Thursday, March 08, 2012

Keeping it Surreal

Do you want to know what's totally grinding my gears right now? What's totally rippin' ma knittin'? It's the overuse and misuse of the word "surreal".  From having specific art-historical connotations, its meaning has been debased until it's now a synonym of "slightly unusual".

I know this is hardly a new thing. But the latest generation of media airheads seems to use "surreal" with depressing regularity, each time moving it further from its initial context and into the realm of banality. I just heard it being said on the radio (6Music, Lauren Laverne, of whom I expect better). And I heard it with depressing frequency at and around this year's Oscars.  Examples?  Shailene Woodley calling the Oscar rumour-mill "surreal". The Oscar ballot counter calling his job "surreal".  And Trent Reznor calling his Oscar nomination.... well you get the idea.

Worse, each red carpet guest on the night itself was asked by reporters "What's your most surreal moment of the night so far?"  With so many art collectors in La-La Land (and with its history of supporting filmmakers with genuine surrealist credentials, such as Bunuel and Hitchcock), you really hoped that some wise guy outside the Kodak Theater [sic] might point up the misuse of the term by answering "Well, I just saw Guillaume Apollinaire and Rene Magritte talking to Lindsay Lohan."  But no one did. So it goes.

No comments: