Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adding "Color" and Personality--Offensively



Today, a colleague pointed us all to a story in the New York Times about trends in weddings.


On the 2nd page of the online version, there is this story (please note the bolded word):


Last September, Scott Sanders, a producer of the Broadway musical “The Color Purple,” decided to have his rehearsal dinner for 40 at a friend’s house near Beverly Hills. Both he and his partner, Brad Lamm, were meeting some of each other’s family members for the first time, so they wanted to put people at ease.

“We wanted to do something that felt like a party, something casual,” he said.

Casual indeed. “We did tequila shots,” Mr. Sanders said with a giggle.

OK, he's gay--we figured that out in the graph where we're introduced to his partner. But it's not until the writer adds the evocative verb giggle that we find out: "he's not just gay; he's fey!" Serious people don't giggle; girly girls giggle.

That's patronizing and snide. Ick. Was it necessary? Even if he did, literally, giggle--do you need to tell me that? Do I even need to know that he laughed in *any*  manner?

I can't imagine they'd use the word "giggle," even for a woman.

I was *going* to say that I can't imagine they'd bother noting any laugh at all, but then I spotted this at the end of the story (Ms. Weiss is a wedding planner):


At many weddings, the bride “has dieted for months, and there she is on the floor,” Ms. Weiss said with a husky laugh, “pigging out, a Krispy Kreme doughnut shoved in her mouth.

But at least that's a slightly humorous comment, and if you leave out the laugh, it might really change the meaning, making Ms. Weiss look rude (though honestly, it's not that necessary of an aside).

But tequila shots aren't inherently humorous, and there's no need to give me all the "color." And particularly not with that word, with its very weighted connotation.

Ick. Just--totally unnecessary.

3 comments:

JD (The Engine Room) said...

I agree. But if the writer had to add 'color', he or she could at least have written 'Mr Sanders giggled' (rather than '...with a giggle'). I'm also a fan of the word 'gigglingly'; it's not used often enough.

TootsNYC said...

Oh, they'd never say "he giggled" instead of "he said." NYTimes style is that you never "laugh" words; you "say" them. (I actually agree.)

There is so much they could have chosen instead-- "with a light laugh," "with a smile."



I agree w/ you about gigglingly--that word needs many more uses.

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