Metaphor fail

This headline puts one in the mood for good news:

The story is pretty much what you’d expect from the title — Indian fashionistas are going nuts for Pakistani designers.  That’s a pretty awesome thing — besides the usual story of mutual gains from trade enriching both parties, the fact that these two countries are getting closer through trade lowers the heat on a fairly significant hot spot.

The reporting, however, leaves much to be desired.

A ferocious confrontation between India and its archrival, Pakistan, is under way – although not of the kind you perhaps expect.

This one pits a host of Pakistani fashion designers, armed with heaps of wafer-thin cotton and lace, against the grimly determined middle-class shoppers of the Indian capital.

Early signs are that while Pakistan has the moral victory, the Indian shoppers have succeeded in driving the designers back, behind chairs, tables and signboards to seek refuge from seething crowds demanding … outfits. Oh, and shoes.

That’s right: The metaphor upon which our reporter, one Stephanie Nolen, has seized for commerce between two nuclear powers is war.  In commerce, both sides gain (one perhaps more than the other); in war, both sides lose (one perhaps more than the other).  These two nations have actually fought real wars — you know, the kind where people are killed — on many occasions.  One would think that such eager trade relations between citizens of both countries (this isn’t just a dreary summit where suited ministers shake hands and smile for the cameras) would merit a more optimistic metaphor.

But hey, we’re talking about a journalist here.  War is optimistic — a chance to pose for the cameras in a Kevlar helmet and flak jacket and really add some marketable experience to the old résumé.  All the better if you can invoke war-reporter tropes and not actually have to worry about getting shot, bombed, mortared, incinerated, or otherwise deadified.

“Sure, fine, I suppose it’s newsworthy that two nuclear-armed belligerents who’re squabbling over ownership of a border province and have a history of religiously-motivated warfare are enthusiastically trading with each other and seeing each other as humans with real wants and desires and things of value to offer rather than as The Hated Enemy… but how can we make this story more about me?

There was an air of barely controlled frenzy in the hall on Friday as shoppers and curious onlookers poured through the doors. The crowds were seven people deep around the more popular stands, and there was a heaving throng trying to get into something called the Designers’ Lounge. Your correspondent is unable to tell you what goes on there; the skills acquired in a dozen war zones could not get her through the door.


5 Responses to “Metaphor fail”

  1. 1 emmageraln
    April 15, 2012 at 10:46

    Reblogged this on emmageraln.

    • April 15, 2012 at 21:47

      Goodness. I think that’s exactly on the line between spam and not-spam. That takes skill, that does.

      Post definitely deserves the attention, though. You’re making me realize I should put more pictures into my own posts. I keep forgetting to even consider it, though.

      • April 15, 2012 at 22:35

        I think that’s exactly on the line between spam and not-spam.

        Yeah, pretty close. As long as they give a link back I’m happy, though.

        You’re making me realize I should put more pictures into my own posts. I keep forgetting to even consider it, though.

        It got a lot easier once I’d accumulated a stock of readily-applicable snarky image macros. Much easier to think “Heh, tactical facepalm, perfect” than “Jeez, I really need an image to mock this appropriately. Some kind of facepalm? Yeah, that’ll work… GIS, here we go.”

        • April 15, 2012 at 23:09

          I’m fascinated by how close they got. I’m pretty sure that if they changed anything at all, it would tip it into definitely spam or not-spam. No backlink? Spam. Anything beyond simply repeating it? Not-spam. And so on.

  2. 5 LittleRed1
    April 16, 2012 at 06:00

    I guess the reporter never visited Felini’s basement during a sale . . . This is a nice example of lazy writing. She can’t come up with a new or at least fresher approach, so hey, let’s trot out a trope that dates to 1948!

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