The expository text Stupid White Men (Michael Moore, 2002) uses emotive descriptions to manipulate readers to accept certain values and beliefs. Moore uses characterization, positioning readers to view certain people and groups negatively, and others positively. Characters are developed through the use of persuasive elements of construction in descriptions; this includes the types of information presented, persuasive language, structure, sarcasm and irony. Michael Moore uses statistics and other facts as evidence for the opinions he provides; this positions readers to accept his opinions as facts.
“The $250 billion the Pentagon plans to spend to build 2800 new Joint Strike Fighter planes is more than enough to pay the tuition of every college student in America” (pg170). This fact is used as evidence by Moore to prove his opinion, that the Bush administration is ignoring the education system and mis-using government revenue, is correct. The strong use of statistics and facts in the descriptions of issues positions readers to agree with the views promoted; as they are given credibility to make them more than just an opinion.
Anecdotes are used in a similar way to statistics; they provide proof for Moore’s opinions, while positioning readers to relate to Moore and sympathize with him. “When I was done I rushed out of the building because I did not want these people to see me cry? ” (pg xvi). This extract is just one example from the introduction of the text which shows the use of an anecdote to emotionally manipulate readers to feel sympathy for Moore.
The entire introduction is an anecdote about Moore’s struggle to publish the book, the problems which Moore faced and his unwillingness to give up, positions readers to view him as a victim and agree with his views because of the sympathy they are positioned to feel for him. The use of anecdotes in descriptions promotes social activism; emotionally manipulating readers to feel sympathy for Moore and feel guilt for doing nothing when this one man has done so much. Persuasive language is used throughout the text to position readers to agree with the views promoted by Moore.
“For once I’d like to walk onto an airplane and see it filled with only black passengers instead of a bunch of complaining white jerks who feel a sense of entitlement in demanding that I give up my lap so they can put their seat in it” (pg 67). The use of emotive words such as “jerks,” “complaining,” and “demanding” in the description of white people, in a common scenario, positions readers to view white people negatively. The language used in descriptions is full of values and connotations to position readers to associate certain people and groups with negative diction and others with positive diction.
Each chapter in the text is structured to position readers to see clear victims and perpetrators. Chapter five Idiot Nation begins by outlining the problem of the poor quality and low priority of the education in America, it then identifies the culprit: the Bush administration, before finally emphasizing the governments’ lack of ability to run the country. With inserts containing interesting information which supports Moore’s views, such as the rights of students, Moore’s opinion that Bush is to blame for the deteriorating education system is emphasized and social activism is promoted.
The description of the issue through a structure which develops the argument positions readers to be persuaded to agree with the views promoted. Moore uses sarcasm and irony in order to emphasize his view by positioning readers to feel guilty for accepting stereotypes. “Didn’t I notice the suspicious gangs of white people lurking on every street corner, drinking Starbucks and wearing their gang colors of Gap Turquoise or J. Crew Mauve? ” (pg 56).
This observation of white people fitting into the same stereotype as black people hanging around on corners mocks the stereotype, as people are afraid of black people who are doing the same things as white people. Humor through the use of sarcasm and irony in the text is used in descriptions to emphasize the stupidity of stereotypes and the ? fear of black people’ in America, positioning readers to accept equality values regarding different races in America. Descriptions in the text Stupid White Men are carefully construction to manipulate readers to agree with certain views and opinions promoted by the text.
Statistics, facts and anecdotes are all used to persuade readers to accept views, by providing proof in a number of forms. Emotive language manipulates the feeling of readers, positioning readers to feel certain emotions towards different groups, people and situations. The overall persuasive structure of the text is designed to develop Moore’s argument against the Bush administration. While the text presents a number of issues, every chapter links the blame in some way to the Bush administration and positions readers to take sides with the victims in society promoting social activism against the government.