Thursday, February 12, 2004

Trends in Newspaper Writing, Part I

What's up with all the affected use of French today?

EXHIBIT A: In an article headlined "But will the 'scandale' stick," Don Martin, National Post columnist, writes, "While it is still early in the unfolding scandale, there's little doubt this mess coupled with..." [Why scandale? We have a perfectly fine English word for this. It's "scandal."]

EXHIBIT B: Meanwhile, over in The Globe and Mail, Simon Houpt starts off his piece on Bernardo Bertolucci like this: "What are we to call an enfant terrible who is no longer un enfant?" And he ends it like this: "[Bertolucci] shrugs, no longer either enfant nor terrible." [Houpt's piece is good, by the way; he took the washed-up revolutionary tack that I did (here and here), but did it with much more tact.]

EXHIBIT C: This is the only bit of French from today's papers that I support. The headline to The Post's sponsorship scandal story was J'Accuse: The Blaming Begins, an ironic homage to what has been called the "greatest newspaper article of all time."

Trends in Newspaper Writing, Part II

You know what else is popular right now? Making allusions to the Lilliputians from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.

EXHIBIT A: My arch-nemesis Jack Granatstein tipped me off to this trend with his Feb. 3 National Post article "Brush Up on our 'Proud History.'". Writes Granatstein: "I readily concede that multilateralism is important to Canada. Small states have always worked together to constrain superpowers, the Lilliputians trying to tie down Gulliver." [Alas, not online.]

EXHIBIT B: Hollinger Inc. COO Peter White's comment piece in today's Globe titled, "Don't Let the Lilliputians Win." Writes White, "In both business and politics, strong leaders rise to the top. I have been privileged to work closely with two undeniably great leaders, my friends Brian Mulroney and Conrad Black. While neither of them ever broke any laws, both have been pursued as if they did. It is arguably in the nature of many great leaders to test limits; what was acceptable yesterday may not be acceptable tomorrow. Overzealous attempts to circumscribe our leaders' actions risks immobilizing them, like Gulliver among the Lilliputians, defeating the point of great leadership." [Brilliant argument there, huh?]

EXHIBIT C-Z: Visit Google News and search for Lilliputians: Harvey Weinstein is Gulliver and Miramax publicists are Lilliputians; The Toronto Raptors are the Lilliputians against the L.A. Lakers Gullivers; John Kerry is Gulliver, while Dean, Edwards, Clark, etc. are the Lilliputians... But the best line -- THE BEST -- comes from Renee Schettler's article on shallots from The Washington Post: "Ever notice how one-week shallots seem to resemble tiny Lilliputians whereas the previous week they seemed to be gargantuan Brobdingnagians? You're not imagining it."

Post-script

Yes. This is the silliest and most superfluous blog post I have ever made.

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