Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Original Or Snooty?"

In the course of yesterday’s post, I wrote:

“… trying to digest a “replica” brisket sandwich, which bore a passing resemblance to brisket but missed badly on the flavor.”

Then, during the rewrite process, I changed “missed badly on the flavor”to “missed egregiously on the flavor”, believing I had upgraded that sentence fragment, no writer deliberately intending to make their work worse.

But then I wondered.

Maybe I didmake it worse.

At least for somepeople.

Last night, I was reading a book review about the relationship between writing and alcoholism, where, while  explaining her difficulty accepting the democratizing humility at the core of A.A.’s “Twelve Step Program”, a writer/alcoholic confessed, 

“My whole life I’d been taught that something was good because it was original.”

“Original”, in that context reflects the writer’s uniqueness.  And consequently, their literary worthiness.  Thereby proving, by not too distant association, their own personalworthiness, the reasoning going,

If you are not “distinctly original” but are instead “indistinguishably ‘human’”,

What exactly is the purpose of you?

The discovered quote kind of woke me up in my head, reminding me of two things:  The way I was taught to appreciate writing, and following its example, to write myself...

And the hit CBSpolice series Blue Bloods.

I have been wanting to write about this for some time, but I did not quite know how until now.

I am not trying to make judgments here.  What I am considering’s just alternative ways of communicating with an audience. (Though it is unlikely to be the sameaudience.)

Theoretically, I should not likeBlue Bloods.  It is, as Ed Grimley might say if he were a television critic, “as contrived as “contrived” can be, y’know.” 

The patriarch Reagan, is a policeman who rose to Police Commissioner.  His son – Exactly the same thing.   His son’s children– the three males all became police officers (one of them “killed in action”) and the daughter, though not a police officer, is an Assistant District Attorney, so she’s alsoin law enforcement.


Does that really happen that much?

I mean, there areother jobs out there.  

Even if you’re Irish.

Blue Bloodsfans – and they are numerous – do not care about the contrivance.  They like the show.  The Reagans are on the right side of the law.  They eat “Sunday Dinner” together.  They say “Grace.”  Their credo is, “Family first.”

And they talk like regular people.

They are not “smarter than the room”, like the shows that win prizes.

They instead arethe room.

I enjoy Blue Bloods, finding it a welcome break from shows that make me feel slow in the head.  (Obvious but Often Ignored:  There is surprisingly little entertainment value in “I don’t get it.”)

Never ducking a cliché, Blue Bloods, instead, embracesclichés.  

Does that make it “bad writing”?  Dialogue consistent with the educational and cultural levels of the depicted characters? How is that “bad”?

Blue Bloodstalks the way mostpeople, rather than graduates from elite universities, talk.  No slathered-on irony.  No arcane literary references.  No “air quotes.”  (Unless they are mocking people who use“air quotes.”)

Here’s a partial list of what characters on Blue Bloodssay with a totally straight face.

“I’ve got your back.”

“It is what it is.”

“Tell me something I don’tknow.”

“What comes around goes around.”

And many, many more.

And not onceare they facetiously “putting you on.”  

Blue Bloodsis mass entertainment.

And, when it speaks to the audience, it actslike it.

It seems to me we didn’t.  

Believing “something was {only} good if it was original.”

We, of course, wanteda mass audience.  

So why didn’t we talklike them?

Before I began this, I went back and changed “missed egregiously on the flavor”back to “missed badly on the flavor.”

Hopefully, I have learned a lesson.

Though only time will definitively tell.


Did I really need “definitively”?

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