31 October 2009

Of epic fails and Calm Mind Suicunes

I think 'epic fail' is dying out. I'm pretty happy about that. There was a time I was worry about it getting very popular and I would have to go underground. I thought the fact that there was House episode called 'Epic Fail' it was going mainstream and everyone and their mothers (and by extension my mother!) was going to be using it totally indiscriminately. Luckily I was wrong.

So I hate the expression 'epic fail'! 'Why' is a good question. There's some degree of gut-level repulsion, but that's not really a good explanation. I don't have much of a problem with the use of 'epic' (though John Milton may feel Paradise Lost cheapened by a comparison to a truck carrying cinder blocks rolling over). So that leaves us with with 'fail'. I like that considerably less. I have no problems with a little linguistic creativity, but the misappropriation of 'fail' as a noun when the word 'failure' is totally there to do that job seems outright lazy and for some reason really repulsive.

But this isn't the first time this happened. Back in 2002 or 2003 I was on some pokemon message board and apparently some guy in an IRC channel used uttered the fateful words 'CALM MIND SUICUNE HAS NO WEAK!!' and it become an object of mockery, making its way into several signatures. I thought, 'man, look at this doofus who can't even use the word 'weak' properly'. I really wasn't playing any contemporary pokemon games at the time, but shortly later I read some team ratings (these are when you post your team of pokemon with their moves for use in competitive battles and other users critique you.) and the first one I looked at started referring, in all seriousness, to 'weaks'. I looked at more threads. More 'weaks'. I've never seen the movie, but I imagine the effect is something like the end of Planet of Apes when they see the buried Statue of Liberty and realize the bizarre world they are on is actually Earth. Apparently, the mockery of the quote was not the word misuse, but the hyperbole.

So I think the overarching theme here is that I sort of get in disbelief about the popularity of these sloppy linguistic constructs that really don't add any new expressiveness to language. I don't see why something like this would spread beyond more than a very small group. The whole perceived phasing out of the expression is another interesting wrinkle that I'm totally not complaining about.

And yeah I have no idea why Calm Mind Suicine has no 'weak' either.

14 comments:

  1. The irony here is that you are complaining about bad English in a post riddled with spelling and grammatical mistakes. Really, man? There was a time you were worry?

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  2. So I hate the expression 'I was worry'! 'Why' is a good question. There's some degree of gut-level repulsion, but that's not really a good explanation. I have no problems with a little linguistic creativity, but the misappropriation of 'worry' as an adjective when the word 'worried' is totally there to do that job seems outright lazy and for some reason really repulsive.

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  3. In conclusion, you're epic fail at blogging.

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  4. It all makes sense now people have been saying 'epic fail' all this time and haven't been realizing it, you're so insightful.

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  5. And man I didn't even touch on the 'I'm epic fail...' construct, there's too much going on there for written word to describe.

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  6. To be fair, I think "I'm epic fail at soccer" was a novel construction. Searching for "I'm epic fail" in Google seems to only yield results pertaining to Epic Fail Guy, a 4chan meme (future post: your hatred for the word 'meme'?). The girl was a linguistic pioneer, and I only mean that semi-ironically; it is kind of legitimately impressive to me. Of course, saying that you mean something semi-ironically is pretty much equivalent to carrying a neon sign saying that you're a giant douchebag, but such is life (alternatively: you already knew that).

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  7. Context: One incident that really got me fired up about "epic fail"s was walking around campus and overhearing a girl say "I'm epic fail at soccer".

    I see your point, but I'm underwhelmed by the construction itself. What does it do that "I'm awful at soccer" doesn't? Granted the "I'm epic fail" construction might indicate that there was some single incident (given "epic fail"'s use as a admonishment) that is representative of her failure at soccer, but I'm tempted to just call her a mouth-breather.

    In conclusion, she is a mouth-breather.

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  8. I don't think it offers much that "I'm awful at soccer" doesn't (except for degree); what impresses me is the linguistic creativity of taking something already as malformed and strange as "epic fail" and further malforming it by using it in that new way.

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  9. That's not creativity that's breathing out of your mouth.

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  10. I mean maybe I'm missing the point of creativity but doesn't there need to be some element of purpose/usefulness of the created thing? I can poop and create something in the toilet bowl, but I don't consider that creative.

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  11. Well, there sort of is. Saying "I'm epic fail at soccer" is basically saying "I'm catastrophically bad at soccer" but with a bit more of a comical undertone. But that's not why I like it. I just like it because it's a thoroughly strange construction. There's a certain kind of creativity involved in making something really weird, even if it's more or less useless.

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  14. Mano!!! You're the mano!!! Where have you been all my life you old bastard???

    ReplyDelete