Saturday, 17 May 2008

The Profound Sign-off

Still thinking about conclusions, I starting thinking about The Matrix, which tickles me and annoys me a bit.

It tickles me for for galvanizing a generation of pale guys to go out and buy long leather coats, adopt a slightly creepy, deadpan vernacular and walk around with knitted brows looking like they are cogitating the nature of Choice. (Aside: anyone else notice they always carry thin HMV bags? What is in those bags?) It annoys me for the final scene of the first film: I think it was rather overindulgent of the Wachowskis. Listen to it here (may not work on Internet Explorer because it's lame; use Firefox):

Neo's frothy spiel to the Matrix (or whatever he is talking to, himself most probably) and his extravagant 'Superman thing', as Link later dubs it, set against Rage Against the Machine's Wake Up, captures a tendency in writing, speeches and film to shoehorn some mawkish wider meaning into the end of the script and finish on a big, splashy note.

US TV series are especially guilty of this, typically signing off with some life-affirming message or manifesto for making the world a better place. Something like, 'I guess the thing about identity these days is [insert your own pseudo-profound statement].'

Back to academia though. Whether or not this need to inject some wider meaning into conclusions is a product of our reading and viewing diets or whether it's from something else, it has no place in your essay's conclusion. Try and purge yourself of the temptation to imbue your final sentence with a fat dollop of real-world import.

Your final sentence in your essay should be a place for you to pithily state your answer to the question, so it is ringing in the ears of the marker as she finalises your mark. It is not the place for your personal manifesto.

Don't do a Neo and dip into the platitudes when you finish up; just answer the question.

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