Friday, 7 July 2017


Because we have grandkids I watch a fair bit of kids’ TV although these days all of it is streamed off the internet. Terrestrial TV seems to be dead as far as the grandkids are concerned. I doubt if they know which channel is which so the BBC's planned spending splurge could be a waste of money.

Commonly heard on kids’ TV is the word ‘awesome’. Along with ‘amazing’ it denotes a kind of gushing approval which can be directed at any mediocre achievement because the great aim seems to consist of avoiding the worst possible thing a child can ever experience – sadness.

Oh well – we are all too familiar with hype, exaggeration, unmerited praise and the pathological avoidance of criticism because we are modern and caring. We must be soft in the head too - but I add that in the nicest possible way.

It is natural to encourage kids in their halting endeavours to learn and progress because we want them to do well. Of course we do so we have to offer up at least some admiration for that weird orange blob which is supposed to be Mummy or that lump of Play-Doh which is supposed to be a dragon. The trouble is these things are neither awesome nor amazing so perhaps we shouldn't say they are. It doesn't prepare them for bureaucratic realities later on.

Suppose a child grows up, takes to politics, climbs the greasy pole all the way to the top and finally makes the UN work as it should. That would be both awesome and amazing. Well not really. That would be impossible, but ‘impossible' is a word you don’t seem to hear much on kids’ TV and that could explain a good deal.


Sam Vega said...

"Awesome!" and "amazing!" always seem to require being spoken, in that context at least, in an American accent. I think that less damage is done to meaning and expectations if we stick to British understatement. I have seen some excellent teachers who give grudging praise ("Not bad, not bad...!") and if done with a twinkle it can be just as motivating.

I remember interviewing someone for a management position in a college, and they introduced their presentation in an ironically self-deprecating and understated manner which I found quite engaging. My boss, however, dismissed it. He said that any effective communication now has to be Americanised and "OTT", or else people lose confidence in the communicator. Sad, really.

wiggiatlarge said...

I can remember in less "fortunate" times, post war, a young child being given for Christmas a few copies of old newspapers and a box of crayons, the mother who had lost her husband in the war was near destitute, yet worked, nobody critised or admonished as today when an iPod is the only acceptable gift.
He later became a good friend and a fellow track cyclist.

Demetrius said...

What it is part of is the decay of language and of any structure in thinking.

Michael said...

A few years ago, everything not liked was 'hateful', so maybe the people who used the term have grown up by now.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post AK.

Terrestrial telly, strictly for poor people and old people and those who stay in on Saturday night, hardly worth advertising to, apart from funeral plans and compo lawyers.

A few years ago interviewees were regarded as ignorant if they used 'yunno'. Now everyone does it yunno. Then a good bit before that people were thought careless and ignorant if they used newfangled writing instead of memory yunno.

So far as I can tell people have been going to hell in a handcart since about 5000BCE.

A K Haart said...

Sam - not only sad but probably wrong if the communication is directed at people who are not Americans.

Wiggia - in the fifties my cousin lost his father, but his mum worked, coped and brought up three boys.

Demetrius - yes language does decay and it matters because it defines what we are and constrains our ability to know what we are.

Scrobs - today everything not liked is 'right wing' so maybe people still haven't grown up.

Roger - 'funeral plans and compo lawyers'? You must have been watching daytime TV. Which suggest I've noticed it too.