Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Controversial Controversy Controverted

Wayland R Good, spokesgoat for quality-of-life campaign group CABBAGE*, yesterday faxed me a press release which I am churning to avoid doing any tedious and expensive investigative journalism. "For immediate release!" he declared. "The ordinary working English-speaking peoples demand a complete moratorium on the word 'controversial', on the grounds that it now conveys precisely as much content as writing the noun it qualifies in ALL CAPS!"

Mr Good asks us to consider the following three popular media senses of the word:

1) Controversial cleric Lucifer Hayter was criticized yesterday for demanding the death penalty for unrepentant redheads. In this case, 'controversial' signifies "hateful whackaloon whose opinions you care about, why would that be, eh?"

2) Controversial reality star Amy Anooki was yesterday branded a crap singer by Bollocks Bill from Notting Hill. In this case, 'controversial' equates to "somebody vaguely notorious, who does not excite universal admiration, which you care about because why exactly, eh?"

3) Controversial boffin Hick Hawkins yesterday rubbished campaigners' concerns that algebra may be a long-game Muslim ploy to keep Western schoolboys so busy with homework, they'll be too weedy to fight back when the jihadis arrive, chiz chiz! In this case, 'controversial' signifies "unimpressed by hateful whackaloon whose opinions you care about, why would that be, eh?"

In none of these cases - so Good claims - is the 'controversy' ever evaluated, because that would be Unjournalistic, and also would raise the question of why there is almost nothing present to bear evaluation.

Further, the only constant he can detect across these senses of 'controversial' appears to be the "there's an argument here which you care about, because I say so!" part.

"There's no place for such an empty, manipulative word in modern journalism!" Good insists. But he admits this might be a controversial position. "I asked Bill from Notting Hill what he thought about it," he recalls, as I phone him to see if I can blag a banana daiquiri out of running this story, "and he said it sounded like absolute bollocks!"

*Complete Authority for Billygoats Bullshitting About Generally Everything

1 comment:

  1. I would love to agree about disagreeing with you or them as the case may be, but I fear that such a confrontational sidestep might be.... oh, dear. There's that word again.


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