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Jeff Horwitz’s “Out to Posture” (6/24) had many flaws, unfortunately. The most glaring was the fact that the crack squad of body-language specialists had to base their analyses on photographs of the mayor. A photograph is an instant in time, hardly enough to base an opinion on. It is a good thing that they didn’t analyze a photograph of the mayor in midstep, or they might have commented upon his ability to fly. There is an entire industry based upon the use of photographs to make dogs look as if they are driving cars (or trucks). To truly understand a person’s body language, one must either see a film of that person or at least spend a weekend fishing with him.
The first photograph—the “shrug”—may not even have been a shrug. Williams may have been juggling, conducting a brass band, or flexing his shoulders to knock a small mammal off. Assuming that it was a shrug, the mayor comes off to the experts as a “cocky” “regular Joe” who’s “confrontational” and “helpless.” Certainly body language is an exact science.
The second photograph—“Jesus on the cross”—is uncannily like “the shrug,” except that the mayor’s hands are extended an extra inch or so…just enough to shake off the confrontational, helpless, and cocky vibes that the experts detected in the previous photograph. One of the analysts (Wendi Friesen) must have decided to abstain at this point, probably because the whole thing seemed kind of silly; or perhaps Horwitz’s check bounced.
The third photograph—hands behind the back—is the most annoying to me. Obviously, no one could hold a position like this one for more than an instant without a decade or so of Thorazine. He’s off balance, and his face is contorted into a grimace. Analyzing this photograph would be much the same as analyzing a snapshot of the mayor in mid-sneeze (“His pose communicates, ‘My nasal passages are irritated. I must expel air through my nostrils to jettison the irritants’”). The
analysts decide that Williams is
variously “powerful,” “confident,” “relaxed,” “angry,” and “wanting to retreat.” The only people I know who feel powerful, confident, relaxed, angry, and “wanting to retreat” are cocaine addicts or manic-depressives.
The fourth photograph—“the tattoo”—simply proves that, if a photograph is taken at the right time, any man can appear to be a flaming homosexual. (It is a little-known fact that the reverse is true: Any flaming homosexual can be photographed so that he appears to be a homophobic right-wing male.)
The final photograph is the mayor surrounded by reporters. I don’t want to be completely negative, but in a stressful situation like that, with people bearing down on him, what can anyone discern? Why not send a photograph to the experts of Mayor Williams standing in an ant bed, being pelted with ping-pong balls?
Oddly enough, after disagreeing throughout the article, the experts disagree overall. The mayor, it seems, is a sincere fake who is immature but “willing to accept.” I look forward to a more in-depth article on the mayor’s personality, perhaps created by means of a urine sample or a Ouiji board.