Sunday, October 19, 2003

Wacky Metaphors with ACE's Rollercoaster!

Two issues back, ACE's Rollercoaster! magazine had the first of two stories about the European Coaster Odyssey, where a bunch of people with more money than you went to various parks in Europe, wolfed down vast quantities of food, and rode a pile of coasters you'll never ride. The story was annoying enough for all the obvious reasons.

But one of the surprising reasons to dislike the story was the bizarre choice to compare an uncomfortable hotel called Pontin's to a concentration camp. Yes, a concentration camp: "Nicknamed by ACEers as a prison camp or worse (a 'Pontin-tration' camp!), Pontin's brought new meaning to the word 'basic.'"

Indeed, folks, a crappy hotel is equivalent to camps where millions lost their lives.

Apparently some other people felt as we did, and the most recent issue has a letter to the editor pointing out that the comparison was "wildly inappropriate and offensive."

"Oh, good," we thought. "Here's a chance for ACE to apologize for what was obviously just a stupid mistake. And look, a response, presumably from said editor."

Alas, no sensible and straightforward apology followed. Among the rest of the weaseling (which took more than twice the space of the original letter), the editor contends that the term "concentration camp" is a "valid phrase with no restrictions on its use in either spoken or written comunication" and that "no reference to any particular historical event was made or can be reasonably implied." (We expect the editor, who evidently has some issues with terminology, means "inferred" rather than "implied.")

This is, of course, a pile of crap. Did any of you reading this think of anything besides the Holocaust when you read "concentration camp"? And if you did, did you think of some other harsh prison camp for political prisoners, enemy aliens, prisoners of war, and the like that would legitimately be compared to an uncomfortable hotel?

Well, by a fortuitous coincidence, the new issue of Rollercoaster! arrived at the same time as a leaked ACE memo suggesting some future metaphors for authors to use, reproduced below in full in an ARN&R exclusive. (We were unable to reproduce the spaghetti sauce stains. Sorry.)

* * *

To: Rollercoaster! writers

From: Your fearless leader

Re: More valid phrases and journalistic metaphors

After the great response we got from declaring a hotel without hot water, barracks-style beds and cold floors to be equivalent to camps where millions were killed with poison gas, I thought I'd help you out with some ideas for headlines for the stories you're currently working on. No need to credit me; I'm just doing my job!

- Removal of Hercules Like Being the Victim of Sexual Assault

- Absence of Buffet at Event Shows Us What It's Like Being Ethiopian

- Trim Brakes: Our 9/11

- Line for Son of Beast worse than Trail of Tears

- Preferred Parking Charges: Same as Segregation and Lynching!

- Shivering Timbers not Winning Golden Ticket: Ethnic Cleansing?

- Enthusiast Stuck on Coaster Endures Same Tragedy as Sailors Dying on Disabled Submarine

- QBot and Fast Pass: The U.S. Caste System

- Enthusiasts Attack Buffet With a Blitzkrieg Expediency That Would Make Hitler Proud

- Ride Ops At Disneyland Move With Khmer Rouge-Like Speed

- Guests Waiting For X Understand the Pain of Stalin's Labor Camps (Young Teen Led Off By Security Another Victim of the Purges)

- Park Ban List Like 1950s Blacklist

* * *

Seriously, folks, it's insane to think that such a comparison ever makes sense. Please write to the relevant ACE folks (and copy us) and let them know that they should get a clue.

[Ed. Note: Some people have taken this article as meaning that the Rollercoaster! editor didn't apologize at all; that's not quite accurate. The term "apology" did appear, and the editor did, sort of, apologize that the reader took offense. There was no actual apology for using the term, merely regret that others were offended by its use -- along with an attempt to argue that taking offense was unreasonable. ARN&R regrets the confusion and should have made that clear in the initial posting. (See, that's not so hard.)]

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