Actress Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith and US actor Chris Rock | ETIENNE LAURENT


What a palaver! Hollywood film star and the recipient of a Best Actor Oscar, Will Smith, with one swipe of his hand seems to have completely changed the news priorities for both newspapers and all other media outlets alike. Indeed, social media is full of an ongoing heated debate as to who was really to blame for the incident. Remember, if you can - Oscar ceremony host, comedian Chris Rock made a rather unpleasant jibe at Smith’s wife Jada’s problem regarding hair loss and then all hell was let loose as Will Smith marched on stage and slapped Mr Rock hard across the face for his trouble.

Cue outrage on a number of different levels. However, the outrage was spread across three separate and very definable reasons. Firstly, how could comedian Chris Rock be so insensitive as to be seen and heard mocking a woman in the audience because of a physical condition she is suffering from? Then there is the business of her husband Will Smith climbing on stage and whacking Rock for his vile comments. Later in the proceedings with Best Actor Oscar statuette in hand, Smith apologised effusively to all and sundry and Chris Rock is said to accept his old pals apology.

What do we have here then - is it a comedian pushing his luck bad mouthing another man’s wife - or was it an uncalled-for violent attack quite against the spirit of the occasion? I have to say that I’ve been very surprised by the amount of media coverage this incident has generated but I guess that a world that has had war and terror on every front page for over a month - a minor showbiz spat can really cheer us all up I suppose.

Against all this, I understand that some very cynical people believe that the whole thing (or part of it) was a set-up-job that got just a little out of hand. But - why so? Well, you don’t have to be a rabid conspiracy theorist to know that these endless Oscar Award Ceremonies have become box-office poison over the past few years; indeed, there has been talk of taking them off live television altogether. Perhaps this was just a contrived jape between two old buddies that went seriously wrong.

What’s the bottom line? Workers are sick of jargon

A few years ago I met up with a potential employer who was interested in using my writing skills (Okay, no need to laugh is there?) on a one-off freelance basis. I met the chap over a coffee to discuss what he wanted me to write about and vulgar stuff like how much he was willing to pay me for my peerless prose. Well, what can I say? As we sat in the sun in Andratx town square, he set about outlining to me what he wanted me to write about and the style he’d like me to put across in the series of articles that he was proposing for his in-house magazine. However and perhaps most unfortunately, I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about because he insisted upon speaking in what is commonly known as ‘business jargon’ otherwise know as ‘business bull****.’ In fact for over an hour I was rather like a ‘nodding dog’ smiling and gesticulating at what I thought was the right times during his extended briefing, but alas - still with absolutely no idea what he was actually going on about.

I remembered this rather embarrassing episode in my life the other morning when I read that office workers and other employees are sick of so-called workplace jargon. Indeed, you might think business jargon can help you ‘Stay ahead of the curve’ - but most office workers believe it shows that you really don’t know what you’re doing. It seems that there is a list of twenty-five of the most grating examples of ‘business speak’ that have been gleaned in a survey of 1.500 office workers. Indeed, in my short interview with this potential employer I think that he actually “Shifted a paradigm” or two himself without even breaking sweat. As I sat transfixed by his all embracing baloney, I believe that he uttered at one stage or another, most - if not all of the jargon most hated by employees and most human beings. Some of the examples are old favourites such as - ‘Blue-sky thinking’ or ‘Staying ahead of the curve’ whilst some are a little more ‘Now’ in concept - Oh dear, I can’t believe I just wrote that! The new one’s on me are ‘Getting granular’ and ‘Low hanging fruit’ which I found very confusing. The trouble is, this sort of stuff creeps up on you and I have to admit that I do on occasions employ some rather naff business speak of my own.

Indeed ‘Thinking outside the box’ is the title of my weekly Bulletin TV Guide, which is a bit of a worry in itself I suppose. Anyway, in the survey nearly half of employees said that colleagues who deploy these phrases come across as trying too hard to impress, whilst just over 40% think that they would like to kill all those responsible. Anyway ‘Moving forward’ ‘There are plenty of ways to skin a rabbit’ and anyhow ‘Moving the goalposts’ could well be a ‘Game changer.’ By the way, I never did get offered that freelance writing job - apparently ‘The bottom line’ was that ‘I couldn’t bring anything new to the table’ but he did say that he would ‘Touch base’ with me - but he never did - so I guess that I had to just ‘Move forward’ and swot up on some more inane and meaningless phrases to impress people with.