Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Michael Vick

On August 27th, District Judge Henry Hudson accepted Michael Vick's guilty plea. Shortly afterwards, Vick held a press conference, shown below.

Three types of facial expression activity are most notable during Vick’s press conference. One type is understandably enough sheer nervousness, given the need to face the press and the public at large, let alone the sentencing yet to come, as exhibited by his lip chewing and wetting his lips.

The second type is also understandably enough sadness, as exhibited by lowered head and closing his eyes. He would also seem to be rather shell-shocked and perhaps even depressed because the amount of emotional activity evident on his face is rather low given the situation. Notably, for instance, he doesn’t show any emotion while saying that "through this situation I’ve found Jesus" and in apologizing to his many fans, including "the young kids I’ve let down."

The third type, however, is contempt, which is not so readily explained. Almost all of Vick’s actual facial expressions involve the contempt shown in how the upper left corner of his mouth curls up. Is the contempt shown because of morally rejecting his own actions or for the media circus and the statements he must make, whether he believes them or not?

After all, he does say "I understand it’s important, or not important, what you say, but how you say things," as if to reveal the coaching he’s received prior to making his statement. Notably, he shows contempt while making that statement. Moreover, he shows contempt yet again when he says: "take this opportunity just to speak from the heart." Those examples fit with the contempt Vick shows while making perhaps the key comment: "dog fighting is a terrible thing and I do reject it."

It’s hard not to think some of the reaction is explained by a lack of conviction about the statements he's making. That’s because a) he doesn’t show emotion during the moments he cites Jesus or apologizes to fans; b) the contempt is shown frequently, including even before Vick begins his prepared remarks; and c) because the other emotion he shows, just once, is disgust – in apologizing to people to whom he wasn’t "forthright." There alone the reaction seems most telling of real regret.

Monday, August 6, 2007

ABC's Republican Candidate Forum in Des Moines, Iowa at Drake University

This week is coverage of the Republican Candidates in Des Moines, Iowa. Here is the video:

This is what I call McCain’s very characteristic “puffer fish look.” In response to numerous issues about which he’s vexed that more progress hasn’t been made, McCain’s will display a combination of pressed lips (annoyance), suppressed, ironic smile (puffed cheeks) and an upside down smile (where his chin rises and the mouth pushes up, revealing a combination of anger, disgust and sadness or disappointment).

If Americans vote for the most optimistic candidate (and they most often do), then this debate was generally good news for Romney and Huckabee, the two candidates whose smiling activity was by far the most common among the contenders.

Romney had his tough moments, though, and they came early in the debate regarding abortion. Asked to comment on Brownback’s robo-calls doubting Romney’s pro-life position, Romney showed anger, lapsed into disgust and sadness (lips corners down), and managed some smiles mixed with closing his eyes as if he wished the whole issue would just go away.

Paul, Tancredo and Brownback are the angry, aging men, pushing for change.

Hunter is given to showing contempt for anyone who differs with his views.

Giuliani had enough levity to show mock fear in response to being asked to explain his biggest mistake in life in only 30 seconds; but what’s more characteristic is that the left side of his mouth rises in a sign of disgust as he explains his views and denounces those of the Democrats.

Tommy Thompson has pained, often empathetic expressions of sadness and disgust as he wishes for change.