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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Ancient Hatrack Mystery Solved?

   
Author Topic: Ancient Hatrack Mystery Solved?
Frisco
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What does this link do? It doesn't DO anything. That's the beauty of it!

Elaborate hoax?

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Strider
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This post won't do anything. That's the beauty of it.
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rivka
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Highly unlikely that an obscure play is the reason so many people think they remember that quote.
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Frisco
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Every meme has to start somewhere. [Smile]

An almost word-for-word (minus the implied "It") instance of the quote is closer than anything anyone ever found before.

It's definitely not the earliest use of that comic theme, but given that it was a play in the 90s, performed in high schools, and lends itself well to competition duos, it's not out of the realm of possibility that it may have popularized the phrase enough to spread to those of us who were adults using the internet in 2003.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Frisco:
is closer than anything anyone ever found before.

Don't think so. There have been a couple other, similarly obscure, sources claimed over the years.
quote:
Originally posted by Frisco:
Every meme has to start somewhere.

And this one started on Hatrack, with that infamous thread. People are convinced they've heard the line before, because it is similar (either in phrasing or conceptually) to dozens of lines from dozens of sources. But that is not proof that there actually exists a single common original source.
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Frisco
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quote:

Don't think so. There have been a couple other, similarly obscure, sources claimed over the years.

But there haven't. The closes anyone has come is a kinda sorta similar quote from an episode of Burke's Law in the 1960s. This is the first word-for-word find.

quote:
And this one started on Hatrack, with that infamous thread. People are convinced they've heard the line before, because it is similar (either in phrasing or conceptually) to dozens of lines from dozens of sources. But that is not proof that there actually exists a single common original source.
Oh, I'm aware that's where the meme got its first lasting web presence. I spent days illegally downloading old tv shows and movies to research people's guesses. [Razz] But even ssywak admitted that this wasn't his question. A friend asked *him* the question, and he came here looking for answers.

I think most people will eventually agree that they haven't actually heard the quote verbatim on-screen. But it's a very good comedic line, so it's pretty plausible that it started and got spread word-of-mouth.

Regardless of where people think they may have heard it, the original question was asking for the root of the line. It seems silly to write it off as coincidence that that exact line appeared in a play.

Occam's Razor, to me, would suggest that the quote actually exists and got repeated, rather than having to believe that the quote exists in media in my lifetime, and the exact quote again surfaced 14 years later on a message board entirely independent of the original source.

Of course, since it *is* such a good line, it's possible that the same exact line evolved in multiple places. But it doesn't seem impossible that the person who asked ssywak was a high school student in the 90's who saw this play. Heck, *I* was a high school student in the 90's and I may have seen this play or heard people who were in it repeating lines.

Makes me want to do research in pre-internet memes and figure out how likely it is that a high school play contained a line so good that it reached a large percent of the population mostly by word-of-mouth. [Razz]

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Xavier
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quote:
And this one started on Hatrack, with that infamous thread.
Yeah, I've always been skeptical of this. Just because we didn't see it before it got to here doesn't mean it originated here.
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Strider
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Wait a minute...are you saying we're not special?
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Orincoro
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Really, what are the chances that a line like this hasn't just sort of floated around because it's so memorable and universally applicable? I've said it myself a few times. Maybe a friend liked it and repeated it, and didn't remember where it came from. You know, the way any saying gets started.

This whole thing is like asking where "if life gives you lemons," came from. It doesn't really have to come from anywhere. It's something somebody's grandma said in 1886 somewhere, and they repeated it and it got put into a book of proverbs somewhere. Who cares, really?

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
quote:
And this one started on Hatrack, with that infamous thread.
Yeah, I've always been skeptical of this. Just because we didn't see it before it got to here doesn't mean it originated here.
Well yes, of course. The point of this whole rigmarole is attributional bias. We have no way of removing ourselves as actors from the spread of a cultural phenomenon that we are a part of, and observing the process objectively. Once we start guessing where the damn thing comes from, we influence each other and ourselves into believing that it has to come from somewhere- and we are influenced by the compounding consensus that it *does* come from somewhere, even though all of us have exactly as much reason to expect that it does (namely, none).

Even if the quote appears in a play written in 1990 that none of us have ever heard of, this rather proves the point- it certainly doesn't clear up the origin of the phrase. We can as easily suggest that the writer of that play heard the line somewhere else. We didn't hear it from the play, after all. None of us have read it.

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PSI Teleport
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Actually, my husband and I found a line VERY close to that one in Earnest Goes to Jail. I thought about posting it here but I was afraid of waking the sleeping beast. I mean, I'm sure we're not the only ones to have run across it, but...
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Xavier
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I think you misread my post, Orincoro. I was talking about where the meme of "where is this quote from?". There was was a thread here that was pretty active trying to find the source of the quote, and then people started seeing threads elsewhere on the internet with the same question.

It was assumed that asking this question originated on hatrack, but I'm sure lots of those other sites thought it originated there as well.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Strider:
Wait a minute...are you saying we're not special?

I'm a firm believer in Hatrack Exceptionalism.
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El JT de Spang
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Let's talk about the real mystery, which is where Frisco goes for years at a time. YEARS, I say.
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Strider
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You assume he goes somewhere. The reality is much more frightening!
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narrativium
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He's posting from inside the house!
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
I think you misread my post, Orincoro. I was talking about where the meme of "where is this quote from?". There was was a thread here that was pretty active trying to find the source of the quote, and then people started seeing threads elsewhere on the internet with the same question.

It was assumed that asking this question originated on hatrack, but I'm sure lots of those other sites thought it originated there as well.

I didn't misread you.
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imogen
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Given I remember the quote also, and I'm pretty sure that text/play never featured in West Australian high schools, I'm not convinced.

Personally, this whole quote thing makes me more convinced collective memory and/or time travel exists than anything else. This is the one wrinkle in the alternate history!

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
It was assumed that asking this question originated on hatrack, but I'm sure lots of those other sites thought it originated there as well.

Not just an assumption. A few years back, a Hatracker documented tracking back IMDB and several other places with threads on the subject, and each tracked back to Hatrack after a step or three.

It could still have memified elsewhere online. But it was pretty convincing.

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Strider
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quote:
Originally posted by imogen:
Personally, this whole quote thing makes me more convinced collective memory and/or time travel exists than anything else. This is the one wrinkle in the alternate history!

It's a collective memory of the last part of a conversation between the creator of our universe and some other supernatural being.
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Aros
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http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=5815
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katharina
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I think you found it, Frisco. I believe.
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Shan
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I don't know what's more amazing. *ponders thoughtfully*

That Frisco found a quote that appears to fit more closely than any presented before . . . or that he has continued to hold a torch for finding the quote. [Wink]

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Marek
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And the weird part is, when I saw the thread title, this was the first hatrack mystery that came to mind.
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