In the past two articles we have seen several different devices that the media uses in order to manipulate their audience into reacting a particular way. These manipualtion techniques cause the audience to feel an emotion they might not necessarily have felt naturally. Another manipuation technique that is widely used, and seen on television is pathos, or an appeal to a viewers emotion. Many popular foundations and organizations utilize this call to emotion in order persuade the audience that their claim is valid and worth the extra effort. Two examples of this are the ASPCA (American Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), and World Vision (a child sponsorship program).
When commercials supporting these organizations appear on television, we seem to find ourselves sighing in anguish, and annoyance that such organizations are going to such a great extent to appeal to people’s emotions. But it works! At least for me, when the lyrics to “Arms of An Angel” by Sarah McLachlan begin to play I instantly roll my eyes and turn the channel. However, the very first time I saw this commercial tears welled up in my eyes, and my heart sank at the sight of helpless animals who had been abused and beaten. Their looks of abandonment and vulnerability are intended to dig down deep into your heart, and spark some sort of emotion that will call you to action. The ultimate goal of the ASPCA, with the help of these heartbreaking clips, is to inspire people to adopt and donate money to the organization so that these animals no longer have to suffer abuse and unsustainable life on the streets.
World Vision uses similar tactics. World Vision is a global humanitarian organization that serves nearly one million people across the globe in hopes of tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Their primary goal is to spread their message in hopes of picking up volunteers, sponsorship, and any donations that may aid a child in need. In these particular commercials, innocent children are shown pleading for help in rural areas of Africa. They have tears streaming down their rosy cheeks, while their eyes pierce into your soul. Hate to break it to you, but this upheaval of emotion is intentional. They want you to be sad, they want you to look at these child’s faces and feel the utmost pity for them. In the end, they want you to have the urge to pick up the phone and make a difference as seen in this video.
All in all, I would say that this technique is quite effective although it may not be the most ethical. It seems to me that these PSA’s are almost trying to guilt trip you into thinking that if you don’t respond or provide a donation toward the organization you are a “bad person.” Even I have fallen into this trap at times.However, unless you are the cause of these sad faces, I think its safe to say that your in the clear. This is simply one of the innumerable techniques that media uses to attract it’s audiences.