Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Really Vindicated

At some point last year I became obsessed with society's use of "really?" (Alternate version: "Seriously?") It was pissing me off. Every commercial (TV, radio, print, Internet), every movie trailer, every headline, every comment on every website, every person was saying it as if they thought they were the first to use it. I flooded my friend Amber's inbox with examples, to the point where she had to ban me from doing it. I made a list of companies that used it. I stopped counting at fifty. I wrote long drafts for this blog about the R word (and S word) but I spared you, the reader, my rants on the "Really-volution." (I did have one "outburst" in August of last year, and I had another time when I saw a bunch of commercials in a row that used R or S and was YouTubing them--companies were forcing it to the point where middle-aged men were talking like 13-year old girls. And several times I went off on fellow redditors for over-Really-ing only to be told I need to lighten up or whatever. It got to the point where any video I'd watch I'd just be waiting for an R or an S bomb to drop and get all pissed. (1:45 mark of video at that link, that was from last holiday season.)) Even the other night at Fenway somebody had R on a sign, and I almost posted it and told my whole R/S story, but I again spared you:

Boy did I wanna go over and smack that guy. He would have said, "What, I'm just pointing out the shitty win-loss record!" And I would have said, "It's not that, it's your 'really?' in 2012!"

Anyway, just now my friend Chan sent me an article from The New York Times:

Vindication! I am not crazy after all! This is finally out in the open. Maybe now it will end.

I had traced the R usage back to at least "Really? with Seth & Amy" from SNL which had been on in the mid 2000s. (This is mentioned in the Times article, too.) That got the ball rolling, but the Verizon ad where stuff is happening to people who are missing it because they're looking at their phones, leading to people asking them "really?" over and over, I think was the moment that the whole nation had gone cRazy. (The earliest commercial I remember that used it was the one where a man keeps trying to talk to his wife but every time he tries to talk, a jackhammer starts outside, leaving him to finally drop an incredulous R? on the situation.) (And yes, Cartman on South Park was saying "seriously you guys..." way before this but that's a slightly different usage.)

And then at some point last baseball season at Fenway I realized that every time someone would talk near me it would be an R and S barrage. That's when I started making lists and stuff, taking it to the weirdness level. I'd have to hold my tongue any time one of my friends (who knew nothing of my obsession) would shoot out an R or release an S. I went on annoying Amber and Chan and Kim about it though, to the point where they'd occasionally let an R fly and have to kind of sheepishly look at me knowing they'd just broken my heart, while also undoubtedly thinking Yeah I said it, so fucking what, leave me be...

But what was it that pissed me off about it all? It was the overuse, of course, but also the way it would be used as a lazy alternative to real thoughts. I'd see headlines like "Man Finds Alligator In Basement--Really?" And I'd think, "your headline should just say what happened. Let the audience react." It's just bad writing. (There's also the statement form. At one point I saw two different headlines about the same story--remember the "zombie awareness" thing? One was "CDC promotes zombie awareness. Really." The other was "CDC promotes zombie awareness. Really?" I was just so mad that people either felt the need to let us know they were serious (you know, as if headlines were often a place for practical jokes--"no, not REALLY, we were KIDDING about that headline!") or were asking if I was serious, again, as if I just constantly speak the opposite of what I mean. But then I thought, Wait, we've always been like this. I've been saying "Are you kidding me?" when I know the person is serious my whole life! There's also "are you shitting me?" and "what?" and "yeah right" and "suuuure" and lots of other ways to say "I am shocked at what just happened" which imply the situation is so preposterous that there must be someone behind it pulling the strings, waiting to pop out and say it was all a joke. "It" meaning anything: the way Robinson Cano just loafed it, the way that guy just said he doesn't think Jimi Hendrix was that talented, the way ALex Baldwin cuts off another Alex Baldwin's tie, the way I just stubbed my toe on the SAME chair twice in ten minutes.

So I didn't need to be mad about the fact that people seemed to be in constant disbelief, because we've apparently always been like that, whether it was warranted or not. I just have to deal with the fact that "are you kiddin' me?" has been overtaken (though any time I hear it, I yell with joy, "Going back to the classics! Woohoo!"). But I can still be pissed when I see it written ahead of time. Movies, TV, ads, etc. Because it's lazy and it's overused. At least I've finally got an actual news source sharing my frustration.

So that's that. I'm finally officially out of the Really Closet here. In a way it kinda stinks that I never did my long post and the Times beat me to it, but I'm okay with this, since I left all those clues above.

Where does a Really Sufferer go from here? I could go a lot of ways. I've done the "walk-off" thing and the Egregious Jeter shots (saw one tonight! Will post tomorrow!) thing...I think the next god damn-sel in distress waiting for me to come in and sweep it off its feet is "woah." That's right, the Internet has decided "whoa" is now spelled "woah." And I don't like it. I'm off to save it! I'll see you back here in six months! Away!

Dont know if its the same in the States but it seems in the UK every person interviewed on tv has to say "very much so",never "yes" or "I agree" but "very much so"


Mark -uk.
Haven't heard that one too much, it does sound annoying. A good example of thinking too hard, like the way people say "as well" instead of "too" or how athletes have to say "myself" instead of just "me," as if "me" is somehow incorrect or unprofessional.
There are so many more hilarious examples. Like I said I wrote a lot about this that I never posted, so this post could be a lot longer. But I remember a few weeks ago when I got an e-mail from the PRESIDENT saying:

From: Obama for America
Date: September 1, 2012 11:45:08 PM EDT
To: Jere <>
Subject: Seriously, thank you
Reply-To: info@barackobama.com

Ohhhh, you're serious! I assumed, Mr. President, that when you thank your supporters, it's sarcastic! Thanks for making it crystal clear!

And then there were the ads where they forced it in and didn't even use it in the current way. At which point I'd be left to DEFEND the new R by saying, "you don't even know how to use it!"
Another recent thing was when I found someone being pissed at their own language pet peeve and tried to sympathize with him. He had seen to many "justs"* but then in mocking the juster he got downvotes and then said, "downvotes, really?"

*This device is used when you see something amazing or unexpected but bring it to people's attention in a purposely casual way. One example is from the "Jane's topless" Seinfeld episode, when Elaine asks what that car sound was, and Jerry says, "oh, that's just Jane, driving back to New York in the middle of the night." So if you post a pic on the Internet of, say, a monkey eating a lion, you might title it "Just a monkey eating a lion."
Next we need to beat down the misuse of "literally." I was watching some nonsense reality show the other day and a woman being interviewed said, "I am literally speechless" and THEN CONTINUED TO SPEAK.
Oh yeah that one's a definite. It's amazing how many people use that word now when they mean the opposite. (But speaking of "speechless," it's great when people say "words can't describe" something, at which point they describe it. With words.)
Ha, a "just" example is currently #1 on all of reddit. (Of course a few months ago you could look at the front page at any given time and see at least one post called Really? or Seriously?)
And if you scroll down in those comments, you see an anti-Just-er.
Oh wow, you're hitting all my language peeves here today.

I knew a guy years ago who could use "Really?" in a clever and sarcastic way. It would be a deadpanned tone, with the last syllable having a long "A" sound. "Real-lay?" He'd fire it at someone telling a boring, long-winded story... and it would be hilarious.

Well, it was funny at the time, but then again, that was more than 20 years ago.
A nice story I read in an obit of Harold Pinter- he was in a restaurant ,ordered what he wanted ,the waiter said "sure,no problem",Pinter without looking up says"I didnt think it would be"

Mark UK
Ha, I (unknowingly) gave you one last night.

Ha, you must have missed a few comments later when I then ask tim if he caught your R!

(I asked him specifically because on page one of the same thread he referred to this post! He didn't notice my question to him though....)

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Location: Rhode Island, United States