Sunday, October 06, 2013

Slimdown update: Personalization

In case you missed it during Syriagate last month, the pronouns are back! Here's Cal Thomas:

In his nationally televised address Tuesday night, President Obama said little that was not already known. By my count he used the words "I," "me" and "my" 30 times in his 15-minute address. He personalizes everything, but delivers little, except uncertainty in his foreign policy.

Counting first-person pronouns per minute, rather than per word, is a bit of a novelty in the long catalog of pseudo-scientific fictions about presidential speech, but Cal is kind of new to the big leagues, so give him a break. The interesting variable here is "personalization," a political phenomenon about which there's already a reasonable academic literature (by which we don't mean the rants of carnies like Victor Davis Hanson and George F. Will). By way of starting to explore which, you could consider a few examples from Thursday of SlimFast Week as celebrated by 
The Fox Nation., shown at upper right.

You grammar fans will notice that any of the three heds might have been truer if only the passive voice had intervened: half-nekkid people apparently were hired to do something, for example. But the core of personalization here isn't that things were done, it's that someone -- that'll be your Kenyan Muslim socialist usurper, if you're scoring along at home -- did them. And given the amount of time he spends on the golf course when he's not plotting to take away those dwindling freedoms you hid along with those last few .22LR rounds you were saving against the zombie horde, he must be one busy Kenyan, because the only thing he hasn't done yet is spit in your coffee.

You might conclude from this that personalization -- who does it and to whom, who avoids it and under what circumstances -- is a pretty cool thing to talk about if you're interested in mediated political communication. Alas, our Fair 'n' Balanced friends don't seem to have figured out yet that they're the punch line.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Picky said...

Although one has to say that, as with some of the more imaginative headlines of the British tabloid press, that lot does at least raise a laugh: a quality not to be disparaged.

6:30 AM, October 08, 2013  

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