Monday, July 27, 2015

Quote, interrupted

As I tell my classes, Eduction is when one takes a quote out of its original context to change the meaning. This occurs in many different contexts, but one of the most well-known and obvious is when quotations are pulled from a review and then used in marketing. This happens in all domains, but is most obvious in the case of films and DVD's. I came across an excellent example of this while perusing one of my favorite pop culture websites (got to keep up with the kids and stay relevant!) the AV Club. One of their writers, A.A. Dowd, recently penned an open letter to media company Mongrel Media, calling them out for misquoting one of his reviews for a blurb on the back of the DVD release of the film Nailed (Accidental Love in the US).  First, here is the blurb on the back of the DVD:

A comedic masterstroke.

This is fairly high praise, and if one is familiar with this reviewer, this recommendation would be a good reason to pick up the film. However, if we look back at Dowd's original C- review, we find that this "praise" is not as high as it might initially appear:
To be fair to whoever refashioned Accidental Love from the abandoned scraps of Nailed, there’s little reason to believe that the ideal, untroubled version of the material would have been a comedic masterstroke. [Emphasis added]
As we can see,  Mongrel Media just lopped off the beginning of the sentence to completely change the original meaning of the quotation. This is a textbook example of eduction, and it occurs much more frequently than you might think.