You can blame the Internet. You can blame cell phone texting. You can blame email.
Thanks a lot, king of the world
I blame James Cameron.
Once upon a time, Mr. Cameron made a little film called Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which, to my recollection, did reasonably well for its day. The marketing behind the movie conjured up a simple but interesting twist on the movie title for its teaser campaign by dropping the sub-heading completely and shortening the first word to its first letter, giving us the alliterative T2. It was a cute automobile metaphor that played off the fact that Schwarzenegger’s killing machine came off an assembly line, ready-made to maim, dismember and massacre.
It was clever… once.
Half a decade later, Roland Emmerich and company thought they could pull the same trick by abbreviating their alien invasion movie, Independence Day, to the nonsensical ID4, leaving one to wonder what happened to ID one through three. ID 7/4 would have been just as ridiculous and redundant but at least it would have been more accurate.
With the rise of Internet movie blogging, the dam has broken completely and now everyone thinks they’re hip, cool and esoteric by acronym-ing the title of every damn movie released.
I think there is a medical basis for this phenomenon and I decided to give it a name: Acronymic Slang Syndrome, or ASS.
If you’re a fan of movie blogs, as I am, you’ll notice you can’t frequent them without being bombarded by ASS. Bloggers wear their ASS almost as a badge of pride, instead of what it is… an affliction to be overcome. There is so much ASS on a typical blog that it can sometimes be a research project to determine what in heaven’s name these ASS-es (Acronymic Slang Sufferers) are talking about.
Let’s just break down the logic for a moment. The point of acronyms is to make things easier on the reader when repeatedly referencing the title of a particular work or the name of an artist. In a well-written article, it is used to refer to a longer item that was introduced earlier. However, reading an article laden with acronyms breaks the flow of the article and can actually hinder efficient reading, as well as writing.
In the case of blog comments, as anyone who has frequented them can attest, an efficient and well-written idea is generally considered optional, if not pointless. The point is to be snarky, hip, clever, funny, fashionable (unlike this article, which is clearly in earnest).
Top-grossing movie of 2008
The latest trend is this horrendous abuse of the intended-to-be-friendly acronym. Bloggers have become either insanely lazy or tragically trendy. The Dark Knight, overrated as it is, cannot enjoy being the object of discussion without being reduced to a throwaway reference (TDK) more evocative of a Japanese electronics company than a popular blockbuster summer movie.
But if you consider this craze in the abstract, it really only serves two functions: to make ASS-es feel like exclusive members of some secret club or to turn movie references into ridiculous footnotes.
Additionally, the practice is, by necessity, inconsistent. Let’s consider: if I’m discussing Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning Gladiator, do I then refer to it as G? Then how to refer to Goldeneye? Gidget? Gandhi? Giant? What about the opposite effect? If I wish to refer to Hugh Grant’s The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, do I really save myself that much trouble by typing TEWWUAHBCDAM? I had to really think about that in order to type it.
This habit gets even more insufferable when encountering acronyms that serendipitously spell out actual words. Imagine the fanboy rush that ensued when Snakes on a Plane enjoyed this nonsensical double-entendre.
I have made it a point to eschew this practice and I will continue to do so. ASS can be avoided by simply not being an ASS. The artworks I enjoy, be they movies or books or songs (can you imagine this practice being tolerated with paintings?) deserve more respect.
Disagree? That’s fine by me. Tell me your thoughts below.
EDIT: Well, this is embarrassing. As Stewart pointed out below, an acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of other words (Oxford American Dictionaries), whereas the majority of my examples are merely initialisms. I feel like quite an ASS (Abbreviated Script Schmuck). Rather than rewriting the article, I will let the error stand as a warning to me to be more careful in the future. Thank you, Stewart.