Friday, April 24, 2009

Present(ly) Tense

I may be the only person who cares about this, but here goes.

Imagine that you're watching 20/20 or 48 Hours or Dateline and the feature story is yet another murder "mystery." (Hint: The spouse! The spouse!)

The announcer -- to the accompaniment of somber music and a montage of the victim cuddling kittens and kissing chubby-cheeked toddlers -- says something along the lines of:

It was a dark and stormy night back in 1984, and all-American Betty Bouffant leaves work early, telling her co-workers that she must get home to bake cookies for orphaned dachshunds. She arrived home and finds, according to what she tells police three hours later, a trail of crimson blood leading from the kitchen to the bedroom. She walks into the bedroom and discovered the lifeless body of her husband, whom she calls the love of her life ever since they got married straight out of grammar school...

Does anyone else want to throw something at the television for this annoying and idiotic switching back and forth between the present and past tenses? I know that using the present tense adds drama and a sort of you-are-there quality to the narrative. Fine. But.

Please. Make the decision between past and present tense upfront... and stick to it! The inconsistency is making me choke on my popcorn. Much more of this and I will become the subject of one of those shows.

Cue the creepy music.
Tonight's episode: Homicide... or Grammarcide?

1 comment:

  1. I agree! I don't know how anyone could find that form of narration appealing, but it seems like it's getting more and more prevalent.