Robert De Niro stopped an interview with a reporter recently. De Niro accused the reporter — who was asking the actor how he stopped himself from going on “autopilot” during all these silly comedies he does — of using a tactic called “negative inference.” The reporter wasn’t actually saying De Niro mailed it in — just asking how he kept himself from doing it, thereby casting De Niro’s performance in a new light — floating the idea in viewers’ minds that the famous actor might not be giving his all. Negative inference works to suggest something, without actually saying it.
For Eminem’s birthday, TMZ is hanging a classic example of saying something without saying it in its quick little article about how good Emimem looks as he turns 43 (October 17). TMZ features a photo of the 27-year-old Eminem (in 1999) contrasted with a recent pic. Slim Shady does look healthier now — he’d credit his fitness regimen and no longer, you know, being a drug addict for the change. TMZ asks in its headline whether Eminem has “good genes or good docs?” But it doesn’t mention what kind of doctors, and especially doesn’t mention plastic surgery, which is the inference drawn by most celebrity before-and-afters of this type. All TMZ says about Eminem’s looking healthier and leaner more than a decade later is “berzerk.” TMZ ends the short post with “The question is…“, letting the issue — whatever it may be — hang there. Did he or didn’t he?