The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

13 May 2006

It's the repetition, stupid

The New World Man is weary of this old, old phrase:

I don't think any phrase in entirely too common usage irritates me more than "it's the _____, stupid."

It began 14 years ago as a prod to keep Clinton campaign staffers from losing focus on the fact the economy, which filled in the blank then, was what voters cared about in the 1992 election. If it's condescending beyond its merit (if you have to be constantly reminded what's most important, how self-evident is it, really?) and needlessly coarse, it was supposed to be jarring and intrusive on your consciousness — a way to inspire people of common cause to success, as much as a reminder of something they forgot at their peril.

Now it's just a lazy phrase used by lazy writers. ALL THE TIME. Not only to remind readers of something they shouldn't forget. Usually, writers are avoiding the work of convincing you they're right and skipping straight to their conclusion. "As you can see, you reader-moron, everybody knows this by now but you, for I have spaketh and said all that needs be said. Eth."

I've never been particularly fond of this construction myself, except of course when I can work it into a post title, but definitely it's way overused. (Entirely too many examples at the linked article.) I'd rank it about even with "Could [noun or pronoun] possibly be more [adjective]?" but behind that entire "speaking truth to power" trope.

Posted at 3:33 PM to Almost Yogurt

For crap's sake don't poke at the word digress or they'll descend upon you like a horde of locust.
Or a plague of locust.

Posted by: aka_monty at 11:39 PM on 13 May 2006