Rhetorical Interface: Interpretation in ‘The Scarecrow’

The power of emotional elicitation and distribution is powerful even in very implicit ways. Whether we are reading a book, watching a television show, playing a game, using a website, or even seeing a sick person walking down the street, emotion is easily garnered from any aspect of life. Even the most implicit situations like seeing a McDonald’s restaurant can create emotion relating to anything from the minimum wage, obesity, animal rights, or anything depending on one’s perspective. A strong marketing ploy will consider covert and overt symbolism and themes in their advertisement of choice to create an obvious pathos and one that is more controversial and more subliminal.

Learning about the Chipotle “Scarecrow” game seemed like a fun and creative way to attract customers. I was excited to be able to actually play a game in my class. How many people get to say they played a game in class? However, I was soon disappointed. The game not only was full of propaganda, though I do agree with their message I do not agree with the manner it was conveyed, it also became frustratingly difficult. Chipotle definitely proved their point about how difficult working in the food service could be and that it is important to import healthy foods even if it is difficult. Yet, especially with a game that is advertised towards a young audience with the child like cartoons, I think maybe making the game too difficult just makes people lose interest too quickly. Cartoons also consistently contain sad motifs or scenes, but showing children how cattle are placed into factories and confined while chemicals are slowly poisoning them is possibly too dark. Sure, there is no actual slaughtering going on in the game because that would be completely inappropriate, but I think even this can create controversial questions about food that children may not be able to handle yet. Chipotle is not new to creative advertisements either. After they announced that they stopped putting GMO’s in their food, they kept wanting to reinforce their opinion rather strongly.

chipotle-cow-matrix

As a vegetarian, I perceived a vegetarian ideal from the Chipotle game. I think this emotion is a perfect display of the danger of propaganda in rhetoric and the emotion it can create even unwillingly. Though I know that Chipotle sells meat, many different interpretations can be made without full knowledge of a subject, and it is very important for digital humanities or any type of media to be aware of the repercussions of multi-interpretative material. I think the rhetoric of the Chipotle game was incomplete because until I actually considered that they sold meat, the vegetarian vibe was strongly emitted from the game.

In digital humanities specifically, as we talked about already with interface, infrastructure, and graphs, it is important to know the foundation, the components, and the interpretations that we are creating with our work. If we want to keep developing the digital humanities, we must consider our rhetoric and how it can be inclusive but also simple. I considered, after reading Franco Moretti’s “Graphs,” that sometimes rhetoric that is too simple can also be a problem if it attempts to summarize information that is very in depth. More interpretations can be created beyond the text that may be completely wrong and speculative because sometimes a pictorial component to text can actually be more confusing and possibly unnecessary. Moretti brought up the idea that if one wants to actually take in and enjoy all literature, close reading may be detrimental. I agree that close reading is not necessary at all times, and can sometimes slow a reader down, but the digital humanities thrives off of multitasking and close reading. If anything, omitting close reading would just make digital tools useless. The importance of digital tools are that they can make learning much easier. Using digital tools that are interactive for example could make more simple graphs much simpler but also fully conclusive, so few incorrect interpretations will be made.

Graphs, maps, timelines,  and blogs can all have their purpose, but the digital humanities can be taken too far if it is not used under discretion. I definitely like the approach that Chipotle took with their game, and as I said before, interactive messages can make the world much simpler while still informative. However, even in digital humanities or media of any kind, rhetoric can be abused and a simplification of a complication can just become much more complicated. There are many things that could go wrong with interpretation and the digital humanities especially as we derive information from ancient periods, but we can only test our technology and intellect to see where it all leads us.

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