I’ve Got a New Favorite Podcast

From the very beginning of the episode of The Bechdel Cast podcast analyzing the movie Black Panther, several rhetorical strategies are used to convince the listener of the podcast’s legitimacy and to continue listening: a commonplace idea of valuing feminism and respecting women, lighthearted tone and informality, structure, and decorum.

This episode begins as, presumably, all their episodes do: with a humorous intro song. Humor is present throughout the episode, beginning almost immediately with a joke about the fact that they have recorded 69 previous episodes. This sets a lighthearted tone and an informality, which balance with the very clear overarching premise of the podcast: to discuss the representation of women in film (which, as many know, is a definite issue that relates to serious themes of sexism). The podcast is clearly advertised around a commonplace of knowing what the Bechdel Test is and caring about it, as well as a general value of women. Listeners are drawn to the podcast with this premise and understanding of the commonplace, but there are a lot of different kinds of discussions to be had about this topic. Humor and light tone help establish an understanding of what the podcast is like and why it should be listened to.  The humor lasts through the whole episode, with jokes over stereotypes, being attracted to celebrities, and entertaining parts of the movie. By establishing this humor and lightheartedness quickly, they are trying to send a welcome message to their audience, hoping to make clear that though the podcast will cover a serious topic, it will still be entertaining and fun (and therefore worthwhile to listen to.)

A basic structure keeps the audience engaged and guides them through the podcast. The structure introduces the podcast briefly with the theme and an explanation of the Bechdel Test, then introduces the guests and the movie to be discussed. They talk about their guests experience with the movie, to help establish some ethos, appealing to the character of their guests – in this case, Naomi Ekperigin and Ify Nwadiwe, both people of color with backgrounds in discussing the representation of people of color. Though this podcast is about the representation of women in movies, they clearly present the idea that this episode will also focus on the representation of black people. The informal tone and inclusion of people of color help establish a sense of decorum, relating to the audience by being like them. They move on to recap the film (with a lot of tangents), discuss the role of women at length, do the Bechdel Test, and rate it on their “Nipple Scale”. With a loose structure like this, they are able to cover a wide range of content – everything from women fight scenes to costuming to toxic masculinity to colorism. It allows the hosts and guests to have fun, and the audience with them. They establish the plenty of feminist successes in the movie and some downfalls, making a long episode worth it (in my opinion).

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