Saturday, June 07, 2008

Not Ready for Prime Time: A Self-Critique

Well, I saw the tape of my appearance on KET the other night. And let's put it this way. I'm not ready for the media big time.

Or a lot of media contact in general.

Problem No. 1--Stammering. I go "uhh, uhh, uhh" a lot when I talk. One of the RSI stalkers said something about counting 40 of them during my hour on KET. It was probably more like 200 or 250 for the whole hour. The stammering sounded so bad to me on KET that I'm surprised that I have a lot of success in the classroom. It must be my charm.

Problem No. 2--The Eyes. The first thing that came across on KET, even before I started talking was my moving eyes. I can move my eyes without moving the rest of my body. I also look up in the air when I'm talking as though I were looking for words. I know I do that in class as well. But it definitely looks disconcerting on television.

One of the things I found interesting about Sen. Robert Stivers and Sen. Gerald Neal was that they were able to speak fluidly with a minimum of eye movement, relatively little in the way of hand motions, and few uhhs or othe hesitation sounds. Of course, talking so much to the media helps.

Problem No. 3--The Look. I don't look at myself in the mirror a lot--mostly for shaving, brushing my teeth, and the ten seconds I spend a day combing my hair. I don't like getting my picture taken either. So, it was disconcerting to see myself for an hour straight on television. I have an odd kind of look. It's still easy to see the little boy in me even though I'm well into my fifties. I often say that preachers and priests look like "little boys in old men's bodies." Mrs. RSI points out that I was saying that about myself as well.

Problem No. 4--The Message. Some of the things I said were pretty effective. I made a good point about the ability of African-Americans like Barack Obama to work across both black and white communities. I also had a good response to the questions of "black racism" by pointing out that Hillary was initially ahead of Obama with the African-American vote. But it would have been better if I had been more consistent in my contrariness. I gave into some of the cliches of racial politics more than I should have.

It's kind of interesting. That's the first time I have participated so extensively in the kind of cultural interaction that I normally criticize in my historical writing.

It was an interesting experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems you have proven the RSI stalkers wrong. You are capable of critical self-reflection!