Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time...


You know how at work, you have these brainstorming meetings, and the Vice President conducting the meetings says something wacky like: "There are no bad ideas...don't hold anything back..." just to get those creative juices flowing?  And if the group is homogeneous - they all have too many things in common so there is no depth of cultural knowledge - they can't look to see if the genius of their collective thought has a different meaning.  This is how things can snowball into something totally different than what the team ran up the flag pole and saluted. 

For example, one phrase that my grandfather used in his time - "pull a boner"  was a common expression.  Pull a joke on someone and you buddy was likly to say something like "Boy, you sure did pull a boner on him."

Now, fast forward 80 years or so.  Could you say out loud, and without reservation, in public that you had "pulled a boner" on someone?  Not unless you were gossiping in a bath house, and even that isn't what it once was, either.

In 1920, pulling a boner meant that you ran the risk of getting egg on your face; today that same phrase takes on a whole different meaning of what you could get covered in, if you aren't careful. And if you did use it, your would find yourself going to great lengths to explain what you mean.

"Well it means to do something funny, either to you, or someone else - its like a joke...really, it is," is sure to ruin the funny story and your reputation at anyone's cocktail party, unless its at the house of the confirmed bachelor down the street, and even then you'd just be considered insensitive by the blue haired ladies in the Rose Club.

So imagine my surprise when I found this picture on a creative media company named OLSON in Minneapolis:

Image Credit: OLSON 

Obviously, these folks at OLSON really are trying to "milk" the whole car analogy of "pistons pumping" (get it - cars, engines, pistons, revving, speed, rear end collisions, etc.) but what they have really done is created an image better suited to the "Sling Room" at finer leather clubs and bars throughout the US, or an art film produced by Raging Stallion Studios.  I know, it is a bit more out of the ordinary SNAFU of "their", "there", and "they're" and walking away with a head shaker fill with confused meaning and conflicting statements.

This is exactly the kind of thing that can happen if your group think is too much alike.  You end up with egg on your face.

More troubling is the question: does this firm not employ one gay man that was part of the "group"? 

I don't think they do. 

How can you be a creative media savvy company in today's world without have at least one gay man on staff?  And if they do, is he the only gay man in the world that doesn't know the slang of our times?  Or is their intent to market to the mainstream world a term that in real life about a is a man who really is wearing some "Elbow Grease" and working up a sweat to get the job done?

I know, I shouldn't go there.  But sometimes, its so hard to say no.

I just have this image of a guy in Detroit, leaning back on his couch while his girlfriend (or even boyfriend) looks at him with bedroom eyes, and he says "Oh, yeah, baby, pump that fist, but don't get it on the carpet."

And I don't think thats what they intended.



  1. Regarding the term "boner" - have you seen this Batman page? http://frenchyshouseparty.blogspot.com/2009/07/untentionally-funny-batman-comic.html

  2. I'd watch more sports if there was a "fist pumper".