December 1, 2012

Leskidowddaheer.



You just don't get it, do you?



Get what? Get outta here.

ADDED: "Get" in the you just don't get it sense first appeared in 1892, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (which I'm sorry I can't link to).
[1892   ‘M. Twain’ Amer. Claimant xiii. 101,   I don't know that I quite get the bearings of your position.]
1907   M. C. Harris Tents of Wickedness i. iii. 33   ‘I don't get her,’ she murmured, as if Leonora was a telephone number....
1918   P. G. Wodehouse Piccadilly Jim xi. 114,   I get you not, friend. Supply a few footnotes....
1956   I. Bromige Enchanted Garden II. ii. 93   Fiona broke into peals of laughter and became quite helpless for a few moments. ‘Don't get it,’ said Julian.
"Get" in the get outta here sense is older:
1711   R. Molesworth tr. F. Hotman Franco-Gallia (1721) 136   You have nothing to do here (said she): get out!
1841   Dickens Old Curiosity Shop i. x. 143   Kit only replied by bashfully bidding his mother ‘get out’. 

27 comments:

rehajm said...

What?

Saint Croix said...

Brilliant!

1) The "let's get out of here" movies are way better than the "you just don't get it" movies.

and

2) The "let's get out of here" montage is way more fun than the "you just don't get it" montage.

So why is that?

"Let's get out of here" works. Why does it work? One reason is that you are using action verbs. It references movement. Screenwriting is all about movement, dance, violence. Because cinema is all about action.

Great cinema is not about words. It's about visuals and sounds.

So that's why the montage works. Watching it, you get kind of excited. You want to see these movies. You want to see where they are going. "Let's get out of here" is great because it raises a question in your mind. "Where are we going now?" So it takes us into the next scene. It involves the audience. It's a great transition between scenes. And you are writing and thinking visually.

An original line there would be bad, because the audience would be focused on the dialog. But you don't want the audience thinking about the dialog all the time. This isn't literature! You want the audience feeling, not thinking. If they're thinking, you've lost them.

A more original line might actually take us out of the movie at that point. So the cliche works.

"You just don't get it," on the other hand, is horrible. I couldn't even finish watching that montage.

In some of the movies it's not so bad. But the cumulative effect is horrible. The reason we don't like that montage--and the movies in that montage are inferior--is because that line stops us. It's not action verbs. It doesn't reference action. It references one character's inability to get something. It's internal. It's about thinking and the thoughts we can't see. Now we're asking what it is one character doesn't understand, or why don't they understand it?

It's a bad movie line because it's a non-action line that references things that aren't on the screen, and it takes us out of the movie.

Saint Croix said...

Same criticism with the "what" montage. It's internal and takes us out of the movie.

Ann Althouse said...

""You just don't get it," on the other hand, is horrible. I couldn't even finish watching that montage."

Me too!

"Get" — the word in both cliche lines — is a funny word. I've noticed that professional writers -- e.g. lawyers -- will replace the word "get" whenever they can (with seemingly more proper words like "obtain" and "acquire" and "depart" or "arrive"). It's like it's not a regular word. It's so useful we shouldn't use it.

Ann Althouse said...

"You just don't get it" is a fascinating phrase. It was huge during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Do you remember? It's used to exert psychological pressure. You're trying to persuade someone that a particular viewpoint is correct, and you're jumping to this level of disgust and disbelief, essentially telling the person that they are dumb and isolated from all the people who already understand. It's not just that you don't agree with me already, you're some kind of outcast.

Saint Croix said...

It was huge during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Do you remember?

I do! Except it was broader than "you." It was plural. "They just don't get it." And they never identified the people who didn't get it. But it's the usual suspects. (Ha!)

See also "it's a black thing, you wouldn't understand."

AprilApple said...

This is why Hollywood is so boring.

Saint Croix said...

essentially telling the person that they are dumb

That's another reason that montage doesn't work. The cumulative effect is highly negative. "Dumb. Dumb. You're dumb. So stupid. Dumb. So dumb. Idiot. Stupid. You just don't get it. Moron."

And so we bail. And it's the same reason we bail on Althouse threads when they become flamewars. The cumulative effect is highly negative. And people don't like negative or ugly. We like positive and optimistic. We like happy thoughts.

Also, we don't like stupid. Two people calling each other stupid is stupid. After a while we feel stupid for listening (or reading).

Nobody wants to feel bad. Or stupid.

This is why Hollywood focuses on happy endings. Which drives people crazy too! But believe me, nobody likes bad, angry, evil or mean. That's why Spielberg had to find something uplifting in the Holocaust before he could make a movie about the Holocaust.

On the other hand, conflict is inherently interesting. If you have no conflict, your movie--or blog--is going to suck. So it's a dance.

Althouse is a genius at inspiring conflict, by the way.

Saint Croix said...

I've noticed that professional writers -- e.g. lawyers -- will replace the word "get" whenever they can

That's a class thing. "Get" is low class, working class. "Obtain" is high class. You got to go to school to obtain.

Same reason lawyers use Latin, to impress.

Ann Althouse said...

"That's a class thing. "Get" is low class, working class. "Obtain" is high class. You got to go to school to obtain."

Here's a famous passage from Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., containing the word "get."

"But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas -- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out."

I'd hate to think how a "get"-avoidant lawyer would have written that.

"Get" has gotten itself accepted in the marketplace of language.

"Same reason lawyers use Latin, to impress."

I say Holmes impressed... unlike all those mind-numbing blather-y Justices who've written more ponderously.

gregwithtwogs said...

Sorry, I just don't get it. Do YOU?


Come on, let's get out of here.

gregwithtwogs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saint Croix said...

I say Holmes impressed... unlike all those mind-numbing blather-y Justices who've written more ponderously.

The best jurists write very, very well. Holmes, Black, Scalia.

Scalia has always made the point that clarity is what makes good laws and good judges.

It is said that one of emperor Nero's nasty practices was to post his edicts high on the columns so that they would be harder to read and easier to transgress.

chickelit said...

Get real!

deborah said...

re the Clarence Thomas case and not getting it, remember that congressman(?) from the Northwest who was accused of some sort of sexism, and in his apology he said, 'I get it now.'

edutcher said...

Listening to the clip, it occurred to me the word, "skedaddle", may well be a contraction of,
"let's get out of here".

deborah said...

Let's rock and roll.
Let's lock and load.
Let's ziggy.
Let's make like a tree, and leave.
Let's ride.

The Farmer said...

I want a "let the girl go, it's me you want!" montage.

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

"Let's get outta here" is a conservative sentiment. It's about choice. A federalist sentiment. Don't like it? Let's get outta here.

"You just don't get it, do you" is a very liberal sentiment. You're too ignorant to know what you want or need. Or what's best for everyone. Be swallowed-up by the consensus (even if it's false). Get with the program!

In film, "Scarface" (sorry, ad at link):

Tony Montana: You do so much of that shit, you know?

Elvira Hancock: Nothing exceeds like excess. You should know that, Tony.

Tony Montana: I should know what? What should I know? Why do you have to talk to me like that all the time? Like I gotta know something.

Chip Ahoy said...

get is an interesting word

One of the words seen that disgust British readers is the word "gotten." It was used by some American celebrity and British commenters to the item jumped on that one word irrelevant to the story.

Chip Ahoy said...

Worse is "get" used as a noun.

Pundit, on a recent high value arrest: "That was really a good get."

Saint Croix said...

One of the words seen that disgust British readers is the word "gotten."

You know what's an awesome word?

Ill-gotten.

Ann Althouse said...

"One of the words seen that disgust British readers is the word "gotten." It was used by some American celebrity and British commenters to the item jumped on that one word irrelevant to the story."

The British say "got" a lot. They'll use it where Americans will just say "have" -- as in "I've got a dog" for our "I have a dog."

"Gotten" really does seem weird if you're accustomed to "got." It's less weird if you remember words like "forgotten" (and "misbegotten").

Brian Johnson said...

Hey Ann, have you ever mentioned the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) from the UW? I did a quick search and I didn't find it in your blog. Since you're into dictionary references I thought you might be interested if you didn't know about it. I heard about DARE when I was an undergrad in the 80's. http://dare.wisc.edu/

Goju said...

What about "get" meaning offspring? Its an old usage seen mainly in the South and parts of the West. Kind of suprised that with the varied backgrounds of commentershere no one brought this up.

bagoh20 said...

Speaking of the Brits, I'm watching an episode of "Absolutely Fabulous" right now, and some of the best lines are indecipherable. I replay them over and over and still can't get what they are saying. You can tell from the context that it's damned funny, but I don't get to enjoy it. They need subtitles.