Tropics of Reality Television

Introducing Metaphor and Coloniality through Drones!


  • Terrell Jake Dionne University of Colorado Boulder


rhetorical theory, Latin American decolonial theory, metaphor, coloniality, reality television


This lesson plan introduces students to the rhetorical power of metaphor with a specific focus on the enduring ramifications of colonial thought and practice. In particular, this lesson uses Drones!, a fictional reality television series from the film Sleep Dealer, to help students understand metaphor as a rhetorical device through which humans come to know and shape the world around them. Drones! features predator drone pilots murdering Mexicans who threaten American private water companies. This reality television series tropes Americans as “high-tech heroes” and Mexicans as “bad guys,” among other monikers (e.g., “evil-doers,” “aqua-terrorists,” etc.). These metaphors assist American private water companies in eliminating those humans who hinder their capacity to dispossess Mexico of its water resources. By transforming Mexicans into “bad guys,” Drones! strips them of their humanity and legitimizes their disposability on a reality television series. In effect, Drones! serves as an apt site to consider metaphor as a partisan and consequential rhetorical device—and one notably bound up in the adjudication of power across borders.