16 thoughts on “Word Games

  1. Ridley

    You know, I don’t like Word Crimes. I’m a “spastic” who drools sometimes and I’m not super amused by being the song’s punchline. I really hope people don’t use it in classrooms as a hip Conjunction Junction because it contains a number of ugly, disablist inferences.

    Here are the lyrics to if you’d like to see what I mean: pastebin.com/tQHn7EhA

    1. RF42

      I think you are taking this a little too seriously. Weird Al pokes fun at all sorts of people, and we all see some of ourselves in his parodies that maybe we don’t like (have you seen the video for “First World Problems” – we Americans should hang our heads in shame!). And maybe by a little gentle ribbing or teasing, people might own up to their bad grammar habits and try to improve them. Americans are practically the only people who aren’t expected to learn other languages in school, so we should feel bad when we mangle our own language. Unless American English is not their native tongue or if they’ve put the time and energy in to learning to speak another (or multiple) languages fluently, then I see nothing wrong with expecting people to learn how to write and speak English correctly. It’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s not okay to think that it’s okay to keep doing it once you realize the error.

      1. Ridley

        No. Just, no to everything you’ve said.

        Poking fun at me for being disabled is not at all necessary to joke about poor grammar. My spasticity and drooling is nothing to be ashamed of and I resent that this song LITERALLY points to people like me and says “don’t be like this weirdo, nobody wants to be that guy.”

        1. Brie

          I second Ridley.

          You can do satire, comedy, and poke fun at things without using harmful slurs and problematic language. And being offended by it is not “taking things a little too seriously”.

      2. RF42

        My sincerest apologies if you suffer from a disability that makes you spastic or drool. No one should make fun of a person who suffers these problems due to a disability or for having such a disability.

        However, Weird Al is not making fun of YOU or your disability or people who have such a disability. This song has nothing to do with you at all. He’s making fun of people who constantly make grammatical errors. Taking his choice of words out of context in such a way would mean that Weird Al is ALWAYS making fun of someone with everything he says.

        1. Ridley

          “He’s making fun of people who constantly make grammatical errors.”

          Yes. He is making fun of people who constantly make grammatical errors BY COMPARING THEM TO DROOLING SPASTICS.

          “My sincerest apologies if you suffer from a disability that makes you spastic or drool.”

          I’d much rather twitch and drool than go through life willfully ignorant and arrogantly dismissive, so spare me your pity.

        2. Kaetrin

          Actually, Yes, Weird Al Yankovic is doing *exactly* that. That what an ableist slur is. There is no other purpose for it and it is not funny.

          He is poking fun at a group of already marginalised people to get a cheap laugh. It is the epitome of “punching down” and it’s not good enough. If my 11 year old went around calling people who couldn’t spell/use grammar well “spastics”… well, he wouldn’t because he knows that it’s not okay to use language like that. And at age 11 he has OTHER words which are not ableist slurs to express himself. Fancy that?

          If Weird Al wanted to be really clever I’m sure he could have come up with words to fit his parody which did not poke fun at the disabled. So, in the end the song is offensive AND not all that adroit – so he fails on multiple levels, all the while committing “word crimes” of his own. Irony?

          But in any event, people with disabilities are telling you, clearly, they are offended by Word Crimes. Your response is to blame the disabled person for being offended? That’s not cool either.

        3. Lynn AAR

          I felt like I had to jump in on this because I was really taken aback by how condescending your reply to Ridley sounded. I get that you don’t agree with her read on the song’s lyrics, but just because you don’t agree with her doesn’t mean she’s wrong to think the way she does, and as I read your comment, it really sounds like you’re belittling her concerns.

          I get that you read the song one way and others read it another, but debating the song on its merits and taking personal jabs at commenters are not the same.

  2. VictoriaS

    This is a hoot! I too have been guilty of “Word Crimes”, and it drives me nuts.
    On today’s blog (coincidence? hmmm) there is an item about the beauty of the way words are used in sentences and paragraphs. I love the way language works. And this video is just plain funny! It also makes me more appreciate Weird Al. He’s been doing these parodies for a long time, and I am beginning to see he’s really good at what he does.

  3. Sunita

    RF42: Taking his choice of words out of context in such a way would mean that Weird Al is ALWAYS making fun of someone with everything he says.

    I don’t know if that’s what Weird Al ALWAYS does. But in this song it’s clear that he thinks words that describe involuntary physical reactions are appropriate as epithets for people who make grammatical errors. I wouldn’t call it “making fun,” I’d call it “insulting the wrong people for no good reason.”

    Weird Al is paid to use words effectively. If he is doing such a piss-poor job that he can’t paint a word-picture of bad grammar usage without insulting people whose physical behavior has nothing to do with their grammatical proficiency, he deserves to be called out.

    Also, why are you apologizing to Ridley? You didn’t cause her neurological condition. If what you mean is that you feel bad that she has it, say that. An apology is something else entirely. Dictionary definition: “a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure”. Now, if you want to apologize for telling her that the song has nothing to do with her when she explained exactly why and how it did, that’s another matter entirely.

  4. Shiloh Walker

    Well. You just did. You completely dismissed them and insulted them.

    RF42: My sincerest apologies if you suffer from a disability that makes you spastic or drool. No one should make fun of a person who suffers these problems due to a disability or for having such a disability.

    Not to mention the entire problem is how Yankovic does just that… he’s comparing people who just don’t get the idea of using language properly to people who have a disability that causes them to drool and have spasticity. Those are medical issues. So why use THEM as the comparison?

    They became a punch line, no different than if he’d held up somebody for a race or a religion.

  5. Merrian

    I’m someone with a neurological condition that will end with me not swallowing, drooling and probably unable to talk and with my words getting disconnected long before then. I will be making lots of grammatical errors due to my condition FTW. Thanks(not) for reminding me of all the judgement that’s going to get me.

    I’m angry and I’m with Ridley in being appalled at the song. It’s awful that the song calls and uses people with serious health problems and disabilities as a symbol for fools. It is also saddening and belittling to see it defended. Dismissing Ridley and people like us as overly sensitive flowers is a cheap shot and derailment 101 on the bingo card.

  6. RF42

    I am apologizing for my remarks that have offended people, and also agreeing that it is wrong to mock or make fun of a person’s disability. I meant that very sincerely, not as a gesture of pity.

    As far as Weird Al’s song, I can understand why his choice of words are very offensive. My point, which clearly I’ve not made well, is that it seems to me that he is an equal-opportunity insulter. No one is immune. That is the very nature of his parodies – to make fun of people and society. If Weird Al himself has stated that he took it too far with his choice of words, then that’s the line that shouldn’t be crossed.

    1. Kaetrin

      The problem with Weird Al being an “equal opportunity insulter” is that it assumes that the people being insulted have equal privilege. That is not the case. As a white cisgendered, heterosexual (according to Google) able-bodied man, insulting those less privileged than he – he is merely further marginalising the already marginalised and that’s not funny and it’s not okay whether he says so or not. Weird Al doesn’t get to set where the line is.

    2. Ridley

      Your logic is that because he demeans lots of groups, the people being demeaned shouldn’t be mad about it.

      You sure that’s how you want it to be?

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