Long Overdue Rant

One of the things that makes me the most unbalanced (as in “Get the Thorazine Darts!”) is a poorly researched book, television show, or movie involving the military.

I fully accept the fact that it’s a pet peeve and I blow it out of all proportion. Having said that, I have one question that needs to be answered: COULDN’T YOU FIND A SINGLE, KNOWLEDGEABLE VETERAN TO FACT CHECK YOUR STORY/VOICE-OVER/TEXT???!!!!! AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!

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I just spent a teeth-gnashing hour watching a documentary on the U.S.S. New York. Great photography, decent layout of the action, pretty good story to tell. But when they referred to the Command Master Chief as the Commander Master Chief the second time I almost went ballistic. I held steady. I didn’t melt down. But it was close. It got worse.

Throughout the show there were subtle little things that should be caught early on on the editing process. Things that a former sailor would catch in a second. The little things like referring to United States Marines as soldiers. I’d even buy Naval Infantry – but soldiers? Pure ignorance. If they’d called the helicopters “vertical rigid heavier than air ships” I could tolerate it – but the myriad of silly little mistakes just overwhelmed me in the end.

It reminded me of some of the worst books I ever read. In the series (which shall remain nameless) the weapon of choice was a nuclear warhead tipped missile with a biological weapon insert. Think about that for just a few moments. Yeah, anthrax spores don’t do all that well at temperatures in excess of 5,000 degrees. But the author insisted that this made the missile that much more deadly – if the blast didn’t get you the spores would.

It’s right up there with having modern military units equipped with boarding axes only. Because they’re stealthy. Suppressed weapons anyone?

I would like to think that all of this could be avoided by quality checking the work with a good editor who knows the military. I’ve done more than one voice over script that needed to be edited. I never hesitated to bring it to the client. If they rejected my input that was up to them. But I tried.

You will not always catch the mistakes. Even someone with lots of experience will make a boo-boo occasionally. That’s just how life works. But you’d sure eliminate the worst of it by trying to get a handle on the topic before going to press/air with the thing. Which reminds me – there’s a national campaign right now for a big school that’s spending a pile of money on radio time. They have a very clever script – lots of jousting in it and fun plays on words. But they got too clever – they inserted a double negative that means their product (an educational institution) is guaranteed to fail to educate their students. Nice. No English professors on staff who could have read the script?

All I’m asking is that they try. Is that so much? It’s not like it’s a blog that you dash off every day or two. Trust me, editing is minimal around here due to time constraints.

What pet peeve in writing/television drives you over the edge?

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Long Overdue Rant — 1 Comment