Being a person of leisure leaves one with many, many hours each week to spend in thought and reflection. Why only a few weeks ago I came up with a plan to stop violence in
1. It is what it is
For some time now, I’ve been contemplating an entire blog posting about why this phrase needs to be abandoned. But really. Do you need me to tell you that this is the last refuge of the lazy-minded and those who are trying to sound deeper or more carefree than they are? Sure this phrase is, at its essence—if nothing else—true for everything it can be applied to. What is anything but what it is? For that matter, I am who I am, and saying so is either a statement so boring and self-evident as to be not worth expending the jaw-energy required for the saying of it, or one that willfully ignores certain other truths which someone in the room is apparently trying to discuss: I am not someone who spends a lot of time being nice to people, and I would rather not discuss why. Or, I am someone who must refer to her glass-unicorn collection in every conversation, no matter how annoying other people find it. Oh sure, it probably stems from a lack of conversation topics with which I am familiar, or a need to remain in my comfort zone at all times, or a reversion to childhood, but I really don’t wish to comment on any of that, thanks.
So, yeah, it is what it is, and what it is in this case is a distraction, a diversion, and most importantly a conversation stopper and an urge to just drop it already, will ya? In some cases, this is maybe a good thing; is there any need for further discussion about, oh I don’t know … Small Wonder? It was what it was (which is to say, an unfunny early-1980s sitcom about a girl-robot), and now we can all move on with our lives. But, if anything, Americans are likely be a little too used to not thinking through a point of view, not discussing their opinions, and relying on quick, smug talking points to convey their message. It is what it is is a good example of this. Please, please, let it end.
2. I just threw up in my mouth
Oh please. You did not. Here’s an example of a somewhat-amusing statement from a less-than-amusing movie finding its way to the lips of millions of unoriginal, lazy jerks who think (and correctly, initially) that saying this is funnier than saying what they really mean, which is, “That’s disgusting.” Now that it’s nearly three years since said movie was released, can we all just move on?
Oh, we can? That was easy. Thanks.
3. So bad it’s come all the way around the other side to awesome
This is really more of a ban on an idea than an actual phrase, I realize, and I myself have been guilty of using this one in the past, mostly when trying to quote one of my favorite movies, Ghost World. But the truth of the matter is, this idea, this phrase, in its manifold permutations, is not applicable as often as we all think it should be.
Case in point: Sanjaya Malakar’s performance of “You Really Got Me” on last week’s American Idol. On Television Without Pity’s forums, anyway (I’m too lazy to find the exact link for you), it was suggested that, unlike his earlier performances, which were said to be just plain-old bad, this performance was so bad that it was awesome. Now, I realize that this conversation is entering the realm of the subjective—some people are fans of Sanjaya, some hate his voice—so perhaps saying that something is so bad it’s good is subjective too, right? I disagree. Something very bad may yet be good in some aspect. It may be cheesy, corny, over the top, or unintentionally funny. It may be (as Sanjaya’s performance was, I would argue) not your cup of tea and yet there is something to it that can be said to be fascinating—the bravery, the energy, the lack of artifice, an element of surprise. Any of these things can render a bad performance watchable, entertaining, and awesome, in a way; but it’s ridiculous to think that there is a circular qualitative scale in all of us upon which, at a certain point, things go from very, very bad to wonderful.
Now perhaps that is not what anyone’s saying. I’m being too literal, I know. But really, my complaint with this idea is not so much that it doesn’t make sense. It does make a sort of sense, in that everyone who hears it knows exactly what the speaker means. The main problem I have with it is that it’s so overused. It’s a cliché, a dead metaphor. Oh, did I say “dead”? What I really mean, I think, is “skanky.” It’s the Britney Spears of metaphors—overexposed, unamusing—and I for one am sick of it. And her, but that’s another story.
Don’t get me wrong. This is a wonderful insult: Concise, accurate, rolling off the tongue so beautifully in nearly every situation in which people other than Aunty Christ are involved. But maybe it’s overstayed its welcome, is what I’m saying. Rich Bachelor has come up with a good substitute, and I want to help spread it around, seeing as how it doesn’t even have an entry in the Urban Dictionary: diaper bag.
At first, I wasn’t really feeling it. It’s three syllables, one more than the epithet it replaces, and it lacks the subtly condescending sibilant fricative in “douche,” replacing it with the jarring plosive in “diaper.” And as long as we’re going longer, wouldn’t four syllables work better? More symmetry, more finality, ultimately giving the insult a sense of gravitas that “diaper bag” simply cannot equal? Compare: diaper biscuit. See? The iambic pentameter is particularly nice, I think.
That said, I’ve now come around to toot the old Diaper Bag horn. The three syllables, the plosive, the truncation of the final iamb all marry to form a general fuck you to the intended insultee, I think. Plus the implication of either ladyness or babyness, and the use of the oft-overlooked word “diaper,” which, now that I think of it, is a pretty funny word in and of itself. Diaper. Haw! I chuckle just looking at it.
This brings us to the end of this latest installment of What Phrases Aren’t We Using Anymore. Sorry for the long gaps between posts, guys … guy … whoever’s still looking at this. I’ve been really busy, um, doing stuff. I’ll have to, at some point, detail what it is that I’ve been up to, since I’m pretty sure none of you have met a lady of leisure before, and that is indeed what I have happily become. But still, my bad. It is what it is, my friends, and that’s all I have to say.