As a boy in the South we used a form of signifying (which was on par with today’s Rap) called "Agitating"--the stirring up of trouble for purposes of entertainment.
On "the Streets" of today's inner cities and in today’s sports world "agitating," boast, and/or insult is called “Trash Talking,” “Woofin’ ,”or “Smack.” Whatever the name used, aggressive “Mouthing-off” is done while "getting in-your-face" so as to be humorously disrespectful; intimidating; and generating in the opponent a disturbed mental balance and calmness to the point of creating in them confusion or disordered thinking. Sounds are directed at targets very close to the opponent but by social convention it is accepted that they do not denote attributes which persons actually possess.
Such symbolic distance serves to insulate this exchange from further consequences. Although a heated exchange sometimes signals the first step toward physical aggression, it rarely goes beyond mere verbal dueling. What triggers “Trash Talking” is displaying "Show- Boating" or "Show-Time" type creativity and certain "smack" talkers have a special mental faculty for this. Two essential components are that the performance must be done with flair/flare "style"--and always with a swagger. Its contents encompass the clever use of hyperbole, figurative language, puns and other forms of word-play.
Typically, Verbal Dueling is done in a friendly spirit but it can be done to arouse anger which, of course, always carries the danger of getting out of control and initiating violence.
One type of “Inflammatory” Trash Talking is resorting to offensive language as a form of masquerade in order to hide an opponent's limited vocabulary and/or lack of creativity. Another form is by agitators trying to make victims angry by reminding them of past defeats or of how they collapsed under pressure.
Even their Trash Talking subject matter is somewhat similar to that of “The Dozens” and "Sounding"-- e.g. elaborations on the opponent being overweight, having clothes dirty, or "weird" physical characteristic. A player loses the dueling game when the tormenting insults become more than he can tolerate, and he may seek some form of revenge —usually on the playing field when the duelers are athletes. The heavy weight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, was a master at both the “one up-man ship” and “inflammatory” types. By backing up his Trash Talking with knock-outs he came out looking like a genius.
The process of “Trash Talking” embraces Black manhood fun and its quite different counterpart is the European males' “one-up-man ship.”
Their type of “trash talking” became prominent in sports for the purpose of “manhood” intimidation (fright), based on the belief that an intimidated opposing team cannot see well the Trash Talker’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses. “Mud-slinging” Trash Talking is typical of White politicians, the result of meanness and perhaps the including of vicious profanity -- partly to shock and partly to denigrate another. The push behind the verbal attack is often an inferiority complex that is trying to present as a superiority complex (a façade of arrogance showing as a reality of aggression to mask a sense of inferiority). Their defense mechanisms might show as: “I talk bad about you to make me appear better than you” or “to point out your flaws is to detract from mine.” In schools, some Black youth assume the role of the class clown because, by being in control of the class laughter, the class will not talk badly about you for fear the clown will make fun of each of them. To get their attention, it has to be vulgar. Is this helpful in desensitizing sensitive feelings? Some say at first it causes a “bully ” mentality and gives a superficial toughness. But overtime the Trash Talker becomes more defensive.
Eventually, all who engage in Trash Talking experience an erosion of their self-esteem. If those can be prevented, then to develop the mental discipline to avoid being affected by Trash Talking is a way to develop mental toughness.
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