Thursday, September 6, 2007

Not your father's cliche. Oh wait; it is.

Maybe it's time to retire the phrase, "This is not your father's [blank]," where blank is the latest piece of obsolescent consumer goods some company is struggling to rebrand. I see it about four times a day, most recently in this New York Times story about the latest effort to hawk one more thing I hate: an electronic book reader. Amazon is reportedly set to unveil the Kindle next month. It will cost upwards of $400 and will feature wireless connectivity. (Doesn't everything feature wireless connectivity? One of these days, I'm pretty sure even my toothbrush will be set up for Bluetooth.)

“This is not your grandfather’s e-book,” said one publishing executive who did not want to be named. Hey, I wouldn't want to be named either, trotting out cliches like that. Google the phrase and you'll get clever headlines like these:

"Not your father's encyclopedia."
"Not your father's sex shop."
"Not your father's Mario Kart."
"Not your father's neanderthal."
"Not your father's robots."
"Not your father's Talmud."

... and about 3 million other gems that must have seemed quite jaunty at the time. It's odd that this phrase is so durable, considering that it didn't help save the Oldsmobile when the slogan was rolled out in 1998. In fact, some say it actually helped hasten the car's demise by reminding buyers of its longstanding appeal to querulous geezers.

But is this post about e-book readers or dead slogans? I'm not sure; I'm just blogging here. Let's just say anybody who uses either deserves to be thrashed. Perhaps with your drunken stepfather's shillelagh.

4 comments:

Peter said...

At the end of the day, I can think of one phrase just about as annoying as "Not your father's -- "

Hey, I just had a terrific idea for a TV series about a hip dad who parties even more than his embarrassed kids. I'll call it Not Your Father's Father.
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Dave K. said...

Don't get me started on "at the end of the day ..." That's almost become like clearing one's throat.

Actually, Not Your Father's Father sounds like a good title for a story.

Peter said...

People who say "not your father's ... " think they're being delightfully lighthearted. "At the end of the day" is far worse because it is almost always intended to convey that now the speaker is serious, that what is to follow carries weight. Instead, it conveys the opposite message: that the speaker is a dope.

I think I'll start work on the story as soon as I get home from work.
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Dave K. said...

I like writing titles. It's coming up with stories to match them with that I have trouble with.