Monday, August 6, 2012

Cleanliness. And piss.

Just about every time I write something, I try to come up with a line or a thought that "makes" the piece. Something intrinsic on which the piece turns.

When you write a commercial, this is the money line. The seminal bit of "truth" that makes the spot work.

In a print ad, it's often the linchpin on which the logic of the ad rests.

In an email, it's often a scintilla of humor that makes a weighty subject less onerous.

There's something they're teaching now in MBA school. And they've gotten very good at it.

They're teaching clients or arming them with wit polygraphs that allow them to zero in on the corpuscles of humanity.

It is these milligram slices of life that make work work.

But clients are fast to remove them.

All over American they've put hand-sanitizer in lobbies, bathrooms, hallways and more. This sanitizer is meant to kill the germs and grime that presumably can grow on your hands like mold on a locker-room floor. They're meant to make the world air-brushed and anti-septic.

In the process, the world has been scrubbed so clean that we are no longer as resistant to illness as we used to be.

We are, in short, cleaning ourselves to death. Or if not to death, then we are left with work that has the soul of an in-flight video. Sparkling smiles, flaccid prose, spineless, insipid, bland.

Or in the words of the late, great Ed Butler, my boss for three years when I was at Ally & Gargano, work that's "as flat as a plate of piss."

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