Grabbiness: A Critique

When we all first learned about how to write an essay, the very first, and possibly most important section of our essays was the “grabber”. The grabber is the first sentence of the introduction that is supposed to “grab” the reader and make them want to read the rest of the introduction and essay. As I look at the various Theory Makings that we have read and watched, I am realizing that grabbiness is a part of all of these types of media. It can be applied to Theory Makings, but also other types of works.

In the spirit of investigation, I went back and took a look at the introductions and grabbers of Food Inc. and Gasland. I wanted to imagine that I had stumbled upon these films on Netflix on my own, not as part of a requirement for a class, and then see if I think I would have kept watching throughout the entire film. Because after all, that’s what the grabber is supposed to do.

Gasland opened like a horror movie. From the very first moment, I knew that something bad was going to happen. The music was foreboding and the graininess of the imagery was grim. It is easy for viewers to know that the narrator is not going to talk about Natural Gas in a positive light. One of the first scenes in what I’m calling the Introduction is a video of the government talking about Fracking, almost like it was behind the scenes footage from CSPAN. This, to me, was not grabbing at all. That type of thing is frankly kind of boring and could have been used in a petter spot, later in the film. I did, however, appreciate that the narrator explained Fracking and his position on the topic very early on int he intro, assuming that most viewers did not have a great understanding of what he was going to argue.

Food Inc. took a much different approach to the introduction. Almost immediately, it jumped into the beginnings of it’s main argument. However, the narration was overplayed on top of a long credits animation that placed the different makers’ names on familiar grocery items. I thought it was inventive and catchy for about 30-seconds of it, but after that, it began to distract me from the topic at hand. Food Inc. used much brighter colors and cheerier design choices. Those choices effectively created a creepy feeling which for me, was quickly attached to the big, bad food manufacturing companies.

So, back to the main question. Would I keep watching? To be honest, in Gasland, I think I would have stopped watching at the CSPAN section. However Food Inc. kept my attention past the credit series.

This critique of grabbiness can be applied, of course, to our own Theory Makings. What is going to get people to look at / read / watch / listen to our projects? In my opinion, the golden rule is to put the most important information first. This is a shoutout to Journalism where that really is the golden rule. You start with a sentence that encapsulates the entire article so that, if you only read that one sentence, you could get the gist. 

This golden rule is one that I use almost every day in a very common place: email. In work and personal life, I exercise the golden rule of important information by beginning my email with the most important information. (E.g. “Hi Josh, I wanted to follow up on this morning’s creative meeting with some data that I pulled from Tableau to support Jennifer’s initiative….”) This (in theory) trains me to operate that way in everything I write/create.

I hope to implement grabbiness into my own Theory Making by giving the viewers the most important information first.

~ by L on October 25, 2016.

4 Responses to “Grabbiness: A Critique”

  1. Giving you the award for the most “conversational” blogpost. Your post almost seems like a coffee-chat- it’s engaging, ties it external concepts, discusses your progress, and keeps the reader interested through out. Great job!

  2. I think that this blog post is the “most innovative.” I like how you termed and describe the word “grabbiness” and used it to critique the ecology projects that we watched for class.

  3. Best concept! I love the word “grabbiness,” did you coin the term yourself? In terms of content, your post hits home for me because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on how I’m going to incorporate grabbiness into all of the media pieces on my website, and you discuss its effects on you quite well in this post. I actually talk about this a little bit in my own blog post, so I’m glad to see I’m not the only person thinking about grabbiness. Good job!

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