Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3112: John Travolta Chin Holding and Face Touching Idina Menzel at the Oscars - What Makes it Extra-Creepy (PHOTOS)

John Travolta was given a chance at the Oscars to redeem himself for his last year's mispronunciation of Idina Menzel's name. Yet this time he gave everyone the creeps. Indeed, if this video isn't difficult to watch - you have an empathy deficit (no exaggeration). What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis.

Note angle of Idina Menzel's back vs. Travolta's. Also compare their necks - Idina's neck has to be pretty much straight up because of the considerable angle of her back - yet Travolta's head/neck is tilted towards her. Menzel feels invaded and is doing a fairly good job at disguising it (yet all her smiles are feigned) - however for those who know what to look for, her body language can be seen sending beacons of discomfort.

Travolta does not want to let her go - he holds on to her, repeatedly pulling Ms. Menzel close.

And Travolta continues ....

This is so very uncomfortable to watch. Touching another person in such a public context when there is no close relationship. 

Idina Menzel turns away from Travolta - both because of the grand stage and context of the Academy Awards, the camera, etc. - but also because she is emotionally uncomfortable. 

Travolta's hand has also moved up to her cheek and temple region. This is very intimate. Touching in this area is reserved for only those with whom we have affection and love.

Major. Red. Flag.

Menzel continues to look towards the audience, yet Travolta's faux pas continue ...

Travolta then reaches for Idina's chin again to manually rotate it back to HIM - (e.g. "don't look at the audience and the hundreds of millions of viewers, look at ME!)

Chin Holding - Part Deux 

Idina turns away, yet Travolta still holds on ...

Travolta finally lets go of Idina's chin
(this time holding it for 7 seconds)

He still feels the need to touch Ms. Menzel's upper arm - while Idina's fingers are interlaced wtih anxiety.

Now Travolta's hand has moved to Idina's lower back (perhaps even her upper butt).

Face touching - and particularly chin-holding as Travolta did here, when there is no close and loving relationship and basis for true affection - is three (or more) standard deviations removed from normal behavior. These are varieties of false-intimacy. Outside the context of sincere affection, chin and face holding indicates an objectification and even a de-humanizing emotional mindset. Search your memory - such nonverbal signs have even been used in film to underscore evil characters and their malicious motives. Creepy.
See also:

Nonverbal Communication No. 3110: Scarlett Johansson gets invaded by John Travolta - An Awkward Moment from the 2015 Oscars - Body Language Tells

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3111: Dakota Johnson rips into her Mom, Melanie Griffith at Oscars

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2268:  Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kathryn Bigelow & Jessica Chastain - Body Language at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2314:  Naomi Watts Pre-Oscar Interview and her  Body Language of the "Jaw Confessional" and the Sincerity Quotient

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2993: Fight in Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport - Passengers Break Up Homophobic Attack - Threat Assessment Warning Signs

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret No. 1212:  Invading Barack Obama's Personal Space  

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2203:  A Body Language Metric of Intimacy and Affection -  How Do YOU cuddle?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2831: "Walking Contest", Anxiety, Mirroring and False Intimacy