We all make mistakes. Grammatical gaffes have been committed on these pages, dutifully pointed out by readers. I am grateful for these corrections. This helps me to write better and reminds me again just how much I still need to learn.
But there comes a point when one must ask why those who commit a surfeit of mistakes remain consistently employed as writers. I’m sure that these people are nice, that they’re probably good lays, or that they are dutiful drinking buddies. But at the end of the day, one’s work is what counts most.
I have seen a marked increase in basic editorial standards being abandoned and/or disregarded by today’s “journalists.” It is a scenario that simply drives me crazy. If any of these young whipper-scriveners had committed these same mistakes a decade ago, these journos-come-lately most certainly would have been belted across the face by a pugilistic copy editor. And they would have deserved it.
In lieu of chasing these vandals off the grass with a pump-action shotgun and a crazed look in my eyes, I shall instead upbraid one of these editorial felons here.
Nick Nadel is an alleged “comedy writer who has worked for HBO, The Onion, Fuse, VH1, and others”. And I certainly hope that he wasn’t paid money for this embarrassing blog post at AMC TV. (A Google search turns up two editorial names at AMC: Carolyn Koo and Clayton Neuman. But I cannot find emails for them. Typical of corporate sites, there simply isn’t a shred of accountability here. Presumably, Koo and Neuman are too busy cooing their nomina to each other to pay attention to basic grammar.)
Let us count the ways in which Mr. Nadel, a purported professional, has committed an epic fail.
1. Mr. Nadel’s lede begins, “Much has been made over the years of the rivalry,” when he should really be writing, “Much has been made over the rivalry….” Unless, of course, he means to suggest that people have been contemplating the number of years over the rivalry? While I remain a dutiful counter, I don’t think this is the case, seeing as how the post purports to be about a feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
2. Mr. Nadel begins his second sentence suggesting that the subject is “two strong-willed legends.” But his true subject is the feud. This is sloppy. The sentence should begin, “The infamous feud between these two strong-willed legends….” Clarity.
3. The word “duo” is not a plural noun, but a collective noun. But don’t tell that to Mr. Nadel. He seems to believe that English speakers write phrases like “the water were flowing” and offers us, “The volatile duo were set to reprise….”
4. Mr. Nadel doesn’t understand that when you end a sentence with a question mark (in this case, a sentence containing the film title), there is no need for a period.
5. Mr. Nadel is terrible with his commas, failing to separate “illness” and “causing” to make these two clauses clear to readers.
6. Mr. Nadel writes that “Davis and Crawford had bad blood that dated back to 1935’s Dangerous.” But he has phrased this in a way to suggest that Davis and Crawford were more in need of constant venipuncture.
7. Mr. Nadel depicts “a cooler of Pepsi products.” Surely, he means a cooler with Pepsi products. To my knowledge, there wasn’t a machine in the early 1960s that cooled Pepsi products while discriminating against other bottles. Later, Mr. Nadel writes, “It’s unclear whether or not Davis was behind the machine.” He’s right. I don’t know if Davis was standing or hiding behind the machine either. But I do know that she might have been behind the installation of the machine.
8. Mr. Nadel writes, “she was rumored to have toasted eventual Crawford’s departure.” I’m unaware of eventual Crawfords, but I’m almost certain that they eventually depart.
And so on. And so on.
How did this get past the editor’s desk? Sheer laziness from the writer and the editor. Mr. Nadel’s inability to take the assignment seriously. Mr. Nadel’s unprofessionalism. He probably banged this out in ten minutes and didn’t think that anybody was going to look at it. And how does this reflect upon AMC TV’s blogging presence? A visitor like me stumbles upon this post by accident and I know immediately that this is a blog that is neither serious nor worth my time.
Then again, AMC TV brass may have considered that most of its readers don’t care about language. After all, this is a film and television crowd. Therefore, the audience should be regaled with the worst writing possible. But if we insist on poor and incompetent writing, is this not an insult to the audience’s intelligence? And if we insist on Mr. Nadel mangling his sentences for an interesting piece of gossip in film history, is this not a missed opportunity for context and conversation? And others to leap forward with other observations? If the Nick Nadels of our world write so badly, how will others get passionate about Joan Crawford and Bette Davis?
Incidentally, a more cogent article about the rivalry can be found here, which is considerably more interesting than Mr. Nadel’s lazy cut-and-paste from Wikipedia.
© 2008, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.