‘Debbie Downer’? Thanks JLo!

The Ox is Slow but the Earth is Patient.

The little older among you will remember when Mick Malthouse, then Eagles’ coach, went all philosophical on us. Loved it. Seemed to help the Eagles at the time.

Now after the game v Richmond on Saturday night, we had Justin Longmuir tossing up ‘Debbie Downer’.

‘To win by 50 points – you don’t want to be a debbie downer, but …

A what? A ‘debbie downer’?

Now, I did a quick demographic sample. Over 60 said ‘a what?’ Under that said ‘Yeah, yeah, a Debbie Downer. Upper case D and D, Poppy. Get with it!’ I thought I was, but apparently not.

So I asked my mate Uncle Vanya at ChatGPT if he could shed any light on it all.

What is a Debbie Downer?’ I asked UV. This is what I learned.

A ‘Debbie Downer’ is a colloquial term used to describe a person who frequently expresses negative or pessimistic views, often bringing down the mood of those around them. This term originated from a character on the television show Saturday Night Live, played by Rachel Dratch, who would often interject gloomy and depressing comments into otherwise happy or neutral conversations.

So then I asked, When did Debbie Downer become a thing?

20 years ago it seems. Here what UV told me. The term ‘Debbie Downer’ became popular after its introduction on Saturday Night Live in 2004. The character, played by Rachel Dratch, first appeared in an episode hosted by Lindsay Lohan on May 1, 2004. The sketch’s success and the character’s memorable impact quickly popularized the term in mainstream culture.

How widely used is Debbie Downer? I asked.

UV – ‘Debbie Downer’ has become a widely recognised term in American pop culture and is often used in everyday language to describe someone who habitually dampens the mood with negative comments. Its usage extends beyond its origin on Saturday Night Live and is commonly found in conversations, social media, and various forms of media. The term’s widespread recognition underscores its integration into the vernacular as a way to succinctly describe a pessimistic or gloomy person.

Still a little disbelieving that all this had passed me by, I asked UV – Is Debbie Downer popular in Australia?

Without missing a beat, UV reported that, the term ‘Debbie Downer’, while originating from American television and widely recognised in the United States, has also found some level of usage in other English-speaking countries, including Australia. However, its popularity in Australia may not be as pervasive as in the U.S. While many Australians are familiar with American pop culture and might understand the reference, the term might not be as commonly used in everyday conversation as it is in the United States. Instead, Australians might have their own colloquial terms for describing a pessimistic or negative person.

What then, I asked UV, do Australians call a pessimistic or negative person in common parlance?

This is what he replied. In Australia, common colloquial terms for a pessimistic or negative person include ‘whinger’ or ‘whingerer’, which refer to someone who constantly complains or whines. Another term used is ‘moaner’, indicating someone who frequently grumbles or complains. These terms capture the idea of someone who habitually brings down the mood with negativity, similar to the American ‘Debbie Downer’.

You live and you learn!

Thanks JLo! Or is that JLO?

By Michael Barker, Editor, Fremantle Shipping News


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