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This place matters

Monday, September 15, 2014

Stop everything! I'm a blogger and I have an opinion!

I read this opinion piece from Slate.com by some lady called Ruth Graham, who is, I'm certain, a total blast at parties. The article, titled Against YA, begins with "read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you're reading is written for children," and it just gets more self-importantly snooty from there. "At the risk," she says, "sounding snobbish and joyless and old... we are better than this." 
As I'm reading this, I'm already formulating an indignant mental defense of young adult literature, until suddenly it occurs to me... that's a really dumb thing to even have an opinion about. Who the hell is this lady, and what difference does it make to her whether I'm reading Harry Potter or Hamlet (because I couldn't possibly read both)? Does she live in some alternate universe where appreciating the majesty of Ulysses can end world hunger or cure cancer? Perhaps our enjoyment of The Hunger Games will cause society to plummet into a dystopian nightmare on par with the dystopian nightmare portrayed in The Hunger Games
I suspect that Graham isn't so much upset that other people fail to read literature with big words and Socially Redeeming Value. I suspect it's more that she wants everybody to know that she does read literature with big words and Socially Redeeming Value, and this makes her better than those of us who choose to read things we enjoy (because God knows that people who enjoy The Fault in Our Stars are totally incapable of also appreciating the scathing social commentary of White Noise). I can't do surgery; I can't end world hunger; I can't boil an egg without first consulting my mother, but god damn it, I can deconstruct the splendid landscape of ee cummings' poetry! I'm the best!
A further rant on this lady's rant: she says that juvenile literature is bad because there's a lack of moral ambiguity and the endings are too emotionally satisfying. Clearly, she needs to finish the Huger Games trilogy. The entire last book is a jangling string of uncertainties and moral ambiguities, and if you show me a person who found the ending of the series satisfying, I'll show you someone who only pretended to have finished the series.

But I digress - I was on the subject of intellectual snobs who think their snobbery is some kind of virtue. Like this twit:
The guy who wrote this caption is a good speller, but a bad grammarian.

So, our income should be tied directly to our spelling ability? In that case, I am due for a big-time raise. And I'm just saying... back in my burger flipping days, by the time I'd got about 50 hours into my 60+ hour work week, I was lucky if I managed not to deep fry my face - stringing letters together to make words would have been asking a lot. Spelling words well doesn't make you a good person. It doesn't make you a good friend or good boss or good funds manager. It makes you good at crossword puzzles. Congrats on that. 
I don't understand why so many educated folk are so insecure that they need to highlight insignificant faults of people they don't even know. That's the sort of thing kindergarten bullies do. So while these geniuses may have the spelling intelligence of a god, their behavior only proves that they have the emotional intelligence of a toddler.

I mean, do I go crazy over misspelled signage? Sure. Do I sometimes carry a Sharpie around in my purse so I can fix wayward apostrophes? Of course I do. Will I argue passionately that this is not graffiti, but a public service? Obviously. This does not make me a better person. This makes me a crazy person. This is not braggable. This does not entitle me to make more money than people who are sane enough to say "although that is written incorrectly, the author's meaning is clear - I cannot purchase fries today."




Related Reading on snooty snobbery (and your daily dose of squee)
Albatross etymology not included
Not smooberry
All your diction dripping with disdain




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