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Sometimes, one line uttered by a fictional character or a real-life celebrity reverberates. Usually it's because of its sheer stupidity—or, less often, for its brillance. Maybe it's because it perfectly fit a historical or cultural moment. Here are our favorite one-liners, quotes, and catchphrases from 2011.
"I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen."
Charlie Sheen went off the rails this year, adding to our vocabs and hashtags with gems like "winning," "tiger blood," and "Vatican assassin warlock." But no single sentence summed up his meltdown like his declaration that he was high on his own toxic personality. (Of course, he had some synthetic help, too.) The whole Charlie Sheen media circus was supremely annoying, even for fans of unhinged, misogynist wife-beaters. But one thing is for sure: Charlie made his mark on the year's catchphrases.
"I got a lot of things twirling around in my head."
Herman Cain was a meme unto himself this year, but perhaps the most all-encompassing phrase he brought into the world was the one about his head twirls. To be fair, the man did have a lot on his mind, what with grappling with a bunch of sexual harassment cases and one alleged affair, finding the perfect animated movie to quote, and memorizing all those silly Middle Eastern countries. Those twirling things got the best of him, though—he dropped out of the race before we even reached 2012.
"Not intended to be a factual statement."
When Sen. Jon Kyl got called on his bald-faced lie on the Senate floor—he stated wrongly that abortion procedures comprise 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does—his office told CNN and other outlets that it was "not intended to be a factual statement." This explanation marked a new low in government rhetoric, and it gave all us a far more creative way to say "just kidding."
"Corporations are people, my friend."
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney uttered the phrase that, for many people, sums up the 1 percent's attitude: Corporations deserve the same rights as the people working for them. The Supreme Court technically agrees with him. But mere weeks after Romney declared his love for business owners, thousands at Occupy Wall Street begged to differ.
"We are the 99 percent."
This slogan wasn't coined by a particular person, but it did put a personal face on a broad movement. Occupy Wall Street's vast concerns were boiled down into this simple, affecting phrase that connoted unity and justice while drawing attention to the growing wealth gap. And of course, no catchphrase would be complete without spawning spinoff jokes across the Internet.
"Pay it forward."
If "We are the 99 percent" is OWS' gospel, Elizabeth Warren could be its patron saint. Sure, she's playing the same game many occupiers detest, but she's being more frank about wealth inequality than anyone else in politics. A video of her speech went viral back in September, and it was because of this quote:
You built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay it forward for the next kid who comes along.
Democrats struggling to adapt the 99 Percenters' thinking could learn a lot from her.
Presidential hopeful Rick Perry had a meteoric rise and is now in the throes of a fall, marked by the gaffe to end all political debate gaffes. Attempting to list three government departments he'd eliminate if he became president, Perry blanked on the third, stumbling over his words for a while before admitting defeat: "Oops." He later used his needle-off-the-record moment to gently mock himself in an Iowa caucus ad, but the damage had been done.
Catchphrases aren't only about political gaffes and celebrity meltdowns. They also stem from priceless moments on our favorite shows. In October, Parks and Recreation treated the audience to their "Treat Yo'Self" subplot, declaring a new holiday for those of us fond of clothes, fragrances, massages, and cupcakes with words on them.
"Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose."
Parks and Rec's moment was hilarious, but this one was tender. This year, we said goodbye to the little-show-that-could, Friday Night Lights, and nothing seemed more fitting than to honor it with its key catchphrase. Even though FNL is gone from our television screens, we'll always have those six little words of encouragement. Texas forever.
"I just took a shit in the middle of the street."
In 2011, women reclaimed the fratty comedy. The line above was murmured miserably by Maya Rudolph in Bridesmaids, at the tail-end of one of the most ridiculous gross-out scenes in movie history. The line wasn't just a funny poop joke: It also helped do away with a lot of stereotypical, old-fashioned crap about delicate female moviegoers, screenwriters, and actresses.