Seth Rogen on Alzheimer's Disease

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For this blog post, I will be evaluating the claims made in Seth Rogen's statement before the US Senate at a hearing on Alzheimer's research on the 26th of this month. In his testimony, he recounts his personal connection to the disease and describes some of the effects that Alzheimer's disease had on his mother-in-law's life. Rogen argues that the governments needs to maintain and increase its acknowledgement of the disease as well as its funding towards research for Alzheimer's. To argue these points, Rogen makes use of the proofs; logos, ethos, and pathos, throughout his statement.
In the first minutes of the speech, Rogen opens with a narrative of his first encounter with Alzheimer's disease. He establishes himself as someone who is closely associated with the disease and understands, from experience, the severity of the illness. His use of ethos makes him a trustworthy speaker on the subject. He also, simultaneously, makes himself relatable to the audience by acknowledging his prior conception of what it meant to have Alzheimer's disease. This, in my opinion, is one of the most important parts of Rogen's testimony. He points out where the general public lacks an understanding of what Alzheimer's entails. My dad was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's this fall, at the age of 54. When I try to explain to others changes I have seen in my dad, it is not limited to forgetting names and losing things. There are so many facets of the disease that no one hears about. As he says,
"Americans whisper the word 'Alzheimer's' because their government whispers the word 'Alzheimer's'. And although a whisper is better than the silence the Alzheimer's community has been facing for decades, it's still not enough. It needs to be yelled and screamed to the point that it finally gets the attention and funding that it deserves and needs."
I definitely agree with Rogen's push to increase the rigor with which Alzheimer's is addressed in government.
In addition to ethos, Rogen also makes efficient use of logos at key points in his statement. He uses facts involving numbers and data to grab the attention of the audience. For example, he mentions a 70% increase in deaths from Alzheimer's disease in contrast to declining numbers in deaths from heart disease and stroke. He also adds in the shocking figure that within 35 years, it is projected that up to 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer's. The use of these figures also helps to contribute to Rogen's use of pathos.
A lot of the emotions that would be expected to be associated with this type of statement would probably be sadness, fear and hopelessness. While these are present in moments of the statement, it is clear that Rogen makes a conscious effort to break up some of the more intense parts of his speech with more light-hearted comments. This helps; again, to maintain the audience's attention and also emphasizes the contrast present between the jokes and the topic in question.
Overall, I think that Rogen makes a good argument. Although I think his claims could have been made stronger with more in-depth backing, I certainly agree with the points he made and think his style was intriguing and effective.

1) In what ways do you think Rogen's argument could have been improved?
2) How would you have approached this type of argument?

3 Comments

For the Alzheimer’s disease argument, I would have approached it in a similar way as Seth Rogen did. Just like Seth Rogen, I personally watched someone I love go through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease; my grandma, Mitzi. Towards the end of her life she was unable to eat or hardly speak due to the disease. However, after talking with my dad, he believes that she probably had early onset years before she was diagnosed. One thing my dad believes is that his dad, Hubert tried to keep Mitzi’s disease in the dark. Perhaps he was embarrassed or maybe he didn’t have enough information to realize what was happening to his wife. I believe that had it not been such a big deal and that if there had been more resources available at the time, she could have lived a longer and healthier life. I know that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s right now but there are programs to help delay the disease from strengthening in the body. If the senate were to pass a bill to give more money to Alzheimer’s research, maybe one day there will be a cure.

I agree with Seth Rogen's argument, because like him I have experienced someone close to me that went through Alzheimer's disease. He approached the situation very well. He used his public image as a comedian and actor to make the audience laugh, but not in an impolite way. He used to break the ice of the situation. He then proceeded to proclaim the severity of the disease, which he hadn’t realized before witnessing the disease first-hand. Mr. Rogen did a very good job of making the audience entertained, without losing the seriousness of the topic. I would have handled the situation the same way if I was him, because he is very good at giving speeches that aren’t too serious. I can’t imagine him giving a totally serious speech, no matter what the topic is. I actually saw this video online before this, and I was a big fan of the video and Seth Rogen’s speech.

I definitely agree with Seth Rogen's argument. Coming from someone who has experienced the Alzheimer's disease first hand and has also worked alongside the Alzheimer's Association, I can say that people do not have the right facts, are not well enough informed about this deathly disease, and this needs to change. One of the first things I learned awhile working with the association was that it's easiest to share your own story to get people talking and donating to the cause. It makes them feel emotional and connected to your story, and almost makes people feel guilty for not contributing. Like Seth Rogen, using ethos is the most effective way to reach people. All of the fundraising events I helped planned all started out with a speech on the effects of the disease and how hard researchers are looking to find a cure, after the basics of the disease are established. A family with either a dying love one, a person with the disease or someone that has lost an Alzheimer's patient spoke about their story. The only way I think Rogen's argument could have been improved was to add in more information on how the Alzheimer's Association can help in the many ways it provides for families and patients of the disease.

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This page contains a single entry by kippx035 published on March 1, 2014 12:00 AM.

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