September 2, 2005

I Hate Quotations

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Forget the hordes of Uggs, the droves of “Vote for Pedro” t-shirts, and the sudden influx of self-proclaimed poker aficionado’s with their eyes set on the World Series of Poker. The worst trend of the last year is almost as bad as a second coming of Hammerpants.

What makes the cancer in question all the more potent, putrid and just downright aggravating is that it, unlike the others, is not just limited to an article of clothing, a movie or just the latest must-have. It’s a plague on all our houses, to paraphrase Mercutio and a little Billy Shakes (now that’s what I call a throwback.) What the hell could possibly be so bad? The sudden onslaught of quotation and its surgically-separated conjoined twin, ’round the clock sarcasm. Yeah, I know, he’s giving himself carpal tunnel over that?! Gimme a break! Well, lemme explain.

True, it’s not like people started quoting other sources overnight. I mean, it’s what makes journalism possible in the first place. Usually, not quoting and accrediting something is what’ll get you in serious trouble, but that’s not what has me debating whether or not to jump (up and down that is, not off of anything). I’m talking about chronic quote abuse, not that innocent yet sappy “DMB” song lyric in your AIM profile. We all know someone who suffers from it, and it’s spreading fast. These are the people who go around quoting anything and everything, usually in the hopes that it will somehow make them less unfunny. Excessive quoting used to be the realm of nerds trying to impress each other with their ability to memorize all six Star Wars movies, but it seems to have suddenly become as mainstream a pastime as trying to look like one of the characters of The O.C.

It’s not just limited to just marginally funny quotes either. “Plastics” might go around saying “Fetch” after Mean Girls, rap fans “remix” their favorite artists’ “freestyle”, and of course, seemingly everyone has said “Your mom goes to college” at some point in their life. Even the artsy, disaffected kids are in on the act with their dry, nonconformist quotes, including quotes bashing other quotes, like Emerson’s “I hate quotations,” or Lord Peter Wimsey’s “A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought,” – those ladies and gentleman, are examples of irony, unlike most others people give.

And while some people think that “quoting in moderation” is an okay thing to do, try telling me that after hearing a suburban white kid tell you he’s “Rick James, bitch”. In fact, quoting in any amount is a warning sign for things far more serious. Like what, you ask? A high school classmate of mine, for example, has got a very debilitating form of this illness. He’ll quote whatever he’s just seen or heard in the last five minutes not once or twice, but three times. Consecutively. Even worse, victims of chronic quote abuse will slip into a state of perpetual sarcasm. Don’t catch my drift? Imagine walking into Springfield’s Kwik-E-Mart and having Apu give you lip with witty retorts to everything you say. Or that girl we all know who says that she’s sarcastic all the time and so she’s misunderstood.

Some end up sounding like a horrible stand-up comedian: everything they say comes out sounding like it’s supposed to have a punchline, like “How did you do on the prelim?” It’s usually the result of trying to emulate the style of genuine humor in everyone’s newfound “favorite” show, Family Guy.

So please, I’m not trying to make some kind of bullshit plea for people to have a little more creativity when it comes to what they say. This isn’t some kind of “Friends don’t let friends quote” type of public service announcement. Just remember that quoting something for the sake of humor is a lot like surrounding yourself with attractive people in hopes you’ll seem “less ugly” – though it seems like girls do that anyway. Just stop.
Or else.
Consider this a veiled threat. “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

Archived article by aki Rahamad