You Know What They Say About X
A phrase often used to disparage X, where X is a group with a number of negative stereotypes associated with them. For example, "You know what they say about Jews", "You know what they say about black women", and so on. Can also apply to Sci-fi or fantasy settings, either as Fantastic Racism
or as a spoof; i.e. "You know what they say about orcs", "You know what they say about vampires," "You know what they say about Klingons
." Often foreshadows a visit to a Planet of Hats
Alternatively, a phrase used to imply a specific correlation, based on people's familiarity with the phrase, and expectations (as in the page quote).
Usually, "what they say" is merely implied, but sometimes a person will elaborate on what stereotype they're talking about. This can lead to some humor, as another character assumes they're talking about a different stereotype, and the first character has
to elaborate. ("You know what they say about the British!" "They love soccer?") (What, you mean that isn't it?)
Often leads to You Know I'm Black, Right?
. Doesn't Trust Those Guys
is a subtrope; what they say about X is that you can't trust them.
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- In 2010 or so, the United States corn refiners' lobby was running an ad campaign promoting high-fructose corn syrup, including TV spots like this one:
"You know what they say about it."
"That it's made from corn, has the same calories as sugar or honey, and is fine in moderation."
- In A Hard Day's Night, Paul's grandfather does this more than once. Once, he tries doing this to Ringo about Ringo: "They'll pick on a nose, you know." But similar insinuations about fellow Beatles and cops later prove effective.
- The Nun's Story: "You know what they say about monkeys" *does the Monkey Morality Pose*
- Spoofed a few times in the Discworld books:
- In Witches Abroad, Granny Weatherwax objects to Nanny Ogg wearing red boots, ending her criticism with, "You know what they say about women who wear red boots," to which Nanny replies, "Just so long as they also say they've got dry feet."
- In Men at Arms, Constable Cuddy (a dwarf) overhears someone use the phrase "You know what they say about dwarfs!", and for several scenes afterwards demands to know what exactly people say about dwarfs because, of course, nobody tells them.
- When someone eventually does tell him, the general Discworld tendency for literal-mindedness (which is very strong in dwarfs) causes him to repeatedly misunderstand it.
- In Jingo, Angua and Carrot find a suspect has a collection of weapons catalogues, and Angua jokes "You know what they say about men who like big weapons." Carrot, who's not one for dirty jokes, asks what, and after she awkwardly admits "They're rather... small", he thinks she means "short" (like dwarfs, who are known for carrying big axes wherever they go). At least, that's what he says. Angua has her doubts...
Archchancellor Ridcully: You know what they say about bald men, Dean.
Senior Wrangler: Yes, they say, 'look at him, he's got no hair.'
- Narnia: "Fauns will say anything, you know."
Live Action TV
- In the series premiere of Star Trek: Voyager, Harry Kim is in Quark's bar and when Quark tries to sell him some junk says they warned him about Ferengi at the Academy. Quark responds by acting offended that slurs about his people are being taught and Harry is so flustered he starts offering to buy the junk. Paris has seen what is happening, leans in and examines one of the items, comments on how cheap it is, and rescues Harry. As they walk away Harry gives an embarassed grin when Tom says with a smile "Didn't they warn you about Ferengi at the Academy?"
- Applied to the Klingons in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country with lines such as "they all look alike" and "only top-of-the-line models can talk". Irony was elicited from having a black Starfleet admiral claim that "Klingons would become the alien trash of the galaxy". Nichelle Nichols, however, refused to say "guess who's coming to dinner".
- That line was given to Chekov while Uhura's other line was to be "Would you let your daughter marry one?" was cut altogether.
- In the Pee Wee's Playhouse episode The Cowboy and the Cowntess, Pee Wee notices Cowboy Curtis's boots are worn out and offers him his wish for the day so Jambi could give him a new pair of boots. Jambi asks what size and Curtis says something like 15 and then... Does This Remind You of Anything?
Curtis: Well, you know what they say. Big feet... big boots!
- In Waking the Dead, a character comments that the French are highly emotional. Boyd agrees and glances at Stella as he does so. She's French. OK, British-born, brought up in France, but that's a discussion for elsewhere.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will had his "baby shoes" lacquered to give to his mother on Mother's Day. When he shows them to the others they turn out to be adult sneakers. When they point this out...
Will: Yeah. I had big feet. And you know what they say about guys who have big feet!
[Will notices Phil glaring at him]
Will: ...they say "Damn, that guy has big feet!".
- Subverted magnificently in this Irritability strip.
Robot: Yeah, well... you know how politicians are.
Enne: ...able to be broken down and smuggled in suitcases?
Robot: Yes. I heard it on NPR.
- Played with in this strip of the webcomic Girl Genius, with the three Jaegerkin discussing their becoming actors. Once they figure out that the Heterodyne stories have not one but two leading men, Maxim and Ognian are relieved because they both can play a leading man. What's so hot about being a leading man? Why, you get to kiss the girls. (The following exchange translated from the faux German accent. It's a great accent but a little hard for the uninitiated to read.)
Ognian: We'd be kissing actresses! And you know what they say about actresses.
Maxim: Well, um, no.
Ognian: Yah, me neither. But I bet we find out if—
Dimo: Quiet, you idiots! If they find out how irresistible we are to the women, they'll never let us join!
- Immediately after this exchange, the actors decide they are worth keeping on - as clowns.
- Slight variant in this exchange from Beast Wars, after Big Bad Megatron has proposed a truce.
Optimus Primal: So you take me for a fool?!
Megatron: No...I take you for a Maximal.
Of course, Optimus takes the truce, but he knows Megatron is up to something, and from there, things get interesting.
- Also, during Optimus' unintentional suicide run at the Planet Buster, Megatron comments on his plan with this:
Megatron: You Optimuses are always so eager to sacrifice yourselves for others.
The insult here being that all previous holders to the title of Optimus (such as Optimus Prime in G1) tend to jump on a whim into certain death to protect others and defeat a Megatron.
- In one episode of Pinky and the Brain, Brain masquerades as an office worker, and a female co-worker comes on to him with the line, "You know what they say about men with big ears? They wear big earmuffs."
- Done twice in the Ms. Ellen episode of South Park. Both times we never find out what the answer is.