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Liar, liar, pants on fire!

A celebrity interviewer once asked Cher what quality she most detests in other people. Her answer was immediate and simple, “Lying.” Cher holds honesty in high regard and the fact that that one question has stuck with me all these years later attests to its profound impact. I have always felt that lies, even tiny “white” ones have no place in daily life. Bear in mind that withholding the truth is not the same thing. For example, in order to not hurt someone’s feelings, it’s sometimes prudent to not tell it like it is.

liar1Watching our politicians, business leaders and people in our daily lives utter blatant lies is disheartening to say the least. Much of the plot humour on television shows and in movies originates from and glorifies lying. Imagine how much less complicated our court systems would be if people really did tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Or, before crimes even come to court, if the guilty simply told the police officer the truth. Unravelling a string of lies to unearth that nugget of truth is an exhausting, frustrating and often futile ordeal.

Think of all the lies we’ve been victims of by the big banks during the economic crash of 2008, by Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, our own politicians including Kathleen Wynne and the late Rob Ford, not to mention Olympic athletes and celebrities. How much stronger would our society be today if we were treated like intelligent human beings who are capable of handling the truth.

liar2I would like to invent a secret device that automatically detonates and sets someone’s pants on fire when they tell a lie. Much like the swimming pool chemical that turns the water red when you think you’re sneaking a pee in the pool, your lie would be immediately be visible to all. Imagine how different our world would be. Of course, there should be an adjustment to accommodate the question, “Honey, do these pants make me look fat?” Or it might prompt us to stop asking the question. It’s rhetorical. Those pants probably deserve to ignite anyway.

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Voicing my opinion on voices

 

Ouch!
Ouch!

One of my first blog postings two years ago (http://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/09/18/hearing-voices/) was about the changing speech patterns and diction used by many people today, particularly young women. Unfortunately, media is turning some of these people loose on the public and it hurts to listen to them. At the risk of generalizing, young women are particularly guilty of speaking with squeaky little-girl voices that make my ears bleed. I know that Melissa Rauch’s voice (she plays Bernadette) on The Big Bang Theory is part of her character, but I can’t stand it. Same goes for Kristin Chenoweth, although, ironically, her singing voice is amazing. Nasal-sounding, thin or high-pitched voices are extremely irritating and it boggles my mind how these individuals get work in radio or television without at least undergoing some vocal coaching. Much as I love The Marilyn Denis Show, stylist Alexis Honce’s voice grates like chalk on a blackboard. Would someone please get the poor girl some help.

Where did young women ever get the idea that Valley Girl speech inflections were, like, an asset?
Where did young women ever get the idea that Valley Girl speech inflections were, like, an asset?

Naomi Wolf started a discussion on “vocal fry” criticizing young women for engaging in speech affectations that reflect negatively on their intelligence, ability and character. One example of this is turning a statement into a question with a slight uptick in the tone of voice toward the end of a sentence? Another annoyance is the frequent habit of many people for finishing sentences with y’know? or right? Or injecting like into sentences. Sometimes it becomes almost unbearable to listen to someone being interviewed on the radio or television when they continually punctuate their sentences with y’know or like?.

Not that long ago, we made jokes about “Valley Girl” talk practised by a segment of the female population in California. Sadly, it has now become mainstream. And I agree with Wolf. These voice affectations undermine the ability of an individual to be taken seriously. Perhaps that’s the goal, though it’s not an admirable one. In business, using a firm handshake, dressing tastefully and projecting your voice in a clear and well-modulated tone are recognized assets. Little-girl, squeaky speech patterns are a professional liability just like showing an inappropriate amount of skin. President Jimmy Carter and Queen Elizabeth were both coached early on to lower the tone of their voices to make themselves easier to listen to. Princess Diana even took vocal instruction so her aristocratic background was less evident in her speech patterns and she sounded more like “the people”.

Give me strength!
It seems obvious to everyone but the talker.

Let’s not forget those annoyingly loud cellphone talkers who think the entire shopping mall or restaurant wants to hear their side of a personal conversation. I had to trek to the other end of Superstore the other day to get away from a woman in the dairy section making baby talk while Skyping to a toddler on her cellphone. Her voice was loud enough to crack the eggs in the nearby cooler.

Years ago I attended Toastmasters™ classes and that provided an excellent forum for feedback on my own speech patterns. We were encouraged to improve our pitch, projection and enunciation while supportively discouraged from using annoying or irritating speech inflections. I hope the current media attention being given to the issue of vocal fry will alert the guilty to their weakness and encourage them to take steps to make themselves “better heard”. Freedom of speech shouldn’t include too much treble, not only in business but particularly in media. If only all women in media could sound like CBC’s Shelagh Rogers. My ears would jump for joy. Speaking of which, would anyone care to hear me sing? I didn’t think so.

 

 

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