Monday, January 4, 2010

How Funny! 10 Banned Overused Buzzwords of 2009

From Denny: That's the thing about buzzwords. First they are cool because they are a clever reference or manipulation of other words and then everyone starts using them. Our minds so crave something clever and unusual.

Then those same cool words get overused and suddenly people turn on them, like a rabid dog bites its once loved owner, declaring them now uncool. I can only imagine the confusion of someone trying to learn the English language. The occasional idioms are one thing but popular current language is a real mind-bender at times. I'm a native speaker and even I scratch my head sometimes, going, "Huh?" :)

Well, lucky you, these words and phrases are on their way "out" of our everyday language for 2010. Of course, who in the heck declares what's "in" or "out" anyway? Some fairy godmother waving her wand over the globe? Well, on to new magic in the New Year!

Photo by Betsie Van Der Meer/Corbis

1. Sexting = sex + texting - Parents are horrified, kids snicker, while someone gets slapped with pornography charges for dirty dialing on the phone. Not too funny when the law comes calling and empties your wallet for the deed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid photo by Nicholas Kamm/Getty

2. Public option - Health care reform bill reference to a government run health care plan that is actually affordable. The popular idea is it would compete with private plans to force the insurance companies to keep their prices in line "or else" the public has a cheaper alternative with the government. Works for me. Seems to me the only ones that want to ban this phrase are the insurance companies because it means less billion dollar profits to the CEOs.

3. Autotune - Refers to a software program to correct imperfect musical pitch. After rapper T-pain made good use of it the late night comedians picked it up and applied it weirdly to news clips. T-pain released his own iPhone app that has been downloaded to the tune of 10,000 a day. Bet he doesn't care if he becomes a cliche with that kind of money rolling in daily at $3 an app. Whew!

Photo by Christy Bowe/Corbis

4. Wise Latina - Came from Sotomayor's first Latina nomination to the Supreme Court. This is the much maligned and repeated line from her 2001 speech the racists tried to use against her: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." What's funny is that her term of a wise Latina became a rallying cry in the Hispanic community where people proudly displayed it on T-shirts, coffee mugs, baby bibs and banners. Isn't it great fun when the mean-spirited people get backfired?! :)

Republican Senator Grassley photo by Alex Wong/Getty

5. Death Panel - Senator Grassley from Iowa declared for sure that Obama's health care plan would "pull the plug on Grandma." This is the same guy who was crafting the bill, had read it supposedly and yet still claimed this to be true. The 1,000 page bill had no mention of committees that were set up to execute the infirm or the old. Dementia or just plain stupidity here?

Alaska's weird Governor Palin shrieked from a Facebook message: "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society, whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil." Uh... Governor, can you read?

6. Birther - Speaking of shriekers, Orly Tait from California, peddled a huge fat lie that Obama was secretly smuggled into Hawaii just after his birth so he could qualify as an American citizen. What drugs was this guy on? This stuff is so incredulous you can't make it up: he did. Now what mother who just gave birth is going to get on a plane with a day old baby and fly all the way from Kenya to America? Are you nuts or just not female? Worse, who is actually brain dead enough to believe any of this warped nonsense?

Obama was born in Hawaii, complete with birth certificate and birth announcement in a local paper. Yet the Birther crowd still demands to see the original document. Yeah, like I'm going to show a bunch of crazed folks my social security number and other personal data as a sitting President. Yeah, right.

Photo by Juice Images/Corbis

7. Opposite Marriage - It's supposed to mean a marriage between a man and a woman but Miss California, Carrie Prejean, bungled her rambling answer to a question and it fumbled into this phrase. The question: Do you think gay marriage should be legalized in every state of the union? Answer: "Um, we live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there." As you can guess there were some angry folks and a shouting match.

Michael Jackson Photo by Paul Richards/Getty

8. Summer of Death - A number of high profile notable celebrities passed away this year: singer Michael Jackson, actor Ed McMahon, actress Farrah Fawcett, newsman Walter Cronkite, actor and dancer Patrick Swayze, John Hughes and even beloved Taco Bell spokes-puppy Gidget the Chihuahua. Most of the deaths occurred from May to August of 2009.

From the New York Times: "No more celebrities had died than in past summers ... this summer could come to be known as the summer when baby boomers began to turn to the obituary pages first, to face not merely their own mortality or ponder their legacies, but to witness the passing of legends who defined them as a tribe, bequeathing through music, culture, news and politics a kind of generational badge that has begun to fray."

Photo by Pete Souza/White House/Getty

9. Beer Summit - Prez Obama met with black Harvard professor Henry Gates, Jr. and white police officer Sergeant James Crowley to defuse a racial incident between them. The local police badly handled a call from one of Gates' neighbors who thought someone was breaking into Gates' house: it was Gates fumbling with his keys at the door.

The police got angry when Gates got angry and the whole thing blew up out of proportion, taking on racial overtones and a national controversy. Obama made public comments about the incident when he really should have remained above the fray.

Police profiling of minorities is a sticking point in America even after electing the first African-American President. Obama successfully sat down with the men over shared beers to lay to rest the overblown sensitive issue. Of course, the photographers had never seen an American President do such a thing and went wild in the Rose Garden snapping a piece of history.

Photo by Simon Marcus/Corbis

10. Green Shoots - What's the first thing you think of when you hear this phrase? Yep! Spring time and vibrant green plant shoots rocketing out of the ground at record pace. Turns out this phrase has been around about twenty years now. It really caught on this year when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, in a 60 Minutes interview, used it to describe his optimism for this year's economic growth.

Of course, since then depressed and disappointed analysts - and desperate journalists - jumped on the bandwagon and wore it out trying to use it as a soothing effect on their audiences. From Slate's Daniel Gross: "Economists are now walking around, eyes fixed on the ground like French rustics hunting for truffles, searching for verdant signs of growth."

I have to admit it was truly bizarre to hear modern day crusty personality business journalists using the phrase "verdant signs of growth" like they had just popped in from a 19th century luncheon with Sherlock Holmes at a poetry slam. I'll have to keep my eye on these guys in 2010 just to make sure they aren't suffering from buzzword dementia... :)

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