Deadly, terrifying, catastrophic, shocking documentary on CBC!

On a daily basis, media outlets receive a stream of promotional copy delivered in the form of emails, couriered PR packages, even snail mail, blurbing everything from Christy Clark photo ops to the next big movie opening or doughnut shop.

The language in these releases is usually full of superlatives, exaggerations, and is generally over the top. Fair enough; they are trying to create interest.

Sometimes, though, they go a bit far. Just read any of the bumf or watch any of the previews for Discovery Channel’s annual "shark week", for example: pay lip service to the notion of the "endangered apex predator", then serve up nonstop panic, gaping leg wounds, and bloody, serrated teeth.

We recently received an emailed missive from CBC trumpeting its upcoming (January 5 and 6 on CBC News Net) documentary Supervolcano: Yellowstone’s Fury.

Sure, a volcano naturally lends itself to some pretty descriptive words: explosive, and, um, explosive

But this is a "supervolcano". Ordinary descriptive terms will not suffice.

Here are some of the words and phrases used in the release, dated January 2: "deadly supervolcano stirring beneath"; "terrifying"; "cataclysmic"; "lurks"; "science-based threat" (for the secular audience); "overwhelming"; "awful, destructive monster!"; "devastated"; "unpredictable, uncontrollable power of nature"; "not prepared"; "terrible devastation"; "looming threat"; "catastrophic"; "dreadful natural disasters"; "calamity"; "prepare for the worst"; "shocking"; "a beast of fearsome proportions"; "disturbing"; "enormous"; "heightened alert"; "devastate"; "contaminate"; "stunning"; "largest national disaster in recorded history"; "volcanic winter"; "kill millions"; "uninhabitable"; "trigger the end of civilization"; "cataclysmic disaster"; and various combinations of the above.

Oh, well. Something had to take the place of the "vend times", the unexploded Mayan firecracker that was December 21, I guess.

Or the CBC could just keep the interns away from the thesaurus.

Then again, the damned show probably got plenty of media blurbs, even from skeptical, experienced journalists.


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