Friday, August 5, 2011

Inter-cultural body language. Thumbs up. A Cultural Concept Updated, Garden Variety

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Tracing Cultural Body Language
Take the aberrant tomato .
What language does it speak?  Which digits are ambiguous
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I.  Thumbs up,  thumbs down
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Body language. What is meant by thumbs up or thumb down.  In the East and some cultures, it is an obscenity.  Gestures are not universal in meaning.  See http://westsidetoastmasters.com/resources/book_of_body_language/chap5.html.
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In the West, we have been schooled to think of thumbs up or thumbs down as Roman citizens voting life or death to those battling in Colisseums and which gladiators will live for another day, but is that so? There appear to be several basic meanings to the thumbs up, including its meaning
  • nothing at all, or something else:  'Okay'. Okay? What does that mean? Okay to what? 
  • the number "one";  for some, where a single index finger up is the obscenity, so is never used for 1.  Two would be thumb and forefinger, but never 1 as forefinger alone
  • a "sexual insult";
  • hitching a ride;
  • other meaning, not in this list (no particular implication); a direction. See  http://bernd.wechner.info/Hitchhiking/Thumb/ 
In that list, where is Rome, and the Colisseum? The Gladiators looking up to see their fate?  It didn't happen.  It just didn't happen.  Read the site. The thumb moved in some way, to indicate the fate, but there is no evidence of which way, how, when, etc.
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II.  With the myth of digits de-mythed, how to update the imagery? 
Use color.
Go green. Or red.
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Here we propose a similar idea in vegetative form, not digital:   the ultimate T-shirt, mug, tchotchke, calendar, and other accessory decoration and other use imagery. Our very own, garden-grown Ultimate Tomatic Image to indicate approval or disapproval; or otheer use.
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Hitching a ride.


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We have to show them all to prove there is no glue or other photoshopping involved.
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Thumbs down. Or, enough is enough.
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Greeting card: Now where did I put those glasses ... is this the way to the bar?
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These also, of course, can illustrate other emotions, sorts and conditions.  Greeting card: So sorry, please forgive. Of course! Of course!
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III.  Imagery conveys ideas more strongly than words
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Puerile nonsense aside, simple photographs can associate images with concepts thanks to advertising, political repetition without debate, simply putting images on posters and passing them out to people on buses. Apply grotesqueries to elected persons, for example, to inspire derision. Emotional connection cemented, without providing voters with full transparent facts for their own analysis.
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Can that be countered by education, analysis tools for regular people, to defuse the professional persuaders.  See Unbrink the Nation.
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Or do we need Counter-Tomatoes?
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IV.  Side use:  Throwing tomatoes
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This brings us to the tradition of throwing tomatoes on-stage. See http://www.tomatocasual.com/2008/02/07/the-history-of-throwing-rotten-tomatoes/ 
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Apparently this tomatic fate could not have been imposed on Shakespeare's actors, because there were no tomatoes commonly around at that time.  So, we stay with our new use of the tomato, without advising offensive theatrics, see http://www.tomatoandhealth.com/index.php/magazine/history_article/Modern_uses_of_Tomatoes/
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Tomatic antics. Catch the tomato-throwing festival, La Tomatina near Valencia, Spain, see it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPQCH1b_LgE
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We are drying the seeds.  2012 will plant. What will arise?