Friday, September 18, 2009

Useless Reveal On Steroids

You folks are familiar with the Useless Reveal, right? We've discussed this before. It's a kind of lede common in women-journalism. Sometimes invisible to the untrained eye, but rather like Euphorbia prostrata, the Prostrate Spurge, once you know what you're looking for, you'll see it everywhere. Here are its markings:

1. A headline and/or large photo that screams "THIS STORY IS ABOUT A WOMAN TYPE OF PERSON,"

2. A gormless presumption on the part of the reporter that the reader does not know this,

and 3. Faux shock and awe when some kind of wardrobe malfunction, usually involving a blond ponytail tumbling out of a helmet of some sort, betrays the subject's basic feminitude.

Today's NYT has a three-paragraph Useless Reveal. Three paragraphs. Wow. I think I need a new pair of disbelief-suspension cables.

NEW ORLEANS — Mike Henry could not get comfortable in his stance. He knew the line judge was watching him. This was only a scrimmage, but Henry, a 6-foot-5, 289-pound freshman lineman, was trying to move up thedepth chart for the Tulane Green Wave. The whistle blew and a blur of black and white stripes came running his way.

“You need to get down, and stay down,” the official said in a voice that swiveled Henry’s head and widened his eyes. It was not the tone but the timbre of Sarah Thomas’s voice.

It was soft and lilting and grounded in the rhythms of her native Mississippi. Because Thomas’s long blond hair was tucked beneath a black hat swirled in stripes, Henry had had no idea the official was a woman.

Kudos to reporter Joe Drape for informing us that women are native to Mississippi. I did not know that.

I hesitate to offend the delicate sensibilities of our readers, but you should know that subject Sarah Thomas--who, you may have deduced, is a football referee--is occasionally subject to uncouth verbiage.

She understands intensity can give way to some salty language.

Shocking. I hope the NAIA covers the cost of the lead ovary-shields she obviously needs to perform her job safely.

1 comment:

  1. Don't hesitate to offend any sensibilities on my account. I like me a little mud rasslin' with my media criticism.