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A $135 million budget and they still can’t spell


I was watching “Iron Man” for the third or fourth time the other night. I like Robert Downey Jr.’s cavalier portrayal of Tony Stark, rich self-centered genius. I liked his “in character” screen test. “You’re never going to get me in the sack with that attitude,” he tells his female interviewer.

At one point in the movie, the screen fills with the image of a magazine featuring Tony Stark on the cover. The headline splashed across the front of the  magazine reads something like “Young Tony Stark takes the reigns of his father’s empire.”

Takes the “reigns”? “REIGNS”? Seriously, this movie cost $135 million to make, and no one bothers to run spellcheck or grammar check? It’s “reins,” you morons. “REINS.” As in, taking the horse’s reins to guide him in a new direction.

A king reigns (a verb). You control a horse by pulling on the reins (a noun). “Reigns” and “reins” are homophones (words which sound the same but are spelled differently and mean different things), not homonyms (words which sound the same and are spelled the same, but which mean different things). “Tire” (a rubber doughnut) and “tire” (to become weary) are homonyms. (Except in the South, where “tire” is pronounced “tar”, which makes it a homophone. I am being facetious.)

I see more and more of this kind of homophone problem in newspapers and magazines and online. “Pour” used in the place of “pore,” for example. I see mistakes like those often, and I cringe every time. These mistakes occur because spelling and phonics are no longer taught in public schools. Instead, they teach “whole language,” which is a practical joke being played by “educators” whose clear intent is to try to destroy society by removing people’s ability to read or write.

When I encounter the devastating effects of whole language, I think of two things. On the one hand, I remember the Ohio public school teacher who told me (in a fit of honesty) that their goal as teachers was to (1.) instill politically-correct attitudes in children, and to (2.) try to “normalize” all children toward an IQ of 100, which is barely above idiocy. She was against the idea, and her school district forced her into retirement because she would not cooperate. But most other public school teachers I have met willingly play along with this agenda. They are almost uniformly liberals, and they believe in the liberal agenda (witness the behavior of Wisconsin public school teachers last year during the union battles, staging sickouts which closed down several school districts, and even recruiting their students to assist in their protests at the state capitol, often without the parents’ knowledge). Public schools are not designed to educate children anymore. They are designed to enforce conformity in attitudes and behavior. Actual knowledge and skill development is secondary, if it is even a goal at all. It sickens me to think about it. This is why I always vote against raising property taxes for schools. The money is being wasted already, and there’s no point in wasting any more of it. Public schools are run by public school unions, and are operated largely as a sinecure for the employees, not as a public service designed to improve the lot of the “customers” (children) by educating them. Send your children to private schools, or home-school them, if you want them to succeed. It is possible to succeed in public schools, but the students generally must do it on their own, despite what they are being taught.

On the other hand (you thought I forgot about the other hand, didn’t you?), I don’t mind the decrepitude of American education at all. I will always have a job as long as I choose to work, because no one younger than me will be able to do my job or anything remotely like my job (if the market changes). That makes me happy, in a selfish way. 

Meanwhile, when I see such egregious abuses of written English in big-budget films and publications, I just have to laugh. The poor writing skills of Hollywood and media people highlight their lack of education, even as these people pretend to define what “culture” is for America and for the world.


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