“Red Hot Profundity,” Matt Clements (2016) — Inquiry 2

Dear Professor Pendygraft,

Initially when beginning to outline, the amount of freedom of being able to rhetorically analyze any medium was daunting at first. It was not something that I initially thought I would have problem with. Luckily, the next day when I was having lunch with my sister, I mentioned the assignment. After describing the goal of the assignment, she looked shocked as if my head was attached to my shoulder. Then she enthusiastically pointed out that I should do a Red Hot Chili Peppers song because of my passionate interest in their music.

At this point I was unsure how to begin my essay, but I had specific ideas where the Red Hot Chili Peppers used language as part of their music videos.  I was able to pull many specific instances where the music in “Dani California,” but per usual I had difficulty finding the best places to implement these examples. By starting off with the concrete analyses and supporting them with well-conceived evidence (the 1974 Child Abuse Act), I was able to establish ethos. This particularly became useful when the subjective second half of the song was being analyzed.

During my time editing this essay, I spent a lot of time trying to polish my transitions and make sure that at the end of each paragraph, it clearly tied in the main theme of the paper. A thought that crossed my mind when I was writing was that it was hard to form arguments that relied heavily on each other. For instance, I had to restructure the way I spoke about the refrains.  Initially, I felt constrained that I could not just lump all of the refrains into one paragraph, but I realized this breaks the form of rhetorical analyses.

Overall, I believe I did great job incorporating all of the aspects of essay fluently. Through constant editing and attention to detail with my transitions I believe I exceled. My only hesitation is that I only feel that my final paragraphs do not flow adequately together.




Matt Clements


Red Hot Profundity

In 2006, the Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) released the music video for “Dani California.” Throughout the song, lead singer Anthony Kiedis nostalgically recounts the progression of Dani’s life and ultimately her death. Dani is assumed to be an amalgamation of all of Kiedis’ romantic relationships depicted as a single entity. By effectively utilizing cinematography, Kiedis derives a greater understanding by creating a codependence between the lyrics and the portrayal of different Pop artists in the music video; independently, the lyrics nor the cinematography can holistically illustrate the memoir of Dani. This expertise allowed the Red Hot Chili Peppers to tell a more comprehensive story, while appealing to the different interests of the RHCP fanatics.

The song opens with the birth and early childhood of Dani. In the first half of the first verse, Dani was “Gettin’ born in the state of Mississippi.” In the music video, the Red Hot Chili Peppers strategically decide to impersonate Elvis Presley. Since Elvis began to perform in 1954, the RHCP attempt to connect the timeframe of Elvis’s popularity with the time birth of Dani. By connecting the two events seemingly unrelated events, the Red Hot Chili Peppers reveal intricacies of Dani’s life, which adds both immediate and upcoming historical context.

In addition, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ disconnected and half-hearted disposition when imitating Elvis while singing, “Papa was a copper and Momma was a hippie” argues Dani’s parents were aloof. The Red Hot Chili Peppers implement lyrical and visual evidence of Dani’s detached parents makes discernible that Dani had a strenuous childhood. Growing up in prior to the Child Abuse and Treatment Act of 1974, a federal act that subsidized states in order to protect neglected children, explains why Dani’s situation existed. Without the visual supplements to provide historical context, this deduction could not exist. The presence of a timeframe allows the audience to recognize uncontrollable factors that allow the audience to gain insight into Dani’s lifestyle. This particularly engaging level of detail appeals to the extremely devout fans that yearn to understand the complexities of Dani’s story. Revealing that Dani was overlooked by her parents also inspires empathy within the audience and brings a feeling of reconciliation in order to attract fans that were victim to neglect.

In the final half of the first verse, the RHCP imitate the Beatles, whilst singing, “She never knew that there was anything more than poor.” Similar to their motives of imitating Elvis, the Red Hot Chili Peppers mimicked the Beatles in order to mark a transitional period in her life.  The Beatles -who gained popularity during 1960s-  The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ temporal allegory enables the audience to understand the implications of Dani’s impoverished youth; furthermore, highlighting her poverty acts as a segue to her teenage years that allows the audience to comprehend her motives.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers imitate Jimi Hendrix during the second verse in order to establish the chronology of Dani’s shift into adolescence. In 1969, Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock, which was notorious for illicit and morally unsound behavior. The Red Hot Chili Peppers correlate the Jimi Hendrix’s free-spirited persona with Dani’s identity problem when reaching adolescence. Kiedis validates his nonverbal claims when he asserts that she joins a gang in the verse, “Black bandana sweet Louisiana.”  In addition, by emphasizing the rowdy behavior in Jimi’s concerts by use of smoke and kaleidoscope camera angles, the Red Hot Chili Peppers implicate that Dani partook in illicit activities. The information deduced from this imagery evidently supports this claim when she, “[was] robbin’ all the banks in the state of Indiana.” The symbiotic relationship between cinematography and lyrics allow the RHCP to enhance the prominence Dani’s identity problems. By expanding on Dani’s rebellious phase, the Red Hot Chili Peppers targeted another portion of their audience, the troubled.  

Next, it skips to the refrain singing, “California rest in peace,” which implies the Dani’s death; however, Dani’s time of death does not correspond with the bands that the RHCP imitate. The refrain acts as a time that Anthony flashbacks to losing Dani. This is evident because throughout the times the refrain is sung, the Red Hot Chili Peppers impersonate five successful bands from different eras. In the refrains, the tangible chronology was attained during the verses no longer applies. In the remainder of the song, the Red Hot Chili Peppers recount different aspects of Dani both lyrically and visually in order to establish an emotional connection.

Through singing, “she’s my priestess I’m her priest,” it suggests and Anthony Kiedis typically had intimate relations with women rather than a fling. Visually, the Red Hot Chili Peppers use energetic jumping and bright multicolored floodlights in order to fortify the legitimacy and passion in Anthony’s relationships. Additionally, the lyrical analogy implies that Anthony and his lovers were extremely devout, like priests and nuns are to the church. By referencing the church in this figurative eulogy, it is a testament to how attached Kiedis is to his lovers. The utilization to liveliness and allusion to God’s omnipotence allows the Red Hot Chili Peppers to underline the sanctity of Anthony’s relationships, which in turn inspires empathy. The empathy displayed has the intent to form pathos for those that have ever experienced the strong emotions of a relationship.

After the first chorus, Anthony reflects on fond memories of her personality singing, “She’s a lover, baby, and fighter, should’ve seen it coming when it got a little brighter.” Anthony’s tone in the second verse is now tender and nostalgic. He recognizes that Dani was infant-like because of her hard background of poverty. Her rough background given her a certain grit that he wishes he had nurtured when she was alive, but that grit ultimately leads to her demise in her attempts to rob a bank. The Red Hot Chili Peppers juxtapose Dani’s grit by performing as Gary Glitter, who was known to be a Glam Rock artist, which is the antipode of Dani’s character; the Red Hot Chili Peppers emphasize Dani’s perseverance and strength by contrasting her with visuals Gary Glitter.

 Still dressed as Gary Glitter in the third verse, Kiedis looks over his shoulders twice. This action highlights how Anthony’s nostalgia is always present as he reflects on her unique name singing, “with a name like Dani California.” This gesture implies that what happened to Dani is still ever-present in his mind. Anthony is not able move on and is constantly reminding himself of the life they once had. Kiedis’ inability to stop aching over Dani had the objective of impressing sentimental thoughts on the audience. Again, the Red Hot Chili Peppers swaying their audience by means of pathos.

In the next refrain, the RHCP use repetition again underscores Kiedis’ timeless love already discussed. The Red Hot Chili Peppers impersonate the Sex Pistols and the Misfits, which performed throughout the 1970s with much passion and enthusiasm. The purpose was to indicate that Kiedis’ feelings for Dani will not wither, nor diminish as the decades pass. The repetition of this theme of timeless love was intended to woo the audience through pathos.

During the final verse, Chad Smith, the drummer for the RHCP, points his drumstick as the camera zooms in on his deranged face. This coincided the lyrics, “North Dakota man was a gunnin’ for the quota.” The RHCP paint a clear picture of what happened to Dani as she was murdered.  The drumstick analogous to the gun, and Chad’s deranged face to the man who shot Dani, the notorious bank robber, in order to fill a quota. The distinct imagery’s objective to create graphic imagery in order to show how suddenly the Dani’s death occurred.

The remaining refrains rehash the theme of tireless love. Although, what makes the refrain exceptional is the Red Hot Chili Peppers performing as themselves. This means that the even after fame, Dani will forever be a part of Anthony’s identity.  The repetition of the refrain as themselves is meant to act as an exclamation point in order to cement Kiedis’ devotion into the audience’s mind.

By effectively utilizing the music video, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are able to weave a greater story than either the lyrics and the video can create independently. A byproduct of the additional context that is created in the music video allows the RHCP to appeal to more diverse audiences.


Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music video “Dani California:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=4&v=Sb5aq5HcS1A