George Carlin used to do a routine about how we’ve “softened” our language. How “shell shocked” morphed into “battle fatigue”, and then, over time, into “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” – or the even more nondescript PTSD, which makes that terrible condition sounds like it can be cured by taking a Midol.
In many ways, radio’s guilty of this, too. A tragedy happens, and all we hear is “Our hearts and prayers go out to them” instead of showing real concern. In today’s PC News, “alleged perpetrators” doesn’t sound the same as “the guy they think robbed the store,” and you’re doing someone a favor when you say he’s been accused of “spousal abuse” instead of beating up his wife.
Let’s lighten this up a bit:
Personally, I saw this coming a long time ago, when the first hard drug I ever had—sugar—became unacceptable to cereal manufacturers, and Sugar Crisp became the soft, lovingly castrated “Golden Crisp.”
GOLDEN CRISP? What the heck is that? Sounds like how French fries should come out…golden crisp. And the Sugar Bear, that lovable dispenser of this children’s version of heroin, became the Honey Bear or Golden Bear or something. No, wait…Jack Nicklaus was the Golden Bear. Oh well, that’s not the point.
But this is: Don’t get so generic or politically correct in your language (or your format or your subject matter) that you lose your PUNCH. Smooth peanut butter may sell more, but it feels better to eat a glob of CHUNKY.
Have some GUTS. (Not “intestinal fortitude.”)
Show some SPUNK. (Not some “spirit.”)
And by the way, Mother Goose, Jack did NOT fall down and break his “crown.” He CLONKED his head on a big ROCK, and now he’s bleeding like a stuck pig.
Your language should convey EMOTION. Generic language makes you seem like you don’t have any.
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Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.
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