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November 09 2006

'Not so much' coined on Buffy? Not so much! Who coined the phrase 'not so much'? Buffy popularized this stock Jon Stewart phrase according to the Columbia News Service.

I found a news site where you don't have to register to read the article and changed the link. Cute article btw.
"John Stewart" - his name is Jon, not John.
I always thought this was from Paul Reiser -- there is a cursory mention of "Mad About You" in the article, but Paul... not so much.

From the alt.tv.mad-about-you FAQ:

- ".. not so much .."

Usually used a lot to indicate his unwillingness, in the not-liking or not-wanting-to department [1.2, 1.6, 1.14, 1.20, 2.12, 3.4, 3.8, 3.10], another habit from early childhood [5.5].

This expression too has crossed over to Jamie [3.8], and even to Helen Hunt (on "The Late Show with David Letterman," November 23, 1994).

[ edited by ofermod on 2006-11-09 18:09 ]
I love "not so much." I can't remember if I used it pre-Buffy or after. I also use "it's of the" as in "it's of the good," and a few days ago I used bitca in a post describing a crazy woman who keeps scamming the bus drivers and riding for free, and was congratulated for such.
I like the concept of language as mental apparel.
Right you are, Jon Stewart. Not so much with the good editor today!
First heard it on 'Friends' I think (never really watched 'Mad About You') though Buffy made it something I would say (or rather write, I don't say it that often).

Jon Stewart's delivery is pretty good though, funny guy, funny show (even if the audience is sometimes a bit self-congratulatory).
That phrase has always stood out to me more than any other from Buffy. And it seems as though the writers are often saying it off-handedly in interviews. I always think about how Buffy has had a cultural influenc when I hear people who don't watch the show use the term. Of course, maybe they're getting it from Jon Stewart...
Once I read the article I could totally hear Paul Reiser.
Thats definitely where it started for me. I loved that character. Where is Reiser?

My brain always goes to bitca, but no one understands it so I have to change it to the original before it comes out of my mouth.
My brain always goes to bitca, but no one understands it so I have to change it to the original before it comes out of my mouth.


I do the exact same thing! Funny.
Whenever I read "not so much" I actually hear Joss saying it which I guess is a little odd. I must just really associate said phrase with him.
Someone at the board where I mostly post knows next to nothing about Buffy or Buffy-isms, so I tried to explain how the word bitca came to be: "And then Willow starts spelling out the word because, you know, she's a lady, and then Giles walks in as she gets to the "h" of bitch, 'h-hhhhey, Giles!' Xander confusedly says, "Bitca?"

I realized out of context you just had to be there.
Nice find. When I really focus on just how much Whedonverse projects (especially Buffy) have influenced my siblings and my own speech patterns, I feel more than a little "sheepish". It does make identifying fellow Whedonites much easier though. Just goes to show what a far-reaching influence awesomeness can have on people.
Tonya J- Wasn't it that Willow was kind of whispering it while spelling and Xander misheard the 'h' as an 'a'? Giles was present and told her that they were all old enough not to have to spell words like that, which is when xander said 'bitca?'.

[ edited by EditorAl on 2006-11-09 22:48 ]
See! I couldn't even remember the story right, which makes it more confusing. But I thought she cut herself off or something which made the H sound like an A. Ah well.
I was a bit fuzzy myself, but I just found it on Youtube. Isn't technology great. These internets!
Xander: "Well, you're the expert. Hey, maybe when the Master killed her some... mystical bad guy transference thing happened."

Willow: "That's what it was! I mean, why else would she be acting like such a b-i-t-c-h?"

Giles: "Willow, I think we're all a little too old to be spelling things out."

Xander: "A bitca?"

(from Season Two, "When She Was Bad)
Yeah, Paul Reiser was the first one I can remember using "not so much".

And in searching for it in imdb, I realized it even crept into the show Joss created to distance himself from pop culture:
"Here's how it is: Earth got used up, so we terraformed a whole new galaxy of Earths, some rich and flush with new technologies, some... not so much."
Don't know why, but I always assumed it was some kind of New York Yiddish, already... or something. Yiddish or some other ingredient of the linguistic melting pot. I'm very fondue of the result, at any rate!
For me, it's Paul Reiser's voice I hear when I read the expression.

I have "The Quotable Slayer" referenced in the article, which I have enjoyed. Another good book is Susie Dent's "The Language Report" which is much better than it sounds and has a section on the influence BtVS had/has on the English language.
Best part of the article for me:
Michael Adams, professor of English at Indiana University and author of "Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon."
That means his office is like a thousand yards from me. One of my job perks is one course per semester so I could take hmm (checks quickly) a 600 level History of the English Language... or not.
My husband says he can always tell when I've been rewatching Buffy because of the way I talk. I think he means things like saying "foodage" instead of "dinner"(but I think I picked that one up from Pauly Shore.) I say "or not"or"not so much" all the time, but I never hear anyone else say it, so I didn't know I was being all trendy.
Moreso than 'not so much', the phrase I've attributed to Buffy is 'that thing'. It's used very distinctively, and every time I've heard it elsewhere, it seems copycat-ish. Examples include -

Willow: Great, you made him do that thing where he's gone.

and

Buffy: Yeah. There's just that thing.
Xander: That thing.
Buffy: That thing of not understanding—
Xander: Half of what she says?

and, of course, the time Willow suggested that Buffy 'that thing with your mouth that boys like'.

I honestly don't know if I've heard 'that thing' used in this way so frequently before. It's always stuck out to me.
"One of my job perks is one course per semester so I could take hmm (checks quickly) a 600 level History of the English Language... or not."

Ooooooo. I loved my History of the English Language course... though I think it was probably a 400 level or something...and it was pretty difficult even though I was pretty prepped having been in school as an English major for a few years by then...

Ok. Probably not the best one for jumping into the pool, but boy, would I keep my eyes on his schedule...in a non-stalkerish kind of way.

(History of English really was fun. I miss that stuff.)

On topic: I have no idea where I first heard the phrase "not so much" but it wasn't growing up around my NYC metropolitan area Jewish friends and neighbors...and I still don't remember hearing any of them use it, so I think that theory is suspect.
TVSquad now has a hold of this article:

http://www.tvsquad.com/2006/11/10/buffy-did-not-invent-the-phrase-not-so-much/
I love this watching the development of language thing, and also think it is amusing and endearing how angry people can get about it. (The TVSquad person found the posted article "infuriating.") I'm just kind of glad that other people care about it, too.

It's so neat that we can see this happening under our very noses today, whereas in the past, when folks were so much more geographically confined, and communication slower-developments must have happened so slowly. I'd sure love to take one of those language history courses.

"Not so much" still sounds pretty fresh to me sometimes, like popping out in formal-ish legal settings-it kind of relaxes people a bit, without being some huge, elaborate joke they feel compelled to laugh at.

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