CorporateSpeak™: Pre-Viz and the Language of the Unthinking

CorporateSpeakCorporateSpeak™ is my series in which I rant about the misuse or the general idiocy of language as it exists in our United States of America. Occasionally I will pick on the British, but CorporateSpeak™ is an American problem engendered by marketing departments, ad agencies, and opinionated nitwits. If you suffer from any of the symptoms I bring to light in this series, seek immediate remedial English grammar, vocabulary, and thought-process treatment. This is a much-needed public service.

        Have you ever “pre-ordered” an item, whether it is a Blu-Ray movie, a music CD, or a video game? Have you ever purchased a package of “pre-shredded” shredded cheese? Have you ever “pre-visualized” something? That would be impossible, wouldn’t it – you either visualize it or you don’t. Yet, these are examples of the terminology that is creeping ever-insidiously into our lexicon of blather: CorporateSpeak™. (I haven’t really trademarked it, it just looks funny like that – and corporate)

        As with the “re-” words, whose time of disparagement will come from me in time, the “pre-” words are the insipid little enticements that delude one into thinking that something is being gained before anyone else; there is a sense of entitlement – a “specialness” – using such words creates in the minds of the unknowing and uncaring that are perfect for the grift and spin of the advertising world. They just want your money any way they can get it and you’re all suckers for falling for their ad campaigns to generate “hype”.

        “Pre-visualization” is a Hollywood-word that comes out of the filmmaking industry, particularly the computer graphics (CG) aspect of it. Pre-visualization, or “pre-viz”, as it’s called by those who can’t exist without creating acronyms or abbreviations (because how could we exist if we had to be polysyllabic?), is something akin to a motion storyboard for directors. What pre-viz really boils down to is directors not having the cojones to just go with their vision – so they have to “pre-visualize” to see if it will look good. Get it? On the surface, it seems a good way for a newbie to avoid shooting mistakes. To me, it seems a way to waste studio budgets on uncertainty. If a director isn’t confident enough is his/her own “vision” why piss money away on their “pre-vision”? Get a better director! God knows Hollywood could use some right about now!

        “But what’s wrong with ‘pre-ordering’ a video game?”, you may ask. The simple answer is: you are ORDERING the game! Whether or not the game is in-stock is irrelevant. Whether the game has been released or not is IRRELEVANT! You are doing no more than anyone who purchases that game on the shelves of GameStop or BestBuy on the day of release. I know – I purchased World of Warcraft with no problem at all and I didn’t have to order, reserve, or “pre-order” anything! You are just ordering the item, there is no need to say you are “pre-ordering” it!. It’s just a stupid term concocted by stupid people for the masses who won’t even think twice about how stupid it is. Why am I now visualizing a shark feeding frenzy? No “pre-viz” needed for that!

        And “pre-shredded” shredded cheese? Yes, I’ve seen that term used by someone who thought they were oh-so smart and thrifty and informative. I was very tempted to ask them just in what state is the cheese in its “pre-shredded” shredded form? It seems to me that it would be… a block of cheese – not shredded at all!

        “Why,” you may ask, “didn’t you call out this person’s illogic?” Because, contrary to popular belief or original intent, internet forums are not the place to “exchange” ideas. Those who go to comment sections to change hearts and minds are on fool’s errands. So, I yip here. You read, you agree or change your mind; you don’t, whose fault is that? Make a case or get to thinking. And I think the lack of thinking is why people fall for the lure of CorporateSpeak™.

        So let me wind this up with my favorite – relatively speaking – of the “pre-” words: pre-owned. A pre-owned car is a used car. Say that to yourself again and again if you have any doubts about that. A PRE-OWNED car is a USED car! There is even a local car dealer who is trying to make the case for a pre-owned car being somehow different than a used car by depicting a used car as junky. Let me set the record straight. A “pre-owned” car is a used car (your mileage may vary) that generally has some type of nifty warranty attached to it. That’s it! The reality is that the car dealerships want you to believe that a warranty somehow makes a used car not a used car! Any dealership who would sell junk cars as used should be run out of business, so the whole “pre-owned” nonsense doesn’t even make any difference. Just as with “pre-order”, it is an irrelevant term. But they suffer from the “perception is reality” axiom that marketing nitwits have foisted on us; the perception that “pre-owned” is different than a used car is just a blatant lie, I don’t care who you are or what you’re selling. If I buy a car “as is”, then I get what I’ve paid for with eyes wide open, but don’t tell me a pre-owned car is anything other than a used car. Because the reality is that it isn’t.

        It’s all well and good that marketers and television infomercial hucksters want to sell you things you don’t need and try to sex it up with contrived buzzwords in the hopes of making a sale, but that doesn’t mean we have to adopt their idiotic verbiage into our everyday language. Think before you open your mouth or write your comment or blog article. The world of the internet is one of graphics and video that still, as much as human communications ever did, depends on the well-crafted and written word. Don’t believe me? Go out and look at the train wreck with new eyes.


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