Text and subtext

Campaign 2008

The balcony scene in "Annie Hall" has Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) and Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) embroiled in a species of conversation that you should get used to for the next ten months. You listen to the speaker's words while reading the meaning of the discourse in subtitles.

Alvy: "So, did you do those photographs in there, or what?"

Annie: "Yeah, yeah, I sort of dabble around, you know." (I dabble? Listen to me. What a jerk.)

Alvy: "They're wonderful pictures." (You're a great-looking girl.)

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Annie: "Well, I would like to take a serious photography course." (He probably thinks I'm a yo-yo.)

Alvy: "Photography's interesting because, you know, it's a new form, and a set of aesthetic criteria have not emerged yet." (I wonder what she looks like naked.)

Alvy: "The medium enters in as a condition on the art form itself." (I don't know what I'm saying. She senses I'm shallow.)

Annie: "Well, to me, I mean it's, it's all instinctive. You know, I mean, I just try to feel it. You know, I try to get a sense of it and not think about it so much." (God, I hope he doesn't turn out to be a schmuck like the others.)

So there you have it. Text and subtext. Our national primer in a new way of listening to the presidential campaign speeches, press conferences, and off-the-cuff remarks till November. A game the whole family can play, along with the media and pundits who are happy to give us running interpretation and analysis.

And one of the best scenes ever written on the doctrine of total depravity, to boot.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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