The Girlfriend and I passed a pleasant afternoon today watching DVDs, one of which was a little film called Fanboys. If you've never heard of it, don't feel bad; I'm not sure it got a wide theatrical release, and it was probably only in the theaters that did show it for 10 minutes or so. It's got a winning premise: set in fall of 1998, months before The Phanton Menace is due to premiere, a group of nerdy friends embark on a cross-country roadtrip to George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch, where they intend to steal a work print of the movie so their buddy who has cancer can see it before he dies. Unfortunately, the execution of that premise is a little rough. While the film has a number of good sight-gags and a few knee-slapping moments, it also has some really tedious segments, and the ending isn't nearly as poignant as it ought to be. Also, the script perpetuates some very tired stereotypes about the fanboy scene that are just this side of insulting, and there's a really bizarre running gag about Star Wars fans being the mortal enemies of Star Trek fans. That strikes me as deeply false, the sort of rookie error made by a screenwriter who doesn't know his subject nearly as well as he thinks he does; every bona-fide fanboy and -girl I know tends to like both franchises to one degree or another, if not equally. Fanboys is pleasant enough, but I think a movie called Free Enterprise from about 10 years ago covered the same basic territory far more effectively.
However, this entry isn't really intended to be a movie review. It's a rant about a very common punctuation error that I, with my proofreading superpowers, am constantly running across out there in the real world, and it drives me absolutely crazy. It turns up everywhere, even in places where you'd expect a certain command of the English language. Like, say, in movie credits. See if you can pick it out in this transcription of a line from the closing credits of Fanboys:
Special Thanks to The Skywalker Ranch and It's Wonderful Staff
Do you see it? The apostrophe in "It's"? Do you think whoever typed up this film's credits really meant to say "The Skywalker Ranch and It Is Wonderful Staff"? Because that's what it means when you put an apostrophe in between "it" and "s." That means you're looking at a contraction of the words "it is." The possessive form of the word "it" is "its." Just three letters, no apostrophe. Yes, that is a contradiction to the way nearly every possessive in the English language is formed, but, well, that's English for you.
Let me make this easy for everyone:
- It+s = possessive
- It+'s = "it is"
Got it? I hope so, as there will be a quiz later. And just in case you think I'm overreacting here, just consider this:
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I'm going to go take an aspirin now...