Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What kind of culture gives nicknames to tragedies?

Though my list of pet peeves is now so long that it could wrap around the whole state of California several times, one that I have to deal with on a daily basis is the giving of cute names to tragic events and circumstances.

"9-11" drives me crazy. Especially since I know how it started, which is even more sickening than the nickname itself. I remember when, not long after the attacks, some talking head with the creative genius of a third grader referred to the tragedy as "9-1-1"--get it? A few others joined in, but it seems that even the hay-for-brains crash test dummies who report the "news" couldn't stomach such an idiotic perversion, so they shortened it to "9-11." My problem is that I pay attention, and I saw and heard this evolve with my own eyes and ears, and it made me ill.

I have considered referring to the Pearl Harbor attack as "12-7" and to D-Day as "6-6." How about "4-4" as our national day of independence, or let's just take this to its logical conclusion and celebrate "12-25." The uneducated among the Christians are already upset that Christ has been "taken out" of Christmas because they have no clue what the "X" means. We might as well reduce it to the numbers.

Then there is "Gitmo." What a perfectly ridiculous name, when it takes so little time to say "Guantanamo." And how adorable--to give a nickname to a torture chamber.

This seems to be the current American way. Through merchandising and nicknames, we can make anything really cute. Cute terrorism, cute war, cute prison. Cute nation.


I still remember the first time someone said "9-11" to me. It was so weird and jarring, especially since his tone of voice made it sound like he already considered it common parlance. Since then, I've used the term myself -- such is the power of saturated repetition.

By Blogger Fred Vincy, at 11:41 AM  

I've always referred to it as "The Twin Towers" but I'm not sure why.

The labels "9-11" and "9-1-1" have nearly always made me uncomfortable, as I really hate the trivializing of important names, places, events, etc., and always have. I've noticed that even Arianna Huffington's own nickname for her new blog is "HuffPo" - can we stop the "J.Lo" crap already??

For any number of reasons, "Gitmo" bugs me the most. I can't even figure out someone came up with it as a cute nickname. How do you get from "Guantanamo" to "Gitmo"? And on Limbaugh's vile, disgusting site, the idiots who create "Club Gitmo" merchandise can't even decide whether it's "Git'mo" or "Gitmo" anyway. What morons... sorry, you really pushed a like-minded button with me!

By Blogger Helen Wheels, at 12:28 PM  

Oh, and my answer to your post's rhetorical question is:

"A very superficial one."

By Blogger Helen Wheels, at 12:29 PM  

Gitmo irritates me as well.
Rhetorical devices like nicknames cut away the flesh of the subject and leave only the raw bone. In the case of Gitmo, one forgets the place is Guantanamo, a Cuban place, the region with that beautiful song. Nicknames also are a bullying means of controlling the named. Oy.

By Anonymous The Heretik, at 7:51 PM  

Get a grip, folks. That Naval Base has been referred to as "Gitmo" since long before I was in the Air Force during the Korean War (early 1950s). I know that nickname was used in World War II and possibly even in World War I.

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