Ineffective Rhetoric in Articles Essay
Articles are written for many reasons; to challenge the way we think, to inform us, or to persuade us to believe something. In order to know whether or not an article has a good claim, one must look at how the article is written. Some articles are so well written that the author is able to convince the audience to agree with his or her claim or to regard what was written as fact. One the other hand, some articles are written so poorly, that the only thing the author accomplishes is loosing the audience’s interest or confusing the audience.
Although entertaining, Adam Sternbergh’s article “A Tanifesto,” published in the popular New York Magazine succeeds in entertaining the target audience, but is ineffective in trying to inform readers about the claim; the negative effects of tanning. “A Tanifesto” presents a lack of organization, an unsupported claim, and inappropriate changes in topic and discourse level which show that “A Tanifesto” is ineffective in proving that tanning is bad for ones health.
Although an interesting article, “A Tanifesto” fails to successfully get it’s point across. This article is written in order to inform society that tanning is bad for ones health and it is primarily aimed at young adults. Through his article, Sternbergh tries to inform us that tanning is bad, but the lack of statistics and solid evidence prove to us that “A Tanifesto” is only Sternbergh’s personal opinions and that it is ineffective in informing us about the negative effects of tanning.
The claim in this article is hard to find as well because the article says that tanning is “the best way to ruin your reckless youth,” but then continues by saying “As it turns out, we’re over-SPF’d, and not getting enough sun. ” Although Sternbergh’s use of humor is entertaining, as a reader, the introduction of two separate claims can be confusing. Sternbergh starts by claiming that tanning is bad, but then a new claim is introduced and says that we do not receive enough sun.
This adds to the confusion of this article and to the fact that the claim is not well supported. Also, the claim is changed from the first to second paragraph which does not help the effectiveness of this article. In the first paragraph, the claim is that “tanning is poor for ones health” but suddenly a second claim is introduced in the second paragraph stating that “humans do not get enough sun. ” These opposite claims are made in hopes of showing the peoples differing opinions on tanning.
Although two claims are made in this article, the author chooses to support the first claim while the second claim is simply abandoned, most likely due to the lack of evidence. In the end, the claim is said to be that “tanning is bad for ones health” but in his article, Sternbergh fails to use the writing skills and the rhetoric needed in order to compose an effective informative article. Another flaw in this article is that it is poorly organized. The organization structure of this article goes from talking about tanning to talking about Sarah Palin and John McCain.
Although the reference to McCain and Palin is presented I order to talk about the “tan tax,” their reference is not support for the original claim that tanning is bad. The lack of transitions makes the transition between paragraphs and topics read awkwardly and ruins the flow of this article. For example, the article begins by stating tanning is bad for your health and will kill you, this paragraph leads to the next, which claims that we do not receive enough sunlight; from there the article goes on to talk about Queen Elizabeth and how she put poisonous white paste on her face.
As one can see, this article is jumbled and reflects the organizational skills of an inexperienced writer. In order to make this article more organized and still keep all the points that they are making, the writer should have used examples that would lead to the change in topic. For example rather than going straight from the words “what does it feels like to be tan” to “Queen Elizabeth covered her face in a white paste” the writer should have first described the feeling of being tan and then gone into the history of tanning.
The lack of organization is again shown when the author says “Yes—but what does it feel like to “feel tan,” exactly? ” This sentence makes us believe that the author is about to describe what it feels like to “feel tan” but instead the author says how a suntan use to be unpopular. The author fails to ever state what it feels like to be tan. The fact that the feeling of tan is never described makes this paragraph feel unfinished. “A Tanifesto” uses some good rhetorical skills to make the article entertaining; such as the use of exaggeration in the last paragraph.
The use of popular icons also makes this article current and entertaining, but as for the informing readers that tanning is bad for ones health, Sternbergh does not does not effectively utilize the correct rhetorical skills. This article unsuccessfully appeals to logos by using popular culture. The use of logos is unsuccessful in this article for many reasons. For starters, the harsh reference to Sarah Palin and then to John McCain is likely to turn many conservative readers away from this article. The author would have been more effective in informing readers if he used a conservative and a liberal example, or if they used a celebrity.
A comparison that included a prominent liberal and conservative would have been more effective in appealing New York Magazine’s wide demographics of readers because readers from both parties would see that the article was not biased; whereas the current reference to only Republican figures makes this article biased. This article also uses the character Snooki, from the popular television show “Jersey Shore” to prove that tanning is bad. It can be said that everyone knows who Snooki is and in turn know that she is overly tan causing her to look orange.
Using Snooki as a reference is an appeal to ones emotions in trying to persuade people that tanning will make one look unattractive. This reference to Snooki was not used the best way it could have been. Rather than giving a quote by Snooki about how she loves to tan, it would have been far more effective to describe what Snooki looks like using descriptive words such as “fake, orange, or horrible” these words would get the point across that tanning is very unattractive, compared to how the author left the view of attractiveness up to the reader.
By doing this, Sternbergh weakens his claim that tanning is bad for ones health by allowing the reader interpret beauty rather than the author giving his opinion on beauty. The fact that some people consider Snooki to be “beautiful” may cause readers to ignore the claim that tanning is bad because they too wish to be beautiful like Snooki. The lack of descriptive words regarding beauty is another way in which Sternbergh fails to convince his audience of the validity of his claim.
Another example of poor organization is in the last paragraph; Sternbergh compares tanning to a tattoo, but then two sentences later the author says “come to think of it, tanning is not like a tattoo” this along with the other examples similar to this leave the reader questioning the articles validity due to the writers choice of words, which reflect thoughts going through his head rather than a well constructed article. Furthermore, the article “A Tanifesto” fails to back up any its statements with valid proof.
The only time that statistics are presented is when Sternbergh states “If you start tanning before you’re 30, you increase your skin-cancer risk by 75 percent. ” A statistic is a good writing tool, but not when it is not backed up by evidence. The writer fails to note where this statistic came from, therefore the reader is forced to discard this fact because it has no credibility. Sternbergh also states that a doctor recommends running outside in skimpy clothes a few times a week for five to ten minutes in order to receive more sun.
This statement is Sternbergh’s attempt at humor, but again he failed to prove the validity of this statement. Because Sternbergh does not name the doctor who said this, the statement has no credibility. In order to make these claims valid, Sternbergh would need to claim who said these things. Due to the lack of evidence in his article, Sternbergh, himself looses all credibility as a serious writer. Finally, the audience of this article must be addressed.
Due to the references to Sarah Palin and Snooki, one can tell that “A Tanifesto” is aimed at young adults; whom coincidentally are the people who tan the most. “A Tanifesto” tries to appeal to young adults by using popular culture references and informal language which in the end turned out to be ineffective. The use of dashes in this article makes the reader feel as though they are having an informal conversation with Sternbergh rather than reading a compelling article on why one should not tan.
Also the discourse of the writing varies which in turn makes for an ineffective piece of writing. The use of metaphors such as “the act of basting yourself under ultraviolet light feels roughly equivalent to tossing tea into the harbor” mixed with words such as “literally” make the reader go from feeling intelligent to dumb. Sternbergh’s article, “A Tanifesto” would have been more effective if he would have chosen one level of discourse for the entire article.
Sternbergh’s article “A Tanifesto” was poorly written due to a lack of organization, a jumbled claim, lack of evidence, and a change in discourse. This article, although interesting and entertaining at times, failed to prove Sternberg’s claim that tanning is bad for ones health. In this article, Sternbergh failed to gather solid evidence to back up his claim, therefore loosing all credibility. I, as a member of the intended audience found the article “A Tanifesto” interesting at first, but after repeatedly reading the article, I began to see the lack of support and all of the other fallacies.
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