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Rhetorical Analysis

The Film Independent Spirit Awards is the most significant accumulation for independent films in the industry. Every year the award ceremony brings together the top talent from the independent film world, which means a lot more diversity. Lulu Wang is one of the top directors in the independent film industry. Wang is a director, writer and producer in Hollywood. She is most well known for writing and directing the hit 2019 film “The Farewell.” “The Farewell” is about a young Chinese woman’s family that returns to China under the excuse of a fake wedding to say goodbye to their beloved grandma, who is the only person that does not know she only has a few weeks to live. Wang won the top award of Best Feature at the 2020 award ceremony, and her speech left in an echo in the tent that night. The primary rhetorical situation of her speech is that the film industry needs to take more chances on women and pay them equally. It is also about how, when a film is about an oppressed and marginalized group, the industry should not market to that group, but market it as a mainstream film, a film for all. This topic is more than relevant in today’s society. With the 2020 Academy Awards coming to a close last month, there was almost no female winner or nominee in non-acting categories. Wang speaks on change and on inequality in the entertainment industry and how actions to change that need to be made.    

The award show was streamed online and broadcasted on television for thousands of people to see. Lulu Wang took this opportunity to speak her mind on an important issue, the way women are treated in the film industry.  She was raising awareness for women in the industry. Wang starts her speech by saying that “you do not have to encourage women, there are lots of women making films” and “what women need is just the job.” which immediately addresses the crowd and makes her point and stance very clear. Wang uses ethos in a very strong manner. She had just won the award for “Best Feature,” solidifying her credibility. She then starts off her speech by saying she started in 2014 in “Project Involve.” This organization is directly connected to the Film Independent Spirit Awards. She uses this to show her personal connection to the organization, and by doing this uses pathos and ethos. She actively uses pathos by making a connection to the audience watching all over the world by saying :” For all you filmmakers out there, you can do it. You can absolutely do it.” which connects to those who watch the award show, most of us being filmmakers or workers in that industry. She uses this statement to make a broad and general connection to her audience before delving into her main topic for her speech. After saying this she delves into the heart of her speech which is stating that the industry needs to take the same bets on female filmmakers as they do on male filmmakers. Wang uses anaphoras when she says, “Give them the freaking job. Give them the money.”. Anaphoras are when a word repeats in a successive order, the use of this rhetorical device rhythm and parallelism. The device can be tied back to poetry and music, but Lulu Wang being a successful writer and artist, used this tactic to have this moment stick in the head of those watching.  She wanted everyone to remember this moment because it was essential to her and her whole point of the speech. 

Wang again brings pathos to her speech by bringing in those who helped her get to where she is. She then hammers in the pathos by bringing in her personal history in the industry at the end, the full quote from the speech being, “The only reason that I am up here is because these incredible people gave me an opportunity. My first film went nowhere, they didn’t have to take a chance on me, and they did.”. She talks about her first film being a flop and not going anywhere, bringing in her sense of failure and rejection again, connection to her crowd. After she gains respect from the audience and her peers on and off stage, she brings to question the marketing of her film “The Farewell” and how A24 is to thank for the box office success. She starts off by using ethos by bringing A24 into the speech, A24 is one of the most prestigious independent film studios and production companies in the industry. She then continues by talking about how they marketed her film for everyone and said this about A24, “marketing the film as an American film, to show a different side of what an American looks like, what an American family can look like, what an American leading woman looks like, and they did.”.  She speaks again using anaphoras in the phrase “American film,… what an American looks like, what an American family can look like, what an American leading woman looks like” to make her point stand out in the speech. Wang uses the rhythm so people remember what she says and that it sticks in their head. She then wraps up the speech by thanking A24 for giving the money and platform to make an impact with her film , “They did a full year roll out that took so much time and not a lot of money, but they’re the ones who were able to give us the platform so everybody knows the film even a year later.”. She used ethos at the end by creating credibility in her movie and the company that produced and pathos when she brought up a film that was very personal to her being known for “even a year later.” 

Lulu Wang created a speech that not only touched upon essential topics but made it relatable to those outside of her marginalized group. She wanted a conversation, not only women or Asian Americans could talk about, but everyone, which is extremely important today. Wang spoke words at that ceremony that will leave a longer impression than most films could ever wish to.


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