Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Crimim* (for Crimin*)

While I have always been an admiring fan of "Weird Al" Yankovic, I haven't really been keeping up with his amazingly prolific career of late. So I was pleased to have been shown a recent clip from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he performed a grumpily grammar-themed parody number called "Word Crimes"—a G-rated, F-graded send-up of Robin Thicke's sexy/sexist and controversial rap song "Blurred Lines." If anybody can pull off "spoken word" poetry about the process of writing, it's a word nerd like Weird Al. (He's downright antic and quite pedantic, wielding grammar as if he were MC Hammer!) He chides older listeners for their "errant" and "incoherent" e-mail and tweaks the tweeters for their childish constructions: "Be, see, are, you are words, not letters," he explains, adding, "Get it together!" He gives us a pass on the "Oxford comma" because, he admits, he doesn't want "all your drama." But then snidely murmurs: "Saw your blog post. It's really fantastic! That was sarcastic. 'Cause you write like a spastic." "Word Crimes" (in contrast to its lurid inspiration) is frankly educational and inoffensively amusing, but it does perhaps push the PC envelope just a bit (by using a word such as "spastic," for example, a slur I can easily imagine a young Yankovic having been called on the school playground). In any case, if Al is ever accused of committing a "word crime" himself, he can always rely on the excellent rhyming defense. Today's typo was caught red-handed, six times in OhioLINK, and 91 times in WorldCat.

(Title card for "Word Crimes" video, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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