MAX CRUS: The optics of unpacking optics

First there was 'moving forward', then 'deconstructed', then 'substantive' took over from substantial, but a raft of new buzz words has invaded our lives and media.

Let me deconstruct it for you. Firstly it looks like 'optics' has taken over from the phrase 'it looks like', or variations such as the 'look' of something.

Journalists now toss 'optics' around as if it makes them look like the cleverest little trendsetter on the airwaves or tablet page since Gutenberg invented the ability to do so en masse. However the optics to readers is somewhat different.

The use of the word 'optics' merely distracts people from whatever message the journo is trying to impart as the listener or reader ponders why they didn't just say 'it looks like'.

Allow me to unpack this for you, another completely unnecessary 'buzz' phrase helping journos feel superior for a year or two. Unpack means explain, describe, detail, or even expose something - a situation, a concept, a thing. So what was wrong with those words that we had to have another?

Unpack, on the other hand, does not mean those things.

Everyone knows unpacking is something you do when you come back from holidays, or the supermarket. It is not something you do when you come back from a press conference or a medical seminar unless you had to pack a suitcase to get there.

So what's going on?

'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose', which is French for "the more things change the more they stay the same", and an age old ploy which beautifully highlights the journalistic practice used for years, indeed decades, if not centuries, of using French to an audience that doesn't speak French.

It's all about feeling clever. Nothing makes journos feel superior more than using a foreign language phrase they've picked up in Paris or a bit of Latin such as Carpe Diem (Unpack the Day) or, more recently, being among the first to use a new, catchy word.

In fact journos don't even call themselves journos anymore, they're content writers.

WTF, just go and write some words guys, we'll decide if they have any content.

Furthermore if I want content, I'll unpack the contents of my latest delivery and look for a glass.


Calabria Family Wines Richland Riverina Rosé 2020, $11. This is a wine Scomo would appreciate - decent, fruity, bright, dry rosé for about ten bucks. How good is that? 9/10.

Berton Vineyard The Black Shiraz 2018
Berton Vineyard The Black Shiraz 2018 Simon Hughes

Calabria Family Wines Richland Riverina Durif 2019, $11. Want to appear clever like a journo being the first to use the abbreviation 'Iso'? Take a bottle of Durif to your next barbecue. You'll appear so clever, and you are. 8.9/10.

Berton Vineyard Padthaway Pewter Label Sauvignon Blanc 2020, $13. The label looks and feels like it cost $13 on its own, so they've thrown in the sauv blanc for free. How lucky are we? 9/10. 

Berton Vineyard The Black Shiraz 2018, $18. Why is it that anything with 'Black' on the label or with a black label presents as posher than identical items without black? And why doesn't this attitude extend to people? Posh enough without the price. 9.1/10.

Castle Rock Estate Porongurup Riesling 2020, $25. There is something about WA riesling, it's almost a new breed unto itself albeit a lot easier to accept than much modern journalism. 9.1/10.

Castle Rock Estate Great Southern Shiraz 2018, $34. This is a bit like moi (how clever am I?), soft but sophisticated, and feels a lot lighter than it is.  9.3/10.