However, his new post, "Against 'Sucks,'" reaches a new height of unintentional hilarity; it's a jeremiad against those vulgar, vulgar Internet people that may even be dumber than that Wall Street Journal one I linked to the other day. (And when you're dumber than the Wall Street Journal editorial page, that's really saying something.) Siegel is angry, really really angry, that every time he reads a big bad blog he encounters some punk kid using the word "sucks." Now, who invented that word? Could it be... Satan?
I see it used in online magazines with rising frequency. It's all over the Internet. It's the pejorative verb of the age. Let's be blunt about the word's origins: It's short for "sucks cock." (Forgive me. The situation requires it, and the context allows it.) So when some case of stunted development writes in to his favorite blog in order to register a thoughtful dissent from another visitor--e.g. "Thucydides862 sucks!"--what he's really saying is that Thucydides862 "sucks cock." Considering how many times "sucks" is used in print, in conversation, and online now, the entire country is evoking the act of fellatio on a continuous basis.
And he wants you to know that the use of the word "sucks" is a deep manifestation of contempt for that person, because, when it comes to oral sex, the suck-er is (so Siegel seems to have heard) distinctly inferior to the suck-ee. Few have summed up the oral sex caste system as well as our Lee, and he will tell us What It All Means:
So saying someone or something "sucks" is not just an expression of contempt. It's a verdict on that person or thing as being, literally, beneath contempt. It's a wish not so much to rise above others as to subordinate them, an angry anti-democratic retort to the nettleseome tides of democratization. After all, when someone "sucks," they can't talk back. Isn't that the bully's and the tyrant's timeless dream, to move among people who can't talk back? It's certainly the dream of a child's fragile ego. It could be that we are surrounded by adults who have the fragile egos of children. And I know exactly what those unwitting people would say about that situation.
It takes a special talent to find a threat to democracy in the fact that my generation grew up watching too much "Beavis and Butt-head."
I think a post like that speaks to a failure to understand how the widespread use of a term can develop it beyond its original meaning. Yes, "sucks" means what Siegel says it means. But it's taken on a whole host of other connotations, to the point that when you say something "sucks," it means something different from just saying it's "bad." The advantage of "sucks" is precisely that it seems to have a slightly obscene edge to it -- so that when you apply the term to a work of popular culture, you're not merely criticizing it but insulting it and dismissing it as a waste of your time. "Boy, that movie was really bad!" is a critical judgement; "Boy, that movie sucked!" is a statement that it wasn't even worth the effort of finding specific terms to criticize it with. And of course, there's just the sonic quality of it; the "k" sound is just funny, as any comedian will tell you. Plus you can play around with the way you use the term; somebody -- I think it was Joe Queenan -- came up with the noun "suckitude" to describe the degree to which something does or does not suck.
I'll leave the final word to Louann Van Houten from "The Simpsons":
"Well, Marge, the other day Milhouse told me my Meatloaf 'sucks!' He must have gotten that from your little boy, because they certainly don't say that on TV."