Frames of Reference
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He framed me!” We usually hear these words when an innocent person is about to be unfairly punished. In truth, we “frame” people all the time—sticking them in categories, choosing what to see, eliminating context. And yes, innocent people get treated unfairly (or overlooked) because of it. Frames fix us in a certain space, time and perspective—focusing our attention but leaving out much that’s interesting and important. The worst is when we frame ourselves, creating personal cages that keep us from exploring unfamiliar realms. “I could never understand science.” “I could never go there, eat that, relate to….” fill in the blanks yourselves.
So how do the frames of race, class (and hair) effect how people see us? USC law professor Jody Armour, author of Negrophobia & Reasonable Racism: The Hidden Costs of Being Black in America, will tell us about NiggaTheory, his ongoing study of the what it means to be a “good” or “bad” Negro, as well as the legal and social consequences of the "reasonable person" self-defense standard, which allows defendants to stereotype a person if his or her behavior is deemed "typical." Combining performing arts and law, he recently produced an interdisciplinary multimedia analysis of social justice and linguistics, Race, Rap and Redemption, with rap icon Ice Cube.
From a science perspective, we’ll hear from Kip Thorne, the Caltech physicist who made the study of time travel legit (though remember to call it the study of "closed time-like curves"). He set off the search for gravitational waves, and wrote two best-sellers: Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy, and The Science of Interstellar.  Kip will explain modern physics' frame-dependent weirdness: How a guy falling into a black hole may see pure vacuum near the hole's horizon, while a gal hovering near the horizon sees an atmosphere of hot particles. For that matter: How one hour on Miller's planet (from Interstellar) can be seven years on Earth.  

And to rip us completely out of our familiar frames, we’re delighted to welcome back Salty Shakespeare, a flashmob troupe of theatrical bandits created by Nancy Linehan Charles, twice winner of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award. Salty was hailed as “best in LA” by LA Weekly, and has performed a one minute and fifty second Hamlet in a crowded downtown elevator (covered by NPR in Weekend Edition), two minutes of Henry V in the line at Starbucks and 45 seconds of Othello in jail. Last summer, the Annenberg Foundation funded them to flash Hamlet at the beach. They aim to disturb the peace, and will likely interrupt your next Latté.
March 8th, 2015