In the TED Talk “Bring on the female superheroes!” Christopher Bell discusses how the media has influenced people’s thinking about gender roles. Bell asserts that the media has reinforced the gender stereotype that men are strong and courageous whilst women are flimsy and weak. In the speech, Bell uses various rhetorical devices to strengthen his argument. Essentially, he uses ethos, pathos, and logos in the discussion to persuade the audience to buy his arguments.
Ethos refers to appeal based on the character of a speaker or author. It is associated with the English term ethics and is used to refer to the trustworthiness of the author. In this case, an author or speaker depends on his or her authority to convince the audience to believe his or her position. That is, it is an attempt to convince an audience to adopt the perspective of a speaker or author because of his or her qualification to comment on the subject.
Ethos is achieved in several ways. The first means is being a prominent figure in the sector in question, for instance, a college professor or company executive whose business is the subject matter. The second one is having a keen interest in the subject, for instance, the individual is related to the matter in question. The third means is applying impressive logos that reveal to the readers that the author is knowledgeable on the topic. One can also appeal to own character or ethics. It is an effective persuasive method since when one believes that a writer or speaker does not intend to cause harm, he or she becomes willing to believe the message. In the discussion, Bell uses ethos to convince the audience why there are few female action figures and superheroes. He states that the stereotype attached to females stops companies from producing female action figures and merchandise. Bell makes references his daughter who dresses up as male superheroes even though there are female superheroes (1). This real-life story makes his argument credible and convincing.
Logos is an appeal on the basis of reason or logic. Documents published by companies employ logos. The same goes for scholarly articles. It is a logical appeal or its reproduction. The word stems from logic. It is usually applied to describe figures and facts that reinforce a writer’s or speaker’s topic. The use of logos complements ethos since this information makes the speaker seem knowledgeable to his audience. Logos is a wider notion than formal logic and refers to any effort to plea to the intellect. Such arguments usually call upon the speaker’s or writer’s credibility and attempt to touch his or her emotions. Bell effectively applies logos in his delivery. For example, he states that in the 1980s, 50 companies owned the media industry in the U.S, a factor that enabled the industry to have diverse worldviews. However, the figure has significantly reduced to just 6 firms. Essentially, six corporations control 90% of American media, which means that these firms control what people see every day (Bell, 1). He adds that based on the concept of public pedagogy, the world view is shaped by the media since the media touches on virtually every aspect of human existence. In this light, the media reinforces gender stereotypes. By using these figures and facts, Bell shows that he is knowledgeable on the topic prompting his audience to trust his opinion and reputation.
Pathos appeals to the emotions of an audience, It can be used in the form of simile, metaphor, or even a passionate plea to move the audience.Pathos can be especially powerful if effectively applied. It is most effective when the speaker connects with the fundamental value of the audience. Additionally, the speaker may apply pathos to appeal to fear to sway the audience. Whenever one accepts a suggestion on the basis of how it makes him/her feel without completely examining the logic behind the suggestion, one acts on pathos. Most of the arguments in conventional media are heavily reliant on pathetic appeals. The more individuals react without complete regard for the why the more effective a claim can be. Numerous arguments may be logical, however, the apathetic reader may not follow through on the rally to action. Appeals to pathos induce individuals not only to read but also to take action to change the current state affairs. Indeed, Bell uses pathos to appeal to the audience. He argues that the stigma associated with females stops firms from producing merchandise of female superheroes. He says that the constant stereotyping of the image of a female character is to blame for this issue; irrespective of the presence of many female superheroes in films and TV shows. The speaker also posits that when people picture a superhero, they usually picture a man. With these statements, the speaker makes a passionate plea to the audience to stop the stereotyping.
Bell uses pathos, ethos, and logos in his discussion. He uses ethos to tie his discussion to what is happening in society to make his concept applicable in a real-world setting. The application of logos enables the speaker to demonstrate his knowledge and insight into the topic. Pathos gives him the opportunity to appeal to the audience in an emotional sense. The combination of these rhetorical devices enables the speaker to make convincing arguments. By using them, he develops a coherent argument that is easy to understand and follow.
Bell, Christopher. “Bring on the Female Superheroes!” TED Talk. (2015). https://www.ted.com/talks/christopher_bell_bring_on_the_female_superheroes?language=en