Don't tase me, bro

The year in would-be catch phrases
By JAMES PARKER  |  December 21, 2007

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In 2007, they gave a monkey a typewriter, and he typed only two words: Chuck Norris. HA HA HA! Dear me . . . (dries eyes).

You’re aware of that particular joke-strand or “meme,” right? The Chuck Norris Fact? Started online? It got turned into a book (The Truth About Chuck Norris, by Ian Spector)? Even Mike Huckabee, that huge Christian square, is in on that one — he used it in one of his god-awful campaign ads. Yes, 2007 was the year that viral humor hit critical mass: from office to office and screen to screen, we all partook of the same wriggling hysterium of clips, gaffes, obscenities, atrocities, YouTuberies, and fragments of folk wisdom.

Was this good for America? Absolutely not. It cannot be a healthy development that the entire country is now tittering or sucking its teeth in unison. For me, it was Tay Zonday, accidental YouTube sensation (12 million viewings!), who best captured the phenomenon in his prophetically downbeat electro-ballad “Chocolate Rain”: “Choco-late RRRRAAAINNN!/Cross the world and back it’s all the same/Choco-late RRRRAAAINNN!/Angels cry and shake their heads in shame.”

In a dark-brown downpour such as this, language has a hard time: it goes into survival mode, contracting itself into bombproof little nodes of meaning and association that we in the media like to call “catch phrases.” It’s a difficult concept, I know, so I’ve prepared a list of 10 of these catch phrases, along with some suggestions as to how you might use them in everyday life. Whether you found 2007 to be prime or sub-prime; whether it was spa-grade botanicals or more of a trans-fats type of experience; whether your stance was wide or narrow, sit back and watch the chocolate rain come down.

CATCH PHRASE “My view is, we ought to double Guantánamo.”
ORIGINAL CONTEXT Mitt Romney’s absurdist punch line during the GOP candidates' debate scored a direct hit on the brainstem of the Republican base: approval rumbled through the seats like flatulence, and soft pink hands flew together in eager applause. If anything, the line was too good: so smoothly did it breach the bounds of sanity, one was left wondering why the Mormonator chose to stop there. Double Guantánamo? Why not triple it? Why not quadruple it? Why not build a waterboard the size of New Hampshire and float it out into the Gulf of Mexico? Why not clip electrodes to the gonads of every man in America right now, today, just in case? Doesn’t anybody round here have any vision, for Christ’s sake?
USE IN EVERYDAY LIFE AS a vote for monstrous excess. A variation on “go for broke.”
EXAMPLE “I’m really glad you agreed to get high with me tonight, Roger. But what do you think we should use: this big pile of cocaine or these bags of heroin?”
“My view is, we ought to double Guantánamo.”

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Related: Fake-news vacuum, Chuck Norris's second Revolution, See spot run, More more >
  Topics: News Features , Mitt Romney, Benito Mussolini, Christopher Hitchens,  More more >
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