Friday, January 15, 2010

The Original F-Word

See...this is the problem...

There's a full page ad in this week's Entertainment Weekly magazine. (Yes, I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly. I follow the world of entertainment and I like to be updated weekly. So I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly.)

So, this ad.

It's for a new CW Network show, entitled Life Unexpected. I don't know what to expect of life and I don't intend to watch so I don't care about the show. This is not about the show.

Well, it is, and it isn't.

First of all, the tag line at the top of the ad is:

"Juno meets Gilmore Girls."

That's nice, I guess. But I don't care. I saw Juno and it was okay but I've never seen Gilmore Girls. So I don't care.

Then there's a photo of the three stars in their character costumes.

I don't know the three stars and their character costumes are so SELECTED and PRECISE and HIP and CALCULATED with their emblem-ed T-shirts and leather jackets and half-laced boots and faded jeans and the characters are so PERFECTLY HAIR-ED that I don't want to have anything to do with the show.

But that's not the point.

The point is the second tagline, the show's catchphrase, attached to the bottom of the ad.

You ready?

"Family is the new F-word."

I'll pause a moment here for you to let that sink in.

"Family is the new F-word."

Here's my problem:

The 20-something studio executive who came up with that line probably got a raise. When he or she brought it up at the sales meeting, there was probably a rhapsody of oohs and aahs in the room and pencils and styrofoam coffee cups were probably tossed in the air in amazement at the unbridled brilliance and cleverness of that line.

To me, it's just so damned glib and cynical that I can't stand it.

First of all, you 20-something studio exec, what do you think is the first word that comes to mind when anybody reads that tagline?

"Family?" No.

"The original F-word?" Yes!

So you don't think about family. You don't think about warmth. You don't think about caring or loving or humanity or even the perfect hair of the actors in the show. You think about the original F-word.

Is that what you set out to do?

You will say "NO!" I will say "YES!" That IS what you set out to do. You did not want the world to say, "Oh, yes, I want to watch this family show." You wanted the world to say, "Oooh! How clever to remind us of the original F-word in the context of this family show!"

What you have done, in essence, is, you have connected the word "family" to the original "F-word" so that when we think of the former, we think of the latter. Inevitably. Inexorably.

You jerk, whoever you are.

I will not watch your show, because I don't like your costumes or your hair.

But mainly I will not watch your show because I despise your smug manipulation of the language under the guise of cleverness.

The original F-word you.

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