Sunday, July 09, 2006


I guess advertising agencies have known for some time that there is nothing like alliteration when it comes to embedding marketing slogans into a consumer's psyche (P-p-p-pick up a Penguin) but it would appear that in the quest for fantastically effective fricatives...the 'voiceless' and 'labio-dental' both sacrificed here for their assonance...consonantal consonance has begun to take precedence over any semantic considerations to the extent that a manufacturer of bath and shower gel will accept a marketing presentation containing the words 'Family Friendly Formula' without instantly dismissing it as mere babble from the sick bed.

Given that even the less sentient among the populace would probably have among their expectations of such a gel the assumption that it would not corrode their epidermal layer to the extent of necessitating a visit to their local NHS provider, one wonders just how this formula can demonstrate its acclaimed chumminess.

This aside, what really grates is the ubiquitous shorthand of 'family'. The use of the word by advertisers, politicians and apostrophe unaware signboard writers has rendered it absolutely meaningless or, more accurately, to a state of such vagueness that it can safely be used by such masters of the art of saying absolutely nothing while sounding deeply profound as huckstering political candidates in the sure and certain knowledge that heads will nod among the electorate at any mention of the phrase, 'family values'.

Family holiday, family meal, family fun, family there's an image for car, family shampoo and family bloody values; all intent on conjuring an image as unreal as that of a nostalgic reminiscence of the supposedly halcyon days of the 1950s where fratricide, incest, spousal abuse and child battering all, no doubt, took place without the confines of the family and idyllic Sunday afternoon picnics formed the focus of a fun family weekend.

Would it were just a laziness abroad in the land but I fear it is but a symptom of a deeper malaise; a desire, especially on the part of politicians and the media, to reduce even the most complicated issues to an easily remembered soundbite using enough emotive language to trigger an emotional response among the intended audience in an attempt to stifle any rational debate on the subject. The word 'family' has already been hijacked, 'democracy' would appear to be going the same way. We are indeed, a civilisation in decline.

All I can say is that any family containing Warren Terrism and Laura Norder is not one among which I would wish to spread my genes, that's for sure.

I must go now. I think my family pizza is just about done.

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