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Visual Rhetoric essay on "Poser!"

Visual Rhetoric essay on "Poser!"

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Published by Jillian Toda
An analysis of the YouTube video "Poser!" by WongFu Productions from a visual rhetoric standpoint. This essay explores themes of race and stereotypes in popular media and in new media.
An analysis of the YouTube video "Poser!" by WongFu Productions from a visual rhetoric standpoint. This essay explores themes of race and stereotypes in popular media and in new media.

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Published by: Jillian Toda on Mar 27, 2013
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11/04/2014

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1Jillian TodaProfessor Kimokeo-GoesRhet-350C: Rhetoric, Visual Culture, and Film12/15/10
Mocking and Resistance: Humor and Racial Performance in “Poser! The History andEvolution of the Peace Sign”
 
2When asked how Wong Fu Productions, an independent production company, wasrepresenting Asian Americans in their work, the group answered, “We want to show that APAs(Asian/Pacific Islander Americans) are just normal people, and shouldn’t be stereotyped in themedia and should have proper representation” (Pacific Citizen, “From Online”). Friends andcoworkers Ted Fu, Philip Wang, and Wesley Chan make up the popular Wong Fu Productions(WFP) that has released numerous videos over the past seven years. Their “mockumentary”released on September 10
th
, 2009 titled “POSER! The History and Evolution of the ‘PeaceSign,’” became an instant hit, with the most views of any of their videos in a single day (Wang,“It’s okay to be a POSER”). The success of “POSER!” may be difficult to pinpoint, but throughan examination of its humor, visuals, and message, this essay will explore how the videofunctions rhetorically.“POSER!” acts as a cultural message for American society and the followingexamination will investigate the ways in which this piece of rhetoric works. First, I will providecontextual information about rhetorical strategies for viewing “POSER!” in order to ground thistext in a larger picture of rhetorical significance. By examining the video in terms of CaraFinnegan’s strategies of production, composition, and reception, I argue that “POSER!”functions as a powerful piece of rhetoric, whether intentional or not. The influence of themockumentary’s rhetoric, however, comprises several elements, including humor, race, and persuasive message. While making a rhetorical analysis of the video, I will secondly discuss itssocietal significance in terms of race representation in media. Combining rhetorical and racialanalyses, I will argue that Wong Fu Productions’ “POSER!” both reinforces racial stereotypesthrough racial performance and challenges hegemonic ideals of Asian Americans throughrhetorical choices regarding its production and composition. All of these aspects work together 
 
3and influence one another in the reception of “POSER! The History and Evolution of the ‘PeaceSign’” by American society.
 Rhetorical and Racial Modes of Analysis
In examining “POSER!,” there are several elements to be broken down in order tounderstand how they cooperate and form a single, complex artifact. To do this, I will use threeof the five “critical approaches” set up by Finnegan’s “Studying Visual Modes of PublicAddress” (252). The first approach will be in studying the production of the artifact, includingaspects such as medium, genre, and the rhetorical creators (Finnegan 253). Applying theseelements to the mockumentary will provide further context, as well as explain how and why theartifact is composed and received by audiences the way it is.My second approach of composition will interpret the actual “visual grammar” of thetext, which also contributes to the success of the reception of the artifact. By exploring themes,color, content organization, and even historical knowledge, an idea forms of what the artifactrhetorically achieves (254). Specific to “POSER!,” I will use this broad approach to examinehow the use of race is a rhetorical choice that holds much influence over the audience and itsreception. Reception is the study of audience response to a text that may include attitudes or action derived from the artifact itself (259). I see the interpolation of the social factors of humor and race in this rhetorical analysis to be crucial in forming a complete picture of what “POSER!”offers society.A race analysis specific to Asian American representation in media will be important tomy claim that “POSER!” both perpetuates and challenges dominant, White, normative ideasabout different races. Asian Americans have had limited representation in media, and are most

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