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Passive Voice

A lot of people tell you to avoid the passive voice. Sure, “the mouse was eaten,” but who ate it?

When you’re a PA, the passive voice can be your best friend. “The script was misfiled.” Who misfiled it? I certainly don’t know.

“The confidential memo was e-mailed to everyone.”

“The star was run over by a van.”

It’s a great way of diverting blame.

Every once in a while, though, the passive voice turns around and bites you on the ass.

On a multicamera show I was working on, a PA and I were laying down cable for the PL. (I don’t know what the hell it stands for, but it’s a headset that allows the camera operators to talk to each other and the director.)

Now, the PL cables have the same XLR connectors that microphones have. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to plug these cables into the sound equipment. I’m not sure what it would do, but it couldn’t be good. The other PA and I were extra careful to keep our stuff away from his.

A little while later, I hear the sound guy talking to the producer. He needs to go back to his office, because his board is fried. The producer asked what happened.

“The PL got plugged into it.”

Son of a bitch.

I know the producer is thinking, “Man, these idiot PAs. They’ll just plug anything into any hole, so long as it fits.”

But the sound guy did it! Later on, I asked him why he plugged it into his box, and he says, “I dunno. Doesn’t it need power?”

I have no fucking idea! As far as I know, it runs on pixie dust and happy thoughts, and because of that fact, I don’t go around plugging shit into shit without knowing what it’s going to do, and then let the producer assume some other moron (read: a PA) did it.

Argh. Man, when the passive voice is used, it is hated.

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