Monday, October 15, 2012

Get bent: Why small insults hurt more

There are few more volatile people on TV right now than the outrageously angry Real Housewives of New Jersey (or #RHONJ on the Twitters). This extended family has been slowly imploding for months / years, and now it's at the point where they just yell all the time and resolve nothing.

There's lots of lessons you can learn from this crabby bunch, but one that's interesting is the verbiage they use to lay into each other.

"You Momo!" Translation: You're an idiot.
"Go Scratch!" Translation: Get outta here.

While it may seem weak and ineffectual to toss around silly-sounding phrases plucked from the 1950's, I think it's actually a great tactic when trying to piss someone off.

I was never on the debate team, but I think it works like this: These people absolutely hate each other, and yet they are on live TV and need to appear civilized (at least at first). So the best thing you can do is make your opponent embarrass themselves, or blow their top. You accomplish this by baiting them, and stringing them out over time - a "death by a thousand cuts" sort of thing. That's because if you go straight to the four-letter words, you've basically maxed yourself out, and all you can do is just get louder. But by tossing around silly, disrespectful barbs, the Housewives/bands manage to wound and provoke, and yet leave lots of room for escalation.

Don't believe me? Make like a tree and get outta here.

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