4 Things the Internet Can Shut the F**k Up About Anytime Now
The Internet ruins everything. Actually, that's not even sort of true, but people say it all the time anyway, and it's not for nothing. While "everything" might be a stretch, the Internet does indeed have an uncanny ability to take something great and make it terrible. That's something we talk about on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by comic Jeff May and non-comic Brett Rader. The first topic of conversation is also the first thing I want to talk about in this column here today.
Listen, I get it, bacon is tasty as fuck. It's good on its own, it's good in conjunction with other foods, it's just good, and it always has been. Unfortunately, though, at some point over the past five years or so, bacon became something else. It became the Chuck Norris of food.
You remember that shit, right? Chuck Norris facts? They were super cute for about a month like eight years ago ...
No they weren't.
... and then immediately transformed into the most grating online trend imaginable. The worst part about it was that Chuck Norris didn't ask for any of it. He was just minding his business when, out of the blue, the Internet decided that he, of all the action stars in the universe, was the most meme-worthy.
It's not a whole lot different from what's happened to bacon recently. For untold numbers of years, bacon existed as a delicious breakfast meat and nothing more. Then, seemingly overnight, it became the only thing that mattered (and other overused Internet sayings). No longer was enjoying bacon in relative silence and anonymity acceptable. You had to wear your bacon fandom on your shirt, your hat, your doughnuts, and all sorts of other places where a fried piece of pork doesn't really belong.
Don't get me wrong, nothing you motherfuckers do will ever make me stop enjoying the delicious taste of bacon, but we're well past the point where anyone should be bragging about their bacon intake like it makes them some sort of special category of person. No, you're either a vegetarian or you eat bacon, there isn't a whole lot else to it.
Damn if bacon worship is something that's going to die without a fight, though. Rather, it seems like every new day brings another clueless dipshit who discovers that bacon is a "thing" now and decides to shoehorn it into their daily operation. Case in point, this Subway commercial, which I'd love to see die in 10 kinds of fires if that was a thing that could happen to television advertising.
If you're short on the necessary time and/or Internet firewall freedom required to watch that crime against sustenance, too bad, you're seeing it anyway. Basically, it's just two women going back and forth making outrageous claims about how their love for bacon is the baconiest bacony bacon of all bacon. One woman has bacon eyebrows ...
... but big deal, because the other chick is working on a bacon condor ...
... that her friend is oblivious to, because she's wearing a gigantic bacon-sensing helmet ...
... and is married to a bacon baron.
Fuck you both.
In other words, it's everything terrible about the Internet's obsession with bacon, conveniently packaged into the most unwatchable 30 seconds of television possible.
Again, I get it, bacon is delicious. So are a lot of things, though. It's nothing to start a cult over. Make bacon your breakfast, don't make it your identity. For the good of the swine, please, shut the fuck up about bacon.
"Keep Calm and Carry On"
If ever a case could be made for making people pass a brief history test before we allow them to buy a T-shirt, "Keep Calm and Carry On" will be your strongest argument by a wide margin. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the majority of the people who fawn over this phrase think it was invented by the Chive. It wasn't, of course, they're just one of the many who should share the blame for it being beaten to death on the Internet for what seems like an eternity now.
Except please don't.
If you're unfamiliar, the phrase was coined in 1939 as part of a campaign by the British government to make their citizens feel a little less uneasy about the prospect of the Nazi war machine raining hellfire upon their city at literally any moment. It didn't work, of course, because the posters bearing the slogan were never actually distributed. Millions were printed, but the campaign was nixed before they could be used. No one even knew they still existed until 2000, when the owner of a small bookstore in England found one at the bottom of a box of used books he'd just purchased.
This is all your fault, sir.
He hung the poster in his shop and, after several people expressed interest, decided to print up more and sell them. This was a decision he kept from his wife, who felt that the posters represented a moment in British history that shouldn't be exploited for profit. She was right, obviously, to the point that a nasty legal dispute has broken out over which shady vulture actually owns the "rights" to the saying.
Meanwhile, a full-on industry has formed around it. Give it a quick Googling and you'll be presented with countless websites bearing some version of the phrase, available for purchase on T-shirts, coffee mugs, thongs, and whatever other media CafePress will print words on.
It's rarely just "Keep Calm and Carry On" anymore, though. It's "Keep Calm and Call Batman" or "Keep Calm and Eat Bacon" or whatever other trivial bullshit people can think to disrespectfully equate to the tragic events of World War II.
Look, either quit shitting all over British history, or don't say a damn word 20 years from now when kids are ironically wearing "If You See Something, Say Something" T-shirts like 9/11 was the coolest thing ever. Your "Keep Calm and Listen to Black Sabbath" doormat will have excluded you from being able to complain about that years before you ever have a chance to.
You are not a fan of Batman. Very few people truly are. Understand, that's not a knock against Batman. It's a knock against you for being angry at me for having the audacity to question your love of Batman when you've "seen, like, all of the movies." OK, well, so have I, but that's just because I'm a fan of movies. That doesn't make me some kind of Batman historian by any stretch of the imagination, though. Until you can list the names of comic book writers and illustrators I won't recognize and don't give a shit about anyway, I have every reason to doubt the authenticity of your claims to Batman super-fandom.
For the most part, when the average person says, "I love Batman," what they really mean is, "I love the way Batman looks on a shirt."
This one, probably.
That's perfectly understandable and acceptable, but it's not the same thing as being a die-hard fan of a character that's been around longer than most of your living family members. Even then, Batman's status as the go-to T-shirt for pretend superhero enthusiasts can be chalked up to a simple process of elimination more than anything. Spider-Man's logo isn't that fun to look at, and wearing a Superman logo on your chest just makes people think you're full of yourself.
You don't want to have to live up to this shit.
Batman, on the other hand, wears a lot of black and has the most recognizable logo this side of Apple. When pretending to know shit about comic books or superheroes with minimal effort is your prescription, nothing fills it quite like throwing on a Batman shirt.
Honestly, I don't know or care enough about Batman to even sufficiently argue this point, but since when has that stopped me from trying? Because here's the thing: I don't need to know shit about Batman to know that most of the people dragging his good name through the Internet mud don't either. I get that the character has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity thanks to the Dark Knight movies, but again, if that's what constitutes the center of your Batman universe, you don't love Batman, you love Christian Bale and/or Christopher Nolan movies. It is definitely not the same thing.
You should absolutely love Christian Bale either way, though.
So why is this a problem? Well, it's not, for me. But for a lot of comic book fans, their entire identity is intertwined with their intense, in-depth knowledge of every facet of those characters' existence. To be able to say you're a legitimate fan of Batman takes years of study and research and hard work. Wearing a T-shirt and changing your Twitter handle to @BatmanFan69 without doing that work makes you a fraud in the eyes of a lot of people. It would be like showing up at a karate class wearing a black belt because you've seen all the Karate Kid movies. It looks convincing on the surface, but when William Zabka is tearing your ACL with a swift sweep of the leg, the truth comes out.
If you wear Batman shirts on a consistent enough basis, eventually some comic book zealot will attempt to sweep your proverbial leg with questions about the more obscure aspects of the Batman universe. Will you be able to answer those questions? If not, shut up about how much you love Batman.
Pumpkin spice is not a product. Pumpkin spice is a war. It breaks out every single year, sometime around the end of September, and carries on well into November, until Starbucks (let's not pretend this is even an issue anywhere else) replaces their Halloween/Thanksgiving drinks with peppermint-infused Christmas drinks. Unfortunately, the only real victims in this war are the innocents who sit on the sidelines, not giving a single solitary care either way, but having their social media feeds and timelines inundated with obnoxious banter about the pros and cons of pumpkin spice (and the people who enjoy it).
Calm the fuck down.
Have I picked a side in the fight? Sure I have. Pumpkin spice is delicious, and I don't blame anyone for enjoying it. Do people talk about it too much? I mean, not really, if you ask me. Even if they did, the shit's only around for like six weeks each year. On the overall list of topics people bring up way too much, pumpkin spice is actually pretty near the bottom. Talk about it every single day it's available for all I care.
At this point, the people who complain about people mentioning pumpkin spice are the real problem. It's just a fucking coffee flavor, ladies and gentlemen, and it's one that's available for a limited window of time.
It's like the McRib of coffee!
When it comes back, you're going to see some mentions of it from those who like it. You can set your watch by it. It's as easy to predict and plan for as an NFL drug test, but every year around this time, countless Internet users line up to express their shock and outrage over the fact that some people enjoy discussing their love of the delicious taste of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. Why is this shit such a problem?
I can't say for sure, but I suspect the issue is that, for all intents and purposes, pumpkin spice is the Uggs of the food world. Its primary use is to give lonely dudes a convenient means to talk shit about the women who will never fuck them while making it seem like there's more to their "outrage" than that. There isn't. You don't hate pumpkin spice, you hate that you haven't had sex in years. Spend less time sharpening your latte jokes and more time working on your people skills. Everyone will be better for it, barring anyone you eventually build up the courage to speak to, probably. But at least we won't have to hear you fucking whine about what people are ordering at Starbucks anymore. That's all that matters.
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For more from Adam, check out The 5 Most Ridiculous Causes to Ever Get a Website and The 5 Most Notorious Joke Thieves on the Internet.
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