Doing it

If I see or hear one more advertisement in which people pretend to be talking about sex but it turns out, hilariously, that they’re talking about something else, I do believe I’m going to lose the thin sliver of reason left to me and have some sort of public blow-out, possibly involving fluorescent painted nudity and certainly involving screaming. The problem seems to be the verb ‘to do’. Now to you and me, it’s just a useful little linguistic tool, a trusted friend who’s always there to help us out when we need to describe some action. We’d be lost without it, in fact, and I don’t propose that we strike it from the language entirely (although I was feeling that way for a while this afternoon). To the advertising industry, however, the verb ‘to do’ is a bullet waiting for a gun. And the gun, it turns out, is the multi-talented pronoun ‘it’. If you have the creative courage and vision to put verb and pronoun together, you get – ah, you’re way ahead of me – you get ‘do it’. Which, if you look carefully, is a synonym for shagging. Hence, ‘I’m doing it with my boss,’ ‘Have you ever done it in public?’, and so on. Only they’re not really talking about sex! Seriously, they’re not! They’re talking about topping up their mobile phone or something! I know, I know. It’s difficult to keep a straight face. The ad men would tell you that this sort of thing is a clever play on people’s ambivalence about sexual matters. It isn’t. It’s a very stupid play on people’s patience and good will. There. I feel better now.

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