Emancipatory Potential, Social Justice, and the Consumption Imperative
In 1993, William Solomon and Michael Messner published a journal article in the Sociology of Sport Journal titled “Outside the Frame: Newspaper Coverage of the Sugar Ray Leonard Wife Abuse Story.” In this analysis, the authors split the types of newspaper coverage of this famous abuse case into two categories. Themes that dominated print media coverage of the case were said to be “inside the frame” (in this instance, stories of drug abuse and alcohol use, and individualized stories of sin and redemption from starting/stopping drugs and alcohol), while other themes remained wholly “outside” of the print media framings of the event (analysis about wife abuse) (Messner and Solomon 1993). When we originally began working on this book together, we were discussing the conceptual work in this analysis, and during the course of our conversation, we linked Messner and Solomon's concept of “outside the media frame” with a term known as the “realm of the unfathomable.” The phrase the “realm of the unfathomable” was coined by the French philosopher Michel Foucault to highlight how particular configurations of power and knowledge intersect to produce a preponderance of certain types of knowledge claims while others are wholly unthinkable, or left out (e.g., outside the frame).
In Messner and Solomons analysis, the “wholly unthinkable” themes stood on the side of social justice frames. Here, the authors recognized the paradoxes associated with limiting the print media coverage about a domestic violence case between a (famous male athlete) husband and wife to themes of drug and alcohol abuse (and themes of individual morality/ sin/redemption associated with drugs/alcohol), without discussing masculinity, sport, violence, or gender inequality. Not all scholars would agree with this interpretation, of course. For example, in Darnell Hunt's book,