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A fetching snowclone: Stop trying to make X happen

By Mark Peters

A few weeks ago, I spotted this tweet by Braden Graeber:

Minutes later—in a moment of true synchronicity—I saw a white dude in camouflage cargo pants. Whoa.

As a fashion-challenged, oft-confused doofus, I appreciated the heads-up to two facts: 1) those shorts are an atrocity, and 2) this phrase is a snowclone that’s invaluable in mocking anything fake or contrived that annoys or pains us.

The original use was in the Tina Fey-penned 2004 movie Mean Girls, when Regina tells would-be word-coiner Gretchen “Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen. It’s not going to happen.” While fetch has not happened, this phrase has happened like crazy. It’s one of the most useful snowclones around, with new examples piling up every day. No wonder. We live in a world of contrived, obnoxious, omnipresent fakery. Politician pronouncements, media creations, and fashion disasters set off all but the most malfunctioning fake-dar. This snowclone is a reliable tool for calling bullshit on such malarkey.

Like most successful snowclones, this one is also versatile. People use it to complain about every conceivable topic, such as:

Politics:

Movies:

TV:

Social media:

Tabloid media:

Parents:

Language:

Candy:

Ourselves:

I expect this expression to outlive us all. It’s as solid as “Give a man a fish” and “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” From now till the sun blows up, there will always be someone trying to make something happen that either can’t happen, or—for the love of all that is good and decent and right—should not happen. Today it’s camo cargo shorts. Tomorrow it may be Astro-Robo-Spanx. Snowclones like this help ease the pain.

Mark Peters is a lexicographer, humorist, rabid tweeter, language columnist for Visual Thesaurus, and the blogger behind The Rosa Parks of Blogs and The Pancake Proverbs.

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