I’m not you. That’s a good thing, because if I were, there would be at least two more versions of me than are absolutely necessary. Or even remotely desirable.
But I’ve digressed, even before I got gressing in the first place.
The point is, even though you are not me, you are probably aware of the ‘80s band Huey Lewis and the News. And you’re probably well aware that they’re over. They’re so over that KC and the Sunshine Band has a good laugh with Bobcat Goldthwaite about them.
This is such a simple concept. Tide stopped bemoaning ring-around-the-collar. Schools stopped showing Reefer Madness to teenagers. Brett Favre actually retired.
Clearly, not everyone has grasped the concept. That is the only explanation for the sudden explosion of sayings, each distinctly less clever than the previous one, riffing off the British wartime exhortation to Keep Calm and Carry On.
At my non-profit workplace someone has a poster that says Keep Calm and Raise Funds. I saw a shirt that said Keep Calm and Bowl. There’s even a Keepcalm-o-matic website that allows you to match Keep Calm with anything you can imagine. Keep Calm and Eat A Cookie. Keep Calm and Be Belieber. Keep Calm and Love Ariana. Evidently, you don’t have much of an imagination. The only connection among these items, besides their transparent disconnection from keeping calm, is their utter lack of creativity.
In case you’re considering a Keep Calm t-shirt, poster, hat, tattoo, engagement speech or other further co-opting of this now malign saying, let me be the first to clue you in.
It’s over. Been over. Was over after about the third use.
You see, the original propaganda was clever. The first adaptation was mildly clever. The re-purposing of the first adaptation was a clever rip-off. All subsequent versions: total rip-off, not to mention the evil opposite of clever. Trite, brainless nonsense.
Which brings us to the Got Milk? ad campaign from 20 years back. A paradigm of advertising genius, most notably when paired with Oreos for maybe the most brilliant 60 seconds in television history. (Aim low, my friends!)
Got Milk? took off like a scud missile on mescaline . . . and then the copycats descended upon it. Got Jesus? Got Cocker Spaniels? Got Lawn? Got Comfortable Footwear? And people are still producing them. Can you imagine what these conversations sound like?
“I’ve got it! Let’s adapt that inspired Got Milk? campaign to our purposes and make it – ready for this? – Got Tomatoes?”
“Lester, that is magnificent! Your mind works in glorious and mysterious ways!”
“Yes, jaws will drop when such enlightenment reaches their eyes!
This doltishness is polluting our world and must be stopped! If I were King, or Robert Mugabe, I would not just outlaw any further use of the “Got” trope, I would institute the death penalty as punishment. And on second conviction, a hunting trip with Dick Cheney. Anyone unaware that “Got” and more recently “Keep Calm” are over, is criminally negligent and must be put out of our misery.
Of course, you might disagree. After all, Huey Lewis and the News are still touring.