In defence of the cliché

A phrase knackered through overuse, an unoriginal or predictable thought, and generalisations both crass and ignorant – let’s face it, we all love a cliché.

Now, thanks to the prevalence of Facebook and Twitter, a bloated media with its online comments and all manner of click-baiting websites, the cliché has never had it so good, never lauded its popularity so easily over pretensions like critical analysis and accuracy.

Before, the humble cliché just used to flaunt itself in newspapers, take over the airwaves of terrifying radio phone-ins, or simply allow us to mutter it in flippancy beneath our grumpy mouthbreathing.

But behold. Now we can witness Jeremy Kyle wannabes rushing online to deface the poor old internet still further with hundreds of near-identical (yet important) judgements, before the latest controversy has had time to put on its gaudiest pair of pants.

So without further ado, let’s celebrate some of the more recent, news-related clichés and everyone who makes the world a slightly brighter place by bugling them onto the self-publishing liberator that is the internet.

“Convenient of all these women to come out of the woodwork while Jimmy Savile happens to be dead.” – People in thrall to creepy old famous dudes, who, in fairness, are patently more believable than women – after all, if the police have ignored these so-called victims for decades, why shouldn’t we?

“Why isn’t there a Society of White Lawyers? The Society of Black Lawyers – they’re the real racists.” – The minority white community whose ancestors suffered a painful history of enslavement and brutal oppression at the hands of the black imperialists who colonised Europe, and who remain more likely to face discrimination in the criminal justice system.

“Rhianna only got back with Chris Brown for his money!” – Experts on the psychological effects of domestic abuse, who have lots of personal experience of abusive relationships.

“How to deal with cyber-bullying – log-off or man-up and grow some balls!” – Masters of empathy and justified depression-sceptics who hopefully give any relatives in this position the same flawless advice.

“Why is there a Gay (Olympic) Games? How do they (because it’s always ‘they’) expect equality if they do things separately?” – Heterosexuals who just wanna have fun!

“You can’t say ANYTHING anymore, EVERYTHING is racist/homophobic/offensive etc” – Sainted guardians of baulking, tedium and resentment, and the unwitting founders of the vital Anti-PC Brigade set up to out-fuss the evil PC Brigade, having yet to realise how easy it is to say (or, easier still, tweet) non-bigoted things that are very enjoyably offensive. The sort who say that marginalised people are “oversensitive” while fuming at the prospect of a female or black Dr Who, a meaningless fictional children’s TV character. Bless.

OK, so the last one isn’t that new, but nor is the self-flattering notion that transgender people “have no restraint (sexually)” (a bit like famous old white dudes, eh?) or that suicide is selfish and people on benefits are scroungers too lazy to look for work while immigrants have nicked all our jobs. (Those last two being remarkably compatible.)

There are far too many to list, it’s just comforting to know that the old classics don’t diminish in the face of new, equally cherished additions. Hurrah!

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“Before we all sink into a slough of digital dystopian despair, it might be worth considering this: is this a sign of the strength, not weakness, of revelatory journalism in the digital age?”


Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS at the London School of Economics, reacts to news that the UK government forced the Guardian into destroying hard drives that contained information leaked by Edward Snowden.


(Source: POLIS)

 

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