cautionary tales: unfurls like what?

“…none of these directors has made a film that has the unadulterated momentum of District 9, which unfurls like an act of God.” – Kevin Lincoln, in a not-bad-at-all reconsidering of District 9.

Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to write too-cute metaphors. Metaphors can go bad in one of two ways: they can be too good a match or not a match at all. The former is a sin of cleverness; the latter, like this one, of cockiness. If you’re going to marry an abstraction as portentous and indistinct as “an act of God” to a term of such visual and kinetic specificity as “unfurls,” you better really know what you’re doing. It is no insult to Lincoln to say that he does not have that kind of a fastball.

Nowhere do I see the stitches more often in contemporary cultural writing than in the deployment of ostentatious metaphors. Remember: if you find yourself with a metaphor you like too much, if you turn it over and over again in your hand before you slide it excitedly into place, it’s already too late. Throw it back.