I was blown away when I learned that Thai has like five registers of speech. It took me a few years to realize that English has at least that many we just pretend we don't for some fucking reason.
One of my worst habits is I tend to blend registers, principally for my own amusement. I was one of those annoying fucktards who randomly breaks into accents during conversational speech until I went to a couple voice actor workshops and realized that's what all voice actors do (and it's really fucking annoying). I bring this up because it's not just straight useless pandering, it's mirroring.
The interesting thing about that clip is it's 1988, attempting to paint a kitschy, overdone portrait of 1985... as seen from 2015. I saw it in theaters in 1989 and I shit you not - at least three people around me went "whoa Max Headroom!" because we, as a culture, had completely forgotten he existed. Looking back now? Yeah I mean if I wanted to say "80s" I could hardly do worse than "Ronald Reagan, Michael Jackson, Max Headroom, Memphis Design and Diet Pepsi, conveniently one of the biggest sponsors of a heavily sponsored trilogy of extremely '80s movies."
Pandering? Pandering is mirroring and mirroring is ephemeral. "Buzzfeed Reddit kind of writing" is always du jour. You can deduce the age of popular Reddit posts to the month it's so meme-laden (not just visually, but textually). Here, this one is like ten years old but also evergreen:
But also a meme which means I needed to make it from scratch because nobody is referencing Sudden Clarity Clarence anymore.
You are reading ephemera and noting its ephemeral nature. You are seeing it in political speech because GenZ is suddenly relevant. And it annoys you for extremely obvious reasons.
I think we can agree that given a choice between "ignored" or "pandered to", pandering to GenZ is heartily preferable. I will merely point out that the results are entirely predictable when the youthful, online register of internet ephemera is spoken by people who have opinions about golf clubs. Speaking in someone else's register takes practice, and you generally need a good reason to do it.
Know what will make you feel better? This is from a book review in The Atlantic.
The author is strangely credulous in his incredulity. Some of his assumptions about animals could have come right out of Ernest Thompson Seton. His picture of the chivalrous Cro-Magnon males covering the retreat of their females and “roaring out defiance" and his vignette of a playful Pithecanthropus teasing a buffalo and “enjoying the frustration of the charging monster" are worthy of Edgar Rice Burroughs. And his proposition that (a) we ate plants before we ate meat; (b) women are more conservative than men; and hence (c) women eat more salads for lunch than men do simply leaves you silent on a peak in Darien.
And this is from a book review in the Atlantic.
I seem to be the only college-educated person left in America who hasn’t read Don DeLillo. Sometimes my mother will read something I’ve written and say, a little balefully, “You should really be reading White Noise,” suggesting that this gap in my education, specifically, is egregious and foolish. She’s probably right. Any writer with an interest in probing “American magic and dread”—to borrow a phrase from the novel—is probably in conversation with DeLillo, whether or not she knows it.
One of those passages appears in the Jan/Feb 2023 issue. The other appears in Nov 1946.
Not all speech is ephemera.