Lecture Ten [November 13, 2013]
- Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport – a hotline to report doping. Anonymously call in or
online to report info on. This is gossiping of anything you see or you have heard.
Gossiping institutionalized for regulatory purposes. By definition, hearsay is the legal
definition of gossiping – reporting what a 3 person said.
- Hearsay – a way for gossip to be framed by court, largely inadmissible when providing
- i.e. Rob Ford – originated from a mass of rumors and gossip, and transitioning between
each other. Rumor in particular, defined by factual, of him smoking crack from a picture.
Until he comes out and admits it, just gives rise to a new wave of gossip and rumors.
What is the definition of truth and believability?
o How powerful was that first photograph? Images become more and more
powerful in this world, at the same speed as we understand that images can
evolve and be manipulated.
o Paradox – have increased power but also increased doubt.
- New trend on Halloween. Before it was poisonous candies, or candy with razor blades
and such. Now there is a range of controversies around costumes. For example, white
people painting their faces black.
- Halloween is a strange time. Where we usually tell kids not to talk and take things from
strangers, for that one day, it is encouraged.
- There were several costumes that went viral where backlash was quick in this acting
o i.e. Mother in Virginia, dresses her son up as KKK, picked up by local news
station, and got media attention and harassment for the next 24 hours.
o i.e. Alicia Lynch in Michigan, who dressed as one of the Boston Marathon
bombers. This led to outrage after it went viral, but also death threats, etc. They
mounted a 24-hour online acting crowd collective behavior thing, hackers finding
pictures, posting them on a new Facebook group, etc.
- Classic urban legends that frequented in the 60s-70s – i.e. Clothing from a cemetery
- Urban legends are essentially rumors. A type of story telling and representation that
asserts a particular truth about the world – i.e. safety, security, conduct, men, female, etc.
- The topic can have factual basis, but the way it is told and the extent it is told determines
if it qualifies as a UL
- An urban legend is:
o A story that is substantially false, but is told and often circulated as being true “Substantially” – some variation of what is described in the story may
have happened, but it is not true in the widespread extent or large scale
extent the story suggests
o Somewhat like a rumor, told until it is proven as being true or false
Two parts to a rumor: mechanism and content. UL are like legends in
how it is transmitted – rumors are different in a couple of ways. First, it is
difficult often or takes a long time to prove the authenticity of the UL itself.
A rumor depends on its factual basis, and often rumor can often blend
into gossip. UL can circulate for years or even decades in different forms.
o Can understand urban legends as a particular literary genre – have a specific
form and content, and utilize specific narrative devices.
Genre categorizes how something is told – mode of expression
Six Characteristics of Urban Legends as a Literary Genre
- Does not have to have all of the qualities, but most of them, most particularly the first 4
i. A dramatic story
a. A good tale, simple and concisely written
b. Clever use of coincidence
c. Somewhat unbelievable elements make it more believable
d. Plausible but not fantastic (unlike fairy tales)
i. Strong link w/ fairy tales though – archetypal stories that bring up
fundamental, human, universal themes
ii. i.e. Red riding hood – archetypal themes – dangers of the forest (a real
fear during the 17 -18 century), lost of innocence (taboo themes)
iii. Not all UL are like that
e. Cartoon-like: characters in stories are recognizable figures
ii. A moral or a message
a. Parable-like, with a sense of urgency
b. Often represents a belief in a “just world”
i. “He should have done better”
ii. “She got what she deserved”
c. Present world as dangerous place, presents characters that may not have been
careful, didn’t have a moral standard, etc. iii. Dramatize fears and anxieties
a. Tend to be vehicles where widespread fears and anxieties are dramatized, often
in the case of topics that are otherwise difficult to talk about
b. Are often raced and gendered, and often deal with ideas of “risk”
c. i.e. Safety of children, fear of strangers/others
i. Until early 70s, child abuse was not a problem that had to be acted upon,
likewise with bullying. UL became a way for people to discuss such
topics in a comfortable way.
d. i.e. The story about Reggie Jackson. A period of intense racism – after JFK
assassination, the Black Panther period, etc. White middle-class was genuinely
afraid of black, and particularly young balck men. The idea of a free white women