Thursday, September 06, 2007

My Favorite Cliche

OK, as promised I'd like to complain about my favorite cliche. When I say favorite I am clearly not meaning favorite in a good way. I mean my favorite cliche to hate and make fun of.

"If I could just help one person..."

You hear it on talk shows ALL THE TIME. The scenario is usually like this: some dumb ass did something stupid that caused some horrible freak accident to happen that likely wouldn't have happened if the person had a lick of sense and now they are on TV talking about their traumatic experience. They will always, every single time, end the story with "I'm just coming on this show in hopes that I can help someone in the same situation. If I can save just ONE person, just ONE person, from going through what went through it would have all been worthwhile." My response is "Oh, really?"

Now in these people's defense, sometimes they come on these shows because things happened that were truly no fault of their own, and they sincerely want to help others. I particularly recall one girl who got thrown in the trunk of a car by an attacker and popped out the tail lights and got saved. I also remember another girl who was assaulted and went to the bathroom all over her assailant, which made him run away. I remembered both girls, but both of them went on Oprah and said they just wanted to help one person. But just one person? Come on. You're going on TV. TV generally reaches thousands and thousands of people, not just one person. Especially Oprah. Millions of people all over the world watch Oprah. Surely you could save at least 1500 people. If you want to help just one person then go outside and walk down the street. Fine ONE person and tell them "Never give chocolate to your dogs!!" or "Do not leave your 2 week old infant locked in a car in the middle of August while you run into the grocery store to get a ham steak for your abusive baby daddy and take a half hour to do it."

My personal favorite users of the cliche are movie stars, beauty pageant winners and other low-grade celebrities who just got out of rehab. They'll always, without fail, whip out the "If I could just help ONE PERSON with what I've gone through..." line as they get interviewed on Extra or Barbara Walters trying to make a comeback. They do it every time. Because of course all of us are celebrities who have taken our fame and good fortune completely for granted and spent all our money on drugs and Cristal and lawyers to fight our DUI charges, so of course we can totally relate. Right? I mean, I can.

What I want to know is this. If you set out to help people then why on earth would you set your sights so low? Is something wrong with wanting to help, perhaps, a thousand people? Would it be so wrong to go on Oprah and say "I would like the thousands of iguana owners out there to know that iguanas carry salmonella bacteria on their skin and that it can kill a small child?" I don't think it would. How about helping ten thousand people, or a million? Why is that so wrong? Are people afraid they'll sound arrogant? Personally I think those fresh outta rehab celebrities spouting off these lines are as arrogant as it gets. Come to think of it, I'll bet that a lot of the greatest people on earth who have enacted the most change were called arrogant at some point. I hate this cliche because it's so unambitious. If you genuinely intend to help people then ambition is a good thing. The more people you can help the better and there's nothing wrong with saying so.

Another thing I can't stand about this cliche is its obvious phoniness. It's fake humility, but to me it comes off as sounding silly at best and laughably scripted at its worst. If you truly want to serve others meek, pitiful statements that have been said a thousand times aren't going to be effective. Real service can entail brash, bold, ass-kickery and it's something to own and be proud of. So dammit, if you find yourself on some talk show sit up straight, talk without your voice cracking and state it clearly and confidently "I want to help as many people as possible! I wouldn't be satisfied with saving just one person. I want to save a thousand or a million people."


Leonesse said...

If I could just help one person it would be to tell you that the Neti Pot really does work and is available at any health store. And I mean going from stuffed to hell to breathing well. And I didn't even mean to rhyme it.

Mine is people who say "You've got another thing coming". It is THINK people, THINK. If you THINK (insert thought here) you have another THINK coming.

sorry... getting off the soapbox now.

ADW said...

I would like to save at least a million people from ever coming into contact with my mother-in-law because she is a spiteful sow. Since it is my belief that at least a million people read this blog, my job is done.

See. Easy-peasy.

Subservient No More said...

I am very scared of pouring water into my nostrils.

Elise said...

Hee, do you call Cristal "Krystal"? Because if you do, that is just too cute.

Pumpkin said...

Nicely put!

'adw' beat me to the 'mother in law' all I can say is same goes for mine....

On second thoughts let me just add....'Don't EVER try Spam...your body will never forgive you!

There, I can be guilt free and self-satisfied for the rest of the day.

Have a great weekend SNM!

Subservient No More said...

Elise I spelled it wrong because, and this is very sad - I have a cousin who is named after champagne and that is how her parents spelled her name. I am not a champagne drinker at all. It gives me heartburn, so I didn't spell it right and I was just thinking of my poor cousin's name. Her actual name. On here I change everyone's names, but that is her real honest to God name.

Subservient No More said...

Ok I fixed it. But as for my poor cousin, she is stuck with that name forever. Sadly, it isn't the worst name in our family either.

Thank God I have a nice normal name though.

6th Floor blog said...

Honestly, I think you're missing the point here.

Except on the phony part of celebrities anyway.

It's not that they only want to help one person, but they're looking for some way to justify what happened to them. Sort of the "why do bad things happen to good people" question. They figure it even just one person can learn from their struggle, than it was worth it. They can make peace with the issue, knowing there was something good that came out of all of it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so glad someone said it outloud that it's "another THINK coming"... that's been one of my pet peeves for years.

Did you know the word is FRUStrated and not FUSStrated? I'll bet most people don't.... grrr

secretmom said...

Yes, yes, yes. Totally know and despise this person. They should have separate classes for them so they all have to put up with one another. I have also saw older men play this role really well in grad school. Love your blog, and would love to know if you're working on a book or other such item?

secretmom said...

oops, meant to post that last comment under the one about not shutting up in class!

Duckie said...

Awesome post! *thumbs up*

Henny Penny said...

How does "you have another think coming" make any sense?

Leonesse said...

Henny Penny, (which is our chickens name, btw) the phrase is

If you think...'ve got another think coming.

Such as... If you think being rich makes you better than someone else, you have another think coming.

In other words, think again.

About Me

Blog Archive