Grinch Season

Yes, it’s Grinch season, that time when unimaginative reporters overuse the Grinch metaphor. Experienced scribes know that a good story needs a bad guy, and this time of year labeling someone “Grinch” is a handy tag.

Grinch Robs Elderly Oakland Couple’s Home While They Slept

Grinch Destroys Christmas Decorations

Cops replace Sick Girl’s Christmas Lights Stolen by ‘Grinch’

Grinch Stealing Packages Off Porches in South Pasadena

Real-life Grinch Steals Salvation Army Kettle

Those are five examples. I could give you five-hundred.

The problem with this is that like many real-life stories, the Grinch tale is about something more complicated than simply an evildoer stealing all the Christmas stuff — but when you start in with all those other things, those inconvenient truths, you begin to lose what makes your story powerful: the bad guy.

A really good reporter will go out and build his case against his story’s antagonist. Maybe talk to the Grinch’s angry ex-landlord or interview his former spouse and disgruntled children. Make the Grinch looks like a real dirtbag. And then — the truth doesn’t much matter, does it?

9 Responses to Grinch Season

  1. You know, Rob, if I were your editor (and thank God I am not) I’d tell you not to stop beating around the bush. I’ll understand if you don’t publish this comment

    It’s pretty obvious that your talking about this Dennis Drue mess and all that’s gone on since the tragic accident over the weekend. And in terms of reporters, there is no one else you can mean than the esteemed Paul Grondahl. We’ve talked about this before, specifically in reference to his character assasination of Debbie Oatman which you referenced without providing a link. Here’s a link to one of the stories he wrote about her.

    For those unfamiliar, Grondahl went well beyond reporting the facts about Oatman, the Extreme Home Makeover lady. Much of what he reported was in the public record, but he also went out of his way to find people who had a very personal axe to grind, in this case the ex-husband and estranged son. These were people who were not likely to be fair. And then he printed their crap like it was the truth, and that’s really sleezy.

    This week he’s at it again. Grondahl went and got someone who hated Dennis Drue, in this case his ex-landlord, and printed every nasty thing she said about the tennant she had to evict. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to evict someone, but you don’t usually walk away talking about how nice they are. We’re supposed to believe that everything this woman said is the truth?

    Look, I admire this guys writing, but some of his work is pure dreck. I wonder what the next step will be now that their storyline on this terrible accident has gone all to shit…

  2. Yes, but when you think of the Grinch, are you thinking of Jim Carrey or Animated Grinch (with the voice of Boris Karloff)? For my money, I would have preferred Carrey dubbed with Karloff’s voice. Or just Terry Kindlon.

    • The Jim Carey movie was an abomination, probably the worst piece of garbage Ron Howard has ever been involved with. For my money, the only Grinch is the animated Grinch.

      • Funny . . . the word “abomination” is what popped into my head too when reminded of Carrey’s Grinch.

        Gotta give Dr. Seuss’ 2-D version some love, too . . . he gave Chuck Jones the perfect material for the perfect cartoon!

  3. Grondahl’s always on the lookout for people willing to trash Erastus Corning.

  4. I suppose the same thinking could be applied to the term, “Scrooge.” The larger issue is that the reporters always conveniently forget that, in both cases, there was holiday redemption. The Grinch turned into a nice guy at the end, as did Scrooge. So the description really doesn’t hold up.

    B/t/w, how anybody could construe that Rob has a hidden agenda, and that he’s actually writing about the Dennis Drue mess or Debbie Oatman’s situatuion is beyond me. Sometimes, a post is just what it is — a post.

    Finally, of course the original animated special is hands down better than the movie. Boris Karloff, Thurl Ravenscroft and the late Albert Hague combining to make a holiday classic– it doesn’t get any better. As for the Carrey movie, I only saw it once in the theatres. I think the only time I actually lauged was when I saw Carrey wearing Ron Howard’s cap. And that was an inside joke I’m sure nobody else got.

    • No, the larger issue is that most of the reporters, like the rest of us, are lazy. What we need is to start referencing an unredeemed Christmas villain. Maybe Krampus would do.

      And yes, I was (obliquely) thinking about the Drue thing, hence the “ex-landlord” mention. Not making a judgment about the terrible circumstances, just the terrible reporting.

  5. Wolf and Shaker

    Rob: You and your other readers are not the only ones with questions about the Dennis Drue story. You can see where I work from my email address; feel free to write me if you’d like to confirm it. For obvious reasons I won’t use my real name.

    The Dennis Drue landlord piece was completely irresponsible, and I’m not the only one here who thinks so. It was a perfect example of the sort of one sided reporting that makes people hate newspapers, a nasty bit of trash designed to keep the momentum of the story rolling. One of your other commenters mentioned how the findings of Drue’s blood test messes up the “storyline.” That couldn’t be more true.

    But this is what we do. Telling a story isn’t just about listing the facts, but recognizing the elements that make it interesting and casting the players in archetypes that our readers can relate to. Anyone who tells you we don’t do this is a liar.

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