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Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Philosophical Question Inspired by This Season’s Project Runway

posted by on July 24 at 10:46 AM


So last night brought a new episode of Project Runway, and for a variety of reasons I can’t be bothered to watch this season. (The fact that our hometown contestant is a yam-colored hate crime against taste doesn’t help.)

However, I saw enough of last night’s episode to lodge a philosophical question in my brain: Why is referring to yourself in the third person so repugnant?

Lying is wrong because it robs the victim of the truth.
Murder is wrong because it robs the victim of everything.
But why does third-person self-reference seem worse than lying and almost as bad as murder?

I’d ask Suede, but Suede’s busy being Suede, and so I ponder, and wince.

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Joanie doesn't think there's anything wrong with third-person references.

Posted by Joanie | July 24, 2008 10:48 AM

I think it's because it implies overweening conceit.

Posted by leek | July 24, 2008 10:48 AM

2: Definitely, but why should one person's overweening conceit make others want to die?

I imagine it has something to do with reflexive empathy, the sense that "If that were me caught referring to myself in the third person, I'd want someone to kill me immediately..."

Posted by David Schmader | July 24, 2008 10:54 AM

Because it makes you sound more important than you really are.

You should watch; after just two episodes this is shaping up to be an EXCELLENT season. Much, much better than S4. Better good designers, and better bad ones too. Even yamface showed sparks of real personality last night, when he was mocking Stella's lust for leatha.

Posted by Fnarf | July 24, 2008 10:55 AM

Ask Elmo.

Posted by robo | July 24, 2008 10:56 AM

i blame bob dole.

Posted by brett | July 24, 2008 10:56 AM

@3: It's not that it makes others want to die, but that it makes others want to kill the self-referencer.

There is something empathic going on, though. I refer to myself as I because I consider my consciousness inextricably tied to my physical body. Referencing myself in the third person implies a split there - the actions of my body being somehow independent of a conscious narration of those actions. There are overtones of conceit because it makes one's life into what sounds like a narrative - a novel, or a newspaper article, for example. It presents one's self as a set of immutable facts - no changing the mind or tastes of he who refers to himself in the third person.

Posted by Ziggity | July 24, 2008 10:59 AM

5: Fucking Elmo is one of the worst offenders. In my day, Muppets talked like people, not retards. In my dreams, Grover runs over Elmo with a steamroller and feasts on the remains.

4: Good to know, and to clarify, my refusal to watch this season is really just a refusal to watch this season live. It's all stashed in my TiVo and perhaps I shall revisit...

Also, I just realized that the only people who can refer to themselves in the third-person with impunity are CAVEMEN.

Posted by David Schmader | July 24, 2008 11:02 AM

Schmader I love that you occasionally interact and adress points in the comments. Love all ups on you.

Posted by Non | July 24, 2008 11:04 AM

And the multiple-personalitied, as Sybil.

Posted by leek | July 24, 2008 11:05 AM

Doesn't Hulk get all third-person on our asses?

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | July 24, 2008 11:07 AM

And Jim Darkmagic.

Posted by lostboy | July 24, 2008 11:08 AM

(Thanks, Non. My pleasure.)

Posted by David Schmader | July 24, 2008 11:08 AM

JTC's right: Full exemption for the Hulk.

Posted by David Schmader | July 24, 2008 11:09 AM

I think the empathy thing is a big part of it. Hopefully it's as painful for him to watch as it is for us. Referring to yourself in the third person is bad enough, but when coupled with calling yourself "Suede," it's practically a hate crime. Against Suede.

Posted by Aaron Huffman | July 24, 2008 11:12 AM

I can deal with Swede's third person addiction but what I have the hardest time with is Yammy's insistance on ended EVERYTHING with "licious".

Posted by monkey | July 24, 2008 11:16 AM

the third-person is just dandelion.

what would happen to suede if everyone just referred to him all season in the second person? "hey you."

Posted by chops | July 24, 2008 11:22 AM

But isn't the true story of last night's episode Stella's atrocious asymmetrical Donna Martin Graduates/Tawny Kitaen/Skanky Santa's helper lace up "cocktail" "dress"? WTF, Klum!

Posted by Meagan | July 24, 2008 11:23 AM

Referring to one's self in the third person becomes exponentially more annoying when coupled with spitting, squinting-with-intensity proclamations of rocking this or having rocked that. In the third person.

Posted by Jimmy Jackhammer | July 24, 2008 11:26 AM

Suede's dress was really cool though.

And, no, I'm not Suede writing this. Otherwise I would have said, "And, no, Suede is not Suede writing this."

Posted by robo | July 24, 2008 11:26 AM

chops @17, "hey you" and "hey Suede" would both be second person.

And if Suede referred to himself with pronouns like "he" or "him," it would still be third person (and might sound even more obnoxiously regal).

Posted by lostboy | July 24, 2008 11:27 AM

personally, i think renaming oneself is a much more egregious crime against humaninty. renaming oneself after what is arguably the most heinous permutation of leather -- or perhaps more favorably, a middling britpop act from the early 90s -- is even more unsettling.

Posted by brandon | July 24, 2008 11:29 AM

Yeah, "-licious" is WAAAAAY more annoying than the third personism.

Does anyone else desperately want the leather-lover to get kicked off? It seems like all she does is whine about how the challenges are not her style.

Posted by SDizzle | July 24, 2008 11:36 AM

I'm thinking of renaming myself Naugahyde.

Posted by Big Sven | July 24, 2008 11:36 AM

Suede's real name really is Suede. His mother's name was Velvet and his father was Leather, so it just made sense.

Posted by robo | July 24, 2008 11:37 AM

"-licious" is such a ridiculously transparent attempt at being the new "fierce." "Fierce" was annoying enough, but "-licious" is terrible and just makes Yammy seem like a total fame whore.

Posted by Julie | July 24, 2008 11:42 AM

The royal "we". Pffft.

Posted by frumpy | July 24, 2008 11:42 AM
Does anyone else desperately want the leather-lover to get kicked off?

I haven't seen last night's episode yet- DVR'ed it to watch with the kids tonight- but if the "leather-lover" is Stella, then yes I want her kicked off.

No- scratch that. I want 99942 Apophis to land directly on top of her at ~10kps, instantly rendering her and the surrounding terrain to approximately 500m out back into their superheated gaseous molecular components.

She's easily the most annoying candidate since that the skinny brunette "brilliant" lawyer who couldn't design her way out of a paper bag...

Posted by Big Sven | July 24, 2008 11:43 AM

I am still reeling from Tim Gunn's usage of "caucus" last night (You will have 30 minutes to caucus with your models).

I love leather lady. She has seen some shit in her time, you can tell.

Posted by kerri harrop | July 24, 2008 11:49 AM

tim gun has appropriated 'hot mess' for himself.

that's tranny-dandelion-icious, if you ask suede.

see you at red lobster.

Posted by chops | July 24, 2008 11:50 AM

Big Sven @28, nice imagery.

Posted by lostboy | July 24, 2008 11:50 AM

Bizarro thinks Bizarro am also referring to me in person three.

Posted by Bizarro | July 24, 2008 11:55 AM

This thread is so much better than the actual show.

Posted by kid icarus | July 24, 2008 12:05 PM

I'm fine with Cher, I mean Stella, remaining for entertainment value, but I'm with Meagan... last night's dress was an atrocity that did not belong in the top three at all.

I woulda put Keith's parachute-y concoction in the finals instead.

Posted by leek | July 24, 2008 12:20 PM

WTF? Stella is the first of these contestants whom I'd invite to a party. The Chan Marshall lookalike is the second.

Also: Suede's third-person references are a problem because his birth name is "Bruce."

Posted by hohoho green giant | July 24, 2008 12:25 PM

P.S.: Cuteness! I'd get it on with Prince William too.

Posted by leek | July 24, 2008 12:28 PM

@34: I think a more fitting name is Cheroin. Is it just me, or is it fucking weird that Blayne de Soleil has crows feet at 23? Just askin.

Posted by Jeremiah | July 24, 2008 12:41 PM

Suede's head look like a pregnancy test. He's definitely this year's Ricky. I just hope someone can make him cry!

Posted by montex | July 24, 2008 12:51 PM

I'm surprised no one else has mentioned perhaps one of the funniest moments last night:

Mr. Tanfastic's monologue about Stella's family, friends, and pets being comprised entirely of leather, intercut with her incessant whining about wanting only leather materials.

And when she called him out on it, best line of the night:

"I'm sorry, Leatherface."

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | July 24, 2008 12:52 PM

"it looks like a pterodactyl from a gay jurassic park"

Posted by bigfragel | July 24, 2008 1:03 PM

Agreed Schmader, the 3rd person reference is annoying. And my new phrase:

"yam-colored hate crime against taste"

Posted by Original Monique | July 24, 2008 1:22 PM

@myself..."new favorite phrase"

Posted by Original Monique | July 24, 2008 1:23 PM

I like this season much more than last season. Constestants are more interesting and the models are more stunning, frankly. Love the lea-thuh lady.

Posted by me | July 24, 2008 2:02 PM

Jimmy wonders how everyone can possibly forget Jimmy the original 3rd person talker from Seinfeld...I guess Jimmy is relegated to the 1990's. :(

Posted by Jimmy | July 25, 2008 1:40 AM

> Why is referring to yourself in the third person so repugnant?

Undeniably, there's no problem when Japanese girls do it Japanese, though...

Posted by PPP | July 25, 2008 12:46 PM

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