Friday, May 22, 2009

Anatomy of a Photo-Op

The auditorium is full of people attending a lecture. Just as it ends a door opens, and a a few people in suits file in, followed by some people in casual clothes with cameras and microphones, followed by more people in suits.

The Management walks in, proud of herself as usual, leading two men with the remainder of their entourage. One is overweight, the other obese. After letting the cameramen position themselves, the Management turns imperiously to the audience, takes a mic, and introduces her esteemed guests: a local representative for the riding in which the institution is located, and the government Minister himself. Now, assuming the air of a tour guide, she explains to the Very Important People what they see before them.

She extols the government's virtuous generosity in having provided money for a public institution; she knows that she must; somewhere, sometime, another Management at another public institution will do the same.

The representative offers his congratulations to the audience on their extensive accomplishments. The audience is used to it. He utters some bland platitudes, pausing for applause. The audience knows the script, and reluctantly obliges. He then cedes the floor to the larger man.

The Minister utters more bland platitudes. The audience again obliges. The Minister then offers some selectively quoted factoid about the accomplishments of his government. The audience obliges again. He is reminded by the Management of his generous offer to the audience: the return of a small sum of their own money.

At this, the audience is thrown into extasies. "I'll clap for that!" says one rube, overcome by the Minister's boundless generosity.

The Minister and the representative are once again thanked, and they offer a formulaic farewell to the audience. The cameras leave, and the players exit stage right.

The props, however, remain.

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