Why This Decade Sucked, #2: Geeks Spittin' Like Gangstas
Like everyone, we enjoyed the video in which a little girl yells, "I want my money bitch!" at Will Ferrell. What's not to like?
But it got us thinking about one other thing that developed in the '00s that no one seems to mention: the explosion of incongruous persons affecting the speech of hardcore gangstas.
The idea isn't new. Having a dignified person suddenly act street is an old comic trope, though classically the perpetrator usually gets the usage wrong (like the professors in Ball of Fire: "This is what you would call an 'up-stick'").
Late in the last decade, we noticed young persons of middle-class and collegiate background peppering their speech with ghetto slang. Here too incongruity was the joke: few were seriously intending to "step," nor to "brawl," when they said so.
But this really got out of hand in the '00s, as these youngsters entered the editorial professions. Suddenly it became acceptable for pencil-necked scriveners to spit hard on a freestyle.
In recent days we have seen a Twitter dispute between internet entrepreneurs headlined, "Andrew Baron and Jason Calacanis have beef." Other internet wags show a tendency to get all gangsta over New York Times wedding notices. For a Jobs for Justice fundraiser, Young Philly Politics inveighed its patrons to rock out with their cocks out.
Even aficionados of board games have come up with variations like "Straight Up Chess," and otherwise well-behaved mom-bloggers give their pets names like "Cholo." Nominations for poets laureate, too, have been affected.
The subsidiary causes are various. Shows like Oz gave suburban viewers access to more authentic street language. A watershed may have been Tha Schizzolator, an internet device popular in 2004 which rendered text entries into the colorful patois of Snoop and gave office time-wasters more opportunity to work on their rap-world dialect skills. And of course the general tendency to indulge what used to be guilty pleasures has affected language, too, and drawn the pleasing cadences and consonance of hip-hop and hard rock into what used to be polite speech.
It's odd, in perspective, and kind of obnoxious, but does it suck? No and yes. It's terrific that street language still informs standard speech. That's what keeps it breathing.
The only downside we see is this: