Outsize optimism? 过度乐观


Reader question:

Please explain this sentence, particularly "outsize optimism": "At 25, I still had an outsize optimism about my own capabilities." Outsize?

My comments:

First of all, we are not talking about shoes or feet sizes.

Now, to paraphrase:

When the speaker was young, at the age of 25, he or she had an exorbitantly large amount of optimism about what they can do. In other words, they believed they could accomplish all sorts of improbable things.

And they were, as it were, very unrealistic. Their optimism was outsize or outsized.

Well, at 25, they were still, as it were, young.

Anyways, outsize literally means OUT of normal SIZE, i.e. much larger than normal or usual.

Let's use shoes as an example. If your feet are 25 centimeters in length and you wear 28-cm shoes, why, you're wearing outsized shoes, which are enormously too large.

Out as in outfight, outperform, outsmart, meaning exceeding or surpassing others. If you outperform all your classmates in an exam, for example, you have the best grades.

You may also have heard of someone being described as having an outsize or outsized ego. In this case, this someone also has a much higher opinion of themselves than perhaps other people give them credit for. In other words, he or she consider themselves to be far more esteemed or important than others consider them to be.

Outsize, I may add, is the same as outsized, which is American English. Both are used as adjective, as shown in the following media examples:

1. SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL, pop stars have tried to cross the rickety bridge from the music world to Hollywood. The scant few that make it to the other side are rightfully revered for taking the artifice of the stage and translating it to film. The rest fall through the cracks or are still clinging on for dear life, hoping for that one role that will shove them across.

Madonna is an unusual case. To stretch this metaphor out even further, she's made it across that bridge, bringing her charisma, sex appeal, and attitude to films like Desperately Seeking Susan, Evita, and A League of Their Own. But her outsized ego insists that she keep trying to make the journey, resulting in a filmography that is littered with woeful acting, worse box office returns, strange cameos in prestige pictures, and lots and lots of bare skin.

As with most of the artistic decisions she's made throughout her career, Madge's choice of projects seem to strain under the weight of her ego and her desire for respectability. This is how she attached herself to a knuckleheaded comedy like Who's That Girl, the horrific melodrama of The Next Best Thing, and the disjointed Damon Runyon adaptation Bloodhounds of Broadway. She has also let her heart be her guide, starring in the notoriously bad Shanghai Surprise, stinking up the otherwise dynamic Dick Tracy, and agreeing to star in a pitiful remake of Swept Away, just to be close to the man in her life at the time (Sean Penn, Warren Beatty, and Guy Ritchie, respectively).

What Madonna has never seemed to realize is that she only ever succeeds on the silver screen when she's playing some version of herself. When Desperately Seeking Susan was filmed, she was the titular Susan, all mesh tank tops and Wayfarers as she sashayed through the Lower East Side. She flexed her working-class muscles to portray a tough-as-nails female baseball player in A League of Their Own. And there's no way in Evita that she could have missed the correlation between playing the adored first lady of Argentina and being an arena-pop superstar. Naturally, then, Madonna's best onscreen work is when she reveals her behind-the-scenes self in the 1991 documentary Truth or Dare.

The trouble with Madonna nowadays is that every cinematic move she makes appears as calculated and rehearsed as her live performances. She leaves nothing to chance, which may be good for her celebrity but it's bad for an acting career. Try as she might, Madonna may never be herself on film again.

- The Woeful Cinematic Career of Madonna, PortlandMercury.com, October 14, 2015.

2. Amid the flurry of criticism over President Donald Trump’s response to the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, one of his most vocal defenders offered a proposition in his defense.

How could Trump be a racist, Katrina Pierson wanted to know, if he supported the first mainstream black candidate’s campaigns for the White House? “A racist would not endorse Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign in the ’80s twice,” she explained to The New York Times.

It was a valid rejoinder, for all reasons save one. Trump never endorsed Jackson, at least according to Jackson.

“There is no evidence at all,” the longtime civil rights activist told The Daily Beast. “I think he promised to endorse David Dinkins [for mayor in 1988] and did not. He never promised to endorse me.”

Jackson ran twice for president, first in 1984 and then in 1988. The first time he did it as a matter of political activism. Jackson felt that black Americans could further their policy objectives if they were viewed as viable presidential candidates. The second time, he won nearly 7 million votes and 11 states in the Democratic primary, and spooked the party establishment. Virtually no white Democratic official backed his campaigns outside a youngish ex-mayor of Burlington, Vermont, named Bernie Sanders.

Trump wasn’t opposed. As Pierson pointed out in an email to The Daily Beast, Jackson would go on to praise him a decade later for attending a campaign-related “business meeting” in New York at a time when “many others thought it was laughable or something to avoid.”

But the relationship between the two men was predominantly in the 1990s, according to Jackson. It was then that Trump rented Jackson office space as part of a project to get more minorities in Wall Street jobs, which he had undertaken with the help of President Clinton and business leaders.

“We would be at the boxing matches to see [Mike] Tyson or Sugar Ray Leonard,” Jackson said. “He would be there. That’s all I know about him, really.”

Trump, by the late ’90s, was actually quite well-regarded in the black community, owing largely to an outsize image and reputation. A Fortune article from 1999 cited an 800-person survey conducted by pollsters in Florida that had Trump with a 67 percent favorable rating among black voters. Culturally, he was ubiquitous, appearing in commercials, television sitcoms, and often referenced in rap songs.

- Jesse Jackson: Donald Trump Endorsing Me Is Fake News, TheDailyBeast.com, August 22, 2017.

3. Delta’s $1.6 billion in profit sharing paid to employees this week – a record for a U.S.-based company - will have an even bigger impact on local communities than the already sizeable number suggests.

“Profit sharing by corporations is one of the best ways to help a local economy,” said Emory University economist Jeff Rosensweig. “Although some of these increments to income will be saved or spent outside of the local economy, much of it will be plowed into increased purchases from local businesses.”

That spending has an outsized impact because of what economists call “the multiplier effect.”

Rosensweig, professor at Goizueta Business School of Emory University and Director of the John Robson Program for Business, Public Policy, and Government, explained the concept:

“In the ‘multiplier effect,’ the increased income earned by people selling goods and services purchased by Delta employees with their profit sharing payouts is, in turn, spent partly on local products. Then, the people who sell those products will start a third round of spending, and so on.”

Take metro Atlanta, where Delta employs its largest employee population. Delta will pay those employees a total of $571 million this week, and the overall economic impact will be greater than $1.2 billion because the multiplier effect ranges from a factor of 2.2 and 2.5, Rosensweig said.

- Delta’s $1.6B profit sharing makes outsized impact on local economies, Delta.com, February 14, 2020.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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