Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Picture Perfect

I saw this album cover at my mom and step dad’s vacation home this weekend, and I was shocked. Not just because now I know their secret (that once they get to Palm Springs it’s time to bust out the gold lamé and sexy 70s tunes), but because we would never see an album cover like this today. That tan line and the creases of skin on the model’s waist and stomach would have been Photoshopped away into this:

Which album cover do you like better?

I like the first one. Britney doesn’t even look real here. She looks like a Barbie doll. A sad Barbie doll. She’s probably sad because she was caked in baby oil and then tarred and feathered. The woman on the 70s cover looks real. She has texture. I can relate to her. I never get my sunscreen exactly right either, and- okay, fine- my waist and tummy might crease like that when I lie on my side.

All this contemplation about women’s bodies got me thinking about- you guessed it- grammar. I was wondering how forgiving we are when we read others’ writing. Not that skin and tan lines are “errors,” but, for the sake of argument, do you get completely turned off if you see one or two minor grammar errors in someone’s writing? Or, on the other hand, does it make the writing more human and relatable? If so, how many and which errors do you consider acceptable?

22 comments:

Krista said...

I am willing to excuse a misplaced comma or pass off a spelling error as a typo, but when adults are spelling "probably" as "prolly", then there is no excuse for that. Mistakes are more forgivable if they appear in text messages, or informal emails, or on Facebook posts. However, writing that the world will see, (such as blogs), or professional writing needs to be checked over for mistakes.

Kelly said...

So true. How have we evolved into such a society that we are held to a beauty standard of perfection? Everyone is a flawed human.

Tere Kirkland said...

I don't even think Britney knows how to spell prerogative. ;)

I do hold different people up to different standards when it comes to grammar mistakes and typos, so I think it's as much the source as it is the setting that matters to me.

Like I barely even notice my husband's text use of "Your" instead of "You're", but I'm seriously hard on myself if I make a grammar mistake that I should know better on my blog.

Thanks for sharing that album cover. It's weird how quickly we've gotten used to seemingly "perfect" images in this age of digital photography. But is there any excuse for not using good grammar in this age of instant internet info? Interesting thought!

Shannon said...

It all depends. Simply grammatical errors don't bother me. Heck, I'm sure there are tons in this comment alone. But major errors (your/you're is a pet peeve of mine) drive me insane.

Melinda said...

I tend to be a lenient when a piece of writing has grammar errors if it was done with a purpose in mind, namely in the name of a writer's voice.

Yet, the ones that I drive me nuts are: 1) Reading about a 20 year old girl instead of a twenty year old girl; 2) There, their and They're being used interchangeably; 3) Your/You're...same thing.

Jeffrey Beesler said...

If the story is extremely juicy, I might be more forgiving of a spelling or grammar error than I would of a story that didn't really hold my interest.

Meg O. said...

I mean, we're all human and prone to typos, but it's far more irritating than a tan line if it is a professional, published work. A blog is way different than a dissertation. I like the '70s tan line, too.

Stephanie Faris said...

Good point. Why do we have to airbrush out imperfections? Because we can? The very things that make us HUMAN are the things now being airbrushed out. Same with our writing. I think the characters in my novel should have flaws. Maybe I don't have imperfections in my grammar (hopefully, although I'm not above using slang sometimes!) but the characters can't be too much like Britney in that photo because readers won't relate.

Liz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz said...

A friend? I will forgive their errors unless they are asking for corrections.

A stranger? I will probably roll my eyes if they make consistent and obvious mistakes.

Myself? I'm brutally hard on - but really only in a work or professional environment.

I think a lot can be overlooked for the sake of voice and style, especially in a creative piece.

The one thing I cannot STAND is the change of tense within a body of work.

James Garcia Jr said...

Hi, M.P. Last year I read a novel by an author that had been highly recommended by a fellow blogger. I bought the e-book version and the formatting was so bad that it totally ruined it for me. I finished the novel, but was so distracted that I couldn't tell you whether there was anything good in the story or not. I felt bad and notified the author. I was sent another properly formatted copy, but the experience was so bad that I have not considered re-reading it. I can forgive a few errors; God knows it is so terribly difficult to catch every little thing. There are several "classics" that have errors, aren't there?
Thanks for asking,

-Jimmy

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I think cold grammar is too much like airbrushing, but I wouldn't say that incorrect grammar is like a weird tan line. I'd say more that personalized grammar, intentionally shifted away from the cold, perfectionistic grammar of English textbooks is the real picture. :)
But that's just me. And sometimes, small grammar mistakes do make it more personal.

Dylan Fitzgerald said...

I think it depends on the context... I do not watch my commas like a hawk when I'm emailing friends and family. However, I saw a grammar error ("different THAN" used instead of "different FROM"-- egad) in an essay in the NYT and had a fit right here at my desk.

Jaya J said...

Talk about real women, I am just back from the Louvre, and the statues of women that were there - all so real and beautiful.

LOLs, and TTYLs, and WTFs, or acronyms without a proper mention in the first place.
It gets me mad.

Rachael said...

What an interesting question. I have always understood standard written English grammar and punctuation, and I sort of assumed for a long time that people who had terrible spelling or grammar just didn't bother to learn it or were stupid (isn't that terrible?). But then I met the guy I ended up marrying, and he has dyslexia. His spelling is all over the place, and he's terrible with homonyms. However, he's a highly intelligent, educated dude, and he has great taste in ladies, so it has really helped me re-shape my ideas on what poor grammar or spelling or punctuation means.

One of my husband's strengths is that he knows that writing is a weakness, so he had me proofread every single one of his papers for college. I think I get irritated at sloppy mistakes at work (I edit legal documents all day) because they signal that the writer didn't bother to make sure it was correct before sending it out.

Also, I absolutely hate it when I get professional correspondence from clients written without a single capital letter.

Amie Kaufman said...

I'll forgive quite a few, but I admit there are a couple of pet peeves that do bring out my cross side--particularly their/there/they're and its/it's. Most other things I'll forgive, because I'm far from perfect myself!

Talli Roland said...

Typos and such are fine, but when it's a repeated mistake -- like 'alot' (my pet hate) or a wrong 'its/it's' or even 'anyways' -- all the way through, yes. It's a turn-off.

Stephen Tremp said...

I'm not impressed by images of women that are touched up. I'm a realists. The former pic is kinda cheesy too LOL! I remember albums from my parents collection like this too.

queenofenglish said...

I'm learning not to have a fit with every missing comma. Misused apostrophes, on the other hand, still send me into a rage! I've been known to sling my tiara!!
Apostrophes are used in only two ways -- to make nouns possessive and to take the place of missing letter/letters in contractions. That's it. THEY DON'T MAKE NOUNS PLURAL!!!!

Thank you for allowing me to vent.

MM the Queen of English
queenofenglish.wordpress.com

Mary Aalgaard said...

I can handle a few errors. They're usually common typos or sometimes run-ons. They're human and normal.
Thanks for the sypathies about our cat. I mentioned your blog on D day in the journaling prompt. I was trying to be the most grammatically correct that I could be, using "whom" which most people think is pretentious.

Duncan D. Horne said...

I'm an English teacher and I can't stand grammar mistakes, even small ones like "She go to school every day..." The small mistakes are the big, glaring ones! I spend my whole life teaching grammar, so I do expect perfection :)

Duncan In Kuantan

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