Friday, September 05, 2008

A(nother) modest proposal

Jonathan Swift ain't got nothing on Out of Left Field. Apparently some readers were unaware that my efforts yesterday were meant to be a satirical poke at Queen's decision to drop the golden from its name.

That's the nature of satire. Not everyone gets it. Which is also why it is an effective way to make your point. It would have been absurd for Queen's to force people not to use the word "Thigh" while singing the Oil Thigh. But, based on some of the school's recent decisions, it was just enough believable for some to take it upon themselves to contact the school and let officials there know just what they thought of the "decision."

Neate already issued the official apology so I won't repeat it here. It wouldn't be sincere anyway. I'm quite happy that the Queen's sports information department had to take a few uncomfortable calls yesterday (and I did label the post satire from the get-go, so...). They should have to answer questions about why they are insisting on being so damn controlling.

Control is what this whole mess (Goldengate??) is ultimately all all about--the modern marketers' pathological need to control every aspect of everything. God help them if they let people, sorry, consumers, think for themselves.

In case you are unaware of the history of the golden in the Golden Gaels, it originated in 1947 when the Kingston Whig-Standard sports reporter Cliff Bowering added the word to his description of the team after it started to wear those wonderfully ugly yellow jerseys that you still see occasionally today (although one wonders for how much longer. They aren't all that modern, after all). So, like many sports nicknames of the time it was of an organic origin.

Organic scares the hell out of suits that believe--I mean really believe--in the concept of branding.

The reaction to the decision has almost universally been negative. Some of that reaction is based on a feeling that it's just wrong to wipe away 50-years of tradition with one press release. But, some, I think, is also a reaction to the act of branding itself. As people we are getting a little tired of being treated like children that need everything to predictably safe all the time. We don't need to evoke our inner Naomi Klein to realize that we like to think for ourselves on occasion.

The bottom line is this: If Queen's wishes to officially drop the golden from its name, fine. It's a misguided decision, but it's theirs to make. However, don't tell me as a writer or a fan what to call the team. They have been golden all my life and they shall remain that way for as long as I am in a position to put pen to paper.

And, I'd put money on Queen's being golden again by Christmas.


Tyler King said...

Right on, Duane - if anything, it's a condemnation of the department that people actually did think that was a serious post. The renaming of the team leads people to believe they might do something just that crazy as renaming the Oil Thigh.

That's hilarious that they got calls, though.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was serious.

Loeb and Loblaw's think it is too. Following Queen's lead, they are dropping the words thigh and breast from their packages of chicken.


Tyler King said...

Not to mention sudden-death extra time soccer will now be referred to as "goal".

Andrew Bucholtz said...

Anyone looking for more info on the name change can check out my story here...

Duane Rollins said...

If you read those comments closely they are already backtracking a bit.

The thing about CIS sport is that the only people that care about it are the people that really care about it. Those folks are not going to be OK with dropping the golden and they aren't going to shut up about it.

They'll be golden again by Christmas. Just as soon as the AD gets sick of defending the decision (or one grumpy and wealthy alum tells them that the name comes back or his/her money stays in his/her pocket.)

Tyler King said...

"There was a great deal of confusion of how ‘golden’ applied to a Scottish warrior"
-Leslie Dal Cin

Ooookay - so our Athletic Director doesn't understand what a Gael is. That's just wonderful.

Greg said...

I don't know, seemed pretty obvious to me it was satire. It was very cheeky and sardonic - as long as I've known the Queen's Culture, any official press releases from the university are almost always about as neutral and inoffensive as possible.

Don't apologize. It was funny. And a nice comment on the Queen's Road to Total Corporatization.

sager said...

I am going to Chapters to see if the new dictionary is in. I hear Tyler's picture appears in the dictionary next to the world "belabour."

Brevity is the soul of wit, young King.

(Oh, and I'm beside myself that not knowing what a 'Gael' is wasn't a requirement to be Executive Director of Canada Basketball for 6 years! Oh, the scandal!)

Tyler King said...

Soooooo... they should be making sweeping brand decisions with an incorrect understanding of what the team's name means?

sager said...

Tyler, put that talent on loan from God of yours toward grilling the people who actually made the sweeping brand decisions, not me.

Duane Rollins said...


If it's any help, I could make a baseball post to divert Tyler's attention. Possibly about AJ Burnett.

Tyler King said...

That'd work well, Duane! :P

Neate - if anything, your Rush Limbaugh reference has re-awesomified you.

sager said...

Typical liberal media, de-awesomifying me without even calling for comment!