In his essay “Family Feud,” Mark Crispin Miller uses appropriate and precise nouns, verbs and adjectives in his writing. Because of his use of such precise words, he can convey his message of mocking and sarcasm towards “Family Feud” to the reader. In his description of the television program, he uses such techniques. Not only does this communicate his message and underlying views clearly, but also allows him to analyze “Family Feud” more thoroughly. One particular sentence in Miller’s essay contains exceedingly descriptive words that allow him to move on to analysis is “There’s some talk as to how Pfister earns his livelihood, and then, at the chat’s conclusion, the team formally presents the star of “Family Feud” with some homely offering, usually handmade, such as a bag of cookies, a necklace made of chestnuts, or an inscribed hat.”
The first words that Miller uses in this sentence that are more descriptive than usual is “formally presents;” instead of saying that the family “handed him” the object, like any person would, he chose the words “formally presents,” which would project to connotation that the Pfister family is presenting this object to a man of higher status than themselves, hence the word “formally.” This word can also play along with the fact that the star of the show, Richard Dawson, is a formally dressed man who presents himself in a seemingly gentlemanlike manner.
The next words that Miller uses are “homely offering.” Instead of using more simple words, such as “handmade gift,” he chooses to use “homely offering,” which furthers the message that Dawson is better than the families on the show; previously, he was just slightly above them, more formal; yet now, he is seen as more of a godlike figure: these mere peasants giving offerings to this god among men. Among these gifts are cookie, a hat, and a necklace of chestnuts. This latterly mentioned item reinforces this underlying idea that Dawson is a god. It is almost as if this is a Native American ritual that these people must do in order to please the god of “Family Feud.” Whomsoever brings the best offering shall be the supreme winner of this television show!
The usage of these direct words lead Miller into analysis. To further strengthen this idea that Dawson is a god and the families are mere puppets, Millers says “And Dawson dominates these human beings, not just by patronizing them, but also through the constant threat of his incisive ridicule.” “Dominate” is a very powerful and aptly used word in this sentence, stating that he controls their every move, and through his “constant threat of his incisive ridicule,” he could crush them like a bug at any time. The “ridicule” Miller speaks of is Dawson’s way of joking with the families, as if to say “yes, I am better than you, but I am also a down-to-earth guy.”
Miller also brings in outside sources to further emphasize his argument that Dawson presents himself as superior to the families on the show. One such source he provides is Howard Felsher, who said “Dawson goes to each person, and talks to them, and gets to know them, and pats them on the head, and gives them a lollipop. He treats them like human beings!” Though this may seem contradictory to his initial argument, this actual plays into Millers’ hands quite
well. First, the fact that Felsher says Dawson pats each person on the head and gives them a lollipop, would display that he is actually treating them like children instead of adults. The next thing Felsher mentions is that Dawson treats them like human beings; this message would just as easily have been conveyed as him treating them like equals. However, through Felsher’s folly of saying “human beings,” Miller took that as saying Dawson may be treating them like human beings, but he is still a god to them and not an equal.
Miller’s use of outside sources not only support his claims, but also induces upon his sources an air of mockery and foolishness. An additional source he could have provided in his essay writing to further support his mockery of the entire show is an actual family or family member; possibly just a simple quote, or a brief interview. Using these sources, who may be less educated or more likely to say something that they may not want to have said, a Freudian slip, would make “Family Feud” look ludicrous, which is exactly the point Miller successfully attempts to do in his essay. Not only would this deepen his claim, but also give a behind-the-scenes look at what the people on the show really think about it and Dawson, which could prove to be positive or negative for the show and it’s viewers.
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