How to make an anthropologist nervous

Gawker Recently, Gawker took aim at blogger cliches. 

  • Best ever!
  • not so much
  • OMG (Oh my God)
  • I just threw up a little bit in my mouth
  • yo!
  • seriously?
  • What’s next, x?
  • um
  • wait for it
  • x made my eyes bleed
  • x is the new y

I have used some of these myself.  And I am glad to be reminded that I’m using remaindered language, with "best used by" dates nearing expiry.

Gawker readers commented on the advisory.

Gina Tapani says,

Oh, crap.  This means I actually have to think of original things to say now."   

Fuzzy_Duffel_Bag says,

I think I just shit in my pants a little. 

MattGaymon says,

This post made me throw up all over myself. 

Twizzlers for President says that the "X is the new Y" formula is

fun to use nonsensically, as in ‘sweatpants are the new Kiera Knightley.’

What’s odd is that many of the 85 commentators exhibit a cliche of their own. Many of them use those kooky, little monikers that became so fashionable in the internet world in the 1990s.

Thus we get comments from Worker #3116 and Karen UhOh, RayGunn, Little Mintz Sunshine, girlgeorge, smashteroid, and supastah.  (Only 15 of the 90 comments use the most literal choice: the author’s name.) 

Here’s what makes an anthropologist nervous.  At the very moment these people gather to participate in Gawker’s snootiness, they expose themselves to snootiness.  (There is one magnificent exception, one that takes the smart-aleck formula and raises it to new heights: The Assimilated Negro.)

But how long can it be before Gawker blows the whistle on the banality of this naming convention?  When do they turn in their readers?  Would they dare?  Yo, just how much journalistic integrity does Gawker have?

Gawker.  2006.  Bad lingo: Blog-Media Cliches.  December 15, 2006.  here.

8 thoughts on “How to make an anthropologist nervous

  1. Ajax

    On the “X is the new Y” formula, the one I liked best (for its wonderful metaphor-meshing) was:

    “Being gay is the new black”

  2. Tom Asacker

    Seriously? OMG, I just titled my new article “Plaid is the New Black & White.” Yo! And I thought it was my best ever! Now I guess not so much.

  3. Steve Portigal

    I recently blogged that “design is the new lesbian” but I’d like to think that using a cliche with some irony (or even-post irony) allows you to participate and comment at the same time.

  4. Carol Gee

    I’ll just never belong. It is as if I am listening to my four grand-daughters over in the corner.
    However, I am able to observe with fascination how language evolves in quite wonderful ways. I thing it is the teeny little text message space on the cell phone screen that produces talk in minature. Phones, notebooks and PDAs synthesize this new dialect.

  5. Steve Portigal

    A neat story for Carol – some articles going through the blogosphere today about “book” being a new term for “cool” because some of the text entry algorithms accidentally are substituting one word for the other (sort of a typo)…

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