School of Communication
Communication Studies: Speech Communication
symbolic convergence theory, fantasy theme analysis, Texas power crisis, ERCOT, heroes, villains
Bones, Alexandra, "Heroes, Villains, and Blackouts: A Rhetorical Criticism of the News Media Narrative of the 2021 Texas Power Crisis" (2023). Senior Honors Theses. 1262.
The present study sought to determine what social reality news media broadcasts created for their audiences during the 2021 Texas power freeze. The study was conducted through a rhetorical criticism of applying symbolic convergence theory to four communication artifacts from news broadcasts from February 2021. The results of this study indicate three fantasy themes that contributed to the overall rhetorical vision, or social reality, for the audience of the crisis. First, Texas was portrayed as the fallen hero. Second, heroes were identified as active participants in the crisis who represented a large group of people, while villains were identified as passive. Third, there was always someone to blame. Finally, these three fantasy themes led to the rhetorical vision that when established organizations fail, it is up to the individual to take responsibility and step into hero-hood. Given its recency, more research should be done to determine the effects of this social reality on survivors of the crisis.