“Sausage factories”

It recently came to my attention that Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn likened the Junior Certificate to a “sausage squeezing machine”, “squeezing creativity and curiosity out of the classroom”. [Source: Limerick Leader] So, all of my friends and I have apparently been squeezed through this unmerciful sausage factory in recent years. I can’t really say that I agree with that assessment. Let’s look at some other things worthy of the title of “sausage factory”:

I found out in the last few weeks that the old MCA television production company, Revue (later Universal), was often derided as a “sausage factory”. In all of its television shows, thanks to the regimented formula-driven production management of Lew Wasserman, it basically churned out one hour of the same thing every week, over and over again. Indeed, this prompted an FCC investigation in the late ’50s, into the reasons for the overall poor quality of American television programming. [Source: When Hollywood Had a King]


The Revue Logo

Having watched many episodes of Murder, She Wrote, I can only agree with this assessment of the studio, even though this programme is from the ’80s! In every episode, Mrs. Fletcher gets introduced to a scenario and meets a few people, then after about half an hour someone’s body is found. After that, Mrs. Fletcher collaborates with whatever authorities are involved. She has a sudden stroke of genius towards the end, then confronts the murderer with some ridiculously elaborate story. In many episodes, the murderer finally admits culpability and draws a gun, only to have the sheriff, or whoever, run in and save Mrs. Fletcher. After that, everyone is happy, then some silly joke is made, and we get a freeze-frame of Mrs. Fletcher laughing, then the credits roll!

There’s also the matter of the Scooby-Doo sausage factory. They tried to do new things with the franchise over the last forty-odd years. I was very impressed with the most recent Mystery Incorporated series. Personally, I think they should leave it at that – any more could only go down the old sausage-factory route and ruin a good thing. Besides, there are still the formulaic direct-to-video animated feature-length films they’re doing.

So now, can we really place a fundamental part of our education system, which has existed for many years, on par with the forces behind the production of Murder, She Wrote, Scooby-Doo, and other mediocre television programmes? Somehow, as a student, I’m just not comfortable with that.

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