Rhetorical Analysis of Jezebel.com
For my first project, I am interested in exploring a cultural topic, specifically the lyrical implication of Lana Del Rey’s music, to examine what I consider anti-feminist sensibilities. I therefore chose to analyze Jezebel.com, a website I find this material would be appropriate for based on its content, audience, and agenda.
Layout and Design
One remarkable aspect of this website’s layout is that you are given the option of how you would like to view the pages. If you hover your cursor over the tiny eye in the top right-hand corner, just beside the search icon, out pops three layout options: traditional, two panes, and blog view. All three layouts are similar aesthetically, but allow alternatives to the basic setup. I prefer blog view, which lists the stories by date without a confusing sidebar.
The website has color themes of a light blue and red. The header “Jezebel” is positioned in a large, bold, capitalized font at the very top left over a light blue line, lightly outlined in this same blue color. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the header, which overlaps the next portion in view: a fairly large picture (or video) relevant to the topic below.
The sidebar (when in view) begins with today’s date and the option of what you would like displayed, with a choice between latest stories, most popular, and most discussed. The corresponding stories are displayed one on top of the other with their accompanying photographs or videos, with the titles in a bold red that matches the title. The rest of the text is black on a white backdrop, in a serif font similar to Times New Roman. Article Headings are in a slightly larger black serif, with the author’s name and article category in red.
As far as navigation is concerned, despite the convenience of display choice, I find the lack of a clear home page slightly disconcerting. The home page automatically presents an article, without giving the viewer a home base. In addition, there isn’t a setup for separate pages available. Your only real option is to hop from story to story in random.
Audience and Expectations
Jezebel is self-proclaimed as “celebrity, sex, fashion for women.” We can therefore assume that a large portion (though surely not all) of the viewers are women, the target audience. I would go further and claim that the angle of the website is feminist, liberal, and educated. And I don’t necessarily mean “feminist” in the hardcore sense of the word, rather, simply women interested in news from a no-bullshit perspective that has in mind the contemporary woman’s interests. Jezebel includes gossip, culture, fashion and more, appealing therefore to a range of women and their tastes. As far as expectations are concerned, readers of Jezebel might expect a consistent pro-female outlook that is not afraid to touch on taboo issues.
In analyzing the writing styles present on this website, it is clear that many of the authors put a lot of their personality into their articles. For example, one article begins with “When I was a kid reveling in the rampant consumerism of the 90s, I had fantasies of living in the mall because the mall in my town had a K.B. Toys and a Great American Cookie Company in the food court. It was awesome,” providing a personal anecdote to begin a story about Malls and the Internet. An article on Ron Swansan begins with “Close your eyes and imagine a perfect world. It’s free of violence, free of heat waves. Children from all colors of the Crayola multicultural box gather together to play in beautiful meadows filled with flowers.” This author’s style, similarly, is reaching out to the reader, this time by addressing them directly and providing a tongue-in-cheek kind of tone. The language is not overly simple nor overly pretentious; instead, it is witty, smart, and relatable. Jezebel is not afraid to use slang or colloquialisms, either – because “relatability” is so key, as is personality, this type of language makes serious issues interesting by adding a stylisic quirk to the language. It is not uncommon to find words such as “awesome” or even swear words in the articles. The personality of the writing plays right into the audience expectations of the readers, and makes for an interesting reading that keeps the topic real and engaging.