It sort of hit me when I was watching the MTV Movie Awards last year. I must confess: watching the pointless show is sort of a habit, as I’ve been a regular MTV-watcher since I was about 12 (and I’m pretty convinced that I have been brainwashed – I’m sure that one day MTV will send off some subliminal radio signal that only hits its regular watchers and I will lose all free will and succumb to singing Judy Garland while dancing the can-can… but I digress…) I watched as a drunken audience member screamed a derogatory comment at presenter Mila Kunis, who, as a typically articulate woman on her feet, could only reply with the infamous comeback: “Really?”
I was put off. How could such an intelligent individual grant that dude-bro such a juvenile reply? Granted, Miss Kunis was clearly quite taken aback, as anyone would have been, and the remark was amazingly rude. Nevertheless, she could have snapped back with something far wittier, especially since she had Mark Wahlberg next to her ready to kick that guy’s ass.
I’ve noticed that the use of “really?” is used as a common comeback by a lot of people, both intelligent and, well, not. I know it seems like a useful retort as you are blatantly humiliating the naysayer by openly questioning the logic behind his or her argument, but come on. We can do better than that, especially as university kids. Honestly, I’ve heard the reply more than once during my study hours in the OC (“I mean, really, Katie? Really?”) It’s just used way too freaking much.
So let’s narrow it down a little bit, shall we? Really, as defined in the dictionary (and yes I did just go all essay on you), is an adverb. It is used to modify words, not as an insult or a response!
Take one of the greatest comebacks in history by Abraham Lincoln, famous not only for his great leadership but also for his unstoppable wit:
While engrossed in debate, Lincoln was called two-faced by his opponent, Stephen Douglas.
To which Lincoln responded with, “I leave it to my audience. If I had another face, do you think I would wear this one?”
As laughable as it is to imagine someone calling Honest Abe two-faced, it is even more laughable to imagine one of our greatest presidents replying with possibly the most obnoxious answer in common vernacular: “Really?” He took that opportunity and he ran with it, and what he replied with was pure gold.
I guess it doesn’t matter how much I mouth off in this Mouthing Off section about an overused adverb. It’s going to become just another verbal pet peeve of the youth anyway, along with using “seriously,” “you know,” and “like” too much. Let’s face it. spoken English sucks. So, in the end, all I can say is this: really guys? Really?