Vincent Vega: I’m gonna take a piss.
Mia Wallace: That’s a little bit more information than I needed Vince, but go right ahead.
— Pulp Fiction.
I remember the audience howling at that scene in the movie theater. Little did I know at the time that that catchphrase, which soon evolved into “Too much information,” or “TMI,” would become one of the most over-used, trite expressions in the English language.
I used to hate Uma Thurman for coining it, but I had to eventually surrender to the fact that it’s not her fault that we live in a society teeming with lemmings. Sure, tossing out an occasional “too much information,” was no big deal in the beginning, but I once worked with a woman back in 1997 who would throw out that catchphrase at least several times a day. “That’s a little too much information,” was her knee-jerk response to something so simple as me commenting on how snug my pants felt after hitting the Moroccan buffet at lunch. In a feeble attempt to appear hip, she was only proving to the rest of us that she was not only a bit of a prude, but even more so, quite redundant and unoriginal.
I will admit that having a sense of bathroom humor, plus being quite blunt at times, I have had more than my share of TMI’s thrown my way; but many folks let fly with the TMI’s with such abandon, even at the most inopportune times.
Once, on the air, I was in a discussion with a radio host about pets and their place in the home. I casually mentioned that my dogs sleep with me, and the half-wit co-host on the show blurted out “TMI!” Acting dumb, I replied, “What does Three Mile Island have to do with it?”
I have to question the individual who consistently takes refuge in stale catchphrases, especially phrases that have been around for close to two decades. The ever-flippant “Get over it!” and that ridiculous cat noise (anytime one female says something negative about another female) are right up there with TMI, in my opinion. Whether people are trying to be cute, funny, dismissive, or all of the above, one thing is for certain: by consistently utilizing the stale catchphrase, they are simply displaying their own lack of creativity, originality and often times, basic manners.
I’m sure that when “shut up” was first coined – one source indicates back in the 16th century – people had no idea that it would be around for centuries, with no lapse in usage. Although it may or may not be considered a catchphrase, I consider it somewhat of a classic just the same, with versatility that allows it to be used as an order, in jest, and numerous other forms. The thing I like most about it is – unlike the above-mentioned stale catchphrases – rarely is it used in an attempt to be clever or witty. It is what it is; direct and to the point. Shut up. I like it.
So, any folks that continue hitting up the bargain bin at Catchphrases R Us, be forewarned: I will see your TMI’s, and raise you one “Shut up!” Hopefully I won’t have to trump you too often.