Ellen DeGeneres is widely known as a comedian, television show host, sitcom creator, and most of all an enjoyable happy person. Elle DeGeneres has made a passion of what she does for a living and has contributed and donated thousands of dollars to notable charities. In 2006 she had donated thousands of dollars to the Hurricane Katrina cause which has greatly affected Tulane University. Tulane University had asked Ellen to write and perform a speech at the 2006 spring commencement graduation and she had been asked back in 2009. Little did she know that she would be receiving an award for all of her efforts and time that she has gave to the New Orleans area. In this analysis of nonverbal communication demonstrated through Ellen DeGeneres’ commencement speech there are three nonverbal codes that are incredibly prevalent. The three nonverbal codes that are present are clothing and artifacts, chronemics, and kinesics. I will thoroughly discuss how these nonverbal codes are present and how they effectively enhanced Ellen’s speech. In Ellen DeGeneres’s commencement speech at Tulane University in 2009 she practices the nonverbal code, clothing and artifacts. This nonverbal code is defined as, “object language, referring to the study of the human use of clothing and other artifacts as nonverbal codes. “Artifacts are ornaments or adornments you display that hold communicative potential” (Pearson, J.). Ellen effectively uses this nonverbal code by implementing gifts and other articles of clothing to enhance her speech’s message. The first gift she receives from the president of Tulane University is a sweater that her mother had left at her previous employment opportunity. Ellen notes in the speech that she would go to her mother’s work and steal things out of her mother’s purse, signaling her socioeconomic status as living in poverty. This is effective because Ellen has moved up on the socioeconomic ladder, relating to her main message which is to be true to yourself and to remember your roots as the sweater signifies her roots. The second gift she received that successfully demonstrates this nonverbal code is the robe she receives from the class of 2009 that is graduating. This gift is sentimental because when Ellen had delivered a commencement speech earlier in the decade (in 2006) in which she had worn a robe, stating the current disaster in the New Orleans area; Hurricane Katrina. Connecting to the audience is an important factor in which the audience interprets and really understands the meaning of the message. Ellen likes to include humor in her speech and everyday life so including these gifts changes the atmosphere of the situation and the certain part of the speech she was trying to translate as serious. The third object that has helped communicate Ellen’s speech is the pair of Ellen underwear she has given to the President of the college. This was a useful way to transition the serious demeanor of the message to a more delighted ending of the commencement ceremony. This also portrays the message that Ellen is still connected to the university although she did not attend the school.
The second nonverbal code that was relevant in her speech was chronemics. “Chronemics otherwise known as temporal communication refers to the way that people organize and use time and the messages that are created because of their organization and use of it” (Pearson, J). Ellen discusses a memory of when she realized she needed to change the path that she was currently on in life. She describes how her girlfriend and the time had passed away in a fatal car crash and notes that she had drove by the accident blind of who was in the accident. After she had known of the fatality of her girlfriend she had gone into show business and had shut out her personal life, especially the status of her sexual orientation. After some years go by she decides to open up about her personal life, with full knowledge of the remarks and repercussions she would...
References: Pearson, J., Nelson, P., Titsworth, S., & Harter, L. (2011). Nonverbal Communication. Human
Communication (Fourth ed., pp. 82-100). New York: McGraw Hill Publishing.
Tulane, U. (Director). (2009). Ellen at Tulane Commencement 2009 [Motion picture]. United States of America: Youtube.
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