It’s a well-known and completely scientific fact that I’m not making up that we are suffering from a major catchphrase glut. People who study these things (”nerds”) estimate that new ones are being added faster than society can process. (Phrases, not nerds.) The problem has become so widespread that children today are almost completely incapable of having a conversation that doesn’t refer to words uttered by a wacky neighbor.
TIMMY: (witnessing a diabetic friend going into insulin shock) Fo shizzle, my nizzle.
BILLY: (rushing to the aid of their friend) Bada bing, bada boom!
TIMMY: (administering first aid) I am indeed fed up with the legless reptiles on this most unpleasant airborne contraption!
BILLY: (dialing 911) That’s hot.
911 Operator: 911. What’s your emergency?
TIMMY: (scared) We are two wild and crazy guys!
911 Operator: Sir, that’s not an emergency.
TIMMY: I got a fever. And the only prescription… is more cowbell!
911 Operator: Understood. I am dispatching a licensed percussionist to your location.
TIMMY: (angry) My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard!
It wasn’t always this way. As little as 100 years ago, before senses of humor were widely available, children communicated in a direct, unironic manner, the way the Lord intended. However, with the introduction and subsequent popularity of radio, the first inklings of true catchphrases began. On the streets, youth could be heard repeating the Lone Ranger’s famous “Hi yo, Silver!” and Davy Crockett’s slightly less well-known “I smell a badger in your drawers!” Unfortunately, the two subsequent World Wars forced the nation into slogan rationing mode to save much-needed sayings for boys in the trenches. More effective ones like “Loose lips sink ships” were immediately shipped out, while lesser phrases like “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Hitler?” were stored for later use.
Unfortunately, once the second war ended, these expressions languished, unused, in warehouses across the country until an enterprising producer at Paramount inquired about them. As an experiment, budding comedienne Lucille Ball was given dozens to use in her show, “I Enjoy Lucy’s Comedic Antics” (soon renamed to the less cumbersome “Goddammit, Lucy!”, which was later followed by “Lucy, You Filthy Whore!”). The show (and its memorable catchphrase “Who’s your bitch?”) was a hit, and ever since then, the government has unloaded billions of the things on the unsuspecting public, most infamously when the CIA reportedly spread inexpensive, dangerously pure catchphrases in America’s inner cities in the late 1980s, starting with the ironic use of “bad.”
Which brings us to YOU GOT SERVED. With such a preponderance of slogans, why did the producers feel the need to foist an awkward legal term on us all. Why “you got served”? Why not something that actually makes sense, like, I don’t know, “res ipsa loquitur” (”it speaks for itself”)?
GENERIC EVIL WHITE DANCER GUY: You call that dancing?
ELGIN: Res ipsa loquitur, fool!
CROWD: Ooooh! No, he di’n't!
Alas, it was not to be. Instead, we got served with an awkward combination of BREAKIN’ (minus the Adidas) and BRING IT ON (minus the cheer). The film concerns itself with best pals David and Elgin, who participate in dance battles that are refereed by a grown man who allows himself to be addressed as “Mr. Rad.” And see, right there, the movie loses all credibility. How can you take a movie seriously when the screenwriters don’t even have the energy to come up with a convincing contemporary nickname? Are we supposed to believe that this man hasn’t changed his nickname since 1985? It’s a good thing that the movie didn’t try to add any other adults or they could have ended up with names like Ol’ Doc Spaz, Ms. Fur-Shur, and Dr. Stan Cougar-Mellencamp.
Anyway, David and Elgin are the best dancers in town, and regularly “serve” the other dance groups. What they serve them is never made clear, but I’m guessing a heaping helping of shame. They supplement the income from these dance-offs (because apparently, even in the 21st century, “dance-off participant” still isn’t a valid career choice) by delivering gym bags for the local Notorious B.I.G. impersonator. Unfortunately, David is busy hitting on Elgin’s little sister when he should be helping her brother deliver a particularly big gym bag, and El ends up in the hospital. This sets off a series of events (mostly dance-related) that culminate in the most intense chess match ever put to film.
Okay, fine: It all ends at the big dance competition, where the big prize is, coincidentally, just enough money to pay off Biggie, and the chance to be cut out of a Lil’ Kim video. Now, I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that it involves a lot of serving and Lil’ Kim being more or less topless.
Sadly, being gotten served never really caught on, although I hear Kim is still mostly topless. Which is probably for the best. Kids have enough to deal with these days, what with having to get real, non-dancing jobs and all, without having their friends mock-threatening them with legal action at every turn.
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