“You Can Be A Hero Too,” Luyuan Li (2016) — Inquiry 2

Writer’s Reflection

I watched the video “You can be a hero too” for the first time in China when it was repeatedly reposted by my friends through social network. I didn’t take it very seriously at first, but my eyes started to tear without warning when the little girl showed up on the street corner in her uniform. I can still recall the feeling of my heart being wrapped gently by a nameless emotion even now. So when I was asked to do the rhetorical analysis on a public service issue of any medium, this video hit me immediately. I watched the video over and over again to listen to the changes of the rhythm of the background music, to stare at the subtle expressions of each character, and to feel the emotional shock as an involver. Even though I still find it powerless when trying to express certain thoughts with language, a foreign language particularly, I will keep refining my words choices as well as the rhetorical analysis process.


In recent years, Thai commercials started to develop fast with its own peculiarity, hitting the stages of world’s most famous commercial festivals as well as touching the hearts of ordinary people. Affected greatly by the culture of Buddhism, the conception of superego is everywhere in the commercials for the purpose of advocating the goodness in human nature. Other than hiring famous people for the potential audiences and public attention they may bring, Thai commercials tend to talk about stories adapted from real-life experiences of small potatoes, in which the characters believe that the predicament in life is just the process of steeling themselves and always appreciate even a little bit of happiness. The simple stories told in delicate details always surprisingly touch the softest part of the hearts of the target audience—-ordinary people. This video named “You can be a hero too” is just one of those clips under the classification of “Watch this without crying” on YouTube——yes, a typical Thai commercial.

The beginning of the video finds a middle-aged man walking out of a messy grey background with little expression on his face. Everything looks like lifeless, slothful and banal, just like the mood on Monday mornings and the life of most people. The guy keeps walking until gets drenched unexpectedly by water from the drain pipe on the roof. He stops with a confused look, surprisingly doesn’t get upset, instead moves a pot of sere plant under the water and then paces on. The hard cheese that only fits in the bottom of the city seems to set a gloomy tone for the video, even though the guy doesn’t react to it as strongly wrathful as most people would do. However, at the moment when water falls on the branches, the music is on. It’s an incredibly lively melody played by the piano, with string instruments making a regular beat. It sounds completely abrupt to the depressing atmosphere of the video, but almost right at the second the screen starts to get brighter. With the music on, he runs to help the old lady with her heavy trolley full of goods, and gives the only drumstick in his plate to the homeless dog that slightly puts its front paw on his thigh. He stops to look at the board where a mother along with her daughter is begging for money to cover the education fees of the little girl, and with great emotional struggle and hesitation he still gives out 2 of the only 3 notes in his wallet. The camera then breaks contact with the protagonist for the first time, focusing on the speechless expression of two bystanders. The restaurateur and the optical shopkeeper both shake their heads for the “blind” kindness of the guy who apparently doesn’t have a lot himself, which to some extents reveals the exact feeling of the audience: In a society full of coldness and selfishness, his effort is so naïve that even looks like a joke.

So far, it’s just the narration of the daily routine of a plain guy until a man’s deep voice raises the question “What does he get in return for doing this every day?” To answer the question, the camera quickly reviews his everyday life for the second time. “He gets nothing,” answers in the background mildly, with the image of him “enjoying” the rice simply with soy sauce, “he won’t be richer, he won’t appear on TV, still anonymous and not a bit more famous…” He feeds his 2 chicks, worships Buddha, passes by the flower pot, helps the peddler lady, and feeds the dog, just as what he does every day. But when he takes out the wallet as usual to give out money for the little girl’s education, he sees only the mother with an empty seat on her side. The background music gradually slows down and completely pauses when there suddenly raises a voice calling “mom”. He turns around to see the little girl on the street in a brand new uniform, with the schoolbag on her back. Time seems to cease. With a smile on her face that can light the world up, the music is on again with a slower but brighter rhythm. The background music here works as the catalyst to evoke the emotional resonance of the viewers, since it’s so hard to keep out of the affair when touched in such a gentle way. The camera zooms in to focus on his face, with the background blurred, the attention of audiences is forced to his facial expression. Being shocked for a few seconds, he smiles with tears in his eyes. It’s an ineffable emotion, a complicated mixture of comfort, delight, and the pride of being a hero in others’ life. The vivid expression on his worn out face makes a great contrast, increasingly embodying the value of his kindness and persistence.

Again the man’s voice says: “What he does receive are emotions.” With the image of smile on everyone’s face, the voice continues to count his reward “He witnesses happiness, reaches a deeper understanding, feels love, receives what money cannot buy…” Thai is probably the mildest language in the world, especially when spoke in a deep man’s voice. Its special rhythm and indescribable peace gently envelope the audiences in the desire to give a big hug to the loving world and to be a hero without halo, which naturally builds the ethos of the article.

The video most frequently utilizes the rhetorical strategy of pathos. After all, emotion is the strongest discourse that can easily raise the resonance of all kinds of audience. Even for people who struggle so much in the society that are numb to the coldness in the world, looking into the little girl’s eyes can still rouse their nature of kindness and warmth. Children are just the gifted creature who can easily break the guard in people’s hearts. At the end of the video, the sere plant appeared at the beginning comes to life again and blossoms beautiful flowers that even attract butterflies, as the appeal of logos proving that even unconscious kindness can make a difference to the world.


Works cite

“Characteristics of Thailand’s Commercial Pig and Poultry Industries, with International Comparisons.” WAR 89 Web. 8 Mar. 2015.

Nguyen, Pham Dinh. “You can be a hero too” YouTube, 8 Apr, 2014. Web. 8Mar, 2015.
“Summary of Unique Characteristics and Challenges Facing Thailand’s Financial Markets IFLR1000.” Web. 8 Mar. 201