5 – I’ll Have a Manhattan, with 2 ts please

It was Thursday evening, 9 p.m., and one of my favorite TV shows was just beginning.  “Fringe” is one of my favorites because it is creative and well-written, even though some of the graphics are annoying. I’m referring to the latest video software that allows a computer graphics person to apply a three dimensional technique to words on the screen.  From the beginning of the series, I found it distracting to see giant three-D words nestled into a video shot of a scene, but amid the sludge of reality shows and other non-scripted programs, I put aside my annoyance and tried to enjoy the show.

I even convinced my husband to take a look.  He asked lots of questions, and as I tried to explain the premise to him, I realized just how layered and well-written the show really is.  “Is it like The X Files,” he asked.  No, it’s very different, I assured him.

Then the show began.  It opened with a skyline view of New York City.  And there it was, spread across the sky in larger than life, three-dimensional letters, the word “MANHATAN.”  We both laughed and shook our heads at the same time.  “You’d think TV people would know how to spell Manhattan,” my husband said.  For the rest of the program, every time one of the characters said “Manhattan,” we corrected them in unison by saying, “Man-HATE-en.”

Why, you might ask, would I get so perturbed by something as trivial as a simple misspelled word.  I’ve asked myself that same question.  Part of the answer is that every misspelled word and every misused word goes to the dumbing down of America.  We just retired a President who half-wittedly and consistently mispronounced nuclear.  When you’re talking about weapons of mass destruction, the least you can do is get the name of the weapon right.

Perhaps even more irritating than the further dumbing of a culture is the fact that I want the people who earn the big bucks to deserve the big bucks.  Get it right, for Pete’s sake.  Pronounce the words right.  Dr. Phil is notorious for his references to “sending in the Calvary” (FYI, Calvary is a hill outside Jerusalem; Cavalry is the good guys).  Spell the names of obscure places such as Manhattan correctly.  Sing on key if you’re going to walk away with four Grammies and the adulation of every pre-teen in the nation.

Most of us labor every day to do the best job we possibly can, yet we continue to accept and reward poor performance, and it is rampant at the highest levels of politics and entertainment.

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