Let A Platitude Be Your Attitude

5 May

What is the difference between a quotation and a platitude? How can one person hear a cute saying and think it’s profound and another think it’s insipid? Does it have something to do with how it’s communicated?

I was listening to the radio and the same PSA came on for the umpteenth time. It sounds like Amanda Gorman, the current poet laureate, but it’s not be her; someone who is imitating her style. It starts off with “A return to sanity, could it be?” It goes into this poetic reading of the benefits of getting the vaccine and how it will help us get back to normal.

I really hate it.

However, let me do a little metacognition–that means I’m pretentious–thinking about how I think. Why do I hate this PSA? The first thought is my same thought about all PSAs; why do we need this commercial? Do you think people haven’t heard about the vaccine by now? Don’t you think people have already made up their minds about this vaccine? They’ll either get it or they’re waiting for availability or they won’t.

Who will hear this well-drafted poem that hasn’t heard the message already? “Click it or ticket” has been around for decades and yet I still have a friend who will never put a seat belt on. Ever. He’s the only one. The message is out there; you won the argument! Accept 99% compliance. That’s a win.

I think another reason is the repetition. I’ve heard this commercial five times a day; it’s played on this radio station every hour… maybe every half hour… because radio stations are required to play a certain percentage of PSA’s in their ad stream. Also because iHeartMedia charges companies differently for live streams than broadcast frequencies. There’s less advertisers who want to pay that, therefore, more PSA’s to fill the void.

I think the best example of this is music. I like the song “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” by Nine Days; everyone else of my generation hates it. Why? Because it was played on a high repetition when it came out in 2000. I love the lyrics, I love the tempo… but I also haven’t heard it a lot. Even now, I’m reluctant to actually play it, because it’s such an earworm, I can play it in my head easily.

My wife suggests that part of the problem is that it’s an unfamiliar style. Then again, she’s bought critical race theory whole; that doesn’t mean she’s wrong in this case. It’s an African-American doing a “performance poem,” which my lily-white ears aren’t comfortable with. The “other” does make things more difficult to accept. I never listened to rap growing up, so when my drinking buddy wants to crank up the rap from my generation, I can’t share the joy that he has about the genre. So I’m not down with it.

So this PSA fails on message, repetition, and style for me. You could judge it yourself. However, I think you remember something similar. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below! Then check out one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. This post brought to you by Albigensia Press and the Ad Council. 🙂

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