Rhetorical Analysis Of The Article In The Onion

In a press release by The Onion, a satirical news source that aims to mock commonplace ideas or themes of daily life, a theoretical product - the MagnaSoles shoe inserts - is being advertised as a new innovative treatment for foot damage and even body damage. To comment on how stereotypical products are falsely advertised and presented, The Onion mocks normal product marketing with flawed rhetorical appeals to authority and complicated but meaningless diction.

The article exaggerates appeals to authority to satirize and ridicule the use of expert opinions to promote the objective quality of a product. One 'expert' that is cited is Dr. Arthur Bluni, 'the pseudoscientist who developed the product'. Dr. Bluni mocks the fake experts frequently used in advertisements to lure in consumers by appealing to authority instead of fact. His name itself, since it sounds like baloney, implies that his testimony is nonfactual . Furthermore, since Dr. Bluni is a pseudoscientist, he has no real scientific basis for his claims. Since he is the developer of the product, his views are naturally biased. However, his status as a doctor mocks how consumers flock to those with appealing titles. Further appealing to biased sources, the article cites 'the product's Web site' for information on how 'MagnaSoles utilize the healing power of crystals' to heal people. Obviously a product's own website cannot be a good indicator of its actual quality. Whatever information is on the website would need to be verified by other sources for the product advertised to be considered valid. However, by appealing to such an authority, the article mocks how real advertisements cite flawed sources use those sources as vehicles to manipulate their product. The claim that a product uses 'the healing power of crystals' demands sufficient proof that a biased source simply cannot provide. By using such a source, the article mocks how advertisements can disguise their products behind the credibility of false authorities. The article further cites 'Dr. Wayne Frankel, the California State University biotrician who discovered Terranomtry,' a pseudoscience that attempts to find correlation between the frequency of feet and the frequency of the Earth. Here, more expert testimonials are used in order to hide the real product and sell a notable name instead. Appeal to authority is sometimes acceptable, but this article mocks the use of false appeal to authority. Appeal to a 'biotrician' who discovers a pseudoscience is flawed since there needs to be real scientists and real science in order to verify the quality of products. With regards to real advertising, the article mocks marketing schemes that use false authorities without credentials to make bad products look good. This exaggerated appeal to authority and credibility used by The Onion article elucidates how many real advertising strategies revolve around manipulating a product behind the masks of false authorities and biased sources.

Another way the article mocks product marketing is by using of extremely complicated and confusing language to make the product seem appealing when it is really not. Dr. Arthur Bluni says that the MagnaSoles 'harnesses the power of magnetism to properly align the biomagnetic field' around the feet. Such complicated language appeals well to those who cannot comprehend that the advertising is just spewing big words to attract attention. Although the statement sounds highly sophisticated, there is no scientific backing and the notion that the feet have 'biomagnetic fields' is simply ridiculous. However, the satirical use of convoluted diction mocks real advertisements that hide behind such meaningless language to sell their useless products. Dr. Bluni further boasts in the article of the MagnaSoles' 'patented Magna-Grid design, which features more than 200 isometrically aligned Countour Points. The use of 'patented' and the trademark symbol attempts to make the product seem more legitimate and professional. However, the terms used are not explained and therefore not credible. 'Magna-Grid design' and 'Countour Points' are simply complicated words that do not mean anything without explanation. In fact, in context these words seem to be attempts to hide an unremarkable product behind big terms. This strategy is constantly used in marketing ploys, and the satirical article uses its own meaningless language as a facade to mock real advertisements that also do so. Another instance where such a strategy is used is when Dr. Wayne Frankel is discussing the effects of the pseudoscience Terranometry and how 'the resultant harmonic energy field rearranges the foot's naturally occurring atoms, converting the pain-nuclei into pleasing comfortrons’. Again using terms that have no actual meaning, the article satirizes the image of usefulness marketers try to attribute to their product by using large words. The superficially complex terms 'harmonic energy field,' 'pain-nuclei,' and 'comfortrons' are used in attempt to substantiate and support the pseudoscience, but fail in their nebulous meaning and lack of justification. There are multiple layers to the disguise, since the product itself and Terranometry are not explained and the aspects of pseudoscience are also not explained. Real advertisements often use big terms to appear professional or intelligent, but the article reveals the flaws inherent in that strategy by utilizing complex diction that has no weight on the actual quality of the product. Thus, by using overly complex but meaningless diction in its own marketing, the article satirizes real advertising techniques that confuse customers with convoluted diction meant only to overwhelm and hide accurate representations of their products.

Through flawed and exaggerated appeals to authority and nebulous language, The Onion's article reveals and satirizes the ways advertisements hide and manipulate their products through fake experts, biased sources, and meaningless jargon. With such ridiculous language and exaggerated techniques, the article's satire is easily recognized as mocking real advertisements that commonly use such strategies. The Onion is not a real news source, but its stories do have real implications about society, and although its stories may not be emotionally touching and though it may not be a real onion, The Onion can still make people cry. 

16 August 2021
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