Thursday, August 9, 2007

Worst... article... ever

Humor me for a moment. Take a look at this article about a monster truck mishap in Illinois. It's an AP piece on Yahoo!'s news site, and is likely going out to newspapers and websites throughout the country as I type this. Notice anything wrong with it? I mean monumentally and repeatedly wrong.

I recall from grade school English that anthropomorphism is the use of animal (animist even, in the root sense of the word) metaphor to get a poetic point across. "The fog comes in on little cat feet..." Nine out of 10 school English anthologies have that Carl Sandburg poem to illustrate the point.

To my knowledge that's supposed to be used in poetic license, which is the polar opposite of the writing that's supposed to be in the news. Therefore the monster truck, unless we're literally to believe that it came to life, did not drive itself. It did not go on a rampage. It does not have free will and can't make a mistake. But you'd never know that from...
"A monster truck performing stunts ... the truck drove over and crushed four cars ... "After its third or fourth attempt of rolling over the cars, and getting back down to the street, it appeared to have lost control and at that point careened off to the left into part of the crowd that was watching the event," said City Manager Mark Biernacki. ... After plowing through the crowd, the truck went through a fence ... after the truck's first few passes ... he didn't see the incident but saw the truck performing stunts beforehand..."

Saw the truck performing stunts?! Now that's a trick I'd like to see! Are we so sensitive now that even after a driver does a series of risky stunts and screws up we have to refer to everything people do in a passive voice, humanity a captive audience on the Planet of the Spirit Trucks? Addendum: the article at that URL has been updated to include a few quotes from at least one eyewitness who refers to the driver as the one responsible for how the truck moves. "The driver" did this, "he" did that. One lone sane man...

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