Banned For Life: “There, I Said It”
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on April 20, 2008
For some, no statute of limitations is long enough
Martyrdom is a typical aspiration of sorts for pop culture criticism, or even mere discussion. Everyone loves to look like they are the ones brave enough to say what no one else dare even think, and one of the best ways to do that is to consistently drawn attention to just how unconventional your opinion on some oft-discussed matter is, while illustrating how much danger you are courting for yourself and your reputation by venturing so far out on a limb. This makes you seem both tantalizingly rebellious and refreshingly honest, and makes your readers go “ooooh, I wonder what other matters he can drop truthbombs on!” (Readers love the phrase “truthbombs”).
And that’s cool. It’s an accepted practice, and I’m probably as guilty of it as anyone. Observe my recent article on No Country for Old Men, in which I paint myself as a movie crit maverick of sorts for suggesting that the ending to NC is in fact not as flawless and innovative as everyone thinks. Were you to read my article with no knowledge on the subject, you’d think this was a thought specific to me and me alone, as opposed to, say, an opinion shared by roughly 1 out of every 3 or 4 educated moviegoers. But that’s just how we writers roll, and I’m not gonna start apologizing for that now.
Still, there’s a tactic often used in deploying such a method of argument positioning that I find so weak, so despicable, that I think it should be an automatic argument or opinion disqualifier should you be dense enough to use it.
“There. I said it.”
This is used, of course, after the unconventional point is made, in order to make it seem like by sharing said opinion, you are getting a particularly heavy weight off your chest, as well as risking the unchecked wrath of others included in your discussion that do not feel similarly. It’s one thing to exaggerate just how unique and interesting your opinions are, but to bring it to the “There, I said it” level is entirely inexcusable. This is especially true since the people who most use it tend to do so with opinions that really aren’t even that uncommon, like “The Bends is better than Kid A–there, I said it” or “Donnie Darko actually kind of sucks–there, I said it”. An internet acquaintance of mine even used “[The preview for] Once looks terrible–there, I said it.”
Well, bravo to you, you trend-bucking, trail-blazing gunslinger. But these aren’t opinions nearly controversial enough to be considered “there, I said it”s. In fact, there really are barely any pop culture opinions that have the potential to be unpopular or inexpressable enough to merit a TISI. Edward R. Murrow calling out Senator McCarthy on Natioanl TV–that’s a “there, I said it”. Pee Wee Reese saying “hey, playing with this dark-skinned fellow really ain’t so bad”–that’s a “there, I said it”. Dylan stabbing his Newport folk brethren in the back by going electric–that’s a “there, I said/played it”. You talking about how overrated Heroes is–that’s just you saying stuff.
Suggested Alternatives: Merely craft long, rambling essays detailing the history of how uncontested the popularly held opinion has been over the years, as well as why you are such a badass for having balls enough to go against the grain. Or I suppose you could just let your opinions speak for themselves, but believe me, there’s no fun in that.
Acceptable Exceptions: Saying you hate The Simpsons, The Beatles or The Big Lebowski. If you don’t throw in a “There, I said it” with any of those, people might not even believe their own ears the first time around.
Exempt from Rule: David Spade, whose “There I Said It” column on his Showbiz Show plays so perfectly into his TV / movie persona (including how slightly annoying it is) that it’d feel wrong to try to censor him, and Bobby Vinton, whose mediocre 1964 #1 “There! I’ve Said It Again” arguably predates this practice and thus should not be held accountable for using the prhrase.