"Fellows, that note's a phony! No teenager would use the word 'music' in a hip language message... they'd use 'jive!'"
Make a tubular description of Totally Radical on this gnarly page, dude.
Most television shows for audiences younger than 25 are written by people significantly older than the target demographic
. On its own, this is all right. It is when these writers attempt to co-opt the culture of the younger generation that the trouble starts.
The biggest problem is slang. Either it's out of date (usually from the writers' own childhood
), awkwardly misused, or just used far too frequently in the dialog. Either way, there will be gnarly, bitchin' amounts of it, slathered over the dialogue like sauce over a particularly inept casserole.
Also problematic is what kids do in their leisure time. This can be particularly painful if they're attempting An Aesop
about something that's recently become popular
. Usually, that involves many stereotypical "bad boy" or "cool" activities, such as videogames, surfing, motorcycling, or fixing cars; a recent example would be grossly stereotypical "Sk8r Boiz". However, even your standard episode won't probably show video games (for instance) as anything but the back of a TV with some Pac-Man-esque beeps and boops
played over the soundtrack.
A major problem with this trope as a whole is that it plays into loose stereotypes that really don't apply to the majority of real life children or teenagers. While kids and (especially) teenagers may be more
likely to give in to pop culture trends than adults, they too are individuals with their own unique tastes and preferences. Even the latest Teen Idol
will likely only have a small fraction of real life teenagers as "hardcore fans", while the remaining 90% of teens will have opinions ranging from disdain to indifference to relatively casual fandom.
This also applies to commercials focused on kids, although they'll at least be knowledgeable about the product they're selling.
Of course, this can be done well.
Most producers figure, though, that kids can't tell good writing from bad (Viewers Are Morons
, after all), and throw whatever out there. Because TV Never Lies
, some impressionable viewers even believe it, resulting in Pretty Fly for a White Guy
. Buffy Speak
is a common way of avoiding this for those who do care. Another way to avoid the problem is to do it intentionally badly
Don't forget, you copacetic hepcats, that if a show is trying to be set in a period older than the 80s, the same rules apply.
Shows on the Disney Channel
(especially the "New" Nick), and Cartoon Network
are known for doing this, despite most of them centering around tweens and teenagers. This is usually entwined with the overuse of far-past-neutered euphemisms
, like "crud". Badbutt
characters often speak this way.
A rich, deep well of Narm
, especially when it's a Long Runner
's obvious ploy to stay Relevant, Dammit
. A lot of these examples also veer into So Bad, It's Good
territory. A character like this may also be The Nicknamer
. This character also tends to believe that Like Is, Like, a Comma
See also Younger and Hipper
, Jive Turkey
, Buffy Speak
, Surfer Dude
, Valley Girl
, Leet Lingo
, Xtreme Kool Letterz
; this is also a common trait of the Mascot with Attitude
and the Hippie Teacher
. Often, this overlaps with Nostalgia Filter
, as works that use this trope typically give very idealized depictions of childhood. Speaking Like Totally Teen
is a common mockery of this.
Contrast with Spock Speak
, Little Professor Dialog
, and Neologism
. Not to be confused with
someone who is
a total radical
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- The characters of the D.Gray-Man fanfiction Any Way You Want It use eighties slang heavily in their dialogue, thanks to the authors' love of the decade.
Author's Note: If you didn't catch it from the summary, it takes place in 1985, which means we will be raping the 80's terms dictionary we found.
- In the Portal 2 fanfic Blue Sky, anytime Wheatley tries to use slang, it comes across as this.
- Mon Colle Knights guest character Mondo Ooya speaks this way in the Lucky Star fanfic Starbound, even going as far as to strike poses and gestures. This becomes particularly noticeable when the mains bring him and Rokuna to Minami's house, and is something Kagami calls him out on twice. Case in point, here's how he's shown to have introduced Miyuki to his own family, in stark contrast to her having just introduced him and Rokuna to Minami:
"Man, you won't believe how many hot-babes I got to chill with! Here's one of 'em right here!"
- Cracked (which was a print magazine until it went online in 2007), despite usually being pretty good about avoiding this trope, would occasionally stumble into it. One of the worst examples was in 1995, when they attempted to parody some of the new video games that summer and came up with something called NBA Gam - "the slammin'est, gammin'est game of them all!" (Groan.) The joke was that it was basically NBA Jam, but with the teams' cheerleaders playing, and the "cover image" showed screaming bimbos in shorts and tank tops hurling each other through the air (the cartoonist apparently having confused basketball with wrestling). In addition to the obvious Values Dissonance of the premise ("Look at these girls elbowing and shoving each other! They think they're guys! Ha, ha!"), the pun was an obvious reference to "gams," the early 20th-century slang word for women's legs (itself derived from the French word jambes, meaning....well...."legs"); problem was, that word had been outdated for nearly two generations by the time Cracked used it (and worse, most kids who were reading probably just assumed they had misspelled the word "game," thus nearly ruining the joke). In any case, the joke became discredited the very next year, when female basketball players launched their own version of the NBA.
- National Geographic Kids was a particularly egregious example, seeing as it was written for kids by people with an apparently very dim view of children's capacity for learning. Aside from the fact that the magazine was almost entirely comprised of either advertisements or advertisements masquerading as articles, the writers decided it was necessary to appeal to children using outdated (not to mention ludicrous in any time period) slang. A particularly pertinent example occurred in their "review" (read: advertisement) of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when discussing the costume changes from the last two films: "Harry and the gang now dress in hip street clothes instead of their stuffy Hogwarts uniforms."
- In 1995, CompuServe released "Internet In A Box For Kids." It was basically the grown-up version "Internet In A Box," except with a videotape on proper internet usage along with an internet monitoring software program for parents to block sites they deemed inappropriate for their children. While the included video mostly averted this (probably because it featured actual children explaining how to properly use the internet), the box art was filled to the brim with Totally Radical imagery and lingo. Such as a kid screaming "Totally Internet!!!"
- The subreddit r/FellowKids collects various advertisements of this nature, usually involving forced references to memes and internet lingo.
- For Better or for Worse creator Lynn Johnston, in an effort not to sound dated ten seconds later, made up her own teenage slang phrases, which, since they were still being coined by a middle-aged woman, tended to sound pretty awkward anyway. Notable examples include "going/gone roadside" (i.e., putting out); also, "foob" (a portmanteau of "fool" and "boob"), close enough to the strip's actual acronym that snarkers now routinely call the strip Foob.
- This really shone through because, well, it was a newspaper comic, which are not known for giving their readers the benefit of the doubt in intelligence... between that and just not having much space, Johnston would thus have to explain what her made-up slang meant... with slang or euphemisms that were Totally Radical.
- In Zits, Jeremy had to teach his dad not to say "What's up, dood?" Unfortunately, though he could pronounce "Whatup, dude?" (relatively in use at time of publishing), he had no idea what it meant.
- Parodied in one strip where Jeremy tries to get a slang word of his own invention to catch on: "Plasmic". It works about as well as you'd expect.
- Calvin and Hobbes both averted and parodied this trope in a strip wherein Calvin made up his own slang, just to prove to his father that it was possible. ("Don't you think that's totally spam? It's lubricated! Well, I'm phasing.")
- In Capcom's Breakshot, the moose yells "Bodacious!" if you score a jackpot during Ball-O-Rama.
- Bally's Dr. Dude is totally loaded with Totally Radical surfer slang throughout the game.
- Unsurprisingly, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is full of this.
- Similar to the above, The Simpsons (Data East) has a bit of this, mostly from Bart Simpson.
- Radical! is a pinball machine about skating whose playfield resembles a skate park and whose artwork embodied '80s skater culture at its thickest.
- Whether this counts as an aversion, an inversion, or a Deconstruction is open to debate, but World Wrestling Entertainment consciously avoids using its own insider lingo on the actual programming, even though that jargon is widely recognized and employed by the wrestlers themselves. This means practically zero use of the old "carny talk" terms such as "face" and "heel", or even newer terms such as "blade." (Occasionally a Genre Savvy performer will break Kayfabe and actually use one of the terms, but this practice is not encouraged.) On the other hand, this trope was crossbred with Bilingual Bonus on an episode of Monday Night Raw which had Alberto Del Rio introduce Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Christian, and Wade Barrett as rudos (Mexican wrestling slang for "villains").
- In a straighter example, Hulk Hogan is known for throwing around slang like "brother", "dude", and "jack". He still does it, even though he's well into his sixties and long-retired.
- Wrestling Society X, MTV's short lived attempt at producing a wrestling show. We're talking about musical guests playing at the start of every episode, plenty of explosions and "awesome" sound effects, not to mention the wrestling being about as flashy as possible.
- WCW dipped into this when they tried to market themselves to the urban/hip hop market. They hired Master P, widely considered at the time to be Rap's equivalent of Hanson, and made an entire stable with a rap themed gimmick called the No Limit Soldiers. The worst part, though, was DJ Ran, who periodically interrupted the wrestling show to ask the fans where the rowdiest section was at.
- TNA went through a period where they were intentionally inverting WWE's example above: they *constantly* threw out insider lingo, openly referred to "the script", talked about "turning" and "swerves", etc. etc. This was in the middle of their "Wrestling is still real" kick, and was a pretty blatant attempt to snag the Internet Wrestling Community that the WWE seemed to take every opportunity to piss off... Except it was so blatant and self-contradicting (how can something be "real" one break while someone gets chastised for "going off-script" the next?) that it backfired spectacularly and got the IWC to basically make fun of them even worse than they were before. Fortunately, it didn't last long and has all but vanished.
- The Reduced Shakespeare Company Radio Show:
Reed: I told you, Adam, Antony and Cleopatra has nothing to do with rap!
Adam: Oh yeah? Well, where does Cleopatra come from?
Adam: And what continent is Egypt on?
Adam: Africa... African-Americans... rap! Boom! Hit it!
There was a red-hot mama and her name was Cleo
A babe born in Egypt but she moved to Italy-o
She hooked up with a dude who was built like a tree
Her old man's name was Mark An-an-an-an-an-an-an-an-
- The published script to their stage show includes a tongue-in-cheek footnote remarking that they are only too aware that rap as a signifier of youth and coolness was hopelessly cliched even back when the "Othello Rap" was originally added in 1987, but they keep it in because it's consistently one of the most popular parts of the show with audiences.
- Matt Smith (no, not that one), original presenter of Radio 4's children's show Go4It in 2001, was more than a little prone to this and extensively parodied on the radio version of Dead Ringers. His successor Barney Harwood (who would later go on to present Blue Peter) was rather more restrained.
- National Cynical Network's "Chap in the Hood", with a crisply accented Briton interjecting urban slang into his monologue, joined in the finale by a Cockney rival doing the same.
- An episode of the CBC comedy news show This Is That had a teacher who switched to talking in this sort of forced slang in class. It worked.
- In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventure Cuddlesome, the Mark II Cuddlesomes talk in 1980s slang that sounds like a cross between the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bart Simpson.
- In The Secondary Phase of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Zaphod suddenly begins talking in a garbled parody of 1970s slang, executed by mixing up contemporary slang words with invented 'hitch-hiker slang' and lots of Pardon My Klingon. It's supposed to make him sound like a bit of a dick, though.
- Parodied in a fake ad by The Vestibules, in which a company desperately tries to target a new customer demographic:
Teenager: (With rock music playing in the background) Yeah, Kentworth-Haynes Olde English Tea Biscuits are cool, and radical, and they're not things that old people eat! ... I like to eat 'em when I'm doing extreme sports, dude! And by the way I should know, because I'm wearing large pants that are fashionable now.
Announcer: Made according to a traditional cool time-honored English recipe that combined the radical stone-milled flour with an extreme light country fresh taste, Kentworth-Haynes Olde English Tea Biscuits are guaranteed fresh - and they are cool!
- Paranoia: Played for laughs with the Death Leopard secret society, who are among the few in any universe who would actually say "Totally radical, dude!" and mean every word of it. (In Zap games, talking like a dodgy take on a 1980s surfer dude is all but expected).
- An unfortunate moment in Mutants & Masterminds: Hero High had Lucien Soulban jump into this, by recommending renaming a number of skills "Yo, dis da shizzle, boy!"