This Is NOT a Good Thing

I have loved Martha Stewart for a long time.  Mine has been a restrained, platonic, high-thread-count kind of tenderness toward her and, mostly, toward what she represents.  She is one nation, under her massive ego, with linens and good things for all.

I love her magazine, most of all.  I remember coveting a copy that my then-25-going-on-40 step-sister acquired while visiting during Christmas vacation.  As with most of Marthas' covers, it was suffused with color, radiance, and that detached feeling that you get from someone who has a lot of money and knows how to spend it elegantly– the way their hair hangs just so, gathered in the delicate tortoiseshell clip, while they wallow in their crisp clothing as if their molecules were held together by a light breeze.  I think of Audrey Hepburn and her cigarette pants, and I smile/covet/gape.

But my love for Martha may not be able to survive Twitter.  Twitter: shatterer of illusion.

___________

The problem with instant publishing is just that: it is instant.  There are no edits and no anxious PR people standing around, spray-tanning flaws and shrieking nervously for the geeks to move it with the damned Photoshop because time is money, bitches. 

There are no handlers and no managers and no image consultants.

And there is no grammarian.

So when Martha– connected minx that she is– decided to cross over to the cool side and join Twitter, she did so all on her own.

And my vision of perfection has forever been marred by her irresponsible run-on sentence use.

_________

I realize nowadays no one cares about grammar.  This is plenty obvious because I still remember our collective groans and protestations back in AP English when our beloved/behated English teacher made us check out these ancient little books from her private collection and zoom in on such arcane, draconian details such as whether the colons are missing from the time stamp; when do you use 'it's' and 'its'; why it's important to make your subject and your verb agree; or whether "would of" is ever correct (no).

And we AP kids sucked at grammar.  We didn't know what a split infinitive was, or why it's important not to separate its components (<–oh snap!  she illustrates with a non-split infinitive!).  And we didn't know the horror of fragments and run-ons.

Fragments are fun.  The Internets?  Fragment. Abuse. City. Teh awezum.  Really: a sentence may look odiously incomplete to some without a verb, but most people do the fragment thing for emphasis' sake. 

Although I admit, I have seen some pretty bad fragments. Which just want to make me cry.

But run-ons have this choked, harried, mismanaged-mother-of-six quality: they are trying to do too much and the content just snowballs and the bottom line is that you sound like you really need Adderall. Or, alternately, you sound like you're just not very smart.

Sorry.  It's true.  When you don't even know how to parse your thoughts with a period, let alone colons, semicolons or at least a freaking dash or a comma (A COMMA!), for the love of something holy, you don't sound like you know how to write and that speaks volumes about who you are (i.e. not someone who shines with his/her use of language).

So you see, when I read Martha Stewart Living and especially when I read her monthly essay, I assume my paragon of perfection actually writes THAT WELL (if, really, dreadfully boringly).  Now I need to adjust and realize that there is a whole team of editors who make Martha NOT sound like this:

after five days
with the "girls" on our road trip happy to be home and ready for bed
buit not until i finish Genesis a novel about A.I.

still on maine rd trip in movies about to see bruno no idea what its about decorating? any info to share?

it is raining in
maine for the 31st day in a row the moss and woodland is thriving but
the vegetables and flowers are suffering campers too


i am tweeting from the car on a blackberry odd things happen is this perfect technology?

Dining at jean georges with the purina folks do your pets eat purina? tomorrow our blogs are about pet adoption from mobile web

the red camera is
made by the red digital cinema co-very high resolution digital
cinematography finally available at reasonable prices
from web

So yes.  Martha sounds like a teenager, or possibly like a dotty doofus, even as she vacations in her gorgeous Maine bespoke getaway, watches hip movies, uses her BlackBerry and promotes herself and her products.

And now, after having written this, I feel oddly better about myself. 

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This entry was published on July 20, 2009 at 9:59 pm and is filed under Pop Culture, Schoolmarmish. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

8 thoughts on “This Is NOT a Good Thing

  1. When I saw the title of this post on FB, I just HAD to read what you had to say, and oh my, I am so very glad I did. You are absolutely correct in your assessment.
    Twitter commands us to make the very best of 140 characters. It forces us to be concise, to the point, and above all, NEAT. No one wants to read drivel, but poorly written drivel is even worse. I know I would have un-followed this person in a heartbeat, I don’t care who they were. Ugh.
    In fact, I’m going to hunt for her feed, read it, and if all her posts are this bad, I’ll tell her myself.

  2. Love this post. But my first response wasn’t heartbreak. I was just shocked that Martha’s on Twitter and I had no idea! Now I will being following her so I can feel better about myself (any my punctuation) on a daily basis.

  3. Ah, Mme. Meow. You write, and punctuate, so deliciously.
    I’m not one to really get too riled about violations of prescriptive grammar, but, well…bad writing is painful to read. Yikes, Martha. Yikes.

  4. “i am tweeting from the car on a blackberry
    odd things happen
    is this perfect technology?”
    Oh, come on. That’s practically Haiku!
    Martha has successfully created a persona, a mythology, much like Ralph Lauren. Not real, but we often prefer the mythology to the reality.

  5. Vixen on said:

    IMs were the first to promote non-punctuation use (and bad spelling). Twitter simply follows it and makes it worse.
    I refuse to Twitter.
    Even if I were famous, my life is too important for me to be spending time telling evertone else what I’m doing because then I am not actually doing and enjoying it. If I want to share then I set time aside to share.
    Of course, right now I have nothing to share anyway so it’s a moot point.

  6. Jenny on said:

    You know, I just don’t understand the problem with run-on sentences, I use them all the time and they always work for me, even when I really should know better and try to be brief, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. 😉

  7. I, too, love Martha, but her abuse of the English language irritates the bejeezus out of me. I can’t watch her television show because, as soon as she deviates from the script, she wanders into a subject/verb agreement mine field. Very disappointing.

  8. I love Martha, but prefer to worship from afar. I like the glossy version and I prefer to “pay no attention to person behind the curtain.”
    I know what you mean, though. Grammar is a dividing line between classes and generations, the detailed-oriented person and the one who gets the gestalt.
    Let’s take a moment and silently thank that eighth-grade English teacher who pulled out her hair while pounding conventions into our pointy heads!
    -Kellyann

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