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March 11, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Weekly Rant – Labouring Under False Prententious

It’s not often I have major issues with a word’s callous
application. Wordy nit-picking is the earnest pastime of
baboons with too much time on their hands, but once
in a while I get a buzzy bumblebee in my bonnet when
a word is used inappropriately, like, all the time. What
you’re about to skim read concerns why the consistent
misapplication of ‘pretentious’ really grinds my gearbox.

In 1984 the springbok tour was in full swing, and so
were police batons. Not to stretch the simile, but the
way ‘pretentious’ is used reminds me of that thuggish,
wanton brutality. The word is on the front lines of
a social confrontation that is difficult to define but
noticeable when you’re getting bashed. ‘Pretentious’
has become somewhat of a blue word, adopted by
social conservatives as their AK-47; rugged, versatile.
Any time i come out of my humble short-poppy
foxhole, I expose myself to withering allegations
of pretentiousness. I wear a floral shirt and the
sniper shoots, cutting me down mid-floral stride. So
pretentious. I visit a trendy café and order a long black;
he shoots again, even worse. I claim to like red wine,
he switches to r.p.g. I’m forced to run for cover, back
to my fox-hole. I’m now overtly aware that the humble
poppies who specialise in keeping it real mean business.
They shoot the bourgeoisie on sight.

I guess what irks me so much about people calling
things pretentious is that I just don’t understand it.
(I’ve never liked things I don’t understand: that’s why I
dropped maths after fifth form.) The root of the word’s
meaning is clearly something like ‘pretend’, right? So
if I’m pretentious, I must be pretending to be a certain
way, or of a certain disposition. Acting, if you will. The
classic example would be pretending to like red wine
or enjoy Oscar Wilde. I have excuses for both. Red
wine makes my cheeks warm on cold nights, and Oscar
Wilde was the original Frank Ocean.

If I am pretentious then you should consider that
perhaps I can’t help it. Last thursday I left uni and
headed straight to Aro Café and ordered a slice
of cheesecake beautifully married with a large flat
white. Then I flipped my newspaper open in a show of
nonchalance and sipped, all the while peering over my
paper at plebs walking by. Pretentious bitch, right?

To conclude: go easy, I can’t help it.


Matt White

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