Anorak | Marilyn Hagerty and the cynical manipulation of contrived simplicity

Marilyn Hagerty and the cynical manipulation of contrived simplicity

by | 16th, March 2012

WHEN Marilyn Hagerty went to the Grand Forks, North Dakota’s first Olive Garden eatery, she wrote a review. The thing went viral. Over 27 million Facebook likes is none too shabby. Marilyn Hagerty’s words in the Grand Forks Herald  went:

“[The new Olive Garden] is the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks. It attracts visitors from out of town as well as people who live here.”

Marilyn Hagerty bought a chicken Alfredo (“warm and comforting on a cold day”) and water the waiter recommended a raspberry lemonade and she conceded “on a hot summer day, I will try the raspberry lemonade that was recommended”. And “the server was ready with Parmesan cheese”.

What about the room:

“As I ate, I noticed vases and planters with permanent flower displays on the ledges. There are several dining areas with arched doorways. And there is a fireplace that adds warmth to the decor.”

NPRGawker Boing Boing , and  The Huffington Post  picked it up.

The review possesses neither artifice nor pretension. Well, so it seems. Marilyn Hagerty has been a journalist for over 50 years. She knows words. She is no enthusiastic amateur. She says:

“I may sound a little on the defensive to you today because of the emails I’ve received. One was kind of snotty. But the other four or five were kind of friendly. But my daughter tells me I should go on Facebook and read all this crap. And I do not have time to let myself be bothered or read all that stuff. I have a Sunday column I’m doing now about a completely different subject. I don’t have time to sit here and twit over whether some self-styled food expert likes, or does not like, my column. The publisher likes it.

This is the mainstay of journalism. It’s a job. If your employer likes it you get to keep working.

Marilyn Hagerty then writes a letter to her sister Shirley. The Grand Folks Herald publishes it:

Dear Shirley,

Not even in my wildest dreams could I fathom all that has happened in the past week.

You see, here I was finishing up my Friday column last Thursday and getting ready to go to bridge club. Then the whole world went crazy. It started with an email from afar declaring that my recent Eatbeat review about the new Olive Garden was in a word pathetic.

I braced myself and responded with a “thanks for your interest. I appreciate your input.”

Then… whoom! The messages started flowing in from all over the country. Kind people were telling me not to pay any attention to the naysayers. It seemed people wanted to protect me and buck me up.

The reviewer reviewed:

The local TV station called and asked if I could meet with two of them at the new Olive Garden — the place I had written about. I said OK and went over there. The Olive Garden couldn’t allow the TV cameras without orders from headquarters. So I suggested we go to the Ground Round nearby.

Ground Round is a chain of eateries. The Grand Forks branch was the chain’s best of 2011.

The manager there said, “Fine.” They gave us some free popcorn and they asked questions and took pictures of me sipping a Diet Coke. When the Village Tattler or whatever called from New York, I didn’t understand who they were. I didn’t understand that I had gone viral. I didn’t know that meant it was like hits on the Internet.

Village Voice , Marilyn.

After that it was unbelievable. Early Saturday morning, the ABC show sent a driver up from Fargo. I was driven down there to answer

You have already read 1 premium article for free today
Access immediately the premium content with Multipass

Or come back tomorrow

Posted: 16th, March 2012 | In: Key Posts, News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink