I can’t help it. Inside every man there’s locked a puerile little boy. The other day I was on the website of the Catholic University of America. As everyone knows, Catholics have some of the greatest hangups about sexuality in all of Christendom. Like most universities, however, CUA has to appeal to both genders to make ends meet.
In any case, I was looking over the undergraduate programs for a friend and the head picture struck me as impossibly funny. All the more so because it was totally unintentional. Over the past few years institutions of higher education have been using plenty of photos of coeds to attract the guys. That’s just the way it is.
In this photo, however, the two women have inscrutable smiles on their faces as one makes the universal “inches” sign with her fingers. It doesn’t help that there’s a guy sitting right there, not looking their way. On the blackboard behind, although blurry, is the word “tube.” The drawing on the right could be mistaken for a circumcised tube that might be measured in inches.
I’m sure the innuendo was completely unintended. This mise-en-scène, however, says it all. What are the girls talking about? What else could they possibly be talking about? The juvenile mind takes over.
The photo reminds me of Chekov’s Gun. The story goes that playwright Anton Chekov wrote, in several variations, that if you show a gun on the wall in scene one of a play it must go off by the end of scene two or three. Expectations have been laid. The viewer has been primed to expect this.
The lesson here for writers is to pay attention to what you’re saying. Something that’s funny to others but that’s unintentional can cost you. You don’t want to go off half-cocked (that’s a gun reference, in case you’re wondering).
Many writers write too quickly. They don’t proofread or do so too fast. Then the inevitable happens. Two girls get together and snicker over it.