I do not use the word “naff”, because I think the word “naff” is in itself naff. When I wish to describe something as naff, I employ a less naff euphemism, with which those who know me are familiar. By the same token, I object to the phrase “dumbing down”, which in itself seems to me an instance of dumbing down. “Infantilisation” is a possible substitute, though it does not quite capture the full meaning of “dumbing down”.
The process, whatever we choose to call it, is all around us, of course. The latest incidence occurred when I opened my gas bill. Instead of hoicking from the envelope a bald bureaucratic statement, I was horrified to find myself looking at what I mistook for a teaching aid from an infant school self esteem ‘n’ diversity awareness hub. It was all blocks of glaring primary colours and word balloons, complete with a sinister little photo-cartoon of a homunculus, the head out of proportion to the body. I begin to wonder if British Gas will accept payment in play money.
On an entirely different matter, I noted on a side panel on the front page of yesterday’s Grauniad the line: Lionel Shriver : Who cares about what I eat?, to which my immediate response, spoken aloud as I chucked the paper across the room in exasperation, was Nobody cares, Lionel Shriver, nobody cares at all!