Archive for Sunday, April 15, 2007

Too many ‘amazings’ grace today’s talk

April 15, 2007


I am watching the most amazing celebrity interview on television.

A 20-something starlet, wearing a dress by an amazing up-and-coming designer, is answering questions about her latest movie.

"What was it like working with the director?" the talk show host asks.

"Amazing," she replies. "He is amazingly gifted and has the most amazing way of getting the best out of his actors. I was so lucky to work with him and to play such an amazing character."

The host replies, "Well, the whole movie was amazing, and you were amazing in it."

Wow, I think. Six "amazings" in three sentences. Call the Guinness people. That's got to be a world record.

I make a mental note to send both of them a copy of Roget's Thesaurus, then switch the station to a cooking network.

There, a youthful and handsome chef is demonstrating how to create a Florentine frittata without breaking a sweat.

"This is an a-MAZ-ing dish, and amazingly simple to make. Pair it with an elegant Italian white wine, a salad of field greens and goat cheese, and you've got an a-MAZ-ing dinner."

I've never heard anyone get so excited about a frittata before.

Clicking through the channels, I land on one of those ubiquitous makeover shows. From what I can gather, a perfectly nice elementary school teacher was minding her own business when her so-called friends (along with a team of tragically hip fashion and beauty experts) sabotaged her in front of her second-grade class and declared her an unstylish schlub.

She was humiliated, of course. Standing there in her appliqued sweater, she cried while the cameras rolled. But now, thanks to an "amazing" wardrobe, "amazing" shoes and the most "amazing" haircut, she is happy because she looks - wait for it, now - "absolutely amazing!"

If you ask me, the world today is too easily amazed.

Boomer girl

The excessive use of superlatives is nothing new. I, too, was guilty of the crime in my impressionable youth.

In high school, the trendy expression of choice was "neat," which, by today's standards, wasn't much of a superlative. "Groovy" was before my time but, again, not exactly the highest form of comparison unless taken to the ultimate form, such as "that Dylan is the grooviest!" With college came "excellent," often accompanied by the word "most" - a double superlative, if you will - as in "that was a most excellent brownie." Years later, we had the beloved "awesome," which seems to have a surprisingly long shelf life, even today.

And just when I thought, "If I hear one more person utter 'awesome' to describe anything but the pyramids in Egypt, I'm going to hurl," along comes "amazing."

The Encarta World Dictionary defines "amazing" as: So extraordinary or wonderful as to be barely believable or cause extreme surprise.

Nevertheless, in the past few months I have heard the "A" word used to describe the following: jeans, tacos, wine, dogs, a TV documentary, hair gel, self-tanning lotion, eyelashes, hummus, a particular shade of turquoise, perfume fragrance, deodorant (Imagine! An antiperspirant that astonishes!), a country song, upholstery fabric, eyeglasses, all "American Idol" contestants and every single thing sold on TV between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

I therefore propose a moratorium on the word "amazing." Let's see how creative we can get, people. And that includes you, Paula Abdul.

There's a whole list of neglected adjectives out there just waiting for their day in the sun: remarkable, wonderful, incredible, stunning, marvelous, miraculous, surprising, mind-blowing, staggering, mind-boggling, extraordinary, astonishing. Pick one, any one. Let's put the "A" word to rest once and for all.

And with a nod to Randy Jackson, let's keep it real. Can a serving of hummus REALLY be so extraordinary or wonderful as to be barely believable? Does a particular brand of hair gel actually cause extreme surprise? A little perspective is all I ask.

I continue to surf the TV dial and come to yet another celebrity interview. This time, it's a young actor - a Brit who is talking about HIS newly released movie.

"What was it like working with the director?" the talk show host asks.

"Brilliant," he replies. "He is brilliantly gifted and has the most brilliant way of getting the best out of his actors. I was so lucky to work with him and to play such a brilliant character."

Hmm. Maybe my moratorium idea will catch on in the U.K.

That would be MOST excellent.

- Cathy Hamilton is editor of and a 51-year-old empty-nester. Events recounted here may be embellished, exaggerated or completely made up because she can't remember squat anymore.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.