Music video as public address?

A rap music video can be seen as a form of public address and rhetorical situation. It is not an ideal form, but fits many of the general qualifications. This specific song and video, Teach me how to Dougie, is a song and video that teaches the viewer how to do a dance. It follows the macro speech organization laid out. The attention getter is a defining beat and visual effect and the body can be seen as each verse of the song.

I argue that this song also contains ethos, pathos and logos. The initial rapper gains his ethos visually by having many people around watching him dance. Through his speech, he achieves credibility by letting the listener know that people ask him to teach them, showing that he knows what he’s doing. Logos, as in many rap songs, can be seen as what could happen if you, the viewer performs the dance well. The rappers talk about how “everybody love me” and how girls flock to them when they dougie. Lastly, pathos can be seen in the happiness that everyone seems to have. The rappers discuss how awesome dougie-ing is, and  how everyone has a great time (also another form of logos).


– Cody Smith


5 comments so far

  1. jakubowskic on

    I must say that this is a creative approach to public address. I didn’t really understand where Cody was going initially, but after reading his comments, I completely agree. This song is definitely one that can get stuck in your head and you really don’t even know what it means! Your argument for building ethos is agreeable, people want to know how to dougie and he knows how to, thus teaches everyone the dance. I think the logos argument could be a bit elaborated on but I agree that most rap songs present an appeal to the opposite sex. Pathos is really present in this song through evoking a sense of happiness and carefree atmosphere.

    Catherine Jakubowski

  2. Erika Berg on

    I definitely would not have considered this public address until looking further in to it. The rapper does establish credibility (ethos) through the lyrics and through the audience watching and learning from him in the background. There is also an appeal to a wide audience by incorporating different age groups “dougying” and different cultural backgrounds. This brings a sense of encouragement to the audience to establish their own dougie style based on personality or culture.

    Watching this video makes me think of other music videos that have persuaded or encouraged the audience to find their own dougie or take positive or negative action on an issue. For example, after September 11th Toby Keith’s song and video, “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” sparked many people’s emotions to the terrorist attacks. Although this song may not portray the best images of America, you can’t help but feel patriotic after listening to it.

  3. heeryp on

    While I definitely do see and agree with Cody’s point here about this song containing logos, pathos, and ethos, I have a tough time believing that the video was made with any of that in mind. Let’s be honest here, this song is a funny and good song, but I don’t believe that the Cali Swag District group members thought about establishing creditability with the audience or appealing to the audiences’ emotions or using logic to get a point across when coming up with this song and music video.
    Then again, it is a good point that music videos can be seen as a form of public address because certain songs do portray a message to the audience. I just think that this song was not a good example of a song that speaks to an audience. I think that Cody was right about how songs and videos can establish all of the main components of public address, but that this song was maybe not the best choice of songs to convey that message.

    Pat Heery

  4. johnsokb on

    Disagreeing with Pat Heery, I believe that this video is a form a public address. He states that he does not believe “that the Cali Swag District group members thought about establishing credibility…” I believe this statement is false. It is important to understand that there are groups and networked professionals who are in charge of these rappers that have gotten them to the level they are at in the industry. Therefore, the professionals who are over the rappers knows exactly what they are doing. Rather it be addressing their audience about the love life or relationships, or how to do the next popular new dance.

    Also, I think it is important to really understand what gives a person, or group, credibility. The rapper automatically gains credibility because he is simply the one that made up the dance. If an individual would want to learn how to Dougie, they wouldn’t go find a video on Youtube of a general person doing the dance (I mean they could if they wanted to), but one’s first instinct is to watch the person who “invented” the Dougie because a leaner would want to do the technique as close to the original as they possibly could.

    I do not listen to or watch music videos, but watching this one, I do not understand Pat’s claim of the video being “funny”. I feel that Pat is undermining the video as a public address because what it is about. However, why can’t a public address be an individual teaching someone on how to do something. If one really listens to the lyrics closely, the rapper is simply addressing the public on how to do this specific dance. Which I believe is an informative speech. Also, this kind of public address is not out of the ordinary. Speaking to my two students who took a Public Address class at Denison two years back, it was actually one of their public address assignments to teach their class how to do something.

    Public addressing is not based on what the topic is; it is simply the act of addressing an audience publicly about someone or something. Any topic can be used to be addressed to the public. My claim is based on what Professor Secrease-Dickenson has taught us in our class. She stated in class that it wasn’t the topic so much that caused certain students to not do well on an assignment, but the art in which it is done. Yes, I don’t really like rap, but I sure have that song stuck in my head after listening to it.

    -Katelyn Johnson

    • carospence on

      I think that a music video can be considered public address because it is a more direct way in which an artist can reach his or her audience and control his or her own image and message than through the music alone. Although, I think this particular song isn’t sending much of a message or engaging the audience on a deep level, it is emphasizing a certain image that the rapper wants to have and influencing the audience through its catchy tune and moves. A video such as “Life Change” by Clipse sends a different sort of message ( It addresses the public through a narrative element of the video rather than focusing on the image of the rappers themselves. Thus, I think there are two different ways in which music videos function as public address: they further emphasize the message of a song or they further emphasize the image of the artist. I find the former to be a more primary example of public address.

      Caroline Spence

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