You deserve your nominations and my apology.

“Mo’nique rolls over twittery actresses” This was one of the many tweets I made during the Academy Awards telecast last week. Obviously, it pertains to the winner of best supporting actress, Mo’nique for her brazen portrayal of an abusive mother in the controversial drama, Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire. Tweeting during TV events like the Super Bowl and Oscars has become quite a phenomenon. Nice to see old and new media benefiting from each other. Fun to be a part of it.

Integration of TV and Twitter would make a great topic for a post but it’s not the subject of this one. For that we must go back to the actual content of my above tweet. Read it again: Mo’nique rolls over twittery actresses. The line has been haunting me ever since I wrote it. The reasons why are complicated and difficult to write about, which is precisely why I must. As a copywriter and, moreover, a human being, I need to know the truth behind those five words.

First off, I chose the words carefully… very carefully. You need to know what I would have tweeted had I not edited myself. It would have gone something like this: “Baddass Black woman flattens flighty white chicks!” Awful right? But that’s what I was thinking. Equally offensive to blacks, whites and women in general, I feel embarrassed for having conjured the thought.

True, I did not actually write anything offensive. (Thank God.) Or did I? In retrospect it’s clear I coded my words, giving them the potency I wanted, without resorting to politically incorrect language.

Look at the verb. I used the word “rolls” instead of “flattens.” ‘Rolling over’ the competition is an accepted cliché’. Yet, I must admit I also liked the veiled allusions to “fat.” A steamroller is heavy. Fat people have rolls. I was aware of this when I chose the word “rolls.”

Now, about the adjective: twittery. What did I mean by that? This one is harder to explain. Besides not being black, the other actresses (those I saw anyway) played career women, in particular the nominated pair from Up In the Air. By calling them “twittery” (as in fidgety or nervous) I now feel I held that against them. I implied they were made anxious by their lifestyle choices, and the fact that they were single, with no men to define them. The word “twittery” also suggests (to me anyway) someone prone to outbursts, short and constant. In this context, my word choice, and comment as a whole, can be viewed as borderline misogynistic. Using it as an adjective to the noun “actresses” intensifies that point. Twittery actresses.

Finally, just writing the winners name, Mo’nique, in all its righteousness, communicated plenty.

Why am I going into this? It flatters no one, least of all me. As a creative person I always question my thinking. When I struggle with something I write about it. A writer writes. Even crazy ones. Especially crazy ones.

From a copywriter’s point of view, things get more interesting. We are paid to choose words carefully. After all, we typically write so few of them. Each word, by definition, is often fraught with meaning, double meaning, and even trickery. What seems like a sentence or two about this or that product has often been worked over for weeks. They must be, in order to grab someone. If the product being sold is controversial, the copywriter uses precise language to circumvent danger or vagaries to disguise it. Even casual banter is anything but. My seemingly benign tweet is a perfect example of this, which is why I’ve dissected it here.

Final thought: Social media forces us to let go our editing instinct. Writing is about the here and now. Wait to long in order to ponder a subject and the group moves on. While the dissemination of information speeds up, sensitivity and thoughtfulness ebb. Censorship decreases but at what price? As we write faster (be it tweets, texts or even body copy) we must learn to think faster. Or face the consequences.

Steff on Twitter

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Gentle Readers-

Normally I like to post Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Not only is it good discipline for me but it spreads the week out nicely. In any event, agency obligations (aka my real job) were overwhelming this week and I’m unable to provide a piece for your Friday consumption; that is, if you don’t include this one!

However, I’ve got a few doozies planned for next week. Leading off with another infamous mea culpa. My digital screw-ups always prove popular. Ah, schadenfreude! In any event, Gods of Advertising is nothing if not a learning experience. Monday’s tale will be no exception.

Then I’ve got a real surprise. I’m launching an online art gallery and anthology for copywriters and art directors by copywriters and art directors. Its sole purpose will be to showcase what creative advertising people make when they’re not making ads. A dream of mine for years, I resuscitated the concept based on new opportunities for it online. I’ve been working on the prototype for several weeks now, writing and tweaking the content, playing with formats and acquiring submissions.

Much more will be revealed next week but if you want to participate –site unseen- please send me a poem, a short story, a photograph or a piece of art. The only requirement is that you be a creative advertising person and that you created the work. Please provide your name, current job and a few words about the piece. Send jpegs, PDFs or Word documents to me, at Steffan1@rcn.com. Don’t worry about formats and don’t be shy. PS: we could really use some poetry and photography.

Finally, in the wee hours last night this blog received it’s 100,000th visitor in 2009. Not big numbers if you’re an advertiser but pretty effen good if you’re me! Thank you so much for your readership and continued support. And I’ll see you next week.

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