Saturday, October 21, 2006

"Bludgeon Words"

There's this thing advertisers, PR companies, and mediocre mid-management types do, and somehow (amazingly) get away with.  They need to divert people's attention away from thinking and towards a path (in thought or action) that reasonable people would never take if they were paying attention.  How to simultaneously turn them into (temporary?) zombies and get them to think something they wouldn't ordinarily pollute their minds with?  Use a bludgeon word.  Some examples:

While at the PR agency, one of our semiconductor industry clients sent us a promotional video of the head guy at the company talking about the semiconductor industry and his company's role in it.  Every other (sometimes *every*) sentence contained the word "solution", said with an accent that heavily emphasized the "LU" - "soLUtion" - so there was this "Blabbidy blabbidy blah, soLUtion, blabbidy blah soLUtion blabbidy blah-blah soLUtion blabbidy blabbidy" mantra that went on and on and on, and to this day - some six years down the road, whenever I hear or read "solution", I am thrust back into the nightmare of that incessant "Blabbidy-blabbidy-blah, soLUtion; soLUtion; soLUtion, Blabbidy blah" video that I was unfortunate enough to have been exposed to.  I would like to delete that memory from my mind, but it was bludgeoned in and will be very difficult (impossible?) to eradicate.

At the printing company, there was a certain worthless (worse than worthless actually, "destructive" would be a better describer) mid-management bozo who regularly held three-hour meetings with content that could typically have been covered in ten minutes.  Being a spineless bugger, he couldn't deal with non-special-papers me, so he latched onto this consultant "Bob" who used to work at a famous advertising agency.  Day-after-day, week-after-week, we had to listen to Mr. Spineless Mid-management Bozo drone on-and-on: "Nantoka-pondoka, Bob-san desu ne, nantoka-bontoka, Bob-san, Bob-san desu ne..." Bob-san has this great idea; Bob-san worked at Big Advertising, Inc. before; Bob-san will be in Tokyo in two months, etc.  Bob was convenient since he was from the US, had lived in Japan, and was - at the time - living in Italy.  He blew through town once every six months or so with slick talk, collected a pile of cash, and flew back to Europe to spend the Tokyo cash on nice restaurants in Rome.  To this day, I still have that bloody "Bob-san desu ne... Bob-san - Bob-Bob-Bob desu" ringing in my ears.

And then there are advertisers, PR companies and politicians (one for all and all for one?).  Hopefully there is no need to point out specific examples here.  It's all about getting your very own bludgeon word in front of people (primarily through the media) to hammer people into senselessness with.  If it weren't for advertising, then we'd probably be more sensitive to it, but we've been hit so many times with bludgeon words, that we're numb, punch-drunk... and don't have the will and/or courage to challenge those who would destroy the language as a medium of true communication.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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