"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

18 December 2013

Unreality TV

I rarely watch even milliseconds of Nikita, but I caught the first scenes of the latest episode this evening.  And I found that she talks like too many of my students write:  in vague generalities that tell the listener nothing of value.

Man whose people have multiple machine guns trained on Nikita and crew:  "You have 10 seconds to give me a reason not to kill you."

Nikita:  "We're not here to interrupt your opium smuggling.  We're here to make a deal, but we need to be here temporarily." The end.

If I am the man governing the machine guns, they are now dead.

Not here to interrupt my operations?  Words are cheap.  How do I know this is true?  Why should I believe you?  How did you even know I'm a smuggler?  Who else knows this now that you know it?  Who -- the law or other smugglers -- might have followed you to this location and right now be moving in on my territory?  What is any reason whatsoever that I should trust you on this?  Here to make a deal?  What kind of deal?  With whom?  For what purpose?  What's in it for me that you need this location and no other?  Need to be here temporarily?  Why here, specifically?  Why not any of the other airports you could have chosen?  What's so important about this location for you?  In what way does it serve your purposes -- oh, and what, again, were those purposes?  Why in the world should I believe anything you just said, as it tells me exactly NOTHING OF ANY SUBSTANCE?

Yeah, dead.  Time's up and I didn't hear a single actual reason not to kill you.  Sorry.


R.T. said...
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R.T. said...

I'm not familiar with Nikita, but I agree with your analysis. My generation has been taught a form of English that is completely devoid of specificity and clarity. Our ancestors and our predecessors spoke and wrote with conviction and clarity. We just mumble around making milquetoast half-assertions about nothing.

I saw a video recently of a comedian commenting on this problem. Of course, the audience laughs as though they agree with the comedian. They probably do not. In either case, I did not think it was a laughing matter.


Beth Impson said...

Ross, thanks for visiting. I look forward to taking a look at the video. Pray for us as we continue trying to teach our students the value of clarity and specificity. Oh, and you're not missing a thing by being unfamiliar with Nikita!

ElenaLee (Barn Swallow) said...

Oh, dear. This made me laugh!

ElenaLee (Barn Swallow) said...

(No offense, RT--I hadn't read your comment about how serious this problem is before my comment. However, as a teacher in an after-school program, I've found that laughter is an excellent way to retain one's sanity in the face of human weakness!)

Beth Impson said...

Thanks, Elena! Different contexts allow for different reactions to something like this!