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Opening Arguments

A tragic hyperbole

A lot has been written about how the term "tragedy" has been weakened and diluted. Originally, it had a very specific meaning: A tragic figure was someone who had the potential for greatness but was brought down by his character flaws. By that definition, Richard Nixon was a tragic figure. But in recent years the term has been used for everything from floods and other weather extremes to missing a party because of coming down with a cold.

  That complaint has perhaps been made once too often, but surely this qualifies as a stretch of the concept:

Indiana-based cinematographer Samuel Orr has spent the past six years filming more than 200 hours of cicadas in various stages of their life cycle in a handful of midwestern states, reports The Huffington Post.

The 42-year-old natural history filmmaker and time-lapse photographer created the amazing film by using a series of still photos to piece together time-lapse sequences of the cicadas shedding their shells.

The film shows the ultimately tragic lives of cicadas, which live for up to 17 years underground and spend just six weeks in the open air looking for love before perishing.

I'm sure this is a fine movie, and I do sort of feel sorry for the poor widdle cicada and its too-brief (but not quiet enought) time above ground. But, please, a tragedy? No matter how much we cheapen the word, let's at least reserve it for something affecting humans.