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Make a spectacle of yourself? 现眼包

中国日报网 2023-10-31 13:18


Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: “Don’t do it, or you’ll make a spectacle of yourself in front of everyone.”


My comments:

Someone’s going to do something, probably something silly, and the speaker tries to stop them by warning they’ll make themselves look bad. Everyone will laugh at them.

Probably. That’s what “make a spectacle of oneself” means.

A spectacle is an eye-catching display that draws everyone’s attention. An Olympic gymnastics move on the high bar, for example, can be called a spectacle. Indeed, the Olympics itself is a giant spectacle, something that captures the attention of the whole world.

Make a spectacle of oneself, however, is not a good thing.
Well, mostly not, as the expression is mostly negative. It often means doing something silly for the whole world to see. People will laugh, perhaps, but they’ll be laughing at you rather than with you.

For example, back in the day, a classmate of mine once captured the attention of the class by proposing to stand on top of a basketball for 30 seconds. So, he moves up to the teacher’s podium and stepped up on top of the ball, gingerly, one foot a time. Then, he stood up, fully erect. It looked like he was really going to do it. Then the door opened, as the teacher returned to class. The next thing we knew, the boy had slipped and fallen off the ball, flat on his face.

Truly, he’s made a spectacle of himself.

He tried to convince us after class that he would have done it – standing still on top of a basketball for 30 seconds had the teacher not returned – but by then, we no longer wanted to discuss that. All we wanted to do was to go and tell everyone we knew how he fell – flat on his face.

So, summing up, a spectacle is something visually striking, something unusual, notable, entertaining and so forth. Making a spectacle of oneself is doing something spectacular in public. If they come off badly, that’s even better. They’ve truly made a spectacle of themselves by turning themselves into a laughing stock.

Or turning themselves from hero to zero, as they say.

Okay, here are media examples of people who have made a spectacle of themselves, in a good way or bad:

1. From the very beginning of Laura Murphy’s hour-long performance, we can tell what a great deal of work has gone into it. Each element slots in like in a jigsaw – a pastime she really likes, we are told. Even when not making much sense as individual pieces, they all contribute to the full picture.

From a technical perspective, everything is pristine, each segment impeccably executed. The projections on the gauze suspended in the foreground not only give context to the transitions, but provide captions throughout – something that, sadly, in this age of accessibility awareness, is still so rarely seen on a live stage.

The routines at the aerial rope are imaginative and, rather than being mere entertainment, add extra dimensions to the message. When she first climbs on it, with her body held horizontally and enveloped in a foggy greyish glare, her white tracksuit morphs into a spacesuit and we’re blown away by the visual suggestion that there is an absence of gravity.

Her spoken word is raw. Anger, disappointment and the determination to foster change seep through it. She’s unapologetic, in open critique with the government, the Royal Family and a society that hardly embraces diversity, ever so preoccupied with the exploration of the Universe and yet so oblivious to the climate of destruction and the isolation that human beings face on Earth. Lip-sync is used to mock Elon Musk’s race to space. There is also a love letter to her partner Ruby, threaded through the fabric of her words. Nothing is out of place and nothing feels redundant.

A couple of scenes might sag a little – like when she’s hitting a mic with her head inside the cardboard box of a helium canister, whilst the whole of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You plays loudly in the background. They’re a bit like those pesky jigsaw pieces that are all the same colour and don’t seem to fit anywhere, but they eventually do.

This is a show about Laura, the space she’s claiming for herself, the things she feels strongly about and her neurodivergent view of the world she lives in. Indeed, she made a spectacle of herself!

- Review: A Spectacle of Herself, Everything-Theatre.co.uk, August 9, 2023.

2. The New York fraud trial for Trump Org continued today with things getting very tense in the courtroom between Trump’s lawyers and the judge.

Team Trump seems to know that they are going to lose this case, so they are doing everything they possibly can to delay, obstruct, and cause as much chaos as possible.

Trump appeared for the morning session of the trial with his son Eric. He was reportedly much more animated and agitated today than the last two days, at one point wagging his finger at the judge’s empty chair before he arrived in the courtroom. When the judge entered, Trump was the last person in the courtroom to rise.

Trump’s designated attack-dog in this trial is attorney Jesus Suarez. He started by cross-examining former Trump accountant Donald Bender, who had testified yesterday. Throughout the testimony, Trump made a spectacle of himself, loudly groaning while wincing, gesticulating and shrugging his shoulders.

At mid-morning, the Judge announced a 15-minute break. Everyone returned to the courtroom on-time except Trump, and the testimony resumed without him. Trump finally walked in, causing the proceedings to stop for a minute as he returned to his seat.

Suarez continued to ask long-winded questions, repeating himself over and over causing the judge to repeatedly lose patience. At one point the exasperated judge exclaimed, “Jesus!” The judge then told him he was intentionally wasting time repeating the same questions over and over.

Finally, the judge told him to stop repeating the same questions. Suarez ignored him and continued on, causing the judge to interrupt with, “I don’t talk just to hear myself. I’m precluding you from doing this.” That prompted another argument from Suarez.

Suarez continued to disrespectfully condescend to the judge, prompting him to finally respond, “I have a thick skin, but it’s really getting pierced here.” The judge told Suarez he didn’t need to continue with the theatrics and antics since there was no jury there to impress, which prompted more agitated histrionics from Trump.

During the lunch break, Trump ranted and raved to press in the hallway how unfair everything is, before rushing off to the airport to board his plane to leave. He had told the judge when the trial started that he intended to attend this entire week, but it seems he has had enough.

- Trump Trial Gets Heated on Day 3, MTN.com, October 4, 2023.

3. Speaker pro tempore McHenry,

Last Tuesday, after you were designated Speaker pro tempore, you expressed your disappointment about the inconvenient fact that your pal Kevin McCarthy had been removed as Speaker of the House by angrily slamming down the gavel at the House podium.

As I’m sure you can understand, your gavel-slamming tantrum caused many of us to wonder why a United States Congressman who has everything anyone could ever want, including a good education, money, power, and privilege, would act up like a fifth-grader who didn’t get his turn at tetherball on a playground.

You see, we clearly understand that while it’s normal to get upset when one doesn’t get his way, it’s not normal for a member of Congress to become so angry he slams down a gavel, especially in front of millions of voters.

Now, those sincerely concerned about your ability to serve the best interests of your constituents in North Carolina's 10th congressional district would like to suggest you openly and honestly examine the underlying causes of your ignominious conduct.

You might suffer from depression, which could cause you to become angry or even enraged by relatively trivial disappointments like your chum’s dismissal from his former position of power, privilege, and wealth to his current position that compels him to give up $49,500.00 in annual pay and makes him much less powerful and privileged and therefore less worthy of media attention.

Or, you might be living with Intermittent explosive disorder (IED), which can cause you to become infuriated whenever you feel provoked by a perceived affront or someone disagrees with you, or you’re dissatisfied like you were last Tuesday when you made a spectacle of yourself by smashing down a gavel simply because you didn’t get your way.


After all, Representative McHenry, no credible public servant should ever behave like you did last Tuesday.

- How is McHenry’s Man Tantrum Governing? By Davy Z Jones, DailyKOS.com, October 8, 2023.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣   编辑:丹妮)


Person of interest? 疑犯


Snowball’s chance? 希望不大


Sitting target 活靶子


It doesn’t wash 不可信


Break a leg 祝你好运

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