Some cliches are becoming so old-fashioned that they aren’t even cliche anymore, just confusing. To judge whether or not a cliche has become obsolete, I do what Einstein called a “thought experiment,” where I picture myself using the phrase to yell at my future children. If, in this imagined scenario, they stare blankly at me and keep playing video games, I know that the cliche needs an update. Here are five that come to mind right away, along with suggestions for revamping them in 2K11.
Dog and pony show
When I was in school, a teacher complained to us about two boys in his class who insisted on conducting a “dog and pony show” while he was talking. He seemed upset, but I was instantly enthralled with the idea of these boys. How creative! A dog and pony show! I wasn’t sure how they did it. Did they draw dogs and ponies on their erasers? Did they bring in miniature figurines from Happy Meals? What a silly thing to do in class! Eventually I figured out that he just meant “messing around” and I was extremely disappointed.
Suggested update: Just say “screwing around” and grumble. “Horsing around” is also increasingly confusing. Is that what horses do together? Act like teenage boys?
Beat around the bush
Kids aren’t doing a lot of bushwacking these days. That sentence looks dirty doesn’t it? Does bushwacking mean masturbation? Probably. Maybe “beating around the bush” should mean “flirting with masturbating but not quite doing it.” This phrase, used to accuse people of avoiding getting to the point, makes me picture a person blindly walking around in an orchard, swinging their arms. Seems a bit old fashioned, like it should be updated to take place in a grocery store.
Suggested update: Don’t linger at the yogurt selection.
The pot calling the kettle black
At first this cliche seems racist, but then when you think about it, you realize that it actually is racist. In this scenario, the pot is being hypocritical by accusing the kettle of being black, when it too is black. So we have to assume that being black, for these dishes, is bad. Otherwise it would simply be a declarative statement, and it would be OK for either one to remark, “You are black” and the other to answer “I am too.” Secondly, when making metaphors about hypocritical statements, why do we flee to the kitchen? This makes me picture old-fashioned moms gossiping about the guy who runs the General Store while they slop together a bunch of oatmeal. Is there nothing better than a pot and a kettle to demonstrate this point?
Suggested update: The pot accusing the wok of not being stainless steel
The best thing since sliced bread
My future children would not be impressed by this. “Bread comes … not sliced?” they might say. The era of being impressed that a lump of expanded dough comes in PB&J-able slices sounds really fucking lame. We live in the glory days, the era of light-up cereal boxes.
Suggest update: You think you’re the best thing since the last iOS update?
Unwanted like a red-headed stepchild
This one is racist in that new hipstery way of discriminating against “gingers.” What up “South Park,” M.I.A.! It’s also depressing in an era where half of marriages end of divorce and one in two people are going to be somebody’s stepchild.
Suggested update: Unwanted like an expensive divorce
–Becky Lang would pay money to see a real dog and pony show