Since he revealed it last year, I’ve been very fond of Premier MacLauchlan’s conception of Prince Edward Island as “the mighty island” and, even better, the “isle of might.”
I was disheartened, however, by the facile video that unleashed this notion on the larger world. I couldn’t put my finger on the heart of my discomfort, though, until I rewatched it with Oliver tonight and heard the following line:
We didn’t get the memo that said “you can’t,” we got the one that said “anything is possible.”
The thing is: there aren’t two memos.
Wiktionary describes the idiom like this:
To be aware of the current state of affairs.
He hadn’t gotten the memo that there were too many strip malls.
Didn’t you get the memo about gasoline prices?
So let’s assume a memo that went out that said “you can’t.”
The idiom works if, say, Bob then goes out and runs a marathon. “I guess Bob didn’t get the memo!”, his friends could rightly exclaim.
But in this or no other situation is there a competing contrary memo; Bob didn’t run a marathon because he read an “anything is possible” memo, he ran a marathon because he didn’t read the “you can’t” memo.
The use in the “mighty island” video thus breaks the idiom, and not in a witty way, but in a “bad copywriting” way.
And this bad copy not only harms the video directly, but it serves to accentuate that the overarching “rah, rah, we’re totally plucky and awesome” tone of the video is a bad fit for a metaphor that is, at its heart, proud, humble, and ironic.
It’s time to go back to the drawing board and get “the mighty island” the brand support it deserves.