Guess Which One 

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Gun violence is a prominent issue in America as numerous events of mass shootings have been occurring over the past few years. A lot of these, unfortunately, happen within schools and involve innocent children. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization created in order to prevent gun violence, announced a public service advertising campaign in 2013. It featured a series of print advertisements that portray guns alongside other so-called “harmful” objects that were banned in America with the intention of protecting children. One of the advertisements featured a banned children’s book, “Little Red Riding Hood”, and a gun that is permitted. That alone speaks volumes on the absurdity of the current gun regulation situation in America. The advertisement powerfully presents the importance of gun sense by incorporating various persuasive features such as pathos, logos, and ethos, and creating a scene that simply but surely proves to people that change is necessary.

At first glance, the advertisement features two serious-looking little girls. One is holding the book “Little Red Riding Hood” and the other is holding an AR-15 rifle. The text above their heads reads “ONE CHILD IS HOLDING SOMETHING THAT’S BEEN BANNED IN AMERICA TO PROTECT THEM”, followed by prominent red text that tells the reader, “GUESS WHICH ONE”. What’s supposed to be an easy answer is wiped out by the reality behind this question. “Little Red Riding Hood” is banned as opposed to the terrifying weapon in the hands of a little child. The advertisement goes on to explain in small text at the bottom that “Little Red Riding Hood” was banned due to the bottle of wine in the characters basket. This raises the question of why would an illustration cause such an uproar as to have the book banned, but a deadly weapon is so openly available even after numerous mass shootings occurred. The advertisement sends out a clear message that should change public attitude and behavior towards this issue.

Color is an important element in this advertisement. It incorporates a dull, brown, earthy color scheme which plays a role in creating the atmosphere of the advertisement by giving it a more serious touch, and further highlighting the expressions of the two girls. This color scheme gives the girls less of a living factor and makes it seem like their childlike nature and energy was killed and replaced by fear, which further suggests the brutality of the issue. Advertisers often use specific color pallets in order to subconsciously affect viewers and to achieve the intended response as well as to strengthen the persuasive factor of the advertisement.

Moreover, this public service advertisement has a very clear intended audience. It features a cause that’s important for us all to divert some of our attention to, but it’s especially vital for parents in America who will be seeing this advertisement and very likely picturing their own children in place of the little girl that’s holding the gun. The creators of the advertisement also shed focus on American educational representatives and legislators since without their contribution not a lot of change will happen. The advertisement is showing these groups of people that their input is needed and that without it more innocent lives will be lost. When looking at the background of the advertisement, one can see the flag of America, which further portrays the target demographic of the advertisement.

A prominent persuasive feature in this advertisement is pathos, the appeal to emotion. The advertisement is centered around the youth, and the incorporation of the two young girls plays an important role in persuading people that gun violence is a serious issue. Individuals will be replacing the image of the girl holding the gun with an image of a child that they know, and that will strike them even harder. Simply seeing a child holding a gun is a stupefying shock factor that grabs a lot of attention and awakens a feeling of fear in the individuals that view the advertisement. The serious face expressions of the two girls further affect the emotions of individuals and show that this is no laughing matter. It’s heart-wrenching to even imagine your own child holding or using a gun, let alone losing their life due to gun violence. It strongly pulls on the strings of people’s hearts in the simplest of terms. Individuals will likely spend a lot of time thinking back to the advertisement and replay certain gruesome mass shootings that they’ve heard of in the past, meanwhile incorporating their own relatives into the picture. It may emotionally persuade them that change won’t happen without their input and encourage them to spread the message of the advertisement, form petitions, and even contribute to the eradication of this unfathomable problem.

The creators of the advertisement also incorporated logos, the appeal to reason, in a very clever manner. When posed with the statements “ONE CHILD IS HOLDING SOMETHING THAT’S BEEN BANNED IN AMERICA TO PROTECT THEM” and “GUESS WHICH ONE”, individuals would normally come to the conclusion that assault weapons would be the logical object to ban. However, when looking closer into the advertisement one can understand that the book is banned, and that raises a lot of questions. This is a usage of reverse logic. It’s an appeal that is created to show people the severity of the problem by putting the assault weapon alongside the book and asking people which of these two items is banned. Seeing that puts people on the spot and visually portrays to them the absurdity of the matter. The use of a book in the advertisement is a factor that further strengthens the message of the advertisement since books are a source of knowledge, and “Little Red Riding Hood” itself is a very famous children’s book with an important message. Due to the recognition that this book has, it’s smart to incorporate its ban in this advertisement, since a majority of people are very familiar with the story. The background of the advertisement appears to be a school library, which is a factor that stresses on the relation between knowledge and gun violence in this advertisement, and further ties in the comparison between the book and the deadly weapon. Additionally, the book is banned to protect children due to the illustration of wine in the character’s basket, and logically an illustration would have a smaller impact on the welfare of children than a physical gun that they can be openly exposed to.

Ethos, the appeal to the sense of trust, is also presented in this advertisement. The organization, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, is the appeal. It’s a well-known, widespread organization in the US that has branches in all 50 states. It was established in 2012 and since then has been actively flourishing and successfully causing change on various levels. The organization has even partnered with a similar organization called Mayors Against Illegal Guns in order to form a movement of Americans that put their hands together to end the epidemic of gun violence. This gives the advertisement more credibility which strengthens its message and shows people that the campaign has a strong group of people behind it, who are diligently working towards creating a safer society and going beyond measures in order to reach even more people with the message of their actions.

The clever incorporation of the three appeals and effective color scheme to portray the importance of gun sense in America very strongly supports the message of the campaign and further provides exposure to the organization that would open doors for more people to contribute to the cause. It’s a very powerful advertisement that should start more conversations and push more legislators and educational representatives to invest time into providing an improved society for the current generation, and generations to come. The youth is the future and it’s vital to construct an environment in which they can safely and fearlessly explore, grow, and flourish.

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As the Cold Winds Blow

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Winter is a nightmare that has been haunting me for years. Where I live, it isn’t snow-coated trees and streets, but the whole aura shifts. One day I wake up and it’s echoing inside me; winter is coming. It’s like being knocked out with a realization that awakens all of my senses.

To this day, that one winter memory replays in my mind. It’s dormant all year round until the day my body awakens to the pain of winters arrival. I relive all the demonizing agony of the past in a split second. It’s an even stronger blow because I never know what day will it be. It comes with no prior notice, no message, no sign. An intruder to my inner peace.

I feel the alteration in the air. The sound of the cars on asphalt is different. The sound of the industrialized reality we live in has a different feel to it. The airplane in the sky has a shifting backdrop of sad skies. My mind goes back to the same state it was in back then. I feel disconnected from myself; my body is here but my soul is in the past.

I don’t even need to step outside to see it. My body knows. My mind knows. My soul knows. My heart knows. Every last limb in my body knows. Getting out of bed on this day is always a struggle. There’s an extra weight on me. My senses are sharper, I notice things at an aptitude higher than usual. Not a single particle in the air escapes my attention. Every mediocrity of life appears to be a gnawing absurdity.

Every year I pray that those memories don’t come back to haunt me. That winter molded me into who I am today, but that level of distress is not something I ever want to go through again. It’s an agony that awakens me on the day that winter manifests itself to my being. A recurring current that has no end and no beginning, only tides that come and go with different forces.

Aftertaste

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Your favorite memory, the sweetest melody you’ve ever heard.

A painting you came across at a gallery and a sentence from a book that changed you forever.

A person that lit a fire inside you. One which was hard to put out.

A mediocre night ride under the city lights that made you feel more alive than all the parties ever did.

She guided you to the light the night your demons wouldn’t let you sleep.

Every great thing in your life is a form of her. She is the only memory that matters. She is the sweetest tune that won’t stop playing in your mind like a broken record.

For she is the person that loved you most, and hers were the eyes through which everything was made so much more ecstatic.

For she is the one whose presence made the meaning of that painting so much more powerful, and hers was the book whose pages changed your life forever.

For she is the one whose blazing inferno took over you, down to the very last atom.

For she is the one whose hands held you when living didn’t seem like an option anymore.

Wholesome Waters

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We sat by the shore with the breeze in our faces

The sand slowly crept into every crevice of our skin

The scent of the sea swiftly made its way into our lungs

The calm atmosphere released the tension between us

Our bodies, interlocked within an embrace, healed in harmony

And for once, it felt like we were whole again

The Price of Womanhood

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Photo: Rupi Kaur by Naomi Wood

When that pain first hit me, I was completely oblivious. It was a strange, unknown sensation that I questioned but dismissed. I thought it would diminish, but it only grew.

I had to get it checked. “Appendicitis?”, questioned the doctor as she pounded my lower abdomen once. It wasn’t. But that blow definitely awakened an excruciating monster that I felt would be the end of me. It was worse than what I came with. It spread throughout my fragile body and I almost couldn’t tell where exactly was I hurting because it seemed to spread to every last living cell.

The nurse walked me to another room where I was asked to lay down for an ultrasound. The fear began forming a layer over all the pain that I felt. My hands began to sweat. My body began to stiffen. As the cold gel was massaged over my abdomen with the transducer, I could feel my heart thumping even louder in my chest. I just hoped that it wouldn’t be what I thought it was.

“That cyst is so large that I can’t see your ovary”, she told me. Automatically, the waterworks began and my emotions weren’t going anywhere. One after the other, the tears rolled down my cheeks. I was terrified. The last time I heard of this, someone’s insides had to be scooped out. A hollow womb that would never again go through the rewarding excruciation of bearing a child. But I was only 15, I couldn’t have that taken away from me so soon. I didn’t want to move.

She told me it wasn’t a big deal. It would’ve been worse if it was discovered on my liver, pancreas, or kidneys. But I was ready to give away any organ at that moment for the sake of not experiencing the fear of infertility. I sobbed all the way home, it got to the extent that someone in another car was signing to ask what’s wrong. I couldn’t contain myself, I felt my whole inner world deteriorating. It was burning me whole.

I spent the next few weeks in and out of the hospital. Needles one after the other penetrating my pale skin. I couldn’t wear what I wanted because it hurt. I couldn’t eat what I wanted because it could make it worse. I couldn’t leave the house because walking too much would awaken the shooting pain. I was intertwined within a routine that was supposed to make it go away, but which killed all the other parts of me slowly.

I wanted to be a mother, I still want to be a mother. And because of that, I had to fight that battle no matter what it took. And I won. It’s been almost two years now, but every minute hint of a similar pain still sends me into a short stupor. Is it happening yet again?

The Fog

 

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Photo by Mohammed (3rdclue)

The sky was wrapped in fog and our vision was distorted. All we could see was the road in front of our car. Everything ahead was blanketed by a cloak but we were following a route we knew so well. We were set on our way to reach our destination.

This scenario made me think of our lives. We set goals, we dream, and we plan with hope. We make decisions about how we want things to go and how we want our lives to turn out but all we can really see is where we are right now. Everything we “plan” for is forever covered by a blanket of the unknown. Despite the fact that we don’t know if we’ll reach our planned destination, we still follow the path we chose.

It’s extraordinary how we as human beings live every day making plans without really knowing if we would be able to successfully meet them. Despite the denseness of the fog ahead of us, we go after what we set our mind to because even if we don’t arrive there, we will arrive where we’re supposed to be.

Life’s all about taking chances and going after what we want by planning out our routes and taking the needed turns when we have to, to try and avoid a possible collision. Yet, sometimes collisions are inevitable and we have to undergo various consequential calamities. That too is a vital part of life. Without clashes, we won’t see right from wrong nor will we be able to depict our future choices as bad or good. It somewhat turns our failures into successes in disguise. These collisions and bumps on our foggy paths become a source of our personal growth.

I began reflecting this on my own life as well. I pondered upon all the big dreams and long-term goals I built for myself and I asked myself, how am I so enthusiastic about all that despite having no clue whatsoever of what may happen tomorrow? That’s when I bounced back to a Thomas Edison quote that says: “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” and I realized that this is the essence of that vitality. The vitality of taking risks, calculating possible outcomes, yet going after what we’re passionate about with both our hands and feet.

I’m going to leave you with this, fellow reader: regardless of the unknown, chase your dreams. You may start off somewhere that isn’t exactly what you dreamt of but don’t let that stop you from exercising your passion. One day when you reach your pedestal, you don’t want to be stopped by your unawareness of what you’re stepping into since you were too afraid of the fog.

Fallen

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One person witnessed me at my very worse, rock-bottom, surviving the earthquakes caused by the unstable ground I walk on. You’re one person I wasn’t afraid of being judged by, but I noticed the very human things about you that made me jealous of who you are.


My heart wakes me up. It’s screaming through my chest, shaking the bed I’m laying on. I get up, tired and thirsty, shamelessly spitting shame on my sheets. I can barely walk. My legs are occupied by heartbeats. It’s a storm. I don’t have the dignity to bring myself up but I manage to. I stumble to the bathroom, force myself to hydrate what’s left of me and for once I can’t look at the mirror. It’s been some time since I stopped recognizing the person in front of me but right now, in this moment, with my heart beating in my throat…

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