Cliches, some with Examples

How many can you spot? And when is a cliche a characteristic?

Some call them memes, I call them utter bullshit. I'm guilty of most of them. Here are 25 to start.

  1. White men age 18-30 writing about pimping, or using 70's Black culture references

  2. "You is a badass motherfucker, Brad."
    "I be pimpin' in the Hamptons."
    "Soouuuul train all the way back to Yale!"
  3. Alternately, White people talking about "the Man" in an ironic tone
  4. Or White people in their mid-to-late 30's dancing badly to Motown
  5. Or just appropriating anything from any other culture and subverting it to their weird pasty need for hip, detached irony
  6. And White guys criticizing White culture, especially criticizing White appropriation of other cultures, so that they sound cooler and actually more down than the blue-eyed guys rapping along with old Public Enemy
  7. Women writing long, post-feminist essays about meaningless sex

  8. "As a sex columnist, my sole intention is to make you feel inferior and inexperienced because you don't give blowjobs to strangers at least seven times each week."
  9. Gay men in their 20's who call each other "bro" and roll up their bluejean cuffs
  10. Mentioning NAMBLA as an "I am a cool guy into weird cultural references" signifier
  11. Men describing their amazing careers

  12. "And that brings us up to 1982...has it really been 18 hours of me rambling continously?"
  13. Women in thrift-store dresses at New Media parties

  14. "I make 240,000 dollars a year, and I actually found this dress inside a cat's asshole!"
  15. Every bar in New York

  16. "Tonight I went to Superbar, and then the Egg Bar, then Twiddle, and after that, Cumtorium."
  17. Jewish People making fun of Jewish People

  18. "Ah ha! And Hitler should have gassed all of them! I can say that because I'm Jewish."
  19. Mentioning Mentioning Hitler

  20. "Every conversation people mention Hitler. Every TV show. Everyone is fixated on Hitler! I say this because it makes me look thoughtful and analytical. But I don't mean anything."
  21. Online journal validation requests

  22. "Isn't that guy terrible? Don't you think he's terrible? I didn't tell you that I ran his dog over with my scooter and took all the money out of his kid's chemo fund, but he's an awful guy, right? Send me email about how awful he is, and make sure to mention how evil men are, and how I never, ever could be manipulative because I am beautiful. Here's a picture of me with my hand under my chin looking winsome."
  23. The Society for Creative Anachronism

  24. "We are so pathetic, we wish we had died 500 years ago."
  25. Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace

  26. "More than just a story derived from the principles of famous racist Joseph Campbell, it's about cheaply made plastic toys."
  27. The entire breadth of Postmodernism

  28. "Look! I bought all these books by Foucault, which I will never read but will display proudly on my aluminum bookshelves. Who are Hume, Locke, Berkeley again? My clothes are made of copper wire and newspaper clippings."
  29. The business catch-phrase "at the end of the day"

  30. "At the end of the day, we'll all get medically castrated, put on sweatsuits and Nikes, and kill ourselves."
  31. Constructing meaning from the terrible The Matrix

  32. "The ontological quandary is resolved speedily by Reeves saying 'my name is Neo!' Verily, this is a film for the ages."
    "The image of babies in bottles resonates with anti-Cartesian overtones."
  33. Trashing Maureen Dowd

  34. "Maureen Dowd is a filthy, filthy human being who would have peed on the cross."
  35. Trashing the media

  36. "I watch the evening news and read the same six papers every day, for a total of 22 hours a day, and everything I read is terrible and pointless."
  37. Trashing people who trash the media

  38. "Brill's Content doesn't ever focus on how ugly Dan Rather is."
  39. Online mailing lists that will be better

  40. "This mailing list will be a real discussion about (online life||political issues||writing), not drivel like all the others which started with exactly the same charter."
  41. Men who think they're sensitive and different because they admit they might have homoerotic tendencies when they mock wrestle and play grabass with their drunken friends

  42. "Everybody is a little gay, but I'm still all man, babe."
  43. Carping, ironic writing in personal journals

  44. "Just because I do it doesn't mean I approve."




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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

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Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

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