Friday, October 26, 2012

WTFriday: Guns, art, and fancy words

1. Any discussion of American violence and gun control in a foreign publication is bound to generate some heat. The Economist posted a story about the "castle doctrine," a recent Montana shooting, and Stephen Pinker's book on the decline of violence. One insightful commenter had this to say:
"This is why people should own stun guns, BB rifles or paintball guns instead of real guns. They do the same job, just not in lethal force."
Now, it's perfectly legit to have a discussion about the costs and benefits of gun control, and it's entirely relevant to mention that gun owners are more likely to suffer violence than they are to thwart it. But covering someone in blue paint to keep them from attacking is kind of like watching Home Alone in lieu of buying a security system.

2. The Guardian ran an article about an art gallery temporarily replacing art by male painters with art by female painters. In the words of one reader:
So....so very stupid.....how will this help anything other than putting the only militant femenist art gallery out of business......oh yes of coruse, that actually is quite clever. A decision that exemplifies the nihilistic nature of gender politics. Not sure it's art, but I know what i like.
I would not gripe if the commenter merely wanted to say that replacing art by well-known artists with art by lesser-known artists is more likely to reduce the number of visitors than it is to give people a wider appreciation of less-famous artists (although this seems too nuanced for the poster). What gets me is the hyperbole (the Seattle Art Museum is now "the only militant femenist [sic] art gallery," whatever that is). There is also... the issue... of the overuse of ellipsis. Perhaps it is meant... to keep the reader in suspense... or make the reader think... that you're pensive and deep... but it just makes me think that you don't know how to string a sentence (or a thought) together. 

Oh, and look, a dash of faux-intellectualism with a mention of what "exemplifies the nihilistic nature of gender politics." Because you can't talk about modern art without bringing in nihilism. I love fancy words and all, but they're big guns. Use them with skill and precision, and you're a force to be reckoned with. Sling them around with the recklessness of a seven-year-old, and you look like an even bigger idiot. Stick with the paintball guns. Of "coruse."

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