It's beyond my control, seeing words being misused makes me cringe and makes me want to write rants and groan. Maybe it's the teacher in me or maybe it's just my love for language ––unless it's merely a character trait –– but I get bothered by things that most people would just overlook.
It isn't that I want to denounce "cuistres" and "pédants", and I know that language evolves and that the meaning of words slips over the time, but I can't help it, I just hate it when words are debased.
I try not to say it on LJ, because it often happens there and I don't want to sound too picky or hurt my flist, but the frequent (mis) use of "meta
" (as "analysis" or "essay on")annoys the hell out of me.
Lately I've been irritated by the use of "science fiction" label that can be seen in many Internet polls or lists around. Everything is science fiction now!
How many times have I seen Buffy The Vampires Slayer
show up in a list about sci-fi tv shows*? I'm sorry but Buffy was never a sci-fi series. BSG
, Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Star Trek
are sci-fi, not BtVS
! Twin Peaks
wasn't sci-fi either. Lost
does have a few science fiction elements in it (mostly thanks to Daniel Faraday and Dharma's experiences on time travel) yet I wouldn't call the show sci-fi and its finale, although I didn't like it, pointed it out.
Bram Stocker's Dracula
has nothing to do with science fiction (if anything, the character of count Dracula precisely represents a world prior to the XIXth century's science); Stevenson's short story about Dr Jekyll isn't sci-fi either even though it's chemistry (the potion) that brings Mr Hyde out. By the way of contrast, H. G. Wells' books belong to the science fiction category. Nowadays we tend to put all fictional stories that contain or are based on imaginary stuff –– either beings or technologies or alternate universes or dystopia or supernatural elements–– in the same bag.
So what's next? Will
Carroll's Alice's Adeventures in Wonderland
or More's Utopia
or Homer's The Odyssey
be labeled sci-fi some day? What about The Bible
As you can see, I strongly disagree with Nabokov when he said that Shakespeare's The Tempest
should be termed science fiction.
was a philosophical tale AND science fiction but Zadig
, by the same author, wasn't science fiction, and neither were Charles Perrault's fairy tales, yet they all deal with stuff that did not exist.
Finally, it seems to me that, when we decide to mix-up various genres that contain imaginary stuff, we forget, in the process, that, by definition, everything in a fictional work is the product of imagination, the characters to begin with. In every book or movie or tv show, it's a whole universe that is made up. Art is the science of fiction, but not necessarily science fiction.
But it isn't only a matter of misused words and books or tv shows. I think we live a time of "confusion des genres
". It's a plague in our western societies and my biggest pet peeve.
I see it all the time in my job. People mix-up History and Remembrance (and there begins the battle between memories, and the clash of lobbies ensues) or History and Commemoration. Sometimes it's just laziness and ignorance, sometimes it's pure manipulation.
Not only it annoys me, but also I believe it can be dangerous.*PS
: Once more David Lavery's blog
shows that I am not alone. That said, The X-Files
was a show that did mix up genres, covering its tracks, to the point that it's very difficult to label it. Some episodes were pure sci-fi, others pure fantasy, others pure thriller. As a whole, the series navigated by the stars between sci-fi ocean and conspiracy waters (can I make up a word like conspira-sea?). But its parents, The Twilight Zone
and The Outer Limits
, started with the genre mix-up. Perhaps it's the tv version of the American Melting-Pot