After her debut as a leading role actress in Ryan Murphy’s A Star Is Born, Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, won the “Woman in Hollywood” reward presented by Elle magazine. On occasion, Lady Gaga gave a deeply emotional acceptance speech, during which she admitted having been sexually assaulted at the age of nineteen (Lady Gaga Opens Up about Sexual Assault and Mental Health”). Lady Gaga’s “Women in Hollywood Acceptance Speech” is an example of powerful and highly successful rhetoric based mostly on emotions and not on facts and references.
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Lady Gaga begins her speech by thanking the previous speakers. Later, the singer addresses her best friend in the audience and tells a story about their childhood. When Lady Gaga recalls her memories related to Jennifer Lopez, she communicates directly with her, as the celebrity sits in the audience. A major part of the speech is dedicated to Lady Gaga’s confession about being a victim of sexual assault at the age of 19 and her feelings about that. With this example, Lady Gaga transitions her speech to its topic: mental health. Essentially, she urges people in the audience to make the world a better place by promoting mental health care and support for people all over the world. She finishes the speech by thanking her loved ones, her colleagues, and the words: “Breed compassion. Amen fashion,” which is an allusion to the title of one of her songs.
The first criterion in the context of a rhetorical analysis of a speech is logos, which stands for logic and reason in speech. To begin with, it is necessary to analyze the structure of the speech. The speech opens with thanks and a personal story in order to appeal to the audience. After this, Lady Gaga tells another story of choosing the dress for the event that leads to the topic of the speech: “What does it mean to be a woman in Hollywood?” She proceeds with recalling her experience of sexual assault and leads to the matter of mental disorders. To make sure that her concerns are credible, Lady Gaga reveals official statistics on mental disorders, but she does not mention the source.
To mark the climax of the speech, Lady Gaga answers the rhetorical question about being a woman in Hollywood. At the end of the speech, the intensity subsides. The singer uses many metaphors and analogies to keep the audience interested. For example, her quote “today I wear the pants” is a metaphor because she wears a men’s oversized suit and talks about how women should take their power back.
The second criterion of the rhetorical analysis, known as pathos, is a key element of Lady Gaga’s speech. The very speech opens with her crying over the previous speech, so the speaker is noticeably emotional. Lady Gaga’s whole speech is based on her personal experiences and feelings, and such an appeal is significantly popular with the audience, as they respond with applause and laughter. A few times during the speech, Fady Gaga uses explicit words to intensify the emotion she addresses, and the usage of such words seems appropriate in the context. She also uses various nonverbal language cues, such as hand gestures. She frequently points her finger when trying to justify her point of view, and such a technique significantly increases the emotionality of the message.
It is also necessary to mention that during the speech, Lady Gaga starts to cry several times, and the audience supports her. Thus, her emotional attachment to the story outweighs the need for proof and credible statistics. Finally, it is remarkable that while it is very popular to end the speech with an inspirational quote, Lady Gaga chooses to quote herself in order to lighten the mood in the audience.
The last criterion of analysis is known as ethos, and it is related to the credibility of the speaker. The image of Lady Gaga is somehow controversial, as the singer is known for extravagant appearances and bold statements. However, while many people feel strange about her clothing, she does not have a bad reputation as a person. For this reason, the audience believes her and perceives her speech positively. Lady Gaga also presents facts and statistics about mental health disorders, but she does not cite them. Hence, it is unclear whether they are up-to-date and credible. When delivering the speech, she sounds vulnerable and emotional but very confident. The confidence comes from the moderate pace of her speech and right stress in the sentences, as she accentuates emotional words and facts in order to keep the listeners’ attention. In conclusion, it may be noted that the personal branding of the speaker, in this case, plays a more important role than the speech itself.
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Considering the analysis of ethos, pathos, and logos as primary parts of rhetoric, it may be concluded that Lady Gaga’s “Woman in Hollywood Acceptance Speech” for Elle magazine is so emotionally powerful that there is no need for facts and references to present the message. The sincerity played a major role in the success of this speech, as listeners, especially women, feel the emotional attachment to the speaker and her story. Moreover, the status of the speaker is a significant factor in the context of speech’s success.