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An Oldy but a Goody – Chleuasmos in the Film “Gone with the Wind”

December 10, 2011 3 comments

Ultimately, how could a project on the term chleuasmos close without offering its readers at least one peek at the workings of chleuasmos in a true classic of cinema history?  Classic, however, does not mean current; therefore, this clip should only be viewed for entertainment purposes.

In the final scene of Gone with the Wind, when Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) has finally had all he can stand of his manipulating and frigid wife, Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) he decides to leave.  Scarlett chases him to the door imploring him to stay and asking, “Rhett, Rhett, if you go, where shall I go, what shall I do?”  To which Rhett looks her directly in the face and replies, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”  he then puts on his hat and walks briskly into the fog.  The End!!!!!     

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=76Aj7lkIHp0#t=46s

Gone with the Wind. Dir. Victor Fleming.  Perf. Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh. Warner Brothers. 1939. YouTube. Uploaded by on Feb 2, 2010. Web. 7 Dec. 2011.

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Chleuasmos in the Film “Scent of a Woman”

December 10, 2011 1 comment

Considered by many as one of the greatest speeches ever delivered in a film, the final oration by Colonel Frank Slade (Al Pacino) in A Scent of a Woman also achieves chleuasmos.

When Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell) appears before the Baird School Disciplinary Committee, charged with being a cover-up artist and a liar for not divulging the names of the three boys who vandalized the headmaster’s office, Colonel Frank Slade sits beside him for support.  As the proceedings wind down, the headmaster, Mr. Trask, is about to expel Charlie for not speaking up, rather than discipline the actual boys who have perpetrated the crime.  The movie audience knows that this is because all the other boys involved have parents who contribute money to the school.  Charley, whose parents are not wealthy, becomes a convenient scapegoat.  However, just as Mr. Trask insults Charlie a cover-up artist and a liar, Colonel Frank Slade speaks up.  In his defense of Charlie, Colonel Slade verbally attacks the very foundation of the Baird School and accuses the school of producing the wrong kind of leaders.  He states,

As I came in here, I heard those words: “cradle of leadership. Well, when the

bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and it has fallen here. It has fallen. Makers of

men, creators of leaders. Be careful what kind of leaders you’re producin’ here.

I don’t know if Charlie’s silence here today…is right or wrong; I’m not a judge

or jury.  But I can tell you this: he won’t sell anybody out… to buy his future!

And that, my friends, is called integrity. That’s called courage. Now that’s the stuff

leaders should be made of.

When Colonel Slade finishes his speech, Mr. Trask stands speechless and the student body erupts in applause.  The Disciplinary Committee acquits Charley of all charges related to the matter.

Once again, achieving chleuasmos does more than raise the ante of the insult.  In most cases, to achieve chleuasmos, the person speaking must have the intelligence to attack his challenger at the very core of his argument.  The intelligence or wit of the reply usually causes chleuasmos as opposed to the insult itself.  In “The Scent of a Woman” Colonel Slade’s chleuasmos does more than leave Mr. Trask thoroughly insulted and without replay, it clears Charlie and allows him to continue with his education at the Baird School.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–IcPqrLDBA&feature=related

Scent of a Woman. Dir. Martin Brest. Perf. Al Pacino, Chris O’Donnell. Universal Pictures. 1992. YouTube. Uploaded by on May 14, 2011. Web. 7 Dec. 2011.

Pink’s Song “U + Ur Hand Serves as an Example of Chleuasmos

December 10, 2011 2 comments

Pink’s song, “U + Ur Hand” offers another representation of chleuasmos.   Though most women have had to ward off some sloppy drunk’s unwelcome advances, Pink cuts right to the quick with her dissuasion.  When “Dick Head” approaches her and puts his hands on her, she responds with a plethora of insults that would cause any man to tuck tail and run.  One can only imagine how a gentleman might respond, or choose not to, when confronted with this barrage:

You’re in the corner with your boys, you bet ’em five bucks
You’d get the girl that just walked in but she thinks you suck
We didn’t get all dressed up just for you to see
So quit spillin’ your drinks on me, yeah
You know who you are, high-fivin’, talkin’ shit
But you’re going home alone, aren’t ya?
‘Cause I’m not here for your entertainment
You don’t really want to mess with me tonight
Just stop and take a second
I was fine before you walked into my life
‘Cause you know it’s over
Before it began
Keep your drink just give me the money
It’s just u + ur hand tonight

The song does not share what the man says, but it does not take much imagination to come up with a list of cheesy pickup lines, and, although, Pink replies a little harshly towards her suitor, she does have a point.  Her trip to the club, at least on this particular night, was not for the gratification of the predatory wolves.  She and her friends have chosen to treat themselves to a girls’ night out and would prefer that the boys just play with themselves.

As in many cases of chleuasmos, this verbal onslaught should achieve the desired effect.  One can hardly envision another man having the courage and/or stupidity to approach Pink and her friends again on this night.

http://www.pinkspage.com/us/videos/u-ur-hand

Dave Meyers, dir. “U + Ur Hand”. Sony Music Entertainment Inc. 2006. 2011. Web. 6 Dec. 2011.

Chleuasmos in the Film “The Sandlot”

December 10, 2011 3 comments

The film The Sandlot demonstrates an excellent example of Chleuasmos.  In this movie, a group of middle school age boys, from a small suburban neighborhood, play baseball.  That is all they do.  They eat, breathe and dream baseball.  In fact, the film’s title derives from their makeshift field, the sandlot, where they play the game from sunup until sundown; everyday.

One hot afternoon, another group of baseball loving boys, from the right side of the tracks, arrives at the sandlot to pose a challenge to the gang.  A rivalry clearly exists between these two teams.  The movie sheds no light on the history of this rivalry, but when the interlopers arrive on their bicycles, wearing nice uniforms, a verbal confrontation ensues.  The two gangs of boys engage in a volley of petty insults escalating along this thread:

Watch it, Jerk!

Shut-up, idiot!

Moron!

Scab eater!

Butt sniffer!

Puss licker!

Fart smeller!

You eat dog crap for breakfast, geek!

You mix your Wheaties with your mama’s toe jam!

You bob for apples in the toilet! And you like it!

This exchange abruptly ends, however, when Ham Porter hollers, “You play ball like a girl.”  With this final comment, the entire group stands in shocked silence; no one knows what to say next.  Clearly, Porter has crossed a line, his arrow has hit the very heart of what all these boys hold sacred and his words have achieved chleuasmos.

Nevertheless, this state of chleuasmos serves a function in the film.  It stops the onslaught of insults between the boys and allows for the intended purpose of the visit to come out.  The rich kids challenge the boys from the sandlot to a ballgame on their real baseball diamond and the plot moves along.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACXta-oH1lU  

The Sandlot. Dir. David M. Evans. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. 1993. YouTube. Uploaded by on Apr 4, 2008. Web. 6 Dec. 2011.

Categories: argument, chleuasmos, film

Chleuasmos in the Film “8 Mile”

December 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Chleuasmos, as represented in the film 8 Mile, not only defines the result of a verbal battle; it also, metaphorically, symbolizes the main character’s coming of age.

The film 8 Mile stars Eminem as Jimmy ‘B-Rabbit’ Smith, a young, neophyte, white, rapper, trying to break into the predominantly black world of Hip-Hop.  The film expresses that one does this through a battle, not by way of a physical fight, but through a verbal sparring match.

At night, in the Hip-Hop clubs of Detroit, rappers “battle” one another with abusive and insulting rhymes aimed at theiropponent.  The contestant who inflicts the most damage upon his competitor rises as the victor.  The ultimate goal is to achieve Chleuasmos by leaving your adversary speechless.  Throughout the movie, B-Rabbit repeatedly loses these battles because his life is so open to scrutiny.  He lives in a trailer with his mother, he works a dead-end job, his girlfriend screws around on him, his best friend is the slow-witted Cheddar Bob, but worst of all, B-Rabbit is white.  All of these “flaws’ are used against him by the rival members of the Hip-Hop gangs, not just in these battles, but also in his real life.   B-Rabbit also views himself as flawed, but eventually learns to accept himself for who he is and expresses this enlightenment in a final battle scene.  In this scene, B-Rabbit beats his opponent, Papa Doc, by rhetorically exposing himself for what he is, white, trailer trash that lives with his mom, whose best friend shot himself with his own gun and whose girlfriend slept with someone else.  He then points out that Doc calls himself a Gangsta but went to a private school, has rich parents and comes from a wealthy neighborhood.  By doing this, he completely unarms Papa Doc leaving him with no ammunition to do battle.  B-Rabbit then tosses the microphone to Papa Doc and says, “Now tell them something they don’t know about me.”  Papa Doc just stands there holding the mic and B-Rabbit has achieved Chleuasmos.  With this newfound understanding of self, B-Rabbit also gains more confidence outside the Hip-Hop clubs, thereby, finding life a little more pleasant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHE0wmgljco&feature=related

8 Mile. Dir. Curtis Hanson. Perf. Eminem. Universal Pictures. 2002. YouTube Uploaded by on Aug 8, 2011. Web. 7 Dec. 2011.

Categories: chleuasmos, credibility, film Tags:

Chleuasmos Overview

December 10, 2011 3 comments

Chleuasmos, as defined by Richard Lanham, is a sarcastic reply that mocks an opponent, leaving him or her without an answer, from the Greek, “mockery, irony” (34).  For a clearer understanding of this rhetorical concept, consider this example.  Sir Winston Churchill, well known for his skillful use of chleuasmos, practiced it often during his verbal skirmishes with Lady Astor.  It seems these two had a history of not getting along.  Lady Astor approaches Churchill at a social function saying, “Sir Winston, if you were my husband, I’d poison your coffee.” To which he replies, “Madam, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.”  Here, Churchill completely takes the upper hand in this parley, and, although Lady Astor’s remark stings, Churchill’s reply trumps her insult completely.  How does one respond to someone saying he would choose death over being married to you?
 Chleuasmos, however, requires more than simply slinging more mud to top your adversary’s sarcastic remarks, attaining it requires the skillful and intelligent use of rhetoric.  In classic cases of chleuasmos, as demonstrated with the Lady Astor/Winston Churchill exchange, the final line that typically stuns and silences one’s antagonist contains more wit than insult.  Most anyone can fire off insult after insult, however, when the taunted counters with a contemptuous response supported with unexpected intelligence, the result is often an opponent left standing, fairly well insulted, but also somewhat in awe of his or her insulter.
 In this regard, chleuasmos also works to put an end to the verbal strife, thereby allowing events to proceed as normal.  Frequently, when one achieves chleuasmos, a moment of stunned silence lingers but then the activity, taking place prior to the verbal altercation, resumes. Therefore, even though, chleuasmos may seem confrontational, it actually serves the opposite effect by ending the bickering.

Lanham, Richard A. A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms: Second Edition. Los Angeles: UCP. 1991. Print.

Categories: chleuasmos, overview