By Manos Angelakis

Advertising & Politics

George Orwell in his dystopian 1984, warns readers of the dangers of totalitarianism; he especially warned about “Newspeak” where common words and phrases are used in a “new” sociopolitical commentary to manipulate the listeners.

And Newspeak was the language of official propaganda from the White House of the previous administration, by the then president’s communications spokespersons. We all heard of “alternative facts,” or “alternate facts”, the Orwellian coinage for brazen lying. This ridiculous phrase immediately produced a barrage of commentary by people that knew there was a deliberate attempt to strip the pronouncements of their actual meaning so as to manipulate public opinion.

I used to know an advertising executive, whose motto was “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS”!

I’ve been hearing a lot of that in the current political discourse as well as in advertising campaigns, where BS is used to sound provocative or, in expected ignorance of the finer points of the English language by the masses, attempts are made to elevate concepts or products to heights not actually meaningful. 

For example, I’ve been recently hearing and reading the term “curated”  used to mean that the product or service has been carefully chosen and thoughtfully organized. In my humble opinion, it is a bizarre use of the term; you don’t “curate” toothpaste or restaurant menus. “Carefully selected” is a thoroughly acceptable descriptive; curated is not… it is Newspeak!

Another Advertspeak use (yes, I too can create meaningless but highfalutin sounding portmanteau words) was the following ad: “those looking to move can find an apartment through a real estate company offering curated New York City properties.”!

Both Newspeak and Advertspeak are purposefully ambiguous and confusing, with a limited vocabulary that strips nuance and exact meaning inherent in the Common English Language in order to reduce the language’s function and limit awareness; thus facilitating the control of the thought-processes of the citizenry for the benefit of the few… add here Government or Corporation or Political Parties or Powerful Individuals… whoever can gain by ignorance and narrow mindedness.

William Shakespeare would put it best about the blather nowadays filling the airwaves “is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. (Macbeth)

 

 

 

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