To call George Saunders’ piece Braindead Megaphone an article would be grandiose. The plot revolves around a guy with a megaphone who disrupts the interactions and attention of partygoers. Saunders uses the tale to depict the effect of the man’s omnipresence, which is so intense that the partygoers create an unwillingness to produce original thinking. In certain ways, the guy is an overly elaborate metaphor that disrupts a very calm world by shouting banalities. The megaphone is a symbol of the American media which is focused on the monetary gain to the extent that they prefer titillation to evaluation of information. Through pathos, logos and ethos, the collective overarching theme from the essay is that it is possible to improve life by taking time to understand and accept each other instead of focusing on individual differences.
Pathos is a concept where an author uses rhetoric to appeal to the emotion of his audience. From the perspective of Saunders, the megaphone refers to “the composite of the hundreds of voices we hear each day that come to us from people we don’t know, via high-tech sources”(4). In other words, the media is an amalgamation of different forms of media that expose people to issues even when they have no opinion. The megaphone refers the different types of media involved in the spread of a variation of information. Different forms of media including journals, newspapers, and television propagate news without considering relevancy. Instead, the media looks for approval and ratings and thus it sounds more like the sound of the megaphone. Saunders uses the idea of the man with a megaphone who drowns the conversations of other people. The megaphone kills the ability of everyone to think including the one holding the megaphone and thus it creates a “dead brain” situation. The megaphone (media) focuses on different issues and this prevents people from listening to each other.
The aspect of logos emanates from the need of an author to use logic in an argument to support evidence with an aim of persuading the audience. In as much as Saunders uses rhetoric in his writing, the man with a megaphone is a clear depiction that the media is unreflecting, and those who criticize it have their senses blunted by the same media. As the propaganda from the media keeps rolling, it generates a group of uncritical individuals and cycle is constant. Saunders makes it clear that such a situation is detrimental to the growth and development of a society. He says “A culture’s ability to understand the world and itself is critical to its survival”(14). However, the ubiquity of the media spreads copious amounts of useless information that interferes with the ability of a society to think clearly. Instead of spreading messages of unity, the media is one the forefront stupefying the society. If only the media would come together to spread messages of unity then the American society would grow.
Ethos is defined as an appeal to ethics where an author uses particular aspects to build on their credibility. The man in the story only becomes relevant because he has an ability to drown the voices of the revelers using banal utterances made through the megaphone. Immediately he begins uttering on the megaphone, he interferes with the ability of the crowd to think independently. In fact, the megaphone is so loud that it amplifies the difference between the crowd and the man. Saunders uses the megaphone to convince the audience that focusing on personal differences results to discord that can only be solved through the development of a mindset that is accommodative. Sadly, the megaphone is the media and this is why Saunders concludes that the only solution is to accept that the society is its own enemy. If people decide to discard the ideas spread by the megaphone, then they can go back to enjoying the party. Enjoying in this case involves being in harmony and applying intelligence in solving problems.
The central element in the essay by Saunders is the man with a megaphone who interferes with the conversations of party goers to the extent that they are deemed incapable of thinking. The megaphone is symbolic of the media and the party goers are representative of the society. Saunders uses pathos, logos and ethos, to show that it is possible to improve life by taking time to understand and accept each other instead of focusing on individual differences. Ethos is used when the man in the megaphone speaks and he interferes with the ability of the party goers (society) to think. Logos is when Saunders shows that the media has come to interfere with the way people think. Saunders further uses the aspect of pathos to show that a society that focuses on the differences between individuals finds it hard to commune. Thus, Saunders calls for a transformation in the society where any information spread through the media should be critically analyzed prior to being accepted as true.
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