“Storyboarding” and Easy Tones


Initially I was very intimidated by the general ideas presented to me in Presentation Zen. The act of storyboarding really helped simplify the whole process for me. I was pleasantly surprised I was able to summarize a thirteen page paper in eleven sticky notes. The sticky note method helped me eliminate unnecessary ideas and forced me to focus on only the most important ideas in my presentation. I really liked being able to take a complete step back from my “outline” and being able to view the outline as a whole unit, rather than a disjointed assortment of paragraphs and bullets. Overall I found the process of storyboarding tremendously helpful in revealing new insights into the central dynamics of a paper I wrote myself just a few days ago. Woah, cool stuff huh?

Reebok and Zen Powerpoints

When I sat down to write my Young Scholars in writing argument I chose a topic I thought would be both interesting and relevant to the young people of society today. I collected all of my research with one driving question in mind: what is the significance of this research? Of this research question? Are there any societal implications I can derive from my research? Doing this process early on in my YSW research made the whole process vastly less complicated for me. The author of Presentation Zen applies similar principles in his own work. Reynolds uses “dakara nani” (translated “so what?”) as a guiding principle for in his own work. This approach forces presenters to answer the following questions:
1) What is your core point?
2) Why do you think it would matter to the audience?
3) If your audience remembers one or two things from your presentations, what might they be?
In my own YSW my main point was that through Reebok’s use of visual rhetoric and convincing appeals to pathos and logos, Reebok exaggerates the effectiveness of their product, thus exacerbating the rhetorical dilemma surround body shape and size in American culture. I think this point is extremely relevant to my audience, primarily, because we are all consumers and need to be wary of what we spend our money on and secondly, because we are all exist in this rhetorical dilemma. If the audience were to remember only one thing from my presentation I think it would be the discussion about Christine Sonya Brown’s and Kenneth Burke’s positive, dialectical, and ultimate terms and how they render the body as a rhetorical text to be analyzed.

Presentation Zen

In my academic and athletic career I’ve seen way too many boring power point presentations to remember any single one vividly. However, one of my professors this semester famously abuses power points-making them far too wordy and struggling to adeptly present them in an effective and quick manner. Her slides are poorly formatted with too much text and poor quality images. More than often her images are not upright or poorly cut off or zoomed in on. This renders the image pretty useless to my classmates and I and is usually accompanied by eye rolls or sighs. If this professor had read Garr Reynolds’s “Presentation Zen” before stumbling through these presentations, I think she would have really improved the quality of our class interactions and lectures.
Firstly, the overkill of text and bullet lists would have been eliminated had she read presentation zen. Because we were so overwhelmed by the vast amount of text, and felt the need to write down all of this text, we didn’t really listen to any of the information she was explaining to us. Whenever the professor would ask us for our analysis of her text and points of discussion, the room would become awkwardly quiet because none of us took the time to think analytically about the slides-we simply copied them verbatim because the slides weren’t remotely engaging or interesting. The second improvement this professor could have made with Reynolds advice was to use high quality pictures. The pictures she used were often of grainy, of poor quality and were poorly formatted. They added nothing to her presentation and she often glossed over these slides to cover more bullet lists. Lastly, I think if my professor had been taught the “six right brained aptitudes” our class would have learned a great deal more about the topic and been more invested and active in class discussion. Her lack of solid visual and verbal communication didn’t engage any of us in discussion, we preferred to sit and copy her slides instead of interact with one another. If my professor had used just one-if not all- of these tips, her power point presentations would have been greatly improved.

Research Project

For my non scholarly article I listened to Tom Ashbrook’s “Onpoint” radio show on WBUR. The show was an hour discussion of “Overweight America” with input from three other featured guests, Kate Dailey, Leslie Kenzel, and Kenneth E. Thorpe. All three guests had considerable insights to bring to the show, as Kate Dailey is the editor of Newsweek’s lifestyle section, Leslie Kenzel is a fashion blogger for overweight women, and Thorpe is the executive director of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and a department chair at Emory University’s public health committee. The show was very informative and provided good information about the ongoing struggle between weight loss advocates and fat acceptance advocates. The show discussed shows and advertisements of the fat acceptance movement and then went onto discuss the health and economic costs of obesity on American society. Kenzel also suggested that America is experiencing not an obesity crisis but rather an “inactivity crisis”. I thought this was extremely relevant to Reebok’s Easytone campaign, as the shoes are designed for the “busy woman” who doesn’t have time to exercise or do significant amounts of physical activity. This implies that Reebok is accommodating and advertising for Americans experiencing this “inactivity crisis”.
For my scholarly article I continued to read the Body Image Narrative, as it is a 340 page long dissertation. Brown talked mostly about Kenneth Burke’s theories of positive terms (refer to concrete and tangible items), dialectical terms (subject of some debate, concepts), and ultimate order (a social system in which concepts are ranked). Brown then went onto define fitness, fat, and healthy in dialectical terms, positive terms, or ultimate terms. Personally the most interesting insight she made during this chapter of her article was her comparison of muscle and fat as ultimate terms.
The rhetorical gaps in the first radio show would be the large audience the show is broadcast to. Because of the large audience, the radio show cannot possibly be targeted at all audiences and had to choose a fairly well educated group to hopefully broadcast to. This is evidenced by a listener call in from a woman named Nina from the Boston area. She expressed the resentment of fat people that the show was attempting to diffuse. This is also supported by the considerable ethos all three of the featured guests had. The major rhetorical gap in the second article is also the audience the article is written to. There is very little possibility Brown intended her dissertation or article to be read by those unfamiliar with rhetoric or that have little background with rhetorical terms and ideas. If one was unfamiliar with these terms, some of her key ideas about terms and definition of terms would be lost upon the reader and thus render the article ineffective and uninformative.

Research Project&Rhetorical Gaps

Inspired by my group’s analysis of Subway’s “nutritional rhetoric” I decided to analyze the rhetoric Reebok’s popular “Easy Tone Campaign”. In order to complete my analysis I need to find considerable information about the American lifestyle, their definitions of fat and fit, and general information about Americans perception of fitness, weight loss, and weight gain. Along with looking at some surveys from the General Social Survey the first source I looked at was Body Image/Narrative: Contemporary Rhetoric of Body Shape and Size” by Christine Sonya Brown. Jessica Lundgren used this dissertation as a source for her analysis of Subway and I thought it could also provide me useful information for my project as well. The dissertation itself is a lengthy 340 pages, so I have not read all of it yet, and do not plan to read it in its entirety, but have read a substantial amount. The article essentially analyzes the “ethos” or perception of body shape and size in American culture. It is broken down into six chapters all about different aspects of the weight loss obsession currently dominating American society. I read chapters one and two and found very interesting information about the “demonization” of fat in American culture. Brown demonstrated through her first person narratives and analysis that being fat is often explicitly linked to being “out of control…lonely…and poor” (61). One of the quotes directly relevant to Reebok’s “Easy Tone” campaign I found is from Ryan Kirby, a young man describing his weight loss journal, telling readers:
“Over the past few years, I’ve uncovered the solid, sturdy structure of a life that had been buried by low self-esteem and lack of conviction. I’d long known what I wanted my body and life to resemble, but reaching that particular promised land always seemed beyond my capacity. The tone and definition I longed for escaped me despite what I thought were my best efforts. But in the two years since I’ve become happier and more content than ever…” (Sonya-Brown 66).
Many customers of Reebok’s “Easy Tone” campaign have struggles with finding their ideal “tone and definition” similar to those of Kirby, so understanding the pathology behind this obsession with achieving this tone and definition is important to understanding why Reebok uses some advertising methods and not others.

Along with looking at Sonya-Brown’s article I also found some interviews with Bill McInnis, the creator of Reebok’s “Easy Tone” shoe. McInnis told consumers he conducted research for the shoes at the University of Delaware in little over a month. He used EMG technology to test whether the shoes forced more “muscle firing” than other shoes in a mile walk. McInnis talks about the “balance pods” that create “micro instability” with every step. These “balance pods” help the “busy woman” tone her butt etc. just by walking around in these shoes during her “busier than ever” day. McInnis’s interview explained the technologies the shoes use to me and helped give me insight as to why Reebok uses the advertising methods it does.

Kantz would argue that rhetorical gaps occur when readers fail to properly synthesize information in new readings or sources. These gaps in the synthesis of new sources would definitely hurt one’s overall analysis and argument. These gaps motivate a researcher to analyze and read texts in their entirety with a completely unprejudiced and open mind. Personally, these gaps motivate me to read my own texts in their entirety two or three times and to try to make explicit connections between all my sources. Using tools like concept maps, in my opinion, would also be helpful to eliminate any potential rhetorical gaps between sources.

Synthesis

In Zhao’s piece “Identity Construction on Facebook: Digital Empowerment in anchored relationships” she claims that facebook “empowered users to produce socially desirable identities…” and that most users promote their “hoped-for-selves” in their profiles. In their promotion of their “hoped-for-selves”, the three most popular characteristics of users are “popular with friends, well roundness, and thoughtfulness”. Zhao also touches upon the degrees of social pressure on facebook, as two people in her study openly claimed their bi-sexuality in a face-to-face interview but did not on facebook. In Noam Cohen’s article in the NY Times he talks about the relationship feature on facebook. Cohen discusses the complexity of the relationship feature on facebook, explaining how certain couples opt not to make their relationship ‘facebook official’, how some couples openly share their relationship status, and how some single people chose to declare their status as well. For example thirty three year old Carolyn Weiss happily declared herself single during her college years but “once in her 30s reporting that [she] was single made her feel a little bit vulnerable…”. Weiss’ vulnerability as a result of her single relationship status supports Zhao’s claim that facebook is a place where people create their “hoped-for-selves”, as Weiss felt insecure that she was thirty and single and didn’t think it socially desirable to be so. Another NY times article talks about how facebook has recently added “domestic partnership” or “civil union” to the relationship status feature and how this reveals society’s shift towards more acceptance of homosexuality.

Friday & Saturday

Friday
Today was a very relaxing day for the team because we had no scheduled activities until 3:30 pm. Most of the team woke up early, grabbed breakfast, and headed out to either the beach or the pool to soak up the sun. The hotel and the nearby area were now buzzing with activity and we were all excited to peruse through the newly open shops, restaurants, and hang by the pool etc. Most of the team spent the day by the pool, except for vampire Colleen Liffers, who unsuccessfully tried to do homework in the room after an hour by the pool. After grabbing lunch at a nearby restaurant with some of the team, I headed back to the room to get ready for our evening in Barcelona. We visited the beachside community of Sitges and briefly took in the views there before going to the Spanish Square and Barcelona Art Museum. The art museum was so pretty it looked fake. It was like something out of a movie. We lazily strolled around the museum, took pictures, and then headed out into the square to find a good sit down restaurant. Nicole, Alessia, Kerry Condon, Mud, Colleen searched for a while but finally stumbled upon a small restaurant, where to our surprise, we found the Caney family. We all got some traditional Spanish food and tapas along with more traditional food like pizza. After dinner we watched a water show in front of the art museum which was fun and relaxing to watch. It definitely brought the team back, as the show’s music was Disney themed. After listening to way too music Disney music we were transported to our last game versus UE SAN ANDREU. The facilities were beautiful at this stadium. The lights were scheduled to turn off at 10:30 pm, so we began the match a little bit early. The team played pretty well in this game, connecting passes and collectively defending well right from the start of the game. Everyone who could play positively contributed, especially Nina Braga and Joy Marie Fernandes, who each scored one goal apiece to get us the 2-1 win over another talented Spanish team. After relishing our final game in Spain we got on the bus and went back to the Hotel for the night. The majority of the girls all got together and went to the Carnival the night.

Saturday
Instead of sleeping in today the team again woke up relatively early to get breakfast and head to the beach on this gorgeous day. I grabbed breakfast from a local restaurant with Bailey Bowling as I slept through breakfast by accident. I’ve noticed I talk about food an overwhelming amount in my blog but since it’s already the last day I am blogging, I won’t stop now. Bailey and I both got absolutely delicious chocolate croissants. Still warm, we (or just me), devoured our croissants the instant we hit the beach. It was kind of windy but still warm at the beach, making it perfect weather to sun bathe. Since I am pale and Irish I put on some SPF while the rest of the team put on baby oil. After one hour I obviously was already getting burnt while the rest of the girls were re applying oil. We were at the beach from roughly 10-2 then left to either grab lunch or more sun by the pool. I went out to eat with Mud and Sherman at a restaurant near the hotel that hadn’t been open before. We enjoyed a great meal there and went to the pool after to enjoy the nice weather before getting ready for the big game. We left for the FC BARCELONA game at 4:30 all wearing our new jerseys or scarves and all very, very excited. We got to the gates right around six and went inside to get food and souvenirs early. The stadium was mobbed instantly and made shopping in the gift store near impossible. After getting food or shopping we all met up before heading into the game together. Just being outside of the stadium was an exhilarating feeling, but being at the game was an indescribable feeling. I could barely see any open seats in the HUGE stadium. It gave the game an atmosphere kind of like a Patriots vs. Jets game or a Red Sox vs. Yankees game. The stadium was buzzing with energy and excitement with Barca chants filling the air before, during, and after the match. It was exciting to watch some of the best players in the world rule the field and before we knew it the game was over. Barcelona dominated play, winning 2-1, with GETAFE CF making a late run, scoring with under ten minutes left in the game. After the game we all took power naps on the ride home per usual and head to the Carnival for the last time. We enjoyed a fun night of dancing and hanging out with other tourists and locals before coming back and heading to bed before tomorrow’s 7:30 am flight.
Sorry for the current lack of pictures and rushed blogs lately, the internet access has been extremely slow recently as more and more people come to the hotel. I’ll post pictures once we’re back in the US!