Friday, May 23, 2008

Where Aesthetics Go To Die

One of the ESL textbook series my employers force me to use is called Interchange. It's a cruddy hodge-podge of ill-conceived lessons put together by Jack C. Richards (a man who, in his own words, "is an internationally-recognized authority on English-language acquisition" and, in my own words, "needs a beating"). You may remember an earlier post in which I attacked Jack C. Richards, his slipshod attempts at language education and his arbitrary use of commas. And here's the icing on that health hazard of a cake:

The Interchange books contain some of the worst illustrations I've ever seen. It's as if the publishers went out of their way to find artists whose very raison d'ĂȘtre was to create the ugliest, most nauseating images possible. This image on the right is meant to be a suggestion of what clothing might look like in the future. If this prediction is accurate, they might as well follow this illustration up with a picture of a man strangling himself with his own necktie, as that would be a suggestion of what I would look like in such a future. What exactly happens in the future that causes everyone to start wearing those yellow gloves? Will dish-pan hands surpass cancer and heart disease as the prime killer of Americans? Is the gigantic hat evidence of ever-increasing Mexican influence on our fashion?

Maybe it seems I'm picking a nit here. But it's hard to think so when you're faced with these horrendous examples of first-degree ugliness on a daily basis. What started as amusement gradually morphs into resentment as you increasingly get the feeling that the two hapless dancers (who, at first glance, appear to have been drawn by someone who has never actually seen dancing, but may have read about it once in a book called Dancing: The Devil's Hobby) are actually mocking you.

My only recourse is to let my students in on the joke. Once in a while, I'll say, "Turn to page 78....look at this guy!" in order to lighten the mood of a lesson. Most of the time, however, it's a great enough challenge not to hurl my teacher's edition through a window.

I've got a hundred of these little scans, but I'll restrain myself and just share a few more choice images with you:



Yes and yes.

She's gonna barf!

Indeed. What is your excuse, Mr. Illustrator? And don't give me any garbage about "artistic license." You and I both know that would just be a euphemism for "everything I create makes people want to gouge their own eyes out."


carey said...

YIKESORAMA! They're almost like reject Inspector Gadget drawings--at least in the facial expressions and proportions. And really, is there any diversity in this textbook? Sheesh. Oh, the horror of putting out a textbook of people from around the world instead of people from the next cubicle over...

Limo said...

You've put into blog-words (nicely) what I've noticed on occasion. I remember teaching the lesson with Mr 'Disorganised' and having flashbacks to Year 8 Science. Our teacher looked like an experiment gone wrong.

Also, what's with that DOG? Some kind of canine autism depiction?

Jesse Jace said...

That dog wants us all dead.