Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Speaking in Cliches

It finally hit me the other day after a TV spot with some one standing in a red circle telling me "I am so there" was followed immediately by some one else eating a slice of pizza while enthusing that "I'm all about the multi-grain!" Please. If you must speak in tongues, make at least one of them your own.

We use Madison Avenue to create a language we can use instead of having to think original thoughts at all. From "I'm Lovin' It" to "You 'Kin Do It", the words and ideas belong to others and aren't we lucky there's no royalties involved otherwise we'd all have to learn to mime.

It used to bother me I had to buy cards to express my feelings for special days in the lives of my spouse or my children. I could rationalise it by arguing (with myself) that I am an emotional cripple and need Hallmark moments to allow me to connect (I'm not sure that explains the Star Wars card for my brother's birthday so let's just move along shall we?). We use tag lines and catch phrases as rallying cries everyday and as the clincher in discussions and debates.

"Yes We Can" helped propel Barack Obama into the White House but I'm so old I still think of The Pointer Sisters (but judging from recent events, I'm alone). Could we all go a day and NOT use someone else's words when we speak? How long a day would it be and would it feel a lot longer? And how afraid should I be when some of this stuff gets recycled and comes back for other people? I think I can remember a phone company (a 'land line' phone company, come to think of it) who had a Friends and Family Plan (not that I would have qualified) and now it's back but it's a different company and they're a cell phone operation.

Not that long ago, I passed a message board for a church in Norwich (the one down by the Sweeney Bridge; I don't know which one but I'm sure God does) that had, I think rather cleverly, borrowed a sales line to help Praise the Lord (ammunition optional): "Life is Short. Pray Hard." Can I get an Amen?
-bill kenny

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