"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cultural literacy

I'm noticing a disturbing trend in the newspaper copy I edit. Writers are assuming a stunning lack of cultural literacy in readers and dumbing down stories, often to an annoying extent. This week I've seen a food writer decide that in a review of the food at an English Pub, it was necessary to explain that "bangers and mash" was sausages and mashed potatoes. A Canadian Press story on the acquittal of the killer of Trayvon Martin contained this paragraph:

 Trayvon Martin’s brother, Jahvaris Fulton, said on Twitter: “Et tu America?” — a reference to the Latin phrase “Et tu, Brute?” known as an expression of betrayal.
I'm guessing that if an American public school-educated teenager knows enough Shakespeare to make reference to Julius Caesar's dying words, we probably don't need half-assed explanations like this.
I know we all think that nobody reads anymore (which makes me wonder why e-readers sell so well) and that the great unwashed have had their minds dulled by Reality TV and TMZ and video games and Hip Hop culture, but am I now going to have to explain what lasagna is a review of Luigi's Trattoria or explain that when a politician claim some statement or other is the "gospel truth" that he is comparing the statement to the Christian holy book know as Bible?
Are people really getting this dumb?

And by the way, get the hell off my lawn, whippersnappers!


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