Everyday Semiotics

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The man with the PowerPoint doohickey

In at least two areas am I negligent: blogging and watching "An Inconvenient Truth." Tonight I have made small penance on both counts [though probably on the latter only to return to this electronic confession box another few months hence to again repent by aloofness.]

I won't go on about the film at this point, since it's all be been said by now. I'll simply note a few details that struck my fancy.

Item one: The woman in the audience who positively swoons as Al concludes one of his rhetorical masterstrokes [she's hard to miss, that is if you can take your eyes of our hero].

Item two: The very obvious overdubbing (at least to a headphone wearer's ears) used to smooth out, abbreviate, and bridge the presentation.

Item three: The relish with which PowerPoint, or whatever its Macintosh analogue, is used throughout. There is of course the delightful showmanship of the scissors lift and the projection screen extension to demonstrate how carbon emissions are expected to go "off the scale" in the coming decades. But beyond that there is an irresistable romanticism suffusing the software as the camera follows our hero offstage and admiringly alights and lingers on his careworn, motionless face as he rearranges slides with decisive, incisive clicks of the mouspad.

Mr. Gore's rhetorical flourish is indeed magnificent; and that is why we forgive his reliving of the 2000 election and his shoehorning of biography into climate crisis epic. Each of the experts cited directly is introduced as Mr. Gore's "friend," a title that endears the expert to the viewer because the rhetor is already endeared to the viewer.

Mr. Gore is shown several times being borne in a greenhouse gas-spewing auto or wandering airports either after deplaning or waiting to board a pollution-enhancing jet; and for this he has been duly criticized. But the rest of us forgive him this trespass as well ... for as he reminds us he's given his slide presentation at least 1,000; and if any of among his other audiences are anything like us, inspired like us, it surely will have been carbon well emitted.



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