Everyday Semiotics

Friday, July 11, 2008

A followup to that germ of a thought I left dangling in the last post:

It seems to be that the discourse of both the press conference and the locker room always tries to transcend itself.

The press conference is, for its presenter, meant to be a controlled situation, where information is doled out within implied bounds of propriety. For its audience, it is inevitably an impediment to getting at the heart of the matter, but oftentimes the only avenue into that matter at all. While the presenter holds back, the press pushes hard in the hopes of getting through to something less prepackaged and more satisfying.

The locker room tirade, on the other hand, is something in which the presenter tries to lay bare the deepest emotions and truths before a hostile audience -- the press -- who must inevitably boil down the flurry of statements directed at them if they're to include it in their 30 column inches.

Tirades are a curious thing. It seems to me they are most of them purely internal: When one is angry one envisions oneself dominant over the object of that anger, telling it like it is and settling the score in a masterful coup de grace. But it's rare that such an utterance can ever be externalized, at least in an uninterrupted fashion, because the listener will always feel inclined to interject.

Before a gaggle of reporters, however, (as opposed to a nemesis, a friend, or a lover) interjections are kept to a minimum. This is a function first of surprise -- reporters are used to transcribing and inquiring about external topics, not being the topic of discussion. It may be a function of decorum -- for to interrupt an interview subject who is really wound up is to risk silencing that subject. And it is definitely a function of amusement -- for rants are essentially amusing in their onesidedness and gratuity.

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