That seems to be the buzzword of the moment. Across the globe, motivational speakers and marketers alike, are plugging the use of ‘authentic’ like it’s going out of fashion.
While I cannot challenge the value of authenticity, I can say with some degree of confidence, that it’s starting to sound like a cliché.
Marketers apply this ‘be authentic’ aspiration to brands with equal measure as they apply it to human personalities. How do you get Coca Cola to be authentic? I was just wondering.
Being authentic requires that you do not set up a “dog and pony show”.
Explaining the origin of this idiom, idiomsonline describes travelling fairs of the late 1800s which sometimes included as a main attraction, if not a sideshow, shows with performing animals, typically trained ponies and dogs.
“These shows, which came to be referred to as dog and pony shows, were low budget and although the dogs and ponies were well-trained, as animal shows go, they weren’t what one would expect, being so common and mundane,” idiomsonline adds. “The shows would be pumped up to seem very exciting.”
Definitions.net tell us that “Dog and pony show” is a colloquial term which has come to mean a highly promoted, often over-staged performance, presentation, or event designed to sway or convince opinion for political, or less often, commercial ends.”
It’s not uncommon for the term to be used to express disdain, “jocular lack of appreciation, or distrust of the message being presented or the efforts undertaken to present it.”
Originally used in the United States in the late-19th and early-20th centuries to refer to small travelling circuses, performances were generally held in open-air arenas, such as race tracks or public spaces too small or remote to attract larger, more elaborate performers or performances. “By the latter part of the 20th century, the original meaning of the term had largely been lost,” Definitions.net, says.
Merriam Webster offers this definition: “an often elaborate public relations or sales presentation, also an elaborate or overblown affair or event.”
So in short, it seems to me that a dog and a pony show is a flashy display, big on promise and small on delivery.
This is exactly what the World Champion of Public Speaking, South Africa’s very own Verity Price did not deliver.
Used to describe her sterling delivery, a moved-to tears commentator said, “This was no dog and pony show!” speaking, in fact, to her authentic rendition of her deeply evoking personal story.
Much as I am tired of the word, when it comes to authenticity, Verity has it in spades.
Congratulations Verity Price!