Saturday, 12 November 2011

I hate . . . (*)gate Scandals

Watergate from the air. From wikipedia
Every time there is some scandal (or something the media wants us to this is a scandal) it immediately gets the term 'gate' added to it. Just a quick search gives me the following:
  • Yellow-Gate - Users complaining of a yellow tint to their iPhone screens. I thought Apple was infallible, like the Pope.
  • Ball-Gate - Rugby player ball switching scandal. No, not those ones, you pervert
  • Toilet-Gate - Chess player has a weak bladder. It's front page news!
  • Lie-Gate - Man accused of lying. It's unheard of!
  • Strawberry-Gate - Forced to pay for pick-your-own strawberries that were picked. Call in the army!
  • Nipple-Gate - TV watchers forced to see Janet Jacksons boob. Nation outraged: 50% of watchers have them, 100% have seen one
For those who don't know, Watergate was the name of hotel involved in a serious scandal involving USA President Nixon - lots more on wikipedia. Since then the -gate suffix has been applied to scandals from the great to the totally insignificant. Most have nothing to do with hotels, Presidents or even politics.

The original scandal happened in 1972. That is a really long time ago - before a substantial number of the people reading the current -gate stories were born, and certainly before they were interested in reading about political scandals.

In fact, without any evidence whatsoever, I'd bet that a significant proportion of the English speaking world know very little to nothing about the original Watergate scandal.

So why do journalists insist on using -gate for anything and everything? While some of the stories with the added -gate are serious, adding the suffix is laziness in my opinion. It's a shorthand to say 'don't you think this is terrible and shouldn't they do something about it', which is odd, as they usually do not define 'they' or 'something'.

It's time to some up with a new word - or even better, just treat every news item on it's own merits without resorting to cliché.

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