The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'oxfam'


This year's crop of pre-Christmas advertising in London includes campaigns from various charities, suggesting that people buy, as gifts for their loved ones, items of aid for people in developing countries. Oxfam's version of this campaign, titled "Famously Funusual Gifts", seemed particularly strained:

Other than "funusual" being a somewhat cringeworthy neologism, it is also inaccurate. One can say a lot of good things about giving someone a certificate that their gift was a goat for an African village or a combination children's playground and water pump: it can be worthy, enlightened, socially aware, and, yes, unusual. However, to say it is "fun" is somewhat of a stretch. One might get a lot of satisfaction, a feeling of wellbeing or worthiness, or (more uncharitably) a smug sense of moral and cultural superiority over the Sun-reading philistines who merely got a new plasma-screen TV for Christmas; however, none of these emotions are usually classified as "fun". Even if the certificate one gets in lieu of a present is set in Comic Sans and festooned with quirky cartoons.

This use of "fun" sounds like a potential neologism in the making; perhaps we will see the meaning of "fun" change to refer to something that's not particularly enjoyable though one is obliged, by social pressure, to grin and bear it and pretend that it is in order to keep up appearances of worthiness or superiority. ("This village toilet is the best gift ever; so much better than a Nintendo Wii.") Eventually, the implicit sarcasm will seep into the word "fun", and its original meaning will go the way of other words like "gay" and "special": "That sounds totally fun. Let's go do something else instead."

advertising fun funusual language neologism oxfam society 1


Real life riffs off The Goodies: an Oxfam shop has asked donors to not give them any Max Bygraves records, because they've already got too many of them. The same goes for Val Doonican records.

"We love having vinyl of Donovan, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley," she said. "Recently we sold an Elvis single for £79 so it's a good market for us.

culture life imitating art max bygraves oxfam the goodies val doonican 0

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