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Using Ethos, Logos, and Pathos in Film “Minimalism”

Updated April 26, 2022
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Using Ethos, Logos, and Pathos in Film “Minimalism” essay

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The film Minimalism did a great job using Ethos, Logos, and Pathos to formulate the argument that western society needs to curb the appetite for consumption. To create ethos Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nickodemus use big names such as Sam Harris, and Dan Harris, as well as telling the audience their personal journey, having ‘made it’ in the corporate world then realizing they went the wrong direction in their lives, and then minimizing to happiness. Logos comes into play when they bring the conversation of consumption to environmental impact, stress, and overstimulation. The large majority of the film depended on pathos to form its argument, from the personal accounts of finding happiness through lifestyle shift, to the promise of less stress, more time, and better relationships; their use of pathos was effective.

Ethos was established early when Dan Harris, a famous news anchor, begins talking about the error of our societal norms. The film features opinions from a prominent neuroscientist and sociologist, and many authors which adds a nice bit of ethos. The segment of President Jimmy Carter’s 1979 speech was a huge boost to ethos. President Carter speaks on the habit of consumption and self-indulgence. That speech alone was could have made Ryan and Joshua’s point 40 years prior and was an outstanding addition to the film. Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith, and a neuroscientist adds ethos in a way that I wasn’t expecting to get from Joshua and Ryan’s argument. He explains what driving factors in our brains make consumption a problem, and why it is so hard to quell the habit. Harris also spoke about overstimulation and stress which supports the argument well.

Logos was present when Sam Harris speaks about the problem of constant stimulus (our cell phones) resulting in overwhelm and anxiety. Sam Harris’ thoughts play excellently into Josh and Ryan’s views of simplification in life, not just of one’s material possessions. Another powerful example of logos comes in the form of an argument to end compulsory consumption. Consumption of cheap goods has led to business schemes such as Planned Obsolescence and Fast Fashion, but at the core of these society driven approaches to consumption is an unsustainable use of natural resources. On the topic of sustainability one speaker argues that eventually we will have to give up a lot in terms of material, but the real secret is, that we aren’t going to miss much of those material possessions. That is a powerful example of a well-used logos argument.

Pathos was huge for the film. The opening scene contains violent and unbelievable displays of crowds rushing into stores on black Friday in a riot like fashion. When the audience is introduced to Joshua, he tells an emotional story of losing his mom and wishing he had spent more time with her. His mother fell sick before Joshua simplified his life so he did not get much time with her. As Pathos goes, I would say this is a compelling use because nearly everyone can relate to it. Joshua also pairs his life story with a well written poem about finding out what really matters in life. Later in the film Ryan and Josh illicit an emotional response with a touching montage of the pair hugging and talking with the many fans who have found value in their message to consume less and find happiness.

These were just a few examples of how the film used ethos, logos, and pathos to form an effective argument. I had seen the film before but this time when watching for the arguments I really noticed how well the videography, combined with the interviews, and the soundtrack to enhance the argument in ways that none could accomplish alone. Minimalism achieves its goal of spreading its message. The message of consuming less and being mindful of the powerful effects that material possessions have on the environment, and the humans who ‘own’ them.

Using Ethos, Logos, and Pathos in Film “Minimalism” essay

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Using Ethos, Logos, and Pathos in Film “Minimalism”. (2022, Apr 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/using-ethos-logos-and-pathos-in-film-minimalism/

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