Visual – twofoursixohtwo


The camera pans across several framed pictures. The smallest three frames hold pictures of a boy at varying ages, but still very young. The largest frame hold a picture of a newly married couple at their wedding. This picture in particular looks older, and paired with the pictures of the young boy I assume is their son, these two have been married for quite a few years now. The entire room is rather dark.


The end of this pan shows an open doorway, where only the side of a staircase can be seen, illuminated by a light in the adjacent room. A shadow is cast against the side of this staircase, and judging by the large build and short hair, I assume this to be the father/husband.


The young boy seen in the pictures is now seen in the flesh, sitting on the stairs. He is dressed in pajamas and holding a toy in his hand. His is not downstairs with his father, and he seems to be higher up on the staircase, in the dark. From this, I gather it is late at night, and past this boy’s bedtime. He fumbles with the toy in his hand, but his gaze is directed down towards the room with the light, where I imagine his father stands. There is one light that illuminates the boy making his the focus of this spot.


The shot shifts and I now see the back of the boy. From this angle it is confirmed he sits at the very top of the staircase. At this spot, he may be hidden from his father, but can still see whatever he is doing. A different shadow appears on the wall next to him, this time with a slender build and long hair. This is most likely his mother, joining the father in the only lit room.


The camera transitions back to a forward facing shot of the boy, but is not zoomed in to only show the boy’s torso and part of his face. His attention is now fixed on his toy, though he looks a little upset. With his focus on the toy, his expression slowly gets a little happier. The ligght has slightly darkened his face.


A loud noise startles the boy and his eyes snap back to the room his father and mother are in. He is scared now, and looks as though he is about to cry. There is a lot of sudden tension in this shot.


The boy, now wide-eyed, is breathing heavily. His mouth is open and he seems to have forgotten about his toy. The light coming from the only lit room is blocked by the pillars on the handrail of the stairs, leaving a dark line down the boy’s face as he looks through to the room his parents are in. Something potentially violent has happened.


The boy looks down at his toy, different from before. He is visibly uncomfortable and upset, yet hasn’t moved from the stairs. He has not removed himself from the situation, and may be too scared to do so.


The screen goes black and a message in all whit is displayed in all capital letters: “Children have to sit by and watch. What’s your excuse?”. This is a powerful statement, while slightly accusing.


Information for a domestic abuse hotline is displayed on the screen in place of the statement. The logo for this hotline is a centered half black half blue box with the phrase “There’s no excuse” in all capital letters, “no” being the largest and most prominent, marking it as the key word of this phrase.

Watching the ad once again with sound had a few differences in tone. It started out innocently enough, the husband asking where dinner was, and the wife responding that she thought he would have been home earlier, and put everything away. This conversation turned violent very quickly when the husband begins yelling. His wife plead for him to calm down and to speak quietly, I assume for their child’s sake, but this only enrages him further. There is no shot of the fight, instead we only see the reactions of the child, who has become our sole informant on the situation. He is upset, but too young to truly realize the gravity of this problem. After a loud slap is heard, the boy is visibly stressed, so he knows something is wrong, but cannot do anything to help. He stays hidden on the top of the stairs. By the wife’s pleading, I assume this is not the first time this has taken place, and probably not the first time their son has been in earshot. This ad for domestic abuse prevention is meant to combat the “bystander affect” in which those surrounding the situation shift responsibility away from themselves under the notion that someone else will help or it isn’t any of their business. By using a child as the focus and informant, the audience feels a sense of responsibility. There is a maternal reaction to these kinds of spots that has the message hit a lot harder than it would should the boy have been older, or not there at all.

This entry was posted in A02: Visual Rhetoric, twoforsixohtwo. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Visual – twofoursixohtwo

  1. twofoursixohtwo says:

    Feedback was requested.

    Feedback provided.


  2. davidbdale says:

    OK, twofoursixohtwo, Let’s go.

    Before I give you your own personal notes, let me say this video has been a popular choice I have already written extensively about for two classmates:



    I ask that you review what I had to say to those students about the techniques in the video and the degree of scrutiny I’m hoping for in these assignments. I will also provide you commentary on your own work, but will try to save myself a bit of effort by not repeating what I’ve said elsewhere.

    01-03. Room in a house? Also see other notes for classmates. What is the purpose, do you suppose, of establishing this family unit? Think back to the classroom study we made of the domestic abuse video. The first shot of the ceiling light fixture established clearly that the couple had upstairs neighbors who turned out to be the offscreen subject of the video. What’s going on in yours here?

    04. Your talk of shadows and illumination remind me you haven’t mentioned what time of day the video is shot. The “open doorway where a staircase can be seen” is confusing. A shadow doesn’t have short hair or a build unless it’s the shadow of a person, which you did not establish. Is that shadow/person moving or stationary? See the trouble we’re having visualizing the scene from your narration?

    10. This is your best entry so far. Chance comments like “he is not downstairs with his father” combine both visual observation and analysis. He’s also “not outdoors” and “not lying in his bed,” which you did not mention for good reason. The place he might be, where he specifically isn’t, is “with his father.” That’s crucial. And there is probably a reason. Kids who can’t sleep might seek a parent for company or comfort. This kid doesn’t.

    12. You’re doing well here, but mostly covertly. Feel free to be overt. If he’s spying on the couple, you can say so. If he’s watching from behind the balusters because he feels safer here than there, you can draw that conclusion. If you prefer to work covertly, you may do that too, but do it every chance you get. Make it a specialty that infuses your seemingly objective comments with calculation and conclusions.

    16. Syntax problem: avoid negative verbs that confuse. When you say “the shot is not zoomed in to only show the boy’s torso and face,” you allow two reasonable interpretations.
    —1) The shot is zoomed in, but not to show the boy’s torso and face, but for some other reason.
    —2) In order to show only part of the boy’s torso and face, the shot is not zoomed in.

    In one second you describe two or three facial expressions in transition. Help us a little more to understand that he’s seeking comfort and distraction from the toy. Keep in mind that the video is making claims every few nanoseconds. The boy is disturbed. He might also be afraid. He might fear for his mother’s safety. Perhaps for his own. He could hide under his bed. But he’s here to watch. He came from his bed. He brought the toy. Did he know he would be here for awhile? Etc. I have no idea how light can darken his face.

    18. How is the tension achieved?

    21. The pillars of the handrail of the stairs are called balusters. That’s nice. What’s the point of the dark line down the child’s face? Was it the only shot they had of the boy with this expression? Or did they choose it from dozens of choices, do you suppose?

    23. You’re doing good work here, 24602. Once again, your negative observation is a strong one. He has not removed himself from the situation. Did he gasp, scream, or shout out when he was startled and frightened? Did he have so much presence of mind that his fear at being discovered overwhelmed his reflexes to make a noise? That’s real control. How much practice did that take?

    24. Big time accusing. I hope you’ll explain in 27.

    27. I’ll be patient. There’s a paragraph below in which you’ll probably analyze the message, its intended audience, and its effectiveness.

    With Sound:
    That’s good. Now I want more. Regarding the effectiveness of the visual alone, does the combination of the child witness and the admonition: There’s no excuse [for sitting by and watching], does it seem fair to the viewer? Who but the child can be a witness to this scene? And why should we feel at all responsible when there’s no way we could see it unfold without the intrusion of the video crew that came inside this house? In other words, who’s the audience? Who among us are witnessing domestic abuse and doing nothing?

    I hope you found these comments helpful, 24602. I also hope you read what I had to say to your classmates who also selected this video.

    Clearly, 24602, I have not left you enough time to do a thorough rewrite by today’s deadline, but don’t worry, please. Publish your Visual Rewrite—twofoursixohtwo post today and THEN continue to refine it until the end of the week. I’ll certainly not grade it before then. OK? Reply, please.


    • twofoursixohtwo says:

      Thank you very much! I do remember at least one other had seen the same video, but knowing there are two working with the same material is interesting. I’ll definitely look through their comments and feedback to see what caught their eyes and not mine. Having my own feedback as well as two separate sets to delve into is incredibly helpful!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s