We’ve received many great responses to our “Best of Detroit” coverage and layouts (June 2013), but a few reactions surprised us. One reader was “appalled” we used “a backdrop of crime” to glorify urban decay (Letters, page 18).
To my mind, our portrayal of superheroes stopping crime isn’t glorifying it. To be sure, we were going for an “outrageous” approach. I think we achieved it.
But that brings up another issue: using humor to defuse tense situations or explain serious topics.
I often tend to make light of things — perhaps it’s a coping/defense mechanism. Co-workers bear the brunt of this, through sarcastic emails (“Another stunningly ugly cover, Cassidy …”) or inside jokes (“Did you have another ‘bumpy’ interview, Monica?”) And they give it right back: (“Step away from the listings … ” when I try to make very late restaurant guide changes just before we ship to the printer.)
Humor can also help keep egos in check. When I got off the air after a recent radio interview that I was quite nervous about doing, there was a heartwarming text from my spouse (“At least you didn’t sound like a #*%&$#”). Or when a neighbor heard I was named editor at Hour Detroit … (“I’d be more impressed if I didn’t know you.”) …
A favorite example happened years ago when I worked at a country club. There was an important wedding — a big Italian affair, complete with strolling violinists, arbors decked with live doves in cages … the works.
A waiter proceeded to spill soup onto the bride’s beautiful white gown. As she looked down in instant horror, the head table fell silent. Quick thinking saved the day. “That’s OK, honey,” the waiter calmly quipped. “You’ll never wear it again.”
The bride paused, gave it some thought, and broke out laughing. The lesson here is that the bride was prepared to have fun.
That may sound simplistic. But if you get too caught up over-thinking or over-planning every single detail — whether it’s a wedding or a magazine — you might lose sight of the big picture.
Consider our story on the Detroit mayor’s race (page 40). Certainly it’s an important topic and will have a long-term impact on the region, but I think Craig Fahle and his colleagues from the WDET news staff nailed it! They took the potentially dry topic of political analysis and made it compelling, informative, and yes, even fun.
The bottom line is, we work in an environment that occasionally causes us to spend more time in the office than we do at home. So it helps to surround yourself with people you can have some fun with along the way.
That said, if you ever think we’re coming off as too glib about what’s going on in and around metro Detroit, please let us know. (And please note: Sarcastic emails really do get our attention.)