Friday, July 6, 2012

On Cars, Advertising, & the Death of Language

The car you see to the right is called the Nissan Rogue.  I didn't know it existed until I walked past one today.  Today I learned that Nissan has committed murder.

Rogue: 1. vagrant; tramp; 2. a dishonest or worthless person; 3. a mischievous person

You see Merriam-Webster's definitions above.  By extension and connotation, "rogue" has grown into more romantic notions as well; that of a devil-may-care, individualistic adventurer, perhaps.  Blackbeard.  Han Solo.

You may have noticed that what is pictured above is a fucking hatchback.  It's not a villain.  It's not some wild animal who's broken from his pack, looking to maim anything in his path.  It's not a swashbuckler looking out for his own best interest and damn the consequences.  It's the car that a dental hygienist drives to Arby's.  It's what an accountant buys used for his 16-year old daughter.  It's a compromise on four wheels.  It's settling.

I love language.  I love the multitude of words we have to describe every aspect of the human experience and beyond.  We have spent actual millennia weaving a rich tapestry of sounds and figures with a common meaning in order to express what lies deep in our hearts.  One of the first tasks set upon Adam by God was to name everything in existence. 

Now we have advertisers for that.

They have committed robbery and murder.  They've stolen the word "rogue" and stapled it to this piece of plastic and metal in the hopes that that word, vs., say, "banality," will trick a few more slack-jawed, glassy-eyed consumers into giving Nissan their money instead of any other identical company for any other identical car.  In doing so, the word means a little less to me now.  It died a little.  So, correction: they only murdered a little. 

That's just one word.  Think of all the words used in all the commercials, by all the politicians, stretched and twisted to convince us of something that just isn't true.  Thousands upon thousands of innocent victims are scattered across a desolate literary landscape.

Looks like we have a word for that too: verbicide.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he's an actor and writer.

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