When did the writers of advertising copy decide that catch phrases devised to sound like vulgar slang are appealing devices to sell services or merchandise? If you are so devoid of wit and civility that you find Verizon’s new campaign hilarious, Sponge Bob is over your head. Oscar Wilde this isn’t. What it is is one more gratuitous coarsening feature of the public square and common discourse. Now we are teaching children that it’s cool to speak rudely, as long as you pretend that you aren’t intending to. Look! The grown-ups are doing it!
It’s an insult. It’s an insult to the target audience that is supposed to clap like seals at a play on words that would have rejected by the most desperate night club comedian 20 years ago. It’s an insult to the craft of marketing, to which this is what farting on key is to singing. Most of all, it’s an insult to society, the culture, and the United States of America. No wonder Muslims think our way of life is disgusting. It is.
I couldn’t bring myself to post on K-Mart’s abysmal “ship my pants” ad in 2013; I thought it was an aberration. OK, I hoped it was an aberration. Now comes Verizon to sell its FIOS by having actors complain that their internet is half-fast. Half-fast, get it? GET IT???
I’m not offended by the phrase—heck, I scream things ten times as ugly at my computer every day. No, I’m offended that there not only is no respect for others in public discourse, the entire idea that there should be is considered old-fashioned. This began with badly raised kids spouting obscenities in movie theaters, then began metastasizing as TV comedians, Vice-Presidents, Oscar-winning actresses, rock stars and others lacked the inhibitions to keep them from whispering, speaking or shouting obscenities into open mics, and now has gone mainstream. Fortune 500 companies run by Harvard Business School grads believe that promoting their business with coded vulgarity is cute and responsible. Well, it isn’t. It just makes the world we live in a little uglier, and it’s more than ugly enough.