The image I focused on was a four-panel rage comic about video games. The first panel is a teenage boy playing video games while his mother tells him to do chores around the house. The second panel shows him doing chores and returning to his games after he is finished. In the third panel, the boy’s mother comes home and finds him in the same position she left him in. Assuming he has done nothing all day, she yells at him for being lazy, and in the fourth panel, we see the young man’s frustration. I feel personally connected to this comic because my friends have endured very similar situations. Their parents, like most parents, do not understand the merits of video games. I wanted this audio essay to inform parents that video games do not kill brain cells, but are actually a valuable use of time. In order to achieve this purpose, I decided to create an audio project loosely informed by This American Life, a themed NPR radio show that features people’s life stories in various ways. I decided to interview the biggest video game lover I know, my boyfriend Sal, and ask him questions about how gaming has influenced his life.
After interviewing Sal, I decided I wanted to weave in a female voice to play the angry mother from the comic. After recording Sal’s interview–which was almost an hour long–I made several rhetorical choices to achieve my goal. Sal is a very long-winded speaker when asked about a topic he enjoys. I began editing his interview by first taking out all of the pauses and silences. The rhetorical effect I sought to achieve was making Sal sound excited and passionate about the subject. Removing the silences also sped up Sal’s dialogue: his fast, fluid, unbroken speech makes it seem as if he’s talking to a friend, not answering an interview question. I recorded the background voice after I rearranged and edited everything Sal said. Working with his voice at this point gave me time to think about the female voice–what she should say and how she should sound. I decided to add a reverb effect to the voice following claims made by Erin Anderson (2014). Anderson has said that voice amplification technologies distribute a “singular voice across space such that it can be heard both by many bodies and as many bodies at once.” In my project, I wanted the woman to have a booming voice, making it seem like her voice was comprised of many voices–and they were all yelling at Sal. The two voices interact in a way that Theo van Leeuwen (1999) has described as sequential. He said, “In sequential interaction…either one speaker dominates the other...or each speaker attempts to dominate the other” (p. 67). I decided to use the sequential method because I wanted both voices–the voice of Sal and the voice of the yelling mother–to feel dominant while speaking. I wanted the voices to take turns in a conversational way, but not overlap. Each voice had its turn; however, each voice dominated its own vocal space. I did not have Sal react to the voice because I wanted him to be as happy as possible in juxtaposition to this angry voice. The balance of anger and joy was my main objective, and I believe my rhetorical decisions enabled me to accomplish this goal.
This American Life. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.thisamericanlife.org/
Kondo, Koji. (2014). Super mario bros. medley. In Super smash bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. [Nintendo 3DS and Wii U software]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXOGnpCOpvQ
anon. (2009). I'm going to work, don’t let me catch you playing all day [Web comic]. JoyReactor. Retrieved from http://joyreactor.com/post/545018