Thursday, June 5, 2014

Slapshot-The Ultimate Sports Underdog Story

Kevin Erb
Ms. Waggoner
English 20803
5 June 2014

"Slapshot"-The Ultimate Sports Underdog Story

"Slapshot" has been a classic movie amongst hockey fans and many others for multiple generations now. For a hockey player, one can rarely go a few days without hearing one of your teammates quote the movie or make a reference to it. The movies' success is, in a large part, due to it’s ability to connect with dedicated hockey fans and casual audiences at the same time. The trailer does an excellent job at grabbing the attention of both. For quite some time now, low-level, semi-professional ice hockey has been known for its fights and physical play rather than the skill and finesse seen in higher leagues. Most of the players aren’t paid much and are usually doing it for a short time before moving onto another profession. Therefore, opening sequence of a desperate coach putting a bounty on another player’s head is comical for hockey fans and something that can also catch the attention of non-fans alike. Establishing strong character appeal is vital to any advertisement. “Sometimes a sense of humor can play an important role in getting an audience to listen to you” (Lundsford and Ruszkiewicz 59). This preview immediately attempts to appeal to the ethos of the audience in such a way by revealing violent humor, which will usually get the attention of anyone, but most notably hockey fans and children-two of the movies’ largest target demographics. The narrator even goes as far as stating that “its wild, its outrageous, its outrageously funny!” This type of character appeal connects with a broad audience and immediately draws a viewer in.
            These are some very bold statements that must show credibility before some take them seriously. The makers of this trailer go about this in two ways: actually, visually showing the audience clip after clip of these “outrageously funny” moments and by showcasing their premiere actor-Paul Newman.  What better way to support a claim than to simply show it? This trailer shows seemingly countless hockey fights or bloopers that by the end of it, one should clearly know if this movie is for them or not. Next, Paul Newman was a prominent actor in the 1970’s and was well respected for his parts in previous films of various genres. His presence adds credibility to the claim that this movie will be hilarious and entertaining. The producers also attempt to appeal to the logos of hockey and players as well. Lundsford and Ruszkiewics explain that, “You can support arguments with all kinds of human experiences, particularly those that you or others have undergone or reported” (Lundsford and Ruszkiewics 82). In the northeastern United States, many small towns and cities have teams just like the Chiefs-a joke in terms of pure hockey skill, operating on a shoe-string budget, yet beloved by the entire community. This type of appeal can connect directly with the real life experiences of this demographic group.
            Lastly, this preview does a great job in appealing to the pathos of casual viewers and hockey fans. Lundsford and Ruszkiewics explain that “When writers and speakers find the words and images that evoke certain emotions in people, they might also move their audiences to sympathize with ideas that they connect to those feelings and even to act on them” (Lundsford and Ruszkiewics 41). The producers go about doing such in an expert manner. Everyone loves the underdog, especially a funny one with good intentions. This preview shows that the Chiefs are loved by their fans and generally shows the players as good, fun-loving, working-class people. Seeing a financially broke team struggling to maintain their existence beat up on their more established opponents is both funny and easy to cheer for. The directors subtly convey a message to hockey fans as well by making the villains colors orange. During the 1970’s the orange-colored Philadelphia Flyers were infamous and nearly universally disliked for their dirty play, earning them the nickname “The Broad Street Bullies”. Seeing the lovable Chiefs defeat these “bad guys” is something that a potential viewer can look forward to after seeing this preview. This type of emotional appeal did an excellent job in attracting a large audience and following for this film.

Link to the trailer:
Lunsford, Andrea, John. J. Rusziewicz. Everything’s an Argument . 5th ed.
Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.

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