essay writing 147

What are some textual and visual strategies?

Here is a list of examples. Google the ones you don’t know. In the question below, I lead you toward using these terms, and I expect to see you using them intelligently and appropriately.

TEXTUAL STRATEGIES (things in the lyrics that you READ but aren’t in the video in the same way)

  • The effect of powerful repetition
  • Verbal imagery
  • Symbolism (“This is America” starts right off telling you this is going to be symbolic)
  • Appeal to emotion—pathos (be specific about which emotions—pity, love, anger, sexuality, etc.)
  • Irony (very important in this song—irony is a kind of sarcasm) irony about WHAT? And used specifically HOW?)
  • Appeal to personal credibility of Gambino (ethos)
  • Appeal to logic
  • Rhyme
  • Rhythm
  • Alliteration

VISUAL STRATEGIES (things in the video that you SEE but aren’t in the text in the same way)

  • Effect of various camera angles—each angle does something different
  • Visual imagery that references historical events—to what purpose?
  • Appeal to emotion through visuals (examples are shock, outrage, disgust, empathy, rage, etc.)
  • Visual symbolism
  • Visual irony
  • Visual ethos (personal credibility through visuals of Gambino and crew—race, facial expressions, what the dancers do, that convince you his message is worth listening to)
  • Visual logic or lack of it (sequences fitting together to help you make visual sense of the message)
  • Juxtaposition (when two scenes are placed next to each other to suggest extra meaning
  • Visual irony (seems like one thing but is ironically or sarcastically or bitterly meaning another thing—lots of this strategy in this video)

Gajanan, Mahita. “Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’: Breaking Down Symbols.” Time,, 7 May 2018,

Analyzing “This Is America” by Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino – Part III

Visual Analysis A

Glover’s video for “This is America” is shockingly graphic, so you might not want your kids around when you view it. Therefore, the violence and imagery in the visual representation of his song begs the question, what is his rhetorical purpose? Examine the screen shot from early in the video and the corresponding song lyrics to assess the argument present. Write in complete sentences, and answer all the questions.

Why Why does Glover include this image so quickly? How does the violence of this image provide a stark contrast to the established tone at the beginning of the video? What is the rhetorical purpose of this shift in tone?

Think about the use of color here? What associations would a viewer have with the color of the victim’s clothing? What does this imply?

Why does the director of the video choose to cover the victim’s face in this manner? What connotations does this image have? What is the rhetorical purpose of this imagery? What is the intended effect on the viewer?

Notice the symbolic significance of this screen shot from “This is America.” Where is the speaker’s s attention after the shooting? What does he seem to disregard?

What could be the significance of the red cloth held in this screen shot? What argument is this implying about America and its focus?

Think about setting of the video. Why might this desolate parking garage be the chosen atmosphere for the writer and director’s artistic purposes? How does this setting contribute to the overall effect of the video?

Name _____________________________

Examine this screen shot from “This is America.” What is the rhetorical purpose of such graphic imagery and what impact is it intended to have on the audience?

In 2015, 22-year-old Dylann Roof shot and killed nine parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. How might this incident have contributed to the artistic choices of the writer and director of the video?

Again, this section of the video starts with a church choir singing an upbeat tune. However, the violence is unexpected and shocking. What is the rhetorical purpose of such a graphic change in tone?

After this scene, Glover repeats the refrain, “This is America/ Don’t catch you slippin’ up/ Don’t catch you slippin’ up/Look what I’m whippin’ up.” How does this refrain work together with the visual imagery to create an argument?

In the forefront of this screenshot from the video for “This is America,” the speaker and young people dance and seem oblivious to the chaos and crime in the background? What argument might the speaker be making about America through this visual image?

Why do you think the speaker is bare-chested? How does this choice contribute to the overall rhetorical purpose of the piece?

Look at the facial expressions of the people in the forefront of this image. Why is this ironic?

The last scene from the video shows the speaker running down a dark corridor chased by a group. What does this image state about the speaker’s emotions? How does this contribute to the purpose of the song and video?

Compare this picture to the other facial expressions we have seen in the earlier parts of the video? How is this image in sharp contrast to the others?

This is the final image Glover leaves for his audience? What is the rhetorical purpose of this choice? Does it achieve the desired effect?