Thursday, January 6, 2011

Phrases of This Generation: EPIC FAIL

It’s everywhere. Every mistake, every blunder, every shortcoming, especially when they’re funny enough to tell in a story or post on a Facebook status, is an EPIC FAIL.

I will now discuss this, my latest installment in the series, Phrases of This Generation. My biggest challenge will be to talk about how this strange word-creature invaded my generation without sounding like an old man who starts every one of his arthritic, cynical sentences with “Kids these days…” Let’s break this down.


It’s been a big couple of years for epic. Before about 2003, epic was only used (1) as a noun, describing usually long poem about some sort of hero, or (2) as an adjective used only by people who would see, and then describe, things like an opera performance or some sort book that teenagers hate reading in high school.

But then someone cool somewhere who college-aged people listen to—probably Dane Cook or Daniel Tosh or someone—used it in a sentence and all was changed. Football games became epic. So did arguments and keg-stands. Epic epic epic.  Soon the overused “amazingly” became “epically,” and high-fives were exchanged all around.

Thus EPIC became the only way to say something was large and/or cool.


This is how I see it.

It’s winter. Four husky, off-season athletes are walking back to their dorms after a night at O’Malley’s, the bar closest to campus. They’re not drunk drunk, because they had to be sober enough to understand the goings-ons of the game played on the one flat screen at that bar. They are without chicks under their arms, but it’s okay; they’re with their buds. As they’re walking back, Dude #1 pulls Dude #2’s jacket over his head, leaving him with his stomach exposed and his arms and head trapped inside the now inside-out jacket. Dude #1 runs ahead laughing, and jacket-boy runs after him blindly, all the while trying to pull his jacket back down.

Neither one of them sees the patch of ice under them, and both are painfully leveled to their backs.  Dude #3 and #4 laugh stupidly, and Dude #3, the most grammatically challenged of them all, the one who is slightly less good-looking and slightly less lucky in love, but he’s still a really sweet guy, says, “That was a fail.”

“That was totally a fail,” says Dude #3.

Thus, fail became a noun. And in that same moment, it ceased being anything else. One cannot fail anymore; something can only become a fail. Not a failure, even; a fail.


Back to Dude #1, #2, #3, and #4.  A few days later they’re back at O’Malley’s. Dudes #1 and #2 have nursed their bruised elbows and tailbones. Dude #1 says, “I can’t even explain how big of a fail that was.”
“Such a fail,” says #2.
“When I seen you do that, I was like ‘that was such a fail,” says almost-illiterate #3.
“I can’t even describe how big of a fail that was,” adds #4, “It was huge. It was awesome. It was…what was it…?”
“I heard Dane Cook or Daniel Tosh or someone say epic the other day,” chimes Dude #1. It’s just the word #4 was looking for.
“Epic! It was an EPIC FAIL!”
Suddenly all four dudes say “EPIC FAIL” together and give a poorly thought-out, badly-timed, four-way high-five. (This could also be called a high twenty.)
“Oh man,” laughs #4, “That was an EPIC FAIL.” And the four friends have a touching moment of brotherhood that’s quickly cut off because of an interception in the game on the big flatscreen. 

[They won't talk about that moment tomorrow. But #4 will scribble in his secret diary about it.]

A few tables away, someone sitting at a table alone drinking a Guinness and cynically typing on his computer overhears what those idiots are saying and decides, “I shall create a blog called EPIC FAIL and everyone will love it and quote it and post on it and make their own EPIC FAILs and say the phrase constantly. The English language will take a hit, but I will finally get out of this godforsaken town.”  

[He will rue the day he got that idea. I will make sure of it.]

And that’s how it happened. Now you know the actual history of EPIC FAIL.  Still, whenever I come across a reason to say EPIC FAIL, I will probably say something like “That was an enormous catastrophe.” 


  1. Well, this blog is definitely NOT an epic fail. :)

  2. I was concerned this post would become some sort of rant, but the creative story made it really interesting!

  3. Wow....educational AND entertaining in one single blog entry! Well done!

    HEY CHRISTIE!!! Teavana has an ad on Brian's blog!!!!

  4. My favorite part is the old guy saying "Nyeah."

  5. Thanks, Laura.

    Also, I'm glad this didn't end up sounding like a rant. It's always my goal to avoid that.

    Now that I'm fully registered to receive money from adds, they let me have more relevant ones!

    Hi JennaRose! Thanks!