Looking for Alaska and the Concept of Reliability and Ethos
Credibility & Ethos Appeals
As aforementioned, On the Banning is split into two sections with respect to tone and method of addressing audience. In the first twenty seconds of his vlog, Green establishes his credibility in a humorous way: “it turns out the most challenged book of 2015 was Looking for Alaska, which was written by me” (0:12). The comedic inflection in the last two words—which can only properly be conveyed in the video itself—makes his audience laugh and creates a light-hearted tone while simultaneously introducing his credibility. After all, who better to talk about the novel in question than the author himself? At 24 seconds, he continues this interesting comedic take on credibility by saying “I suppose this is a kind of honor. I mean, Looking for Alaska contained the very same offensive language and sexually explicit descriptions ten years ago but was much less likely to be banned because, you know, not very many people had read it.” Again, he uses amusing inflection in the end of his sentence which indicates how much of a commercial failure the book was initially. By doing so, however, he heavily implies that the novel has made a major comeback in 2015—a humble and subtle way to hint at the novel’s and author’s success without flat-out saying it.
The moment this tone switches to become more thoughtful is another way Green appeals to ethos. “Anyway,” he says at 0:46, “I’m often asked to respond to the banning of Looking for Alaska from schools and libraries, so, okay. Here is my response.” The inflection in this sentence is once again used to divert the viewer’s attention away from mere vanity; by putting the stress at the “okay. Here is my response” part of the statement, he makes the viewer pay less attention to the fact that he is “often asked to respond” to the situation, but it still registers in the audience’s mind as an effective appeal to ethos. Then later, he furthers his unique method of forming his ethos appeals into mere implications by flat-out stating that his own opinions don’t matter in the long-run:
So, yeah, I don’t think Looking for Alaska is pornographic, and I don’t think its readers find it titillating. But, that noted, I don’t think it should be up to me whether Looking for Alaska (or actually any book) is in a school or a library because I am not a teacher or a librarian—the highly trained, criminally underpaid professionals we employ to make those decisions (2:04). . . . I think teachers and librarians know more about teaching and librarianship than I do. And I believe they must be allowed to do their jobs serving the whole public (2:50).
Here, he ironically claims that his own opinions don’t ultimately matter. Authors can make video responses to the banning of their books until the end of time, but until the professionals who Green believes are the proper people to decide these things are allowed to decide them, it is all for nothing—which may explain his initial hesitance to discuss the topic at all.
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Credibility & Ethos Appeals As aforementioned, On the Banning is split into two sections with respect to tone and method of addressing audience. In the first twenty seconds of his […]