The Best Persuasive Argument of 2015-“Learn to Fly”

December 31, 2015 — 2 Comments

The Best Persuasive Argument of 2015 was not presented in the form of the standard five paragraph essay.

Instead, the best persuasive argument made this year featured 1000 musicians playing the song “Learn to Fly” in a field in order to persuade the rock band Foo Fighters to play a concert in a small town in Italy.

The entire project was the brainchild of Fabio Zaffagnini and his creative team. They named themselves the Rockin’1000 with the tag line: Romanga Calling the Foo Fighters and they extended an invitation to the band perform in Cesena, Italy.

The diary on their website chronicles how they raised $45,000 in order to film their appeal.Screenshot 2015-12-31 22.13.39

Their effort began in May 2014 (“The idea pops out”), and the diary records their emotional responses as the team met each challenge:

  • September 2014-“a miracle is needed!”

  • March 2015-“we launched a cartoon spoken in our regional dialect that explains how to donate and be part of Rockin’1000  (no translations for that, sorry, but we assure you: it’s very funny!)”

  • July 30 2015-KABOOOOOM! “The Rockin’1000 video is out and in a few hours it becomes a worldwide success with more than 10 million views. We’re literally overwhelmed by email, interviews, social media just go crazy!”

  • August 2015-“The Rockin’1000 people just made it, with little money and a lot of passion.”

Consider that a standard argumentative essay has five critical parts, and then consider how the argument made by the Rockin’1000 in creating their video meets each requirement:

PART #1  Introduce the topic of the paper and the thesis statement.

“We needed a crazy idea. We had to organize something that kicks ass worldwide and can be seen by Dave Grohl [of the Foo Fighters]: we will ask one thousand rockers to play one of their songs, all together and at the same time.”

PART #2  Presents the facts of the case:

“The Foo Fighters have not been in Romagna since 1997, ‘it’s time to get them back.'”

PART #3 Prove the thesis with your arguments.

“We got the money, so now we cannot back out, there are no more excuses.”

“Italy is a country where dreams cannot easily come true, but it’s a land of passion and creativity…”

PART #4  Disprove your opponent’s arguments.

“…the budget is extremely tight and we cannot afford many expenses, we borrow anything that is available, we implore technicians to work for free or to be under paid. We need experienced professionals, but the challenge is so cool that we are able to recruit real bigwigs.”

PART #5  End the essay. 

The video: (Fabio speaking) “To be true…this (gestures to musicians) is just to 5 people They just did for one song…your song. Our call is to ask you, the Foo Fighters, to come and play for us…Please… (begging motion)….Make noise!….

(CROWD) Foo Fighters! Foo Fighters!

The video can be seen here:

Meeting the requirements of an argumentative essay is not the reason for writing an argumentative essay, although there are students who are convinced that requirements = reasons.

Moreover, the reason this is the BEST argumentative essay for 2015 is that David Grohl of the Foo Fighters did see the video, and he posted his own video response:

“Hello, Cesena. It’s David,” Grohl said, “Hi. I am sorry I don’t speak Italian, just a bit, a bit. This video was good! Super nice. Thank you so much. We’re coming, I swear. We’ll see each other soon. Thank you so much. I love you. Ciao.” (BBC News)

On November 4, 2015, the Foo Fighters performed in Cesena, Italy, for an audience of 3,000 donors and musicians from Rockin’1000. They opened with  “Learn to Fly,” and invited one of the drummers from the video onto the stage to perform. According to the New York Times review of the 11/4/15 show, Grohl told the audience, “The whole world saw what you did…Millions and millions of people saw what you did. It’s a beautiful thing.”

The 26 million views of this video on YouTube confirms the truth in Grohl’s statement. There will be more views as this video appeal was included in many of the end of the year “best” moments for 2015 (Google). The standard 5 paragraph essay never reaches that kind of audience.

Consider, then, if this was the best argument for 2015, what can students do to persuade someone to take action in 2016…and what format would make the best persuasive argument?

2 responses to The Best Persuasive Argument of 2015-“Learn to Fly”

  1. 

    Thanks for this post! I didn’t know about the video and project, etc. Loved the video and the entire concept. Your post truly shows how a real-life persuasive essay differs from the stock 5 paragraph “model”….a place to start for many but so much more to the idea of persuasion. Really loved the energy in Italy. (Father’s family hailed from there and my brother is a drummer, so seeing all of them was something!)

    • 

      Glad you liked it…the more I followed how they did this, the more convinced I was that this is what students should do (perhaps in social studies where they are supposed to take “informed action”….) Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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