Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

July 25, 2006

Villainous Language

Filed under: blogging,Humor,navel gazing,News,Uncategorized,writing — secretmojo @ 2:16 am

Many times words don’t live up to the passion that serves them. So when things heat up in an argument, we pull out our Pocket Stalin™ and Insta-Hitler™ and do a wham-bam on our opponents. “Stalinist agitprop,” screeches the mighty Coulter. Then Billmon whips out the Third Reich card. And we all go home happy feeling either that the argument’s been won, or that our opponents are despotic psychopaths anyway, so whatever.

But do we truly take proper advantage of villainous language? Surely Procrustes would be appalled with “Gulag Guantanamo” metaphors when it was he who stretched prisoners to fit the size of their beds. (never mind Stalin, who might just laugh at the ineptitude). Why do we need to summon demons to our cause? Are we dubious that the true horror will go unnoticed by our cold, cold, audience, and pump up the volume?

Stalin’s scoring higher lately, I think, because of the introduction of Godwin’s Law into the netiverse. He fills the leftover need for “genocidal maniac” accusations because yelling Hitler (or even Eichmann) has fallen out of fashion, and frankly, makes a person look crazy. Poor guy, Josef. He could’a been a contender, but he’s reduced to picking up the ad hominem trash behind the master.

Part of the paucity of creative villainous language is simply education. Who the hell knows their Torquemada from their Tocqueville? And who wants to travel back further than the 20th century to get their Fightin’ Dictator Pen™? Genghis knows best what wrath is, but ancient history makes him legend, so should we even care? And all the different kinds of evil dudes—who do you bring up, and in what situation?

Now, we do say “Sadist,” and this is a very nice compliment to the guy who poked holes in people for pleasure, but don’t these truly wicked beings deserve more than the dilution of their names through ubiquitous use? Hell, I can be a sadist nowadays if I tease someone too much. Is this what the sensually debased Count had in mind?

And what of Machiavelli, who now has to answer for office politics? Or Vlad Tepes, the man who brought us the slow-baked impalement of thousands of mothers fathers and babies, who inspired Transylvania 6-5000? Or Goebbels, who’s the biggest fucking liar that ever lived: how does he like it getting compared to Karl Rove?

And poor Benedict Arnold. Now he must keep company with all the teenage girls who smiled at their friend’s boyfriend during lunch hour. Heck, his name is so pathetically comic that even the hardcore pundits just say “traitor” instead.

I suppose all these villains shouldn’t complain of their watered-down names. At least they don’t get meanings like “Platonic” — who the hell would want that one? Or “Einstein”, which is used sarcastically as stupid. And worst of all, “Crapper,” who isn’t responsible at all for the word crap, but picked up the residue anyway. Better to be “bacchanalian,” “sapphic,” or even a “sandwich,” I say.

Seems to me we’ve exaggerated so much over the years that even the nefarious originators of the most brutal atrocities in history can’t express our inner pain. Their names’ weakness shows how jaded we’ve become to the idea of gruesomeness. Or, proves how melancholia feels similar to the slaughter of millions.

We either need to be more sensitive, or we need new villains. Now, I’m not advocating another tyrant rise to power and start lopping off heads just so we can get more colorful language. However….

Nah. That’s a horrible idea. Horrible! Positively fiendish. How “Faustian,” ultimately “Pyrric,” yet in some way…“tantalizing.”


1 Comment »

  1. This made me laugh and it made me think. Wonderful post.

    Comment by Aurenande — July 26, 2006 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

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