I Don't Like those Game Shows That Much
After getting irritated with the tenth co-worker who used the phrase "You are the weakest link" today, I decided that the new generation of game-show catchphrases-"you are the weakest link", "is that your final answer," et al- are officially played out, and that all references to them need to stop. It's such an annoying collection of sayings. Especially because it's always ME who is singled out as the weakest link. Why is that? I'm strong! I'm a strong link!
I am aware that striking the phrase "you are the weakest link" and its brethren from our vocabulary will leave a giant sucking catch-phrase void, just like the one after the last guy said "Groovy, baybay!" and his voice kind of echoed in the silence and no one said anything but everyone realized that saying "Groovy, baybay!" was no longer acceptable or cool. But you know what we did? We moved on. We made up new retarded things to say, like "All your base are belong to us, baybay!"
It seemed like an impossible task, though, to make up a bunch of powerful new catchphrases all by myself. Like, that's what the SNL writers are for, and even they occasionally fall back on stuff like "I'm 50!"
That's when I had my revelation. It was actually more like a cross between a revelation and and epiphany. Actually, it was more like a cross between a revelation, an epiphany, and stealing an idea from Lupschada, with whom I was complaining on Instant Messenger. The idea was this: why not rely on the massive cultural ignorance of Americans and steal catch-phrases from the past? I could introduce a few old-time lines with a proven track record, now forgotten. Who knows- maybe I'd start a new trend of recycling bits of old pop culture, thus pioneering the use of "retro", "camp" and "irony" which are so sadly neglected these days.
When I started doing some research online, however, I came to a startling discovery: someone already beat me to it. The current crop of reality-TV catch-phrases are nothing more than regurgitations of old ones. Examine this, for instance, the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to vote it off the Island. Is that your final answer? You are the weakest link, goodbye."
(This is unrelated, but later on in the Declaration, I found evidence that SNL staff writers have already been over the document with a fine-toothed comb. A further passage reads, "Thomas Jefferson, laboriously copying by hand! The Tom Tom Man! The Tominator, inescapably introducing human error!" And a close reading of this copy of the Declaration reveals no fewer than twenty-three uses of the word "schwing.")
Further research produced similarly dismal results. Every new instance of the old familiar words recurring was like another drop of gasoline that fueled the dune buggy of my despair. Here's the evidence I found; I hope you choke on it.
- "The only thing worse than being the weakest link is not being the weakest link."
- "Is this a dagger I see before me? Remember, you have a 50/50 and a Phone-a-Friend left." (For shame, Shakespeare!)
- "Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but--" (Oh, forget it. No one remembers "Chains of Love.")
- (This isn't about game shows, but it's a problem I had in high school with The Grapes of Wrath. Remember that part in the barn after her baby dies, where she suckles that guy, so she can pass on the precious gift of life or whatever? And she was like "Got Milk?" Lame, Steinbeck. Lame.)
- "You are the missing link, goodbye!" (Cro Magnon Man)
- "Veni vedi weaki linki." (I was frankly surprised by this quote, because saying "I came. I saw. I was the weakest link." seems awfully defeatist for Caesar.)
So I give up. It seems clear that there's no hope for any new catchphrases. We're simply doomed to repeat the clichés of yesterday. As Solomon remarked, "There is nothing new under the sun. It has already been in ancient times before us. Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!"