“You use the word ‘amazing’ to describe a goddamn sandwich at Wendy’s? What’s going to happen on your wedding day, or when your first child is born? How will you describe it? You already wasted ‘amazing’ on a fucking sandwich.”
Louis C. K.
How do you describe paradise?
All St. Paul could say was: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard …”
But when visitors to my Vieques B&B first look out at the expanse of Caribbean Sea before them, it might as well be a sandwich: Amazing! … Awesome!
I hate to sound like a whiner, but the overuse of amazing and awesome is making me mad as hell.
“I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!”
Huffington Post Blogger Phillip Goldberg points out that the song "Amazing Grace" works because its composer experienced a transcendent experience. “Amazin' Mets” was an appropriate nickname because the original team was shockingly awful and because the 1969 squad stunned the world by winning the World Series.
But Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal is not amazing -- even though its commercials say it is.
What bothers me most? Amazing and awesome are indiscriminately applied by people who should know better – advertising copywriters.
These are the people who are supposed to understand that if everything is amazing, then nothing is amazing.
These are the people who are supposed to know that the root word, awe, carries connotations of fear and dread.
Mark Kennedy, a columnist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, writes:
“Our common usage of ‘awesome’ -- meaning extremely good -- paints a happy face on a word that was meant to convey something so daunting it might make you fall to your knees.”
But today, I get awesome instead of “thank you.”
In just a single hour of television watching, my wife – like a dutiful amanuensis – jotted down these product claims:
GoGurt Squeeze Yogurt
Dunkin Donuts Coffee
Comcast reportedly poured some $170 million into the ad campaign for Xfinity – branding it "The Future of Awesome."
When Hooters launched its new campaign -- “Step Into Awesome” -- the CEO of the ad agency spewed out this doodah:
“The campaign arose from key insights brought on by consumer research and a brand vision developed with franchise partners … ”
C’mon! Hooters trades on the big breasts of waitresses – and everybody knows it!
Even prestigious periodicals have fallen victim.
Advertising Age, the industry’s version of Variety, printed this headline:
“Can BBDO Make Bud Light Advertising Awesome Again?”
And venerable old Readers Digest:
“13+ Amazing Uses for WD-40”
All of it cannot be amazing. All cannot be awesome. Instead, it’s all become nonsense.
But there’s nothing, really, that I can do about it beyond begging you, as Peter Finch did in the 1976 movie, Network, to “get up right now, go to your windows and stick your head out and yell 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!’”
Or I can just relax to the Beatles’ non-sensical but profound lyrics:
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on brah
La la how the life goes on
In my next blog, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”