Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This post is historic, by the legendary Androcass - 1/6/08

[No change here; if anything, these words are being used more now that they were back in January. And Britney Spears is called "legendary" by some nitwits, just search Google if you want to see it for yourself.]

Two words that have become abused, almost beyond meaning, are "legendary" and "historic." The reason is the constant need for aggrandizement, for hype, even for promotion of self-importance.

"Legendary" is applied to anyone you've ever heard of, and has been reduced to the meaning of "famous." I'm not sure that Britney has been called that yet, but it wouldn't surprise me. The original definition, synonymous with "fictitious," has been lost in the rush to inflate everyone. A quick Google search shows the following legendary figures: Bob Marley (at least he's dead), Dr. John, The Jordanaires (they woo-wooed behind Elvis), football coach Bo Schembechler (most college football and basketball coaches are legendary), Bobby Darin, Van McCoy (do the Hustle), Alfredo Alcala (who?), Eartha Kitt, Sandra Dee, and on, and on.

"Historic," which used to carry at least some sense of something that had already happened, whether it had yet stood the test of time or not, now means something that the speaker or writer thinks will be important. Football playoff games are historic before they are played (the New England Patriots game last weekend was historic either way; they were going to win to go to 16-0, or they were going to lose to fall short). Charlie Gibson desribed last night's debate as historic before it happened, despite the sheer number of debates that have already occurred.

Folks, "historic" means something of significance, something that people will remember and talk and think about in decades and centuries to come. World War II was historic, no football game is (what was the result of that Bath-York soccer game back in 1734?).

It seems to me that both of these words have taken this prevalence (and, therefore, much less importance) due to a need/desire to seem significant. Charlie Gibson believes the debate is historic in no small part because he's a part of it. Sandra Dee is legendary because that makes your obsession with her somehow acceptable.

But all that ends up happening is that the words lose their meaning and their significance. If everybody is legendary, if every event is historic, than nobody and no events are, and we lose yet another distinction.

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