Rhetorical Question and Symbolism in Breck's Last Game

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With a rise in the popularity of online gaming in the last 10 years, there has also been a subsequent rise in phishing, grooming and the manipulation of minors. Breck’s Last Game, directed by David Whayman and globally released in 2019, tells the story of Breck Bednar, a 14-year-old whom was manipulated online over a number of years and lured to a flat by Lewis Daynes where he was brutally murdered. The text employs the use of symbolism, rhetorical questions and imagery to inform the reader of the dangers that lurk online in hope of preventing further deaths to similar situations such as those of Breck Bednar’s.

One of the most prominent and persuasive non-diagetic sounds used by Whayman is the sound of a clock ticking. The viewer is first presented with this sound when Breck begins to speak with Lewis online. The sound remains present in the background and as tensions rise and Lewis begins to manipulate and groom Breck, the time between the ticks shortens and climaxes in an explosion of silence when Breck opens the door to Lewis’ apartment. This highlights to the viewer that Breck’s time is ticking down as it draws closer to him meeting with Lewis. The sound of the clock also is symbolic of and replicates both Breck and Lewis’ heartbeats. As Breck becomes excited to meet Lewis and ‘take over his company’, his heartbeat fastens as the ticking does, alongside Lewis become nervous for the actions that he is going to take place when they meet. Whayman uses the clock ticking intertwined with the audio of melancholic piano music, which brings attention to the sadness of the overall situation, to create an emotional effect on the audience. The audio used prompts the viewer to reflect on their online gaming experiences, and how close they may have potentially come to becoming a victim of manipulation and grooming, in a similar way that Breck was. Whayman’s clever use of sound persuades viewers to be cautious when talking to people they don’t know online and to remain extremely vigilant.

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Another persuasive technique used by Whayman is rhetorical questions. Towards the end of the short film, the words “your online friends” appear against a black background, shortly followed by the rhetorical question “Do you really know your online friends?” This rhetorical question follows up on the overall theme of the film and “knowing” your online friends. Often when young adults play games online, they join parties, discord servers or just talk in game with people they don’t know, and could easily be manipulated to give out information that could harm them and those around them. This rhetorical question forces the viewer to realise that even though they may hear the voice of a stranger, they do not know who they are, what they look like, or what their potentially malicious intentions are.

The overall imagery Whayman uses in Breck’s Last Game consists of many black backgrounds alongside several game type screens. Text consistently flashes on and off the screen generating similar to the way it would in a game. This ties together Whayman’s use of rhetorical questions and symbolism to make the persuasive short film as effective as possible. One key occasion of this is at the end of the 999 call when the screen goes black as if a computer is being switched off. This turning off of a computer could symbolise the “turning off” or end of Breck’s life, which ties in with the colour black, being symbolic of death, evil and aggression. This use of imagery adds a layer to authenticity and encourages the viewer to realise how real and scary these events are, in hope of preventing similar situations.

Overall, Whayman uses imagery, rhetorical questions and symbolism in Breck’s Last Game to encourage the viewer to open their eyes to the dangers of talking to strangers online. It is a very successful campaign with many online gamers starting to recognise these dangers and stop talking to people they don’t know online.

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Rhetorical Question and Symbolism in Breck’s Last Game. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-question-and-symbolism-in-brecks-last-game/
“Rhetorical Question and Symbolism in Breck’s Last Game.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-question-and-symbolism-in-brecks-last-game/
Rhetorical Question and Symbolism in Breck’s Last Game. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-question-and-symbolism-in-brecks-last-game/> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
Rhetorical Question and Symbolism in Breck’s Last Game [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Nov 25 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-question-and-symbolism-in-brecks-last-game/
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