I've decided to analyze Jacopo della Quercia's article "9 Inventions that Prove Leonardo da Vinci was a Supervillain" on Cracked.com as a potential source of rhetorical tools. As a new media text, the article utilises both word and image - a choice that seems to be a necessity, since the topic is da Vinci's lesser known inventions, which most casual readers cannot mentally picture without visual assistance. Cracked.com relies upon near-controversy and defiance of social norms as the primary aspect of its website, and the accusation that da Vinci was supposedly "a lot less artist and a whole lot more Darth Vader" fits snugly into its reputation niche. However, instead of churning out a story based on shock value alone, Cracked.com peppers its articles with statistics and scientific/historical facts. This article on da Vinci proves to be no exception, being staggering in both the fact that Quercia would make such a claim, and that he has the evidence to suggest at adequate credibility. Photos of various sketches and models of da Vinci's inventions garnish a text that muses upon the violent intentions that he must have had in mind. Along with the riveting topic matter, the tone of the article is likewise intended to be arresting to the reader; in classic Cracked fashion, the writing style is heavily laden with a dry sort of humor, sarcasm propelling the reader's interest.
The intended audience is the casual internet surfer, one whom Quercia assumes would know da Vinci primarily for his art. The writer is also aware that this is a reader who is not momentarily interested in serious, formal writing - he is on a comedy/parody website, after all. The images and dark humor thus act in a manner that would better hold a presumably short attention span. The article is also able to be commented on; readers will often leave their impressions or own two-cents. This interactive atmosphere provides another manner in which a reader might be sucked in - the notion of leaving his own tiny web footprint may be a tantalising enough motivation for some readers to read the whole thing.