Friday, February 13, 2009

Stop Saying 'Epic Fail,' You Retards

Most people in their thirties probably look at their music collections and wonder how they only bought five albums this year when ten years ago they might have bought five albums per month. Not feeling old yet finding twentysomethings indecipherable incites sudden panic. Thankfully, the internet functions as a conduit that spews youth across all demographics, counteracting unhipness with easily co-opted slang that you can wave about on your Facebook or in IM as if to suggest, "Yes, for another year, I'm not totally lame."

The impulse to try to embrace young and hip things as you age seems perfectly understandable. But using "lulz," "for the win (FTW)," "full of win," "moar plz," "epic," "fail" and "epic fail," makes you sound exactly like people turned on by embracing young things — like children.

All of these expressions and many of the memes that attend them — lolcats, for instance — were popularized by 4chan, an image board that Encyclopedia Dramatica neatly describes as "the asshole of the internet." These memes might not have started there, but they were branded and distributed there, and they ineluctably remind anyone of the culture of that board, which, apart from hackers and people trawling for amateur porn, is dominated by children — and which was, although founded by one person, essentially created by a community of members banned from SomethingAwful for loving animes about children under ten being raped in every orifice.*

* — Since the SA community has a strong stomach for stupid internet fascinations, it's safe to say that these people's interests went beyond lolicon and into morally and legally unsettling areas to provoke such a response. Unfortunately, SA will outright delete truly horrible or illegal content when banning someone, so nothing remains to substantiate the bans. That said, it's hard to imagine the SA leadership managing to pull the wool over 50,000+ sets of eyes and convincing its members of a pattern of behavior that didn't exist. The lessons, here, are that:
a. maintaining proof on the internet, especially years after the fact and on message boards that "privatize" old content by special registrations, archiving or moving it to selectively visible forums, is nearly impossible;
b. anime is garbage, and if you like anime, you're probably garbage.

Since its founding, 4chan's flagship forum, /b/, and its anonymous members, /b/tards, have managed to spread the site's branches far beyond the original purpose of posting pictures of preteens in catholic schoolgirl ensembles getting assraped by their grandfathers. They've even done some genuinely amusing things. Along with a far funnier claque of SomethingAwful goons, they've made Second Life an absolute hell for the tediously self-important, bursting the bubbles of people who use internet simulacra of reality to accrete to themselves obnoxious moral authority that real life justifiably denies them.

Also, 4chan's pursuit of mocking Scientology, Project Chanology, merits some admiration if only for coming up with a means of mocking and infuriating an organization that punishes both dissent and exposé via litigation and physical intimidation. That said, many of the b-tards who torment Scientology are also shit-ignorant Paultards who show up to rallies wearing Guy Fawkes masks and think it's the height of subversion to quote 'V' For Vendetta and the height of hilarity to "Rickroll" Scientology by ineffectually playing "Never Gonna Give You Up" at buildings, from old boomboxes.

Yet in spite of that, mostly the site has grown in terms of being irredeemably stupid. Along with the standard underage anime porn, there are now pictures and webcam videos of (often) underage camwhore girls writing "Sup, /b/?" on their tits and jamming sharpies in their asses while b-tards post directions to them in real time (almost always, "stick a [other common household object] in your ass"), along with the perennial demand for "MOAR."

And just as there are shock images of real life mutilations, genocides, train accidents and you name it, there's also vote (eroticized anime depictions of people being devoured) and guro, which runs the gamut from anime torture/mutilation porn to outright "anime of fucking human hamburger." And beyond all that there's the generic love of shitty metal, gamer fanboyism, otaku girls dressed up like anime characters, obese losers attending Sci-Fi Cons clad like the browncoats from Firefly/Serenity, generic pornography and — for a board on which "faggot" is the default insult — a bewildering profusion of pictures of dickgirls.

That "fag" comment is important, because this being one of the lower intellectual and social rungs of the internet, there's no shortage of talk about killing fucking fags, raping spic bitches, beating up Jew-faggots and good old fashioned calls for "niggerdeath." And every extremity is permissible because those extremities illustrate more strikingly how "the truth lies somewhere in the middle." And every horror is legitimate because everything can be linked by false moral equivalency. And the language doesn't matter anyway because, remember, this is all ironic. Congratulations, South Park fans, you are witnessing the rise of a generation of fans reared by that show — people whose sociopolitical compass was trained to always rest at a fallacious middle after swinging to the extremes of a false equivalency between a legitimate and testable hypothesis and a cheap, hideous straw man.

And despite the site's founding at the hands of teenagers, it now teems with 10, 11 and 12-year-olds all going to one safe, computer-virus-free site for gross-out pictures and girls ass-dildoing with their own hairbrushes. The multitudes driving /b/ and 4chan itself aren't hip urbanites who are screwing around online before grabbing a coffee and a smoke down the block. They're now vastly outnumbered by people who not only can't smoke, they can't drive or drive with a learner's permit or even yet process what it's like to do classwork on notebook paper because their science books are still giant paperbacks with workbook pages that can be torn out and handed in to teacher. Aping these people doesn't mean sounding just like someone hanging in Greenwich Village; it means sounding like someone visiting Storytime Village.

So maybe using the term "epic fail" seems like a bad idea. Maybe because, first of all, there's a perfectly good word for when something "is fail." It's fucking failure. You already knew and used this word for decades before glomming onto the argot of people young enough that they could pass for your own children. Maybe, instead, you don't want to use it, or "for the/full of win" or "MOAR PLZ" or "lulz" because you realize it makes you sound like a fucking retard.

But if that's not enough, maybe consider that these words immediately signal to the rest of the internet that, for whatever reason, you're co-opting the language of dickgirl-posting, mutilation/cannibal-porn-jerking, camwhore-baiting, lolicon-drawing, comicon-attending, Jew-baiting, niggerdeath-invoking, rickrolling pedophiles or actual children who still think that lolcats are for the win, anything slightly decent is EPIC, and that this blog post is so very full of FAIL for having so much CARE.


  1. in case i haven't posted here before, this is Ben.

    i've never visited 4chan, and thanks to this post, i don't have to. and for that sir, i am clearly in your debt. your scathing condemnation will serve as my mental footnote of what this repulsive under-culture represents, without the unpleasant experience or the site itself, and its sordid history.

    as a slogan, you should use:

    "I hate so you don't have to!"

  2. I echo the above poster's comments. I've never been to 4chan, and never want to go. This article is full of win.


  3. Knock Knock.

    Who's there?


    Moby-Dick who?

    You don't know who Moby-Dick is? EPIC WHALE.

    (I'm going to use this joke at the dog park today. I don't have a dog...until I take a girl with a dog home! And when I'm done with her she'll be FULL OF WIN, if you know what I mean! That's what she said.)

  4. Dickgirls.

    Do I blame Fat Man, Little Boy or both for this phenomenon?

  5. I've actually heard the explanation that the post-war Japanese government — which was essentially a creation of the American occupation force — prohibited almost all forms of pornography, which created a bunch of perverse pornographic loopholes that informed a lot of what we consider Japan's fascination with TOTALLY FUCKED UP PORN. So, in a way, your question might be a lot closer to accuracy than you think.

  6. boy you're mad about a website

  7. I completely agree with the first poster.

    Thank you for saving me from a mass of teenagers and retards.

    I am in you debt.

  8. No problem. The site's amusing and has its points at times. Mainly I just got sick of seeing people I know who work for actual state and federal government agencies choking up their Facebook pages with lolcats and "epic win" shit. It's like, "You actually write legislation that affects millions of people. Try not to sound like someone who jerks off to amputee anal. Maybe that isn't good for you in the long run." Mainly, I guess, I just didn't want to have to repeat myself for multiple people; instead I could say, "All right, just go here, okay?"

  9. Way to validate the existence of all the things you claim to hate. If you're so certain that childishness is the problem, why are you dishing out delicious, negative attention? You're perpetuating the problem, simply by referencing things like 4chan.

  10. I don't think 4chan needs my validation, what with its being an incredibly high-traffic website. My drop in the bucket isn't going to be the difference maker. Moreover, my point is that people out of college and not very internet savvy ignorantly aping the memes and language of 4chan to seem "with it" is precisely the sort of validation you're talking about. Explaining why it's stupid, which I did, is the sort of thing that would at least marginally inhibit that kind of validation, which evidently is your aim. Finally, acknowledging the existence of something isn't endorsement, and "ignore it, and it will go away" doesn't work.

  11. I hate all the kids saying these:

    "epic" when something isn't really THAT great

    "epic fail" makes you sound like a 13 year old

    "ftw / ftl" makes you sound like a 13 year old game dork

    "sick" Sick means you ate uncooked chicken and are going to spray your toilet bowl with crap


    "badass" makes you sound like a 13 year old squirt

    "awesome" it's just so overused

    "retarded" hopefully people who say that all the time will some day have a "retarded" child and will see the error of their ways

    "um" makes you sound like a caveman, ummmm, I haev no brayn ummm, who am I again? Ummm...

    "duh!" Makes you sound like a 13 year old spoilt little girl

  12. A relatively new but potently obnoxious trend is to quote something and simply reply with "THIS." I take special care to make fun of people who do that.

  13. Also, everyone should stop saying "You won the internet" or some stupid most-overused old shit like that, all because they have nothing better to say.


Et tu, Mr. Destructo? is a politics, sports and media blog whose purpose is to tell jokes or be really right about things. All of us have real jobs and don't need the hassle that telling jokes here might occasion, which is why some contributors find it more tasteful to pretend to be dead mass murderers.