journalism, language

Is there anything you can say when quoted while eating a truffle-flavored French fry that does not make you sound like a jerk?

I suspect not.

Lynn Hirschberg’s final celebrity profile for the NYT Magazine knocks the musician M.I.A. down a notch or two on the credibility scale. M.I.A., aka Maya Arulpragasam, comes across as possibly well-meaning, but also self-righteous and misguided. (And reminds us of how much we love the term “radical chic.”) Hirschberg includes little observations that, if left out of the story, would have given it a much different tone. Perhaps most-cited is the following:

“I kind of want to be an outsider,” [M.I.A.] said, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.

Ah, the perilous fry. So tasty, yet, as NY Mag’s Vulture blog and others have realized, shot through with the risk of unflattering revelation if eaten in the presence of Ms. Hirschberg.

How might the french-fry phrasing sound if combined with other quotes set down for posterity? Would it be so bad?

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  • “I’m as devastated as you are by what I’ve seen here today,” said BP’s Tony Haywood, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.
  • “I feel your pain,” said Bill Clinton, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.
  • “All we are saying is give peace a chance,” said John Lennon, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.
  • “We tend to prefer candidates who don’t talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco,” said Sarah Palin, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.
  • “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die,” said Ted Kennedy, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.
  • “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,” said George W. Bush, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.
  • “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the,”’ said Mary McCarthy, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.
  • “My failures have made me look at myself in a way I never wanted to before,” said Tiger Woods, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.
  • “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum which is what I am,” said Terry Malloy, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.
  • “To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every American,” said Richard Nixon, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.
  • “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again,” said Scarlett O’Hara, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.
  • “Please, sir, I want some more,” said Oliver Twist, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.

 

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