Monday, April 25, 2011

U - Universal Expressions

Has anyone ever seen the show ‘Lie to Me’?  Back seasons  started airing on French television recently and I gotta say I find the whole thing really interesting (even though Tim Roth is constantly hopping around the screen like he has to pee-  what is with that?) Apparently there are six universal expressions:  sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise.   These expressions have the same effect on a human face, no matter the time, place, or culture. 

It got me thinking about what I would have to do if I had a character who couldn’t speak.  It’d be a great exercise in physical description and finding the emotion based only on how the character ‘looks’ without giving it away outright.  Jessica Bell and Nicole Ducleroir have combined their A-Z challenge in a similar exercise where they've written quick excerpts that display a hidden emotion.  The goal is to figure out which emotion they’re trying to show!  Be sure to check it out!

*CQG*

19 comments:

Dianne K. Salerni said...

The trick I guess would be describing those facial expressions in a clever and interesting way, without over-using the same phrases. (Furrowed brow -- guilty. Raised eyebrows -- guilty. I need to leave the brow area alone.)

I've never seen Lie to Me, but I'm always looking for a good show to put on my Netflix queue. I'll have to give it a try!

Laura Paulin said...

At the beginning I guessed some of their emotions but Jessica got harder and harder each day! Or maybe it was that it was morning. I don't know? And maybe b/c of universal expressions we all struggle with original body language.

Sarah said...

My graduate advisor was one of the old school emotion theorists who believed exactly this--that there are a set of universal emotions that have evolved with humans because each of them serves adaptive purposes (although each of them can be maladaptive as well). I did my graduate research on emotion understanding in children (the short story--kids who recognize these emotion expressions in peers do better in all sorts of ways ... but that's what most people would predict, right?) Great post!

Shain Brown said...

I saw the show back when it first came on, and found it very interesting. We are very peculiar creatures especially when we try to deceive. It is easy to tell a lie, but acting it out requires a lot of voluntary and many times reactionary movements.

Jen Daiker said...

It's funny you say that about the character and what would happen if one doesn't speak.

I have a main character who just came to me about a week ago and told me she won't be talking unless it rains. I found this cool but also disturbing. She isn't sick, she isn't dying, she's just upset at losing her sister's and the fact that no one is listening to her. She opts to stop speaking but when it rains she can hear her sisters and the speaking continues. Talk about a task. Looks like I'll have to resort to some awesome descriptions.

It's all cool though, because the boy she's going to meet is going to have a bad case of insomnia leading to hallucinations. I know, I pick winners.

Old Kitty said...

Oooh I would also add that The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is a most sublime novel where the mute mc expresses all these and more throughout the story.

Take care
x

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Cool idea, though I'm not sure if this is what my 8 yo's English teacher meant when he told the class they are not allowed to write stories with dialogue in it. (Yep, still trying to figure that one out!). :P

Sean said...

Thanks to Lie to Me, I was able to detect that it was indeed my girlfriend who deleted Jeepers Creepers from the DVR before I had the chance to watch it for the 27th time. Pretty sure she ate my leftover Chinese as well...

Rebecca Bradley said...

I love Lie to Me! I also love peoples faces and other tell tale signs for emotions. Even if the character speaks, I think it's important to include these things. It adds depth.

Lauracea said...

I saw Tim Roth demonstrating all those emotions the other day. It's interesting, especially as his mouth only changes a little when he's showing anger and fear.

Laura Marcella said...

Oooo yes, this is kind of like what I wrote about for my H post (http://lauramarcella.blogspot.com/2011/04/h-is-for-holly-hunter.html). In an Oscar-winning role, Holly Hunter plays a mute character in "The Piano." That must've been difficult but she was brilliant. Watching that film reminded me to show a character's actions through more than just dialogue!

Justine Dell said...

Love that show! It gave me some ideas of my own (of course I haven't done anything with those ideas yet. LoL)

~JD

LTM said...

oh, wow! What a cool challenge to yourself. I'm already feeling a little inspiration trying to convey that. Why can't this character speak? Oh, did you see Lydia's post on that--the trauma that can cause temporary loss of speech or something. It was just last week--check it out~

have a great week! <3

Sheila Siler said...

I love that show! In fact, we are currently watching through Netflix Streaming. Great idea about a character, does a cat count? Nice to meet you through the A to Z Challenge.

Donna Hosie said...

I love that show, and Tim Roth even more!

Angela Scott said...

My latest WIP, I actually have two characters who can't speak--an old man who suffered "a fit" (western slang for stroke) and a little boy who after experiencing so much trauma, decides to stop speaking at all. It's interesting to convey their feelings without words--hopefully I'm doing okay.

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

I LOVE this show. I DVR it every week! LOL Great post!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Ooooh, very interesting. I have only seen a couple minutes of the show, and it was in the middle of it, so I had no idea what was going on. This intrigues me as something to fiddle around with!

Jennifer said...

I really like that show...however I was getting on everyones nerves when I kept "lie detecting" them using my new television learned skills.

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