Words that need to go away: 'snub'

Twitter’s well-earned reputation as a massive time sink is not without merit. Occassionally, however, you stumble across a thought expressed so succinctly it makes all those hours of passive scrolling worth it.

The word “snub” has made its annual return to the cultural lexicon with the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominations. As this tweet makes clear, we’d be better off without “snub” as the accepted way to talk about films and actors who “deserve to win” but don’t.

The problem isn’t only that the word is overused. (Although it obviously is.) The problem is that the word itself encourages misuse. It also communicates entitlement and borderline narcissism, both collectively and individually. When you rephrase any sentence with the word “snub” in it, it sounds more like something a petulant child would say: “This [insert film or actor here] should’ve won! It was disrespected!”

The other problem is that “snub” implies that the Academy assesses the landscape of cinema to identify an objective “best” in each category. To imply that an “objective best” even exists is hopelessly naive, but to accept the cultural authority of the Academy is even more clueless. Evaluating art relies on subjective taste, not objective merit, and an awards show can reward or “snub” anyone with whatever subjective criteria its voters choose. Why is the Academy viewed as authoritative? Because we’ve accepted them as authoritative!

They don’t owe anything to you or anyone, and it’s your own problem if you’ve granted them the authority to objectively determine cultural merit.

Do yourself a favour: stop using “snub” and stop taking offense when arbitrary voting bodies have different criteria than you or your social group. You’ll be much happier and you won’t sound as dumb at this year’s viewing party, where you’ll be busy “not giving a damn about the Oscars.”

Written on January 15, 2016