Miscellaneous musings on language and TV

An observation on word choice, which I posted (with a few minor differences) on Facebook yesterday:

“Chauvinism,” “sexism,” and “misogyny” are not, for a careful writer, interchangeable. If you’re looking for the word with the greatest impact, you’re likely to choose “misogyny,” but you ought to be aware that, though milder definitions can be found, the roots of the word add up to “hatred of women.” If hatred is really what you’re describing, fine, but if it’s only prejudice or discrimination, consider “sexism.” There can be disagreements over the things we’re describing as well as over the language we use—to some people, the world of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels and of the Game of Thrones TV show is distinctly murderous toward women and hence misogynist, while to others it’s murderous toward practically everyone but only biased against women—but these disagreements make it more important, not less, to try to say exactly what you mean.

A year ago, an Economist post discussed the differences. But even The Economist has continued the trend of choosing the strongest word no matter what, so the cause may be hopeless.

Fear the Walking Dead, one of AMC’s two zombie dramas, debuts the second half of its second season tonight. In a twist on the title’s real abbreviation, I’ve taken to labeling it WTFD, to suggest “Seriously? Do we really need this now?” I’m part of a very small TV discussion group that watches and talks about Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and this show. I’ll watch the first of the new episodes, but that may be the end. In considering a post on the topic “Have we reached peak zombie?,” I realized the answer is pretty clear and needs no elaboration. Zombies are past their prime; as far as I can tell, the culture is no longer spinning out many new variations on the theme, and the old standbys (notably, this show and its AMC companion) are looking pretty repetitious by now.

Another drama returns to AMC in a few days: Halt and Catch Fire. I’m working on a post about it.


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