert is a song that is also known as "The Gay Song". The song was written in support of legalizing same-sex marriage particularly in reference to Washington Referendum 74 , a Washington referendum to approve or reject the February 2012 bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Macklemore explained that the song also came from his own frustration with hip hop's positions on homosexuality. "Misogyny and homophobia are the two acceptable means of oppression in hip hop culture. It's 2012. There needs to be some accountability. I think that as a society we're evolving and I think that hip hop has always been a representation of what's going on in the world right now." Macklemore uses his celebrity status to make an effective appeal to not only the hip hop community, but to the music universe in general. Music is relatable so people can be reached. The trust people have in Macklemore allows them to re-think their thoughts on gay marriage and equal rights for everyone. The style of “Same Love” is expressive, yet thought provoking. The lyrics and background images all tie into the effectiveness of the song to influence the reader’s viewpoints on gay rights. The use of puns, rhyming and metaphors make the style of the piece more interesting to listen to. Macklemore spits hard hitter lyrics like “The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision/And you can be cured with some treatment and religion/Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition, playing God/Ahh, nah, here we go/America the brave still fears what we don’t know.” In translation, the Republicans are metaphorically spoken of as the “right wing conservatives”, who believe that God and counseling can stop you from being gay. In actuality it seems that they are playing God and America, as brave as we claim to be, is afraid of accepting change. The style of the song is relatable to today’s youth, who are the biggest consumers of music. “Same Love” oozes pathos. The examples of pathos draw the audience into the scene of the music video, evoking emotion. One of the images used in the video is at 3:26, in which the main character, walking with his lover and getting uncomfortable looks and mean slurs. This image is one that happens daily, gay couples get stared at as if they have zebra stripes. The emotion evoked is one of self realization, noticing that these things are common to those who are discriminated against. The lyrics “A world so hateful someone rather die than be who they are” make viewers think twice about making fun of or criticizing gay people for being who they are. The chorus says “And I can’t change even if I tried” which lets viewers know that being gay is not always a choice, it is something that is brought upon someone and they sometimes have no control over it. Knowing that some people have to either choose to be gay or choose to not be happy, is unfair and heart wrenching. At the end of the video, there are several scenes of the main character getting married to the man he loves. This brings joy to viewers knowing that he is finally happy and that he gets to spend the rest of his life with someone he loves. It also allows viewers to realize being gay no different from being straight and all marriage is the same, which is why the video is called “Same Love.” Macklemore is a lyricist, bound to be more effective in appeals than the National Organization for Marriage. He does not bore the viewer half to death with unimaginative slides, nor insult the reader’s intelligence by not adding an element of featuring a rhetorical device. Macklemore provides the viewer with puns, metaphors, similes, emotionally charged language and scenes that make one wonder if America is as free as advertised. Are we all created equal? Are we truly the land of the free? Though “Marriage = Biology” has strong opinions and is very well structured, “Same Love” takes the upper hand because of its better usage of ethos, style and pathos.