Quoting Blindly

Okay, I have to get this off my chest or I’m going to explode.

It’s bad enough that people don’t always do all of their own thinking. It’s a laziness that is encouraged and lovingly fostered by friends and the internet. We all have slips of not-thinking. Facebook may well be the best example of this. Why bother coming up with one’s own opinion when someone else already did it? And it’s so easy to share, re-blog and retweet it all. Isn’t it.

But it’s just as awful in real life. The thing that so many D&D players complain about, where play descends into a Monty Python quote-fest. Yahtzee put it quite well in a (rather old now) article about ‘Splosion Man while speaking of Portal fans and the death of the cake joke. The bit most relevant to my point now being:

“…it’s like what happened to Monty Python and the Holy Grail – quoted and referenced until only bones remain, and you can’t even enjoy the original without thinking of desperate misfits endlessly referring to the false promise of cake through eager, crisp-spattered grins. Emptily quoting other people’s jokes in the hope that doing so will somehow make them grow a personality of their own, mindlessly co-opting humor and pop culture in a pathetic quest for acceptance.”

You know what’s different about me quoting that article? I understood what it meant in its original context. And that is what is really driving me batty. I keep hearing people using quotes as part of conversation(!) that make it increasingly clear that they have no idea what was originally meant.

Let us examine, “One does not simply walk into Mordor.” It’s been a very long time since I read the books, but I’m pretty sure that that line is only in the film. I’m on the fence as to whether or not this makes a difference.

What matters is that the phrase is INTENDED to express that Frodo’s task, travelling to Mordor to destroy the ring by throwing it into Mount Doom, is passing bloody difficult. That. Is what. It means.

It isn’t literal.

Why does this get said?

  • “One does not simply walk into Mordor.”
  • “But that’s exactly what we did!”

Aside from being offensively cheesy, it doesn’t make any sense. That’s like saying, “This is going to be the hardest thing you have ever effing done.” With the response, “We totes did that by accident, lol.”

I don’t think I’m actually all that hacked off about this, but I do tend to get a bit verbose and twitchy when people mess up quotes. I have a crazy accurate ear (it may be perfect pitch, I’m not entirely sure), so I can tell when someone delivers a quote without the same delivery or pitch as the original. Some, I can barely stand to hear said by someone other than the source, as the voice would basically just be wrong.

Sigh. I know it’s being misappropriated for the sake of (seriously?) humour. It just gets on my nerves. Just because it can be twisted into a different context doesn’t mean it ceases to be a poetic warning of adversity.