review of cliches

April 11, 2007

Who doesn’t love clichés? Nobody, that’s who. Some curmudgeons might claim to hate them, some school teachers, or wannabe novelists will take their hacks, excoriating the lackluster language skills that lead to a cliché getting the green light. But even the cliché haters are secretly cliché lovers. Hating clichés is so yesterday, like people that only like obscure classical music. Hey posers. Beethoven rocks. And Samuel Barber is sweet as pie.

A review of clichés is a daunting endeavor. There are movie clichés (the buddy cop movie, the fish out of water movie, the coming of age movie, the T&A movie), plus all the clichés IN the movies (all cars blow up when they go off cliffs, fat men get beautiful wives, and there are only 12 people in Los Angeles). There are literary clichés, everyday clichés, even a lifestyle can be cliché. And why are they clichés? Because of Jung and his stupid archetypes, duh. But this isn’t about Jung, it’s about his legacy.

So forget it. Don’t think of this as a review of clichés, think of it as musings on life. Or, if that’s not your thing, go ahead and think of it as a review of clichés. You know, really, I don’t even know you, so what do I care?

Always Look On the Bright Side of Life

Truth is, I don’t like people telling me what to do, so a cliché that tells me what to do gets an automatic demerit, and faces an uphill battle right out of the gate. However, this little gem gets a free pass, not only because, of course, everybody should look on the bright side of life or just go die already, but because of the song from The Life of Brian. And if you don’t know what song I’m talking about, I don’t know how you found this blog, but you should probably go away and read something else.

11 out of 11

Carpe Diem

Usually translated as “Seize the Day,” though almost always intended as “Seize the Woman” (and really, who can’t get behind that?), this little Latin phrase beguiled me during my college years, and then was ruined forever by Robin Williams. How could someone take a phrase immortalized by Horace, Herrick, and Marvel (the big three Carpe Diem folks, until Mork comes along and vomits all over it), and ruin by saying “If you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you.” I’ll tell you what, if you listen real close, you can hear me whispering for you to kiss my ass.

5 out of 10. For the kids.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

People say clichés got to be clichés because of the truth and wisdom they contain. Maybe. I’m as happy as the next guy. I worry less than most. But when Bobby Mcferin came along, everything changed. You go ahead and be happy, don’t worry. As for me and my house, we’re pissed off. Who is this Bobby Mcferin, with his little song he wrote, asking me to sing a note? Bite me.

1 out of 9. Cuz even clichés should have some cache.

Frailty, Thy Name Is Woman

Um. Not gonna touch this one. Kim, I love you babe. The Bard, he was just crazy. Don’t pay any attention.


It Could Be Worse

I love this one, and not just because of Young Frankenstein. Of course it could be raining. But even then, it could be worse, right? It’s endless, it’s circular, it’s magical. Like in King Lear, “So long as we can say ‘this is the worst,’ it’s not the worst.” Or something like that. And no, my life has never really been very hard. So I get a demerit for being glib. This is still my second favorite cliché.

9 out of 10.

Tomorrow Is Another Day

Ask anybody, I’m a cheery guy. Friendly as a missionary, helpful as a Leatherman. And you know what? Scarlett had it right—Tomorrow IS another day. Along with “As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again,” Scarlett has given us two of the bon mots of the English language. I’m getting choked up just thinking about it. But that’s okay, because, yup, Tomorrow Is Another Day!

9.5 out of 10

I Used To Think I Had It Bad Because I Had No Shoes, Then I Met a Man Who Had No Feet

This is just pretentious nonsense. Whoever came up with this ditty really needs a good ass-kicking (not from me though, I’m not really the ass-kicking type). This reminds me of that story sunday school teachers tell, of the footprints in the sand. When there was only one set of footprints, yada yada yada. Except this is way worse. I think we can all accept the fact that, yes, somewhere in the world, maybe even in our own country (yeah, unstained by human tears), maybe even in our own neighborhoods, someone has it worse than we do. I got that.

2 out of 15 plus a demerit for being so condescendingly pretentious

You Can’t Have It All

I’m trying to be fair and impartial, but jeez, this is another one of those clichés where The Man has his foot on my back, holding me down. I’ll let you in on a little secret: you CAN have it all (well, except children in most of the Third World, you’re prospects for having it all aren’t good), you just have to want it bad enough. Which I don’t. Plus, just having to Want It Bad Enough isn’t as powerful a cliché as “You Can’t Have It All,” so I’m not sure it totally counterbalances. Either way, I’m just not comfortable with The Man telling me I can’t have it all.

5 out of 12 because even though I don’t like it, you can’t deny the power at work here

Beauty is Only Skin Deep

This one is so obviously true, and also so totally irrelevant, that it’s more irritating than anything else. You know what else is skin deep? Entrails. Try taking the skin off anybody and see how you like them.

What’s that? It’s a metaphor? Oh, never mind then.

1 out of 5

Avoid Cliches Like the Plague

That’s sound advice. I’d like to echo it. Unless, of course, you find just the right moment and just the right cliché. Then fire away. On all cylinders. Full steam ahead. Damn the torpedoes. We few, we lucky few. And stuff.


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