Air Force Steals Song (maybe); Parentheses Are Abused

NOTICE: Boring post follows. But don’t get too bored. It’s bad for your health.

The White Stripes claim that their song was stolen and used in the Air Force ad shown during the Superbowl.

Ok. I don’t want to talk about it here (but let me Google that for you).

Which makes me wonder: Should the verb “to Google” be lowercase? Someday the answer will be yes, but I don’t know whether we’re there yet.

Believe it or not, the paragraphs above are specifically designed to show poor usage. Amazingly deft on my part, yes? Here’s what I did: I put something in parentheses, then referred to it outside the parentheses as if it were a regular part of the paragraph.

The problem is that stuff in parentheses should be completely removable. If you take out the parenthetical content only to find that your work no longer makes sense, then something’s gone wrong.

An example from the wild is the following paragraph about the ad controversy (from here):

On the band’s homepage… users can compare the two songs. (Since last night, the Air Force has removed the commercial from its page.) But I saw the commercial and there are clear similarities between the two guitar tracks. In fact, if you weren’t paying close attention you’d swear that the Air Force commercial is actually using the original White Stripes song.”

Go forth and sin no more.

Tags: ,

3 Responses to “Air Force Steals Song (maybe); Parentheses Are Abused”

  1. February 11, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    I tried reading the example without the parenthetical, and it made sense to me. The writer saw the commercial (it was on TV) and that experience drove his opinion. The fact that the commercial has since been removed from the USAFR web site is unrelated.

  2. February 11, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    Why did he say “but” at the beginning of the sentence after the parenthetical?

    In short, The White Stripes claim that the songs are similar, and let you listen to them, but I heard them and they are similar.

  3. February 11, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    I didn’t notice his “but”. Even trying to ignore the parenthetical, it still must have colored my reading of the rest. Oh well, not the first time something like that has happened, won’t be the last. Thanks for the clarification.

Leave a Reply