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Open “Word Crimes” by “Weird Al” Yankovic and Jarrett Heather
“Word Crimes” is an official music video designed and animated by Jarrett Heather for “Weird Al” Yankovic. The video uses kinetic typography and evocative visual images to reinforce the didactic tone. The song is a parody of Robin Thicke’s own “Blurred Lines” employing its catchy tune, lyric structure, and even typography (as in the case of the hashtags) repurposed tosatirizes common ways that language is used incorrectly in writing.
“Weird Al’s” video incorporates and showcases many different way of how language is used in contemporary times, be it through online forums, text messages, tweets, printed word, dictionary entries, hashtags, and other online spaces in which written language could be utilized incorrectly.
For example, Reddit, a social network known for having little to no tolerance towards comments written with poor grammar, is presented in the video with an image of a comment that receives a great amount of “downvotes” as a critique of its incorrect spelling. On Reddit, users try to avoid downvotes as much as possible, mainly in comments where simple grammatical errors would cause an onslaught of downvotes. This promotes correct grammar usage in Reddit’s community and in a sense, using grammar correctly in Reddit makes your comment that much more appealing to all of its users.
The use of these contemporary ways for expression through language enhances viewer’s awareness of the issue by creating identification with the examples, such as tweets (Twitter), blog posts on LiveJournal, Facebook likes, and typing with Emoji.
In addition to the entertaining kinetic typography, the video shows great depth when it comes to the content that it shows. To the common viewer, the sentence diagram portion of the video (seen below) may simply signal grammar lessons, but to a someone with training in linguistics and syntax, this part is particularly amusing because this particular little snippet diagrams the lyrics correctly.
In the end, “Word Crimes” tries to teach its audience how to avoid committing some common, yet atrocious grammar mistakes. With the use of a visual medium, the song’s objective is enhanced, spelling out the lyrics for clarity, particularly when sung they’re too fast to easily apprehend. “Weird Al” shows his lyrical wit while at the same time instructs his audience with this parody of a catchy, yet shallow song.