Monday, December 7, 2009

Word Power

Michiko Kakutani's essay "The Word Police" provides a critical look at language and its ability to inspire certain feelings in a reader. She claims that, "the mood of political correctness has already made firm inroads into popular culture." This is so true. Much of the informative media that we process in such a materialistic culture is a product of the over-sensitive aspects of our popular culture. Most writing and "information" that comes from these spheres is centred around celebrities--movie stars, professional athletes, and internet sensations (a hint at our movement towards dependency on web media for information). As this type of journalistic trite is so readily available and consumed, so is the style of language used by the writers.
She also points out that, "no decent person can quarrel with the underlying impulse behind political correctness... but the methods and fervor of self-appointed language police can lead to rigid orthodoxy." Again, this is reflected in the same template-based articles of popculture writers. With little originality and incredible predictability, they spread the latest gossip (both good and bad), and simply outline the details of a celebrity's recent affairs, such as their professional work, the constant instances of relationship infidelity, and the latest nightclubs that were frequented by these people in a drunken and embarrassing state. How stimulating. I'm not a fan of this kind of writing, as I believe that it is only an attempt for a writer to fill words on a page in order to collect their paycheque. But I don't blame the writers for their creative crimes (they work for the Man too!), I blame a society that prides itself more on its elitist morons than its integral politicians (at least the ones that are still around) and innovative thinkers. Sure, publications that cater to everyone's interests exist, but how often do we hear in local news media about these people? Right now, the only things remotely political or science oriented that are talked about are the doomsday threat of global warming and President Obama's latest plane ride/photo op.
When we learn to accept the language for what it is, not what it can be, we might finally be able to shake this thin-skinned attitude towards certain words or expressions that are seen as unfavourable. Sarah Maludzinski also raises this point in one of her posts.

1 comment:

  1. A fantastic MTV symbol. I like how the colors dance.

    To be 'web-media' dependent for our news is particularly problematic as it raises questions about the reliability of our news. Also, as the popularity of these 'internet sensations' grows, they can sometimes sensationalize their stories or focus on stories that are actually trivial for the sake of keeping a high rating.

    This post had a very interesting introduction.