Saturday, January 30, 2010

Misleading Physiognomy?

Growing up in the 90's; Recess was a show/ cartoon in which six students who were friends interacted with their peers and teachers on a daily basis. Their adventures and characters appeared as the stereotypical students that you would find at your own elementary school. There was a jock, a bully, a nerd, a misfit a big guy and a chill kid; along with other students that more or less fit the discription of elementary children.

The reading that was assigned made me think long and hard about what in life could represent a more simplified version of physiognomy. From what I gathered, it is a study and judgement of a person's outer appearance- primarily the face which reflects their character and personality. Which to our eyes and pre-set notions are to appear as "sudden perceptions of truth." I am not sure if this is an actual "science" and I want to argue against this, since appearances can at times be misleading- I think of it as more of a psuedoscience.

Based on the picture above you can basically infer which characters are which. Mikey, the larger of the boys appears as a giant- but in reality he is a softy. He falls under the category of the misleading physiognomy. The rest ( T.J."leader", Vince"jock", Gretchen"nerd", Spinelli"bully" and Gus"misfit/ new kid") all by their facial expressions and body language can be easily read and distingushed as to which personality or character they are.

The artists for this series have done a good job in capturing these realities and traits through this illustration alone. The characters are dressed according to their roles, stand together to infer friendship or kinship of some sort and the their adventures through school are what bring them closer to one another, no matter how opposing their characters are individually.


  1. It is funny to see childhood characters in a new light. Don't forget that Spinelli was a girl that looked and kind of acted like a bully but her name was Ashley. So she is another character that physiognomy is misleading. Remember that many of the characters in the series acted the way that their characters were drawn, but that each of then did have qualities that did not fit their physiognomy.

    Did the show ever address the subject of race? Would that influence the physiognomy of the characters? I think that you have a really strong grasp of the reading, but at the same time you opened the door to so much more analysis on this show that you have not touched upon. This post made think about all the cartoons I watched when I was little and how they influence me now.

  2. I remember this series being a reflection of youth rebellion and independence in the face of adult authority. It's a nice caricature on societal values becuase it seemed like it meshed points of view from the 50's-to the late 80's.

  3. It's funny, as Rachel commented as well, to see a show that I grew up with and reflect on it new meanings within the character's design.

    As Luz described, Mikey's design is ironic and intended for humor, thus go against the idea of physiognomy. As for the rest of the cast,I agree that their physiognomy matched their personalities, and also severed the purpose for the main idea of character design, which is to draw the character's appearance to reflect as much of their personality as possible, due to the lack of time to develop and introduce the character to the audience, which makes the character's appearance crutial in order for the audience to understand and interpit the show.

    I loved that you picked this show to blog about, it's a good relation to a source that most are probablly already familiar with.