Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2016 Oscar Acceptance Speech | Analysis

Leonardo DiCaprio is a world-famous actor and climate enthusiast. After several close calls, he finally won an Oscar for best actor. He impressed his way to the Oscar trophy by playing lead role in the film “The revenant”. In his acceptance speech, he first thanks all people involved, and then moves further on to a more political subject; climate change.

First, to analyze his speech, I will use the rhetorical pentagon. When using this pentagon, you come around the basic circumstances, the topic, the writer, the reader, the language and thus the intention, which is the most important factor. It’s a good way to start an analysis, as you get a good grip of the texts true intentions. The rhetorical pentagon is represented in the picture below:

After looking upon the speech from five different perspectives, I can quickly determine that the intention is to inform the public about the dangers of global warming. Maybe his intention is also a bit about thanking a lot of people, but his true heartfelt intention is to stop climate change.

When looking at the speech, that also becomes clear very quickly. It’s if as the thanking part is just something he wants to be over witch before speaking about his most important topic; global warming.

By looking at logos, ethos, and pathos, you can dig deeper down in the speech, and unveil the forms of appeal in which Leonardo uses to sound trustworthy, and to make an impact towards the audience. I would argue that the whole thanking part, which is from line 4 to 11, is represented with ethos. I don’t think that Leonardo has thought about this.

All actors start their speeches with thanking other people, and that is of cause also the most natural thing to do. But thanking others is also a sign of humility, and that makes the speaker more trustworthy. It’s also a very smart thing to build up your trustworthiness before stating your claims.

The rest of the speech, I would argue, is a great mashup of all forms of appeals. By first stating that 2015 were “the hottest year recorded in history” (line 13), Leonardo is using logos as he’s referring to a fact, and thus appealing to our logical sense.

In the next sentence, Leonardo states that they had to move their production to “the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow” (line 14). In this sentence, Leonardo is using both logos and ethos, as he’s stating an example of global warming and referring to his own experience towards the subject.

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