It’s another fantastic Friday here at Dead Wood, and all of you know what that means. For those cool cats that don’t, it’s time to share my thoughts on this next piece of non-fiction novel, compiled on what was once well, a tree. This week it’s Branded by Alissa Quart, and it’s about as fun as it sounds. This is somewhere along the lines of excruciating, painful, searing and down right rude.
Let’s take a step back here. Branded is a book that discusses as an apparent, well documented, and largely “common sense” topic. The massive amounts of $$$ poured into advertising targeting our kids, consumerism en masse from teenagers, all mixed in with some facts to get “The Truth” across. There’s another interesting aspect of the book, the notion of truth.
“Truth: The true or actual state of a matter” ~Dictionary.com
A commonly discussed concept among modern, and dated literature is the notion of truth. There is no such thing, as “The Truth”, only a truth that applies to you as an individual. Truths can be meshed in some areas, share common ground, be directly opposing, but there is never one single over arching truth that applies to all without exemption. Branded seems to completely, utterly, and without exemption (Hey-hey, a pun!) ignore this concept, in every single way. It fails to explore another demographic, except the rich and “upper-class” American Teens. It fails to explore another culture, except the rich “upper-class” American Teens. Actually, I might just say “It fails, period.”
No no no, that’s not even the worst part! It’s the beating and bludgeoning of us by facts and statistics! The only thing missing out of this assault is Randy Couture, and his signature “Ground and Pound”. It’s ridiculous! Sure facts add credibility and validity to your argument, and aids in getting >your truth< to become someone else’s truth, but there are chapters I struggle to find opinions buried under the facts. I’ll honestly admit, in the first about 10 pages the facts are mind blowing, and it gives this argument a huge “shock and awe” bonus, but it loses momentum… FAST. The book goes from presenting this truth, reinforced with solid evidence, into a science journal that lacks any sources of information. From there on it’s just painstaking to read, there doesn’t seem to be any explanation, or evaluation of the information. Just statistics and that’s plain old fun to read.
The main formula of any situation, especially those presented in science journals, is Problem – Solution. That is, you present a problem, detail it, and then present a solution. That’s lacking too, Quart spends the better part of 400 pages outlining what’s wrong with America’s youth, and leaves it there. Oh wait, let’s not forget the last 20 or so pages to the group of teenagers who are “Fighting the Power” and “Sticking it to The Man!” At least we can credit Branded for offering a progression of the brainwashed youth concept… No wait, we can’t do that either. Why would I believe a truth that leaves my children -sorry the children of the rich- brainwashed, and with no way of fixing that?
Do not get me started on the language, a bit late saying that a page in but I thought the courtesy was necessary. Branded has an interesting array of vocabulary, that ranges from simple to Shakespearean. In some circumstances that may be okay and quite useful at getting your point across, except when you’re vomiting statistics and just coat it with some in-limbo Shakespeare. The language is dry, confusing, and just plain boring. All of it wrapped up in this immature series of rants of a toilet bowl. It just makes me want to stand back and claim whatever the book is about as bogus.
"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" ~ Mark Twain
Popularized by the aforementioned man in Chapters from My Autobiography. He explores the notion of manipulating and using “biased” statistics, and throws them in the same field as lies. Now you’d think numbers, facts, and percentages are things that defy any connotation, they are just facts. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! “Fudging” statistics takes some skill and practice, but there are some naturals out there. The process of lying through statistics is choosing a small sample space, and targeting your sample group that will share the same view. Let me give you an example, your writing an article that’s anti-immigration, and you want a nice solid percentage of individuals who will agree. So you set up outside a Neo-Nazi hang out, and ask them what they think about immigrants. You’re going to get a 100% “Get them out of here” but there is a slight problem. It’s convention to list the sources, or places where you obtained your information… Branded seemed to have missed that workshop, “Referencing 101”. If your given a moment to view the baseball bat that’s bludgeoning you, you will realize she never states any of her sources. 75% of all statistics are untrue, except that one. A book that speaks like a science journal, reads like a Shakespearean play, doesn’t reference its information like Branded … oh wait. Forget that last one.
The editor did a poor, poor job. The last 20 pages are dedicated to this generation’s version of “Fight Club” teens, about how they fight consumerism etc. As if the editor felt something was missing, and just added it in as the most after of thoughts. Not to mention the word penis was stated way too many times in the last few pages. I thought this was PG 13? Don’t even get me started on Corporate “Foot-loving”- sorry -“Pedophilia.” I can’t really justify these as a bad things, because it’s a translation issue between American English and Australian English. Oh, and lame editing.
Any truth can be presented with supportive and properly referenced statistics, it can be convincing, easy to read, have solid shock and awe effect that outlast the pages themselves. Except when it’s “The Truth”, coupled in some confused Scientific-Shakespeare-Dialect, with bits of fake corn that are unreferenced statistics still floating in what was last nights dinner.
>TOO LONG DIDN’T READ<
The final word for all of you people with better things to do then read my entire article. Don’t buy it, don’t borrow it, and don’t even give it an ounce of thought. Its predecessor is well worth your time, 1/10 Wooden Logs, she got it published, I mean, it’s got to be worth something? Righhttttttt?