This week saw the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a film telling a story where characters go on ‘a journey’. At the start Bilbo Baggins is just like us, living his ordinary life, but by the end he will have become a hero. As he moves through his journey he is transformed by the challenges he must face. For Bilbo these threats are much more serious than whether his pastry will have a soggy bottom.
But that doesn’t mean every competitor in Professional Masterchef isn’t ‘on a journey’. Not according to the Radio Times “From chicken ballotine with bacon and tarragon to deconstructed ‘roast chicken’, Aaron’s dish-by-dish journey…”
Similarly every person ever fired by Alan Sugar/voted off X Factor/Strictly…has ‘been on amazing journey’. It seems the only time you won’t find someone ‘enjoying the journey’ or ‘on a great journey’ is at Heathrow Airport arrivals.
This trite phrase is all pervasive. In our story of everyday folk, we’re all on ‘a journey’. From the Lloyds TSB advert with its couple-and-hamster ‘for the journey’ (running since 2007, but seems like longer. They do know they’re a bank and not a travel agent, right?) to the single mother who is on a ‘cancer journey’.
Gah. When did we lose connection with reality and descend into pseudo-therapy speak? Talk of the ‘journey’ suggests a need for professional help, preferably from a copywriter who doesn’t use such vacuous phrases. Or perhaps ‘my job is to guide you along your content journey’? No it isn’t. Let’s get a grip, practice some restraint and banish ‘the journey’ to the same dark place where ‘going forward’ has hidden when what we meant was ‘focusing on the future’.
I’m happy to follow heroes on their journey, but I’m equally quick to lose interest if that journey looks a lot like real life. But what do you think?