13 April 2012

Great moments in awkwardness

The other day, Jacquelyn Gill mentioned that she found herself swearing more as the defense date for her dissertation drew closer. This struck me as pretty mild. Hey, we're all adults in higher education.

But I got thinking about social gaffes and decisions that are now most often called, "inappropriate."

It was a seminar, of the sort than many departments have. An hour long research presentation attended by students and post-docs and faculty. It was on some advances related to DNA analysis.

As the speaker was going along, he was making some point about discovery or analysis. He started with a black screen, and then revealed part of what was behind it. It was a boat on a beach.

This continued, and soon the image showed that there is an attractive woman standing next to boat. But, like the rest of the image, we don't see all of her at once. And, because it was on a beach, it became plain as more black squares fade away that she is wearing a swimsuit.

As the speaker continued to make points about uncovering new information, this continued, until there was only one last black square on the picture. Across the model's chest.

I was sitting there thinking, "He wouldn't."

He did.

The last square vanished, revealing that the model was topless.

The room was extremely quiet. I'm not sure if he was expecting a different reaction, but after a moment, perhaps sensing the mood in the room, the presenter said, "I didn't mean to offend anyone." And he carried on from there.

Nobody mentioned it the questions, either. I think all the audience members were acutely embarrassed.

I never was quite able to figure out why he felt that including a strip tease slide in a presentation at a biology department in a major research university would be a good idea. The science was actually interesting, and stood on its own without the cheesecake.

But it certainly did give me good fodder for the year in review at the annual department Christmas party.

Be sure to share your best socially unaware moments in the comments!

1 comment:

Mike Pascoe said...

Unbelievable :-/