Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dear Keith Olbermann,

Metaphors work much better if you don't explain every intrinsic detail of them, down to what each part of said metaphor refers to in its real world application. That's the whole point of a metaphor, to obliquely reference the situation at hand. This?

Misses the point of the function of the metaphor. As does your even more detailed, possibly footnoted, explanation during Countdown's intro:
"The football is bipartisan action in the time of crisis, this time the stimulus package. The Charlie Brown character is the president. Lucy, pulling the football away - again, is the Republican Party."
Look, Keith, I know you have a tendency to err on the side of pomposity, and I even like that about you. But you know who else had a tendency to err on the side of pomposity and still managed to make a workable Charlie Brown-Football reference? Aaron Sorkin:
BARTLET: You know what you are? You are the Charlie Brown of missile defense. The Pentagon is Lucy.
It was funny, and succinct. And yes, he was able to extrapolate on the details later:
LEO: I'm not familiar with the reference.

BARTLET: Peanuts. Charlie Brown.

LEO: I've heard of them. I'm just not conversant in them.


LEO: I've never read the comics.

BARTLET: Leo, were you born at age 55?

LEO: I know there's a dog.

BARTLET: Charlie Brown wanted to kick a football and Lucy would hold it, except she'd pull it away at the last minute and Charlie Brown would fall on his butt.

LEO: That's funny?

BARTLET: No, but each time Lucy would find a way to convince Charlie Brown that this time she wouldn't pull the ball away. But she would and, once again, Charlie Brown would fall on his butt.

LEO: And that's funny?

BARTLET: It's satirical.

LEO: What's it satirizing?

BARTLET: The DOD bringing you to the Situation Room every time they run a new missile test so that you come to me and tell me how great it works so I'll put money in the NMD system.
because he was a talented guy with a knack for dialogue. You, Keith, you're no Aaron Sorkin. I know that must be hard for you to believe, but you're not. Nor are you writing a drama where conversation is paramount. You're hosting a liberally slanted opinion show; and you've just got to learn to trust that your audience is not made up of Leo McGarrys but of people who have not only read Peanuts but have seen at least one of the holiday specials in their lifetimes. Trust the audience, Keith. We'll do some of the work for you. And if you don't trust the audience and continue to explain your metaphors down to the most infinitesimal detail, I'm going to have to assume that you just really don't understand how metaphors work.


John said...

Hey now, why should the Right have the monopoly on talking down to people and oversimplifying things for the we-don't-take-kindly-to-book-learnin' crowd? That's the crowd that brings in the ratings, after all.
Some days I'm entirely too cynical for my own good.

petpluto said...

"Some days I'm entirely too cynical for my own good."

Those other days, are you asleep? ;-D

Nah, I'm catching what you're throwing. And you're right. I was just appalled. Well, appalled and amazed that one could sound so sanctimonious while discussing a Peanuts analogy.