Sunday, May 22, 2005

Not Exactly Wordsworth

The opening salvo from Steve Penhollow's Sunday column:
I have been wondering lately what Britney Spears would be like if she were a plumber.

OK, not really.

What I have really been trying to do is translate her genus of pop stardom into plumbing terms.

Let’s say Britney Spears did some single-entendre work on your pipes.

She uses inferior plastic sealant and poor quality pipes and fittings, and after she’s gone you notice leakage.

But before you even think to complain, some other people come in and paint the pipes and hang garlands of flowers on them and build a water feature under each of the leaks and pour scented oils on all the joints.

And suddenly you find yourself not caring so much about the shoddy underpinnings.

Doesn’t that seem like a pretty apt metaphor for how a lot of pop music is put together these days?

First, our stardard caveat: Penhollow is probably a very nice guy.


His columns are getting harder and harder to read.

We get it that Steve's column is a forum for him to express his opinion, but having an opinion does not an opinion columnist make.

He's become the king of the aren't-I-clever non sequitur (the Spears "analogy," for example), and he's got a bad habit of making generalizations about the entertainment business without bothering to offer any examples. Such as:
There was a time in the distant past when entertainers had to know everything if they wanted to do anything.

Decades ago, you could have been reasonably certain that your favorite Shakespearean actor was a pretty fair tap dancer and that your favorite comedian could play a mean Rach 3 on the piano.
Now, is that about him effectively making a point (it doesn't), or about him trying to fill column-inches?

We humbly ask: doesn't Penhollow have an editor to cut back on the excess prose and force Steve to get back to, um, telling the story? And if you were Otha Wallace, Jr., whose new recording business was the subject (ostensibly) of the column, wouldn't you be a bit upset that Steve spent half of it indulging himself and half actually writing about Bell's Recording Studio?

We're aware that his column is called Rants and Raves, but if they're going to let him write whatever suits his fancy, they ought to consign him to the CHEERS and JEERS with everyone else who are equally outraged and in love with themselves.

- - -
A (Related) Media Note:

From Penhollow's column:

“There’s so much talent in Fort Wayne,” Wallace says. “The city oozes with it..."

If we have to hear another person talk about how much talent is in Fort Wayne, we're going to go crazy. We've been here awhile, and, near as we can tell, it's NOT oozing with talent. It is oozing with people who think they have talent. And thinking and having are two very different things.

It's pretty clear that this talent meme is the result of a self-conscious and insecure town (remember the outrage at the Men's Health Magazine designation?) trying to prove to itself that it really does have what it takes. Well, it doesn't.

In the case of Mr. Wallace, his "we've got talent" assertion begs some follow-up questions: You're basing that statement on? The evidence you have for that is?

So do us a favor, folks: the next time someone's interviewed and they can't stop talking about all the hidden talent in Fort Wayne, leave it out of the story.

UPDATE: We're not saying that the Summit City doesn't have some talented people. It certainly does. But the notion that it's chock full of them just isn't true. And when an interview subject says that he thinks that's the case, it's not unreasonable to expect a reporter to ask him to explain why he thinks that. Is it?

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