Entitled to an Explanation

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jan 7, 2020

Filed under: Random 176 comments

A couple of weeks ago we ended up discussing the term “entitled” in the comments. This was part of a side discussion regarding “entitled gamers”. Someone noted that entitled seems to be its own opposite. As in:

  1. This fender bender is covered by your auto insurance, therefore you’re entitled to money from the insurance company. (You really do deserve the money.)
  2. You’re an entitled gamer because you’re demanding the developer add additional features that were never promised. (You’re confusing something you want with something you deserve.)

So which is it? Does entitled mean you deserve something, or does it mean you’re acting like you deserve something when you don’t? The answer, of course, is “it depends”, because language is obnoxiously fluid and there’s nothing to stop people from bending words until our language is confused.

I find the mutation of “entitled” to be interesting because I saw it happen during my lifetime. I saw the usage of the word slip subtly over the years. Each individual evolutionary step made sense, but at the end we’d ruined a word.

This process is nothing new, of course. Mental Floss has a list of 25 words that are their own opposites. I’d be very surprised if those were the only words with this problem. Some of the examples are:

  • Dust: If you’re dusting furniture, then you’re removing dust. If you’re dusting something with powdered sugar then you’re adding dust.
  • Seed: If you seed a field, you’re adding seeds. If you seed grapes, then you’re removing them.

When I was young, “entitled” only meant “deserving”.

“He is entitled to a refund.”

Of course, we need to be able to talk about situations where people disagree. Maybe the customer thinks they should be able to get a refund, but the warranty period is long over. The item maybe didn’t live as long as you’d expect, but it lived longer than was promised.

“He’s acting like he’s entitled to a refund.”

So far, so good. Entitled still means “deserving”, and this guy isn’t deservingAt least, according to the letter of the law / contract. If you want to launch a class-action lawsuit against my hypothetical company that’s your business..

Of course, people that behave this way are not rare. If you work in the restaurant business, then you’ll encounter lots of people who act like they’re entitled to things they aren’t. Over time, the phrase got shortened.

“This guy is acting entitled.”

Now we come to the tricky bit. If you’re familiar with the original meaning of the word, then this still makes sense. He’s acting entitled, but he isn’t. However, if you’re a young person and you’re learning words through context, then this is somewhat ambiguous. You might draw the conclusion that “entitled” is the word we use for his behavior. You might think that these statements are equivalent:

This guy is acting hostile.

This guy is acting confused.

This guy is acting entitled.

They seem the same to your young and impressionable ears, but the first two statements are different from the third. The first guy really is hostile. The second really is confused. The third is behaving as if he’s entitled… but he isn’t. The word “acting” is probably part of the problem here, since it can mean roughly “expressing” or “pretending”.

Even Oxford seems to have embraced the new definition where entitled is a behavior instead of the state of deserving something.
Even Oxford seems to have embraced the new definition where entitled is a behavior instead of the state of deserving something.

Over time, a group of young people grow up thinking that entitled is the word we use to describe the behavior of someone who wrongly believes they deserve something. And then we come to the modern day…

“That guy is entitled.”

…and we can’t tell if he’s actually entitled or acting entitled.

When you’re young you sort of take these self-opposite words for granted. We laugh about how dumb and confusing our language is, but it feels like the confusing words have always been there. It’s been interesting to see a new word added to the collection in my lifetime.

I was pretty sure the word “literally” was about to meet the same fate, but I notice its usage has fallen off over the last couple of years. It’s been ages since I saw a young person telling someone they “literally died laughing”. Maybe this word was saved? I don’t know.

It’s a shame that entitled has this dual meaning now. It really does cause a lot of pointless arguments.



[1] At least, according to the letter of the law / contract. If you want to launch a class-action lawsuit against my hypothetical company that’s your business.

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176 thoughts on “Entitled to an Explanation

  1. Wangwang says:

    As a free reader, I am entitled to demand you to talk about The Last Jedi, and Rise of Skywalker, and the current stage of Star Wars.

    1. Thomas Adamson says:

      I thought that the title was implying that that we were entitled to an explanation as to why Shamus hasn’t been posting enough.

    2. tmtvl says:

      Please don’t. There will be no gain here, only loss.

      1. Wangwang says:

        Let me clarify. I don’t ask for a typical review about whether he think the movie is good or bad. What I hope Shamus will do is to offer some inside to why The Last Jedi exploded the way it did. People from both side threw words like “toxic fandom”, “SJW pandering”, “manchild” and “forced diversity” around, but I can’t find anyone who can explain exactly why this movie trigger people so much.

        1. Duffy says:

          I can give you a quasi-short answer: perception and attachment.

          Star Wars is pretty unique, it’s a franchise that’s been built up in three major chunks over 40+ years now. That’s not only multiple generations, that’s multiple levels of quality (or to be more generous in terms “style”). What that means in the end is that he quality of new additions will always be weighed against what Star Wars is to the viewer and when they were introduced to the franchise and how strong their connection to it is. While this is true of all subjective entertainment due to the spread of content creation and it’s variances over the decades SW has more unique audiences with varying levels of connectivity.

          So for example, as someone who grew up wearing out he Original Trilogu VHS tapes, read every EU book til the Vong fiasco ended, and had a strong connection to the nuance of the themes in the OT stuff like lightsaber fights and space battles are just window dressing to the bigger conflicts and themes of the films, their not the main course. That’s why I dislike 75% of the prequel’s content, but love some of the ideas they hinted at (and the cartoons tended to capitalize on). To me the new trilogy was meh (Force Awakens), great (Last Jedi), and then godawful garbage (Rise of Skywalker).

          However let’s say you grew up with the prequels. You’d have a completely different connection to your expectations of Star Wars, more spectacle would be your baseline as well as general ideas of themes versus exploring those ideas over the spectacle. That’s not any less valid, as I said entertainment is subjective, but it’s easy for us to then have two completely different audiences looking at the new films and being displeased for whatever personal reasons.

          On top of all that there’s also just general engagement expectations. Star Wars got huge recently but I think a lot of it is relatively “new” or low engagement fandom. Same with the explosion of superhero movies. We have more fans now that are casually interested versus heavily engaged in the nuance of the content, which will also mess with viewer perception.

          So ultimately what I’m getting at is that SW is in a unique position of having way more audiences than it can reasonably please on one sitting, and the more an individual film tries to appeal to one of those audiences the more it will create backlash in the other audiences. Now there’s still just some basic complaints about filmmaking today in general that play a factor (they had no plan for the new movies and just rushed to capitalize on new property, etc…), but that’s icing on the cake at this point.

          1. Joe Informatico says:

            I agree with this, and will add this corollary. With a franchise as huge as Star Wars is, there’s no way the hardcore fans and deeplore continuity nerds can account for more than a small percentage of the total audience. There’s a huge audience of people who love these films without caring about all the details, and a whole lot of children who engage with the franchise through the toys and cartoons but aren’t old enough to be really nerdy on the same level as the hardcores. So a Star Wars feature film with a $200 million+ budget can’t afford to be too caught up in nerdy lore details at the expense of the story, or it will lose too much of that mainstream audience to be profitable. This is what hurts a lot of recent attempts to build shared cinematic universes to rival the MCU: instead of trying to make 2 or 3 good movies to establish the characters and brand for audiences and then expand, they frontload the initial movies with massive worldbuilding exposition that alienates people. This might be one of the reasons for SOLO’s disappointment as well, but you can’t really blame one thing for what went wrong with SOLO.

            But on the other hand, the hardcore audience are the ones who drive the conversation. They keep the franchise pop-culturally relevant in those years between films (Lucas might not have made the prequels without the positive response to the EU convincing him that people still cared). They do a lot of free advertising for the franchise, something Marvel has leaned on a lot for the MCU, dropping click-baity news every couple of weeks that will lead to endless speculation on social media and in the geek and film press. The problem for LucasFilm–especially now in the age of social media–is that they can’t control the message.

            So the majority of people who see THE LAST JEDI think it’s great or pretty good, and maybe there’s a good portion who thought it was just fine or mediocre or boring as well, but both these groups leave the theatre, don’t register their opinions online, and a few months down the road don’t really think about TLJ unless it’s on TV or pops up on Netflix or whatever. But the hardcore fans who loved or hated it start up a flame war that runs all over the internet, and the geek and film sites pick it up, and the mainstream media picks it up. Because “group of people who are part of thing are divided between Extreme Opinion 1 and Extreme Opinion 2 and you must belong to one or the other” is the mainstream media’s favourite story, because people click on stories about drama and conflict, not nuance. And the mainstream audience starts hearing these stories and thinks there must be something to them, and not just a few thousand people out of tens of millions having a nerd debate. And then LucasFilm has to decide if they need to respond to the hardcores because they’re getting all the press.

        2. Dreadjaws says:

          My own personal belief, as someone who neither loved nor hated TLJ, is that the people who are actively dislike it perceive the movie to be more hostile towards its audience than it really is, and that is a product of a long series of events that have shifted people’s attitude towards Hollywood. Simply put, if TLJ had been exactly like it was but released a decade ago it wouldn’t have generated this much backlash.

          For instance, the whole “forced diversity” thing. Star Wars has always been a franchise full of all kinds of colorful characters, and even though the first two films had mostly white human characters the rest of them and the whole of the expanded universe had major characters of all races. No one batted an eye when they cast them in older movies, TV series or games. But nowadays, with the constant trend of changing characters’ races for no apparent motivation (I’m sure you have noticed how, for instance, most white redhead characters from DC Comics adaptations have been played by black people lately, and more have been hinted at for the future) and even holding casting calls where the race of the actor is the most important point even if the story doesn’t benefit from it, then people start seeing all ocassions of minorities being given prominent roles as stunt casting, whether it actually is the case or not.

          Of course there’s the flip side too, where people who like this movie say that those who complain do it because they’re racist. because they too fall on the same trap of seeing something happen and assuming the worst motive for it. Due to this, both sides are hostile to each other and prefer to pretend that the opposite side is irrational. This isn’t helped by the attitude of the filmmakers, who logically tend to take the side of those who liked the film, but in this particular case also fall in the same trap.

          1. Jordan says:

            “is that the people who are actively dislike it perceive the movie to be more hostile towards its audience than it really is”

            This is really it. As someone who liked it, I’d consider the plot of the film, flaky as it sometimes was, to be very ‘pro star wars fandom’. It ends with Luke asserting that the Jedi will live on, and a rejection of Kylo Ren’s view on ‘killing the past’.

            The bad guy’s stance of ‘the past is bad and you should get rid of it’ is just that, a bad stance. The real message of the film is explained pretty clearly by Yoda, that we should both learn from the past while also not being constrained by it. The failings of Luke or the old Jedi order don’t mean the failings of Rey going forward, etc.

            But the people who disliked the film, seem mostly to have taken away the opposite message despite it being the message of the antagonists rather than the protagonist (Luke switchs from one to the other with the appearance of Yoda).

            Of course you can understand what the film was going for and still dislike it. But I’ve seen a lot of people coming away from it with the exact opposite of both our interpretations of the film and also the director’s own stated interpretation (that Kylo’s view is obviously wrong and that the film is Luke redeeming himself and rising back to the legend we all expect).

            1. Shamus says:

              This is the part of TLJ that I really want to talk about. I think there are several instances where the story itself takes a rhetorical position that the idealism of the older movies is childish / dumb / inappropriate. Or at least, the movie is deeply confused about what it’s trying to say. The author managed to design scenes that cross tropes in a way that acts like an optical illusion where different people will see VERY different things and come to different conclusions about what the movie is saying.

              But whenever you open up the discussion, you get the same old bullshit, “My interpretation of the movie is the correct one, and everything is OBVIOUS, therefore your distaste for the movie is ACTUALLY an expression of your misogyny / racism.” And then the chorus from the Other Side chimes in, claiming that everyone who likes the movie is an “SJW cuck shill”. And then when you point this out, they both chime in with, “Oh yeah, well… the other side is WORSE!”

              Basically: A plague on both their houses. Zealously self-righteous culture warriors ruin everything.

              I suppose I could write about the movie and just swing the banhammer early and often, but that’s still not a lot of fun. :(

              1. Shamus says:

                Also also: To do this topic justice, it really ought to be in video form, because it takes you two paragraphs to describe how the blocking of a shot impacts our perception of it, but two seconds of footage can accomplish the same thing. But posting another TLJ video to YouTube seems insane at this point, and the quality of the discussion there is pretty bad, even by the rock-bottom standards of YouTube.

                1. Jason says:

                  I can’t watch TLJ videos on YouTube anymore (or really, any Star Wars themed videos), unless it’s from a creator that I at least recognize, just because so many of them are now just insane rants. I’d love to see some rational discussions, I just don’t know how to find them.

                  I would watch your video since I know your content and that you would be rational, but I understand why you wouldn’t want to dive into that particular pool.

                  1. Joshua says:

                    I strongly disliked TLJ for a variety of reasons, but 90% of the time when I see a critical review on YouTube that makes some good points INEVITABLY at some point the reviewer drops loaded and/or horrible terms like SJWs, Mary-Sue, “Fat Asian Bitch”, and I just check out.

                    1. Thomas says:

                      I’m in a similar place. Its felt a bit isolating to have the people who share a lot of my opinions on the film, also express ideas that I absolutely recoil from.

                      I even for example don’t really like Rose as a character but because she’s too obviously a meta reference to star wars fans (something the whole sequel trilogy can’t get away from) and because she is part of some of the most confused scenes in TLJ.

                      But then you see people throwing around those words you used, and the harassment the actress gets, and I don’t know what to do with myself anymore. I don’t want to reinforce that.

                    2. Decius says:

                      It’s partly a wise tactical choice.
                      People who want the Rose character to be immune to criticism perform some of (not all of) the worst name-calling, precisely so that they have ready examples that they can accuse moderate criticisms of being dog whistles for.

                      At the same time, people who oppose nuanced characters perform some of (not all of) the most extreme defenses of the character, for precisely the same reason.

                  2. The Puzzler says:

                    Why is everyone still discussing TLJ? I hoped when the next Star Wars came out there’d at least be a new annoying debate for me to avoid, but apparently we’re still stuck on the last one.

                    I’m actually kinda interested reconciling the two main things I’ve heard people say about Rise of Skywalker:
                    (1) It’s a safe crowd-pleaser that goes out of its way to avoid subverting expectations; lacking in originality but giving the fans exactly what they want.
                    (2) Half the audience hated it.
                    I wonder if it’s something to do with the pacing? Shifting rapidly from one scene to another will engage some people and cause others to check out.

                    1. Joshua says:

                      Mainly because of your last comment, it feels like they attempted to squeeze two movies into one movie’s running time, and did so by cutting out sufficient exposition, characterization, tension, genuine humor, foreshadowing, etc.

                      In a way, IMO, they both suffer from Show, Don’t Tell, but in different ways. TLJ has better pacing, but shows one thing and tells another all over the place (see other comments on this thread). TRoS feels like the director is just reading off a checklist of plot points and story beats rather than truly showing them and getting the audience emotionally involved, about the same feeling you’d get from reading the plot synopsis on Wikipedia.

                      In addition, the rushed nature of the movie means that so many narrative shortcuts are employed that the film is filled to the brim with generic cliched tropes as crutches (see entire scene between Poe and Zorri Bliss) and god-awful amounts of plot-holes. I think RLM did a pretty good review on it.

                    2. Wangwang says:

                      People don’t hate Rise of Skywalker. They think it suck but they don’t hate it the way they hate The Last Jedi.
                      Rise of Skywalker is simply incompetent filmmaker, which is bad, but nothing out of ordinary (some people even find it hilariously bad). The Last Jedi actively attack their viewer (according to the people who hate it).

                2. Wangwang says:

                  “But posting another TLJ video to YouTube seems insane at this point, and the quality of the discussion there is pretty bad, even by the rock-bottom standards of YouTube.”

                  Why won’t you just post the videos here, and not on Youtube?

                  1. CloverMan-88 says:

                    Or just disable comments and post a link here? Or are the YouTube troll-people determined enough to migrate here if you do so?

                    1. Joshua says:

                      This is the way to go I think? Why would YouTubers know how to find their way back here? The embedded link would be here going to YouTube, not necessarily anything pointing back to this site.

                3. Shamus: I think that your perception of that is definitely a result of the film’s pacing problems and problems with having a core thesis.

                  Luke and Ren both do such a good job of presenting the problem that needs to be resolved that, despite the fact that the framing obviously indicates we should side with Rey and Leia and the idealists (because they ultimately win both the debate and the battle), Rey doesn’t express her ideology, nor does Leia. We’re supposed to like friendship and hope and stuff because we already do. I like Rey a lot as a character, but a lot of that is due to Daisy Ridley’s performance and a lot of the rest is dialog and action. I still, even as of RoS, have no idea what she cares about, what motivates her, etc. besides “I’m a Star Wars fangirl”. So when MovieBob points out that Luke wins the day by running a movie of Star Wars against the bad guys, he’s right, but it isn’t going to *feel* that way to a lot of the audience. To the point that I agree both with you and with Bob: I can tell you consciously as a writer (and you being a good writer with an eye toward structure can certainly figure it out too because it’s not complicated) what they’re doing and why it’s kind of brilliant on paper, but it doesn’t translate.

                  I want to do a Last Jedi video precisely because it’s so poorly discussed and there’s a complex criticism I have of it that I haven’t seen anyone else express, but it does have the problem of being more noise in the pipeline.

              2. danielfogli says:

                … that cross tropes in a way that acts like an optical illusion where different people will see VERY different things and come to different conclusions about what the movie is saying.

                Maybe that’s what they were going for, trying to please many different audiences, in a confirmation bias-y, horoscope-y way, where each individual will see what they wanted to see and everyone goes home happy with the movie.

                And then it backfired horribl-y.

                1. Joshua says:

                  I think Shamus had a point about the framing being relevant. I think the Poe/Holdo conflict would have been perfectly good to have them both be wrong and therefore that’s the tragedy. This would have been done by leaving things ambiguous for the audience to come to conclusions themselves, but the final framing is that nope, Poe was in the wrong the whole time according to the movie.

                  1. Syal says:

                    Also the Rose scene at the end counters the ambiguity idea pretty well. She makes a statement that sacrificing lives isn’t the way to win*, way at the end where the moral goes. So the movie is deliberately stating Holdo and Rose’s sister are in the wrong for sacrificing themselves.

                    *(she says, having sacrificed herself to stop a guy from sacrificing himself to stop the bad guys, who are now completely unstopped. I was hoping she would actually die there, just to make the scene hit Peak Stupid.)

                    1. Duffy says:

                      The line isn’t about invalidating sacrifice, the line was kinda poorly placed, but that line and the lesson of the film tied back to what Luke does at the end of RotJ: he catches himself acting out of anger and stops because you can’t win by anger, that’s the path to the dark side. Finn was gonna die for no reason because he was acting out of anger and hate, which will ultimately destroy you (in his case in about 5 secs if he hadn’t been moved away). When you couple that with Luke’s ultimate pacifist move at the end of TLJ, fighting without fighting (again a parallel to RotJ where he wins by throwing down his saber and refusing to fight) it’s pretty clear that it’s trying to continue the themes of the RotJ and expand on them.

                      Also note that Poe is the one who calls the retreat at the end that Finn ignores, which was part of his arc about learning to think as a leader and not as a hotshot.

                      I think TLJ was setting up the idea of balance being important to avoid repeating the cyclical pattern of history while also pointing out that you don’t win just because you destroyed something (blowing up superweapons doesn’t stop the evil empire from being the evil empire) you win by protecting and changing people’s minds. Course that wasn’t where the last movie went, instead we started and ended at the same point the OT did just with different characters – nothing really changed. But that’s a whole separate topic and analysis.

                    2. Daimbert says:

                      The problem is that it isn’t clear that Finn is actually acting out of anger and hate there. From at least the perspective of a typical narrative, it would most likely be Finn finally overcoming his basic cowardice and being willing to put his life in danger and even sacrifice it for someone who is not Rey, and so if that’s the interpretation then Rose stopped him from doing the one thing that would complete his arc and is, in fact, a rather stupid line that only says that she loves him and nothing more. And since Rose’s previous characterization including her inflating basic comments into overarching universal comments, that makes sense. Alternatively, Finn was giving in to despair and trying to kill himself. Rose’s line would then be an overwrought way of her giving him something to live for, which again is consistent with the character. And from what I recall of the movie, his acting out of anger and hate is the emotional state LEAST supported by the acting there and the set-up, even if it makes Rose’s line make more sense.

                    3. Joshua says:

                      Kind of responding to Daimbert, since we’re at the nesting limit. It’s not only not clear to the audience that Finn is acting out of anger, it’s not at all evident why Rose would think that this is the issue, and she’s being framed as being in the right in this scene. And that’s not even going into the issue that many had that her actions could have gotten both of them killed immediately, and should have gotten both of them killed almost shortly thereafter by the First Order.

                    4. Decius says:

                      Rose states that Holdo and her sister are wrong in a way. That’s not the movie stating it, it’s the movie having multiple characters.

                      Either Holdo is wrong for sacrificing a sector of the galaxy for a brief tactical advantage, or there was no cascade of lightspeed debris and every space weapons designer that never decided to put a lightspeed engine on a missile is an idiot. Death Star? One volley of lightspeed missiles. Alderaan? A few volleys of lightspeed missiles.

                  2. Joshua: I agree entirely. My head canon is exactly that Holdo was wrong to mistrust Poe, not because she’s wrong about his flaws but because in that context it was stupid to keep such an important thing secret (which to me is almost a plot hole – how the hell are you staging an entire evacuation without it being obvious to either Poe or any one of the mutineers who could have stopped it?), and that Poe was wrong to mistrust Holdo, and both were motivated by stress to make imperfect decisions even though both were heroic people with good intentions and otherwise solid leadership skills.

                    It gets worse because of one of my major criticisms of TLJ: To evaluate everyone’s decisions in the film, we need to know a lot more about the fictional space bullshit of the series. Why does Luke die at the end? To answer that we need to know a lot more about the cost of using Force powers than we do. Similarly, to evaluate Poe and Holdo, we need to understand something about a) the relative value of a dreadnaught versus the bombers and b) the total resources of the fleet left. Poe’s framing, which the film never corrects, seems perfectly reasonable: we traded up by destroying the dreadnaught, destroying it was necessary because as long as it was around we had a very limited clock for survival, so the sacrifices were necessary. For Holdo to be right, Poe here had to be actually wrong. That means that we’re forced to choose between two characters we may ultimately otherwise like (I like both of them a lot), rather than crafting a more ambiguous situation where the two are disagreeing in terms of their perception or worldview or style. (Think Jellico v. Picard/Riker, which does effectively the same thing but very well: we come to like Jellico, while still liking Picard and Riker, and realize that Jellico just has a different style that can work for different people than the crew he’s currently working with).

                    The best framing I can think of is that Holdo concedes that Poe is right, but that Poe’s seems to be way too cavalier with the losses, and right now any more reckless stuff like that won’t cut it, so she needs Poe to back off for a bit and step into the background rather than feel entitled (heh) to command. But that’s pretty complicated in a film that has a ton of moving parts already. TLJ could probably have used a pass for simplification and clarity.

              3. Duffy says:

                The thing I liked the most about it was the bits about the force, it took some common fan and less mainstream ideas (from the cartoon shows and books) and tried to start inserting them in the main canon.

                Plus the entire main philosophical conflict that was the center of TLJ was a great and realistic play on Obi-wan’s ridiculous cop out “from a certain point of view” OT line without literally repeating it and shoving it back in our faces as a callback. It’s also a nice meta reference when you know the production history of the OT and that the famous point of view line was just covering their retcon (that’s one thing that really separates the OT from the newer stuff, waaaay better at integrating contradictory stuff that came before into the new plot)

                I also loved the Snoke throne room scene inverting the RotJ version and showing us what would have been a version where Luke accepted his father’s offer to join him and strike down the Emperor. That was a great framing point to compare and differentiate the current conflict to OT, buttt then it got thrown out in RotS

              4. Daimbert says:

                My overwhelming impression of TLJ is that it is, in fact, utterly ambiguous about anything that’s of any importance, and the discussions I’ve seen just bear that out. I think that Rian Johnson intended some clear messages — that some fans would dislike — but in practice you can pretty much interpret them any way you want because there’s evidence for and against each interpretation. As an example, was Poe’s action in the beginning simply reckless, or was Leia burned out by all the death she’d seen? She clearly acts as if he was completely out of line, but her reaction is out of line — she doesn’t just chew him out, but slaps him, which previously she didn’t even do to HAN — and right before that she was watching the deaths with a morose and not really angry look. I think Johnson meant the former, but you can easily interpret it as the latter.

                So it seems like it’s an issue of how it was implemented, not in what they were trying to do.

                1. krellen says:

                  What if they were both out of line?

                  1. Daimbert says:

                    That’s a possible interpretation as well, but then you run into the narrative problem of us watching two idiots do stupid things at each other while implying that the other side is the one that’s wrong, without the movie making that explicit. At most, we have cases where each side implies that the other one isn’t completely wrong, but no case where they admit to each other that they were both wrong in that case. It’s kinda like Chuck Sonnenberg’s comments on Kirk in general: Kirk is a flawed man, but when confronted with that he admits his flaws. Neither side here really admits their flaws, at least not openly, and that’s what would be necessary to conclude an arc where both sides were in the wrong.

                    1. Joshua says:

                      Good point!

                    2. Decius says:

                      “Idiots doing stupid things at each other, implying that the other side is wrong, without the movie making that explicit” describes every mainline Star Wars movie.

                      Almost literally every scene of every mainline Star Wars movie.

                2. Dreadjaws says:

                  Indeed. One of my criticisms of the film is that they keep showing both sides of an argument acting recklessly but the film insist on taking sides and expects the audience to accept it. It’s clearly easy for some people to headcanon some explanations, but others find it difficult. And then “trust in the author” syndrome starts to kick in and the audiences start to split even harder.

                3. Joshua says:

                  It’s not often mentioned, but one thing that confused me early on was that Poe deliberately ignores Leia’s explicit order, takes down the defenses, and then suddenly the bombers show up. At the time, I was thinking “Ok, I guess Leia’s ok with the bombing run now that Poe took down the defenses? I’m not sure where the movie is going with this.”

                  But then you find out that no, Leia wasn’t ok with the bombing run at all, yet she didn’t order the bombers to withdraw despite previous films explicitly showing command ships being able to communicate with individual fighters. That was the point I really wasn’t sure to make of what the film was showing me.

              5. Asdasd says:

                I don’t think it’s that hard to find criticism of TLJ that’s insightful and doesn’t degenerate into bigoted ranting. Just last week I read this from Bret Deveraux, for instance, which I thought was a very thorough explanation of some of the movie’s worst sins – which are all to do with plot incoherence and tone and nothing to do with angry man-rants.

                Of course, if you go digging in dumps you’ll find plenty of toxic waste.

                1. Duffy says:

                  I agree with most of that article except one bit that I think is super important: Obi-wan and Yoda were flawed teachers and Luke demonstrated through his own actions at least twice in the OT that they were completely wrong about how things would go. The first is when Luke goes to Bespin (“must complete your training” section) to save his friends and the second was when he says he won’t kill his father (“then the emperor had already won” section). Luke’s whole arc isn’t about following your teachers, it’s about maintaining Hope despite what your up against.

                  Now in TLJ you couple that with Luke’s little tirade about the Jedi being arrogant pricks that think they own the Force instead of it being an all encompassing thing and Yoda’s bit in TLJ is reminding Luke of falling to arrogance himself and helping him accept his self-doubt/failure – which restore Luke’s lost hope so he can pull his savior force projection move and inspire Hope in the resistance which would then spread (well if that bit wasn’t abandoned in RoS)

                2. Joshua says:

                  Really good article, thanks for sharing.

              6. Lino says:

                For the record, I think you should avoid talking about TLJ. Not only will you probably not dissuade any of the extreme opinions, but more importantly – it will sour the entire conversation on this blog.

                Let’s take a hypothetical example. Let’s say there’s a group of people who really, really like wearing pointy hats. They think they’re the most amazing thing ever, and the benefits to wearing them should be self-evident.

                However, there’s this other group that despises pointy hats. To them, pointy hats should be eradicated from the face of the Earth, and the reasons for it are blatantly yobvious.

                Whenever these two groups meet on the internet, we get these all-encompassing flame wars that you’re so (rightfully) keen on avoiding. As you yourself have just said, if you do a piece about TLJ, no matter how well-argued it is, we’ll inevitably have this sort of “discussion” in the comment section. The problem this brings is that even if you delete all the people who overstep the line, we’ll inevitably see which of the regular commenters are pointy-hat wearers and which of them aren’t.

                And that brings us to how this will sour future discussions. Imagine that your Last Jedi post goes well – the regulars are well mannered, while you keep your hand on the wheel, and curb any arguments that go over the line. You lock the comments after a day or two. However, no matter how polite the discussion seems, now everybody knows which side of the culture war everybody stands on. There’s just so much you can do to keep your position secret and neutral…

                So, you do your next post, and people start commenting on it. However, all the cards have already been laid out – now we know who likes pointy hats and who doesn’t. As a pointy-hat-hater, once regular commenter “Joe Shmoe” knows fellow regular commenter “Bro Pro” is a pointy-hat-wearer, it’ll paint his entire perception of “Bro Pro”, as well as any future opinions he expresses. Even if “Bro Pro” comments something innocuous on your new, unrelated post, “Joe Shmoe” will inevitably react with some amount of hostility (after all, this opinion is just a front for the agenda “Bro Pro” is pushing!), which could prompt “Bro Pro” (or one of his fellow pointy-hat-wearers) to jump to his defense, prompting the pointy-hat-haters to respond in kind. This will inevitably start a downward spiral into what most communities currently are – a bunch of angry and/or passive-aggressive people making a fuss over trivial things, always talking past each other, shitting in the pool so that no one else wants to get in.

                So, if you’re still considering it, I strongly suggest you to not risk writing about it.

                I may be wrong, of course, we’re only human. But I’ve seen enough communities burn out over pointless flame wars – some did so in a blazing inferno, while others took months to simmer into the cesspits they are now. And in all cases, I’ve always thought what it could be, had it nonsense been avoided.

                1. Wangwang says:

                  Yeah. Maybe Shamus shouldn’t do it. It sure isn’t worth it.

                2. BlueHorus says:


                  Yeah, I get what you’re saying. Thing is, I’m pretty certain there are regular posters here that have very different political views from me, going by some of their posts that people have let slip their opinions…and I don’t really care, given that mostly they act responsibly and respectfully.

                  TLDR: I’d question how inevitable it is that knowing others’ political opinions would lead to simmering dislike here.
                  Though I get your point and see that it’s a possibility.

                  1. Mikko Lukkarinen says:



                    1. Wangwang says:


                    2. BlueHorus says:


                3. Joshua says:

                  I think this conversation has been really civil, and I actually learned some useful information from the pro-TLJ people, which I think were under-represented.

              7. methermeneus says:

                Specifically on the multiple views of the same scene thing, I kinda thought that was intentional? I mean, the Rashomon scene seemed pretty on the nose.

            2. Felix Jones says:

              My response to this is that I don’t care what the intentions of the filmmakers were, it’s not a very entertaining movie.

              The Plinkett review is cogent, as usual. If you hired someone to mow your lawn and they threw bags of toxic waste everywhere instead, that would really “subvert your expectations.” If they followed up by admitting that what they did was wrong and performing the expected job was what they should have done all along, so what? You’re still covered in toxic waste.

              Telling people “you didn’t get it” while you dump on something they love is patronizing and pointless.

              1. Wangwang says:

                I am one of the people that don’t get it. However, your analogy is not very accurate.
                “Mow your lawn” is a specific job. The equivalent of it would be “Make a Star Wars movie that is exactly like The Empire Strike Back, only with different characters”.
                The Last Jedi situation is more like ‘Make a garden that the entire city will love, order by the Mayor. And Rian Johnson proceed to make a Halloween theme garden, in the middle of December’.
                Obviously, some people would love it, while some other would find it atrocious.

                1. Dreadjaws says:

                  That analogy is not for the filmmakers. It’s actually directed to the fans who defend the film by saying that “it subverted expectations”, as if that was enough for a story to qualify as good. “Subverting expectations” on its own is nothing, neither good nor bad. It has to be taken in context and analyzed how well it works. The Empire Strikes Back did it well in the scene where Vader reveals he’s Luke’s father. We absolutely weren’t expecting it but the reveal worked extremely well. Signs does it bad when it reveals the aliens are allergic to water. Yeah, our expectations were subverted alright, because we would have never expected aliens that are allergic to water to invade a planet that’s covered in it.

                  And, by the way, I haven’t heard the word “subverting” in my entire life as much as I heard it about a week after the release of the film. It’s quite evident that it became one of those stock phrases people pick up to defend a film because they think it’s enough to shut the naysayers up and many people just repeat it without even bothering to see if it’s true or if they know what it means. Naturally, people who attack the film have picked up some stock phrases of their own like “Rey is a Mary Sue”.

                  1. Joshua says:

                    I would argue that the better comparison is The Sixth Sense. In general, the consensus is that most people were surprised by the twist and therefore what the film was about, but could then reexamine the entire movie and see that it had been building up to this point all along. As in Signs, like you mentioned, he’s been much less successful with this ever since.

                    I think the “Rey is a Mary Sue” argument is the new “Jar-Jar ruined the Phantom Menace”. Whether or not you believe it’s true, Rey’s powers in are at the bottom of the list of problems in the film.

            3. Wangwang says:

              I think people react badly to Kylo’s stance, despite him being the antagonist, is because it remind them of the purge of the Expanded Universe.

            4. Joshua says:

              “The bad guy’s stance of ‘the past is bad and you should get rid of it’ is just that, a bad stance.”

              Just speculating, but I think that introducing a thesis statement that’s meant to be proven wrong is really hard to do in a movie, unless the movie explicitly makes a point of disproving that, especially almost immediately thereafter (think of the villain uttering a lesson that is immediately repudiated by the hero). I can also see it being done if it’s being espoused by the main character and the audience can see that they’re wrong, such as a protagonist promoting the Pick-Up culture, and the audience can see it actually makes them miserable.

              But it’s not just Kylo Ren espousing the moral of letting the past die, Luke is pretty much doing it too, so it’s easy to see why it can interpreted as a correct theory of the movie (and many fans of the movie specifically like that the idea was to go to new places, lending weight to the theme).

              I also don’t think there’s really good refutation of “No, your idea of burying the past is wrong” in the film.

            5. Dreadjaws says:

              “is that the people who are actively dislike it”

              Jesus, I just realized what an awful grammatical horror I put there.

              Anyway, yes. It’s a sad state of affairs, but people tend to interpret messages they personally dislike as the filmmakers themselves having that particular opinion, even if the film is actively trying to show that message is wrong. This is why so many movies now have to start with a disclaimer showing that they don’t necessarily hold the same views of the fictional characters within.

              Of course, all of this is diluted by the director, producer, and a few actors pretending that every complaint about the film is made by raging fanboys. To this day I haven’t seen any of them try to calm down the waters by saying that people are simply misinterpreting the film, they’re all name-calling the fans and refusing to address legitimate concerns about the film’s story. The press is of no help either. This whole situation could have been avoided almost entirely if the “professionals” weren’t acting exactly like the people they’re decrying.

              1. Joshua says:

                Holy cow, one simple explanation from Johnson after the film saying “Guys, please don’t take We must bury the past as the message of the film, that’s the message we were attempting to subvert and show that there’s more nuance to” could possibly have done wonders for the acrimony.

          2. Joshua says:

            “the people who are actively dislike it perceive the movie to be more hostile towards its audience than it really is”

            I think one of the starting issues was the infamous picture of Rian Johnson stating “Your Snoke theory sucks”. And then in the movie Snoke is dispatched anticlimactically. Before that, there’s the other infamous “My parents were nobody” line*. Whether intended or not, these points really came across as a Take That! to some of the audience. I would hardly call myself a big SW fan of any kind (I haven’t really played KOTOR or watched a single episode of The Mandalorian), and it made me uncomfortable in the same sense of being in the same room as someone getting verbally admonished.

            I also think Rian Johnson can be really, really sloppy with his themes and how they intersect with his story points. I haven’t seen previous films like Brick or Looper, but I got the same impression from watching Knives Out, which was more enjoyable to me since it didn’t convey the same sense of attacking someone (fans or previous writers). I came out of both movies with different conclusions than it seems Johnson had intended, because the story details sometimes contradict the intended themes.

            * I really, really disliked this line. I think it was personally a good idea to try to make Rey not related to any of the other characters, but the line itself came across as really smugly written to me. Rey is not interested in who her parents are, she’s interested in trying to find where they are and why they abandoned her. She’s not the one trying to tie her lineage to some famous Jedi Master, that’s the fandom. So, for her to admit “They were nobody” came across as very meta to me, and a jab at the fans. I think it would have been better for her to find out on her own (not from Kylo Ren) that they sold her for drinking money and for her to come to terms with that, letting the audience conclude on their own that who her parents were didn’t matter.

            1. Wangwang says:

              “I think it was personally a good idea to try to make Rey not related to any of the other characters, but the line itself came across as really smugly written to me. Rey is not interested in who her parents are, she’s interested in trying to find where they are and why they abandoned her. She’s not the one trying to tie her lineage to some famous Jedi Master, that’s the fandom. So, for her to admit “They were nobody” came across as very meta to me, and a jab at the fans”

              I can’t like this enough.

            2. Dreadjaws says:

              I really, really disliked this line. I think it was personally a good idea to try to make Rey not related to any of the other characters, but the line itself came across as really smugly written to me. Rey is not interested in who her parents are, she’s interested in trying to find where they are and why they abandoned her. She’s not the one trying to tie her lineage to some famous Jedi Master, that’s the fandom. So, for her to admit “They were nobody” came across as very meta to me, and a jab at the fans. I think it would have been better for her to find out on her own (not from Kylo Ren) that they sold her for drinking money and for her to come to terms with that, letting the audience conclude on their own that who her parents were didn’t matter.

              Indeed. Another problem with that line is the way it’s delivered. The proper way would have been to have her investigate or at least have Kylo showing them some images. Instead he just goes and says the line. It has no impact.

              Look, for instance, at the beginning of Jurassic Park. Dr. Grant and company are traveling in a jeep on a field and then we see the jeep stop, a close-up of Grant looking at the side with a surprised look and signaling his companions, who get equally surprised. Then we get the wide revealing shot of the brachiosaurus, set to the amazing score by John Williams, the charactes reacting further and a faraway shot of the field showing more dinosaurs, as Hammond says “Welcome… to Jurassic Park”.

              Now imagine if that scene had ended with Grant’s close-up and then was followed by all the characters sitting at a table, with Grant saying “Wow, I can’t believe we just saw real dinosaurs there, and they’re huge!”. Everything that makes that scene emotional and impactful is removed. That’s just sloppy storytelling.

            3. Ninety-Three says:

              She’s not the one trying to tie her lineage to some famous Jedi Master, that’s the fandom. So, for her to admit “They were nobody” came across as very meta to me, and a jab at the fans.

              Half agree. Things like “They were nobody” and Snoke’s unceremonious death do come across as meta jabs to me, not at the fans, but at J.J. Abrams and his stupid mystery boxes. We know since Lost that Abrams is really fond of inventing mysteries that get the fans wondering what’s going on without actually coming up with an answer to the mystery. That’s why your Snoke theory sucks, there is no answer, only a hastily scrawled “todo: figure out cool origin story for Snoke”.

              I can’t help but view TLJ as a deliberate rejection of that style of storytelling, Johnson trying to swerve away from Abrams’ direction. It’s a shame the movie was kind of dumb when the time came to do its own thing, otherwise I could really appreciate it tearing down Abrams.

              1. galacticplumber says:

                J.J.’s problem isn’t that he uses mystery boxes. It’s that he doesn’t put anything in them. The way to fix this is not to point at it and ridicule. It’s to PUT SOMETHING IN THEM. Don’t place mocking someone over making a good movie.

        3. Moridin says:

          That would be even worse.

        4. Laserhawk says:

          Lets start with the basics. The Force Awakens was meant to be a retelling of A New Hope, more or less. The original trilogy had a heroic trio (Luke, Han, and Leia) with a few sidekicks and mentors. (R2D2, C3PO, Chewbacca, Obi Wan, Yoda and so forth.) Because of this, Luke, Han and Leia all got moments of badassery and heroics during the story. It was fundamentally important to the story structure that they all had their moments. However, in The Force Awakens, Poe’s screen time was cut drastically short so he almost never says or does anything. Finn was treated like a comedic sidekick rather than a fellow hero (contrast the end of the Force Awakens where Finn tries to help Rei and gets cut down, vs. A New Hope where Han saves Luke’s life.) Virtually all heroic scenes in that film belonged to Rei, which is problematic because of her lack of a story arc.

          In the original trilogy, Luke’s character arc partially revolved around how he started out as a wimp and had to grow into a state where he was truly powerful (note how in A New Hope he got beat up by a Tusken Raider). That is why the lure of the Darkside, a fast path to power, was meaningful. Even if Luke himself never fell, it still gave context to Vader’s fall. In TFA, Rei basically learns how to do everything instantly and has no real growth at all. You could hypothetically still make a good story with such a character, but the writers didn’t really bother to give her some other kind of character arc to replace the loss of the Competence Growth arc. This means the movie almost entirely focuses on a boring narrative about a boring character who, coincidentally, also has a much narrower emotional range than Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) did.

          Quite frankly, the problem is not that these characters are “diverse.” It’s the lack of basic storytelling competence. John Boyega’s character Finn, for example, should have had more screen time and development in The Last Jedi and Rise of the Skywalker. Poe should have had more moments of competence in The Last Jedi instead of having it revealed that all his effort sabotaged a superior’s plans. They should have felt more like a trio of heroes. Instead, virtually all of the focus is on a character with no story arc. And because she comes off as being perfect without effort or personality, and is female, this tends to lead a lot of critics to blame feminism and Kathleen Kennedy as the source of the problems.

        5. Wangwang: Well, there were outright disingenuous political actors who knew they could use it as a Trojan Horse, but since this is a site that tries to keep political discussion contained, let’s put those folks aside.

          Last Jedi is flawed. I think it’s a great film, especially now having compared it with RoS, but I can see that the flaws can make people viscerally bothered. Both Empire and Last Jedi don’t actually have all that much happen in the narrative/meta-narrative in terms of actual events, but Empire seems to empirically do a better job of covering that up. Luke’s training with Rey has a ton of great stuff in it, but it misses that kind of exalted, transcendental feeling that one had from training with Yoda, and in my mind lacks a thesis statement about the nature of the Force. In other words: People will be quoting “Luminous beings are we” and “Do or do not, there is no try” till the heat death of the universe, but Luke’s training, interesting as it is, isn’t going to be quoted on posters and T-shirts.

          Once people already have a visceral response to the movie (and I did, and it was highly mixed), they’re vulnerable to a politicized explanation. So both problems become active simultaneously. “This movie was boring because of political pandering”, if actually true, can bother *even the people who agree with the politics of a movie*. I don’t like being preached at even by ideas I agree with, because I start wondering, “What’s the point here? I already agree with you, you’re not convincing me of anything new, and I doubt you’ll convince the audience”. I would actually much rather have a film suggest an idea I don’t agree with in an interesting and novel way than just blandly repeat what I like. And, of course, when people are arguing that a property seems politicized to people who don’t think it is, it can come off to that latter group as if it is in bad faith (arguing “The politics are bad” not “The film fails to present its politics well”, which are two separate criticisms that can sound identical in the hands of most people writing in less than 260 characters). Once some people are using the film as a battleground for other ideas, the film itself becomes very difficult to talk about. People like MovieBob, Folding Ideas, etc. have to be careful about when and where they discuss films like Ghostbusters or Last Jedi, because they don’t want to amplify ideas they despise by providing otherwise-valid criticism. (The efforts by many to be more careful in terms of criticizing Twilight and 50 Shades is another example of that trend: if a criticism you make is going to sound like lazy sexism because it was made by lazy sexists, you actually have to find a way of communicating it differently or else you are communicating poorly).

          Last Jedi is frustrating to me precisely because I can’t put it into a box and process it easily. Some of the things it does well are transcendentally good. The last scene with Luke is one of my favorite scenes in the entire canon. Ren’s ideological development has the potential to be as interesting as Kreia from KoToR 2. There’s great stuff in there.

          In retrospect, I think Last Jedi is a masterpiece at doing what it was supposed to do: rip the Band-Aid off, kill the past, etc. Not to say “Star Wars is bad” but “We can’t stagnate, we need to move forward”. It’s moot when the next filmmaker can’t outgrow their own nostalgia, but they tried.

      2. Distec says:

        This is the usual refrain. But given how previous conversations on hot topics have gone here, I actually have faith that it would be more interesting than painful, and the discussions in the comments offering more light than heat.

        There would still be rough corners and an occasional bad actor, which is enough justification for Shamus to spare himself the moderating duties. But I wouldn’t expect a shitshow.

        At this point, a critique of nu Star Wars in general may be more productive than analyzing any specific film, though. People may be pro or anti-TLJ, but the consensus after ROS does seem to be that the whole thing was – at minimum – a missed opportunity.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          The caution around here is based around a comments section getting miserable a year or two ago when the topic came up, and that was just based on Shamus saying “I’m thinking of writing about TLJ”.

          1. Distec says:

            I recall that incident as well. The thermostat definitely kicked up a notch or two, but I didn’t see anything all that bad (IMO), and I’m not sure it was a great predictor of a future flame war.

            Of course, I am a jaded long-time Netizen who has inhabited various briar patches over the years, and I’ve never had moderator responsibilities. Being set to ‘Low Simmer’ is practically utopian compared to what I’ve grown accustomed to.

        2. BlueHorus says:

          Yeah. The arguments I saw here seemed relatively tame to me, and I’d like to see Shamus’s opinions on the new Star Wars films regardless. He can always disable all comments when he puts up the article.
          Buuut, it’s his website and I’m not the one who has to read through all the comments and moderate it…

          And as a non-Patreon supporter of Shamus’s* I’m fully aware that I’m entitled to nothing form him, so all I can do is ask.

          *Huh. A Patreon non-supporter? A non-Patreon? Not a Patreon? Not a Patron? Wow, that website name really confuses the conjugation for me.
          Whatever, you know what I mean regardless.

          1. Asdasd says:

            A Nay-tron

          2. Duoae says:

            I think, even a patron may be entitled to nothing because they’re patronising (another word with multiple meanings) for the express purpose to let shamus do as he is wont to do… though maybe that’s just me.

            1. Erik says:

              As a patron, that’s certainly how I see it. What I’m entitled to (heh) is what it says on the Patreon page: seeing any locked posts (all 7 of them over the last 5+ years), and my name in the credits of the videos. That’s it. I don’t get to control, veto, or even influence Shamus’s writing (at least, no influence more than any other voice in the comments). I consider it similar to subscribing to a magazine – I’m supporting it, but get no say about its contents.

              Just realizing how long I’ve been doing it – Shamus was one of the first two people I Patreonized on the day I signed up, which was very early on in Patreon’s existence. (Can no longer remember if seeing his Patreon triggered it, or someone else’s, but it was definitely on the first day.) And I’ve not regretted it for a moment. Here’s to another decade of great reading.

        3. Biggus Rickus says:

          I never saw TLJ because TFA didn’t really make me all that interested in it. As the movie washed over me in the theater, it was fine. Thinking about it later, the characters didn’t really do much for me and everything felt too rushed. That lack of room to breathe is partly why the characters didn’t do much for me. On top of that, the First Order/Republic/Resistance dynamic made absolutely no sense. I expect that TLJ was not good, but I don’t think anything operating within that newly minted universe could have been good. Maybe it could have been better or worse than it was, but it seemed doomed from the beginning.

          1. Joshua says:

            If you had a complaint about “lack of room to breathe” previously, you really won’t like The Rise of Skywalker.

            1. Thomas says:

              Haha, I was thinking exactly this!

          2. Liessa says:

            Same here, so I can’t comment on the last two movies. What I do find odd, as a casual observer, is the way different parts of the trilogy seem to have been handed out to different writers and directors. Just… why would you do that? Surely you’d expect a trilogy like this to be carefully planned in advance to ensure consistency of plot, themes, characterisation etc.?

            1. Mistwraithe says:

              This. Not so much the different writers and directors actually, but I would have expected the overall arc for the next X Star Wars movies to have been clearly planned out. Marvel set the benchmark for this with their arc up to the Infinity Wars. I’m sure it has its critics but overall I thought the arc was marvelous, certainly head and shoulders above the competition.

              In comparison the new Star Wars trilogy seemed to be getting made up as it went along with no goal beyond “lets make more movies like the OT Star Wars movies”. Such a missed opportunity.

            2. Joshua says:

              I’ve said this many times before, but on top of lack of planning, why on earth would you pick J.J. “comes up with mysteries that he dumps in other writers’ laps to solve” Abrams to start the trilogy, followed by Rian “All expectations must be subverted” Johnson?!?

            3. Biggus Rickus says:

              Agreed. Going into the trilogy without an overarching vision for the story is puzzling. I get that Lucas didn’t have a plan for the originals. He was just trying to make a weird space movie based on serials in 1977. However, it’s a huge franchise now run by a corporation who owns the company that proved these serialized movies can be a cash cow for years to come. It just seems like horrible mismanagement of a property.

          3. Kathryn says:

            Yep, same here. Probably never going to bother watching the other two movies.

          4. Syal says:

            I actually skipped Force Awakens, saw The Last Jedi, and liked it enough to go back and watch Force Awakens, which… existed.

            But I’m not much of a Star Wars fan, and a lot more of a Dune fan, where this book’s heroes are the next book’s villains.

            1. Joshua says:

              Here’s a great review that states that TLJ is much more enjoyable if you treat it as a standalone film, instead of as a sequel to the original trilogy. https://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/39260/reviews/the-last-jedi-a-reflection-and-a-critique

              For example, Luke’s treatment works better if it’s a new character you’ve never met, rather than a fan-favorite character from an existing story.

              I’d add that I think it does work better if you ignore TFA as well (or haven’t seen it like you), as you’d therefore lose that sense of deliberate contradiction.

              1. Syal says:

                I also had the benefit of seeing stupid stuff like Laser Battleaxes and going “I guess they introduced those in the last movie.”

                But I liked the take on Luke, because it’s basically the take Dune has on Paul and Leto. Today’s victory isn’t everlasting, and one day you realize it.

          5. Moridin says:

            I actually liked TFA. It had it’s problems, but overall it felt very Star Wars-y.

            On the other hand, TLJ was horrible, which I blame entirely on Johnson.

      3. tmtvl says:

        To clarify, the Star Wars sequels fall into the same black hole as the Witcher for me: I’m not interested. I haven’t been interested since the start, and I’ll never be interested. Though unlike the Witcher I won’t go out of my way to avoid content discussing the SWST. But as apathetic as I am about it, I still don’t care for the vitriolic flamewars that follow in it’s wake.

    3. Nimrandir says:

      You know, I haven’t seen a Star Wars movie since Attack of the Clones. Somehow, I have yet to determine what happens in any of the movies since then, despite following tons of conversations about them. Heck, I read just about everything in this comment thread, and I still don’t feel spoiled.

      A tidbit — do with it what you will.

      1. Zekiel says:

        Well if it helps, the only way is up from Attack of the Clones!

    4. Wangwang says:


  2. Grimwear says:

    I’ll be honest I’ve never heard of someone “seeding grapes”. I googled but all I found were results about grape seed or comparisons between seeded and seedless grapes.

    Edit: Nevermind I had to google “to seed grapes” and I got a top result of someone asking how to properly seed (remove) them. All other results were back to talking about growing seedless grapes again.

    1. Biggus Rickus says:

      I don’t come from Shamus’ fancy background, so seeding watermelons would have been my example. I’ve also seen de-seed used, but less commonly.

    2. Jason says:

      I have mistakenly bought “seeded” grapes, thinking they had the seeds removed. I was wrong. It meant they had seeds. I should have bought “seedless” grapes.

      However, “pitted” olives have had the pits removed.

      “Inflammable means flammable? What a country!”

  3. vukodlak says:

    These are auto-antonyms, and they’re not that rare. Wikipedia has a nice list of them, and indeed, it does appear like Shamus’s explanation for how they come to pass is more or less spot on. May favourite is ‘to table’ something, which can have completely opposite meanings even within the same exact environment. E.g. in a business meeting, one could table a motion (propose) or table a proposal (meaning to discuss it later on). I can’t see why this might be confusing :D

    1. Ander says:

      In certain formal contexts, “to table” can mean to never discuss again. Yay!

      1. Jabrwock says:

        What? Another opposite I guess. To table something used to mean to bring it to the table for discussion. To “shelve” it meant to never talk about it again.

        1. Karma The Alligator says:

          Yeah, that’s what I’m used to. Never heard “to table” with the meaning of “never discussing it”.

          1. aradinfinity says:

            I think I’ve heard “let’s table that for now” to mean “let’s talk about something else but keep this in mind;” I’m not sure if I’ve heard “to table” as “to propose.”

          2. Ander says:

            In the US Congress, a motion to table is a motion to permanently kill debate on a discussion.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              Meanwhile, if you’re at Ikea and are overly formal with your roommates, a motion to table is a completely different thing.

      2. Philadelphus says:

        I’ve heard it’s different in the U.S. (table means “never discuss again”) vs. the U.K. (table means “bring up for discussion).

        Apocryphally, this caused some confusion back in WW II when the British wanted to table (bring up) something important with their American allies, who couldn’t understand why they wanted to table (never again discuss) something so important.

        1. Ander says:

          That’s interesting. Thanks for sharing.

        2. Liessa says:

          I’ve heard that as well, and it fits with my own experience. Living in the UK, I’ve never heard anyone use it in any other sense than ‘bring up for discussion’.

        3. Nimrandir says:

          Weird. In our faculty meetings, we regularly bring up business items, then specifically table them for voting at the next meeting.

          I must confess that I have never read Robert’s rules, so I can’t say for certain how the verbs are supposed to function.

        4. Jabrwock says:

          Well that explains it, I’m from Canada.

  4. Asdasd says:

    Gotta love an auto-antonym!

    This is how I understood the progression: in the beginning, you could have an entitlement (legitimate), or you could have a false sense of entitlement (illegitimate). Where I live the latter was the accepted antonym of the former, but as a noun-phrase was kind of unwieldy.

    Over time people began to use ‘sense of entitlement’ instead, because while less precisely descriptive, the distinction between an entitlement (legitimate) and a mere sense of entitlement (illegitimate) is still kind of implicit.

    Once this definition was established it was only a matter of time before people began shortening ‘sense of entitlement’ to simply ‘entitlement’, because the significance of the first two words is only apparent if you’re actively parsing out every word in a sentence, which isn’t what people do because it slows communication down hugely – if we skate along the surface of our signifiers we can make tremendous time savings. Thus the meaning of ‘entitlement’ bled into its antonym. We get by using context to understand which of the meanings is, er, meant.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      And it certainly doesn’t help when big business is ACTIVELY leaning on the language for their own ends.

  5. Dan Efran says:

    Actually, you’ve skipped over a big part of this story: Originally there was a separate word for “feeling entitled to something but not objectively deserving it.” The word was self-entitled.
    I think the new usage of “entitled” is a shortening of “self-entitled” rather than a shortening of the phrase “acting entitled” as you suggest. Or perhaps some of both: by now there may be people who were never familiar with the hyphenated version. (Maybe even you, Shamus, since you didn’t mention it? But you’re about my age, so I’d expect you to remember it.)
    The fix for the present state of confusion is to reintroduce “self-entitled“. Start saying “self-entitled gamers” when that’s what you mean. Maybe it’ll catch on.

  6. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I think the phrase “self-entitled” should fit in there somewhere. Entitled can also be a very, where in you grant a right or claim to someone. Someone who is “self-entitled” grants rights/claims to themselves, ie, acts like they deserve things that the other party has not agreed to give them. After a while, the “self” part gets dropped.

  7. Joshua says:

    Can’t believe the whole “X Politician is referring to Social Security as an Entitlement, HOW DARE THEY!” meme that routinely pops up on Facebook and other social media wasn’t mentioned. Social Security and Medicare are called Entitlements…because certain people are legally entitled to them.

    Edit. Yes, slightly political, but I’ve seen this message (erroneously) posted about politicians on both sides of the aisle, so it’s really more of a propaganda thing than a right vs. left thing.

    1. Ander says:

      Morally vs legally entitled. Dropping that distinction and thus argument might be the best thing to come out of the mutation Shamus is talking about.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      There’s a similar usage in British politcs, about the class system – i.e ‘[Political figure/person] is a perfect example of Entitlement’ – the argument being that due to their upbringing and social status they’ve had opportunities that the rest of the UK can only dream of.
      And ‘entitled’ is technically correct, because in the UK it’s perfectly possible to inherit a title via birth (Lord, Lady, Sir, Dame etc), or be granted one.

      Also a fun little fact about the etymology of the word!

      (Yikes, there goes that No Politics line. I’m going to try and hide behind ‘I’m just describng the phenomenon and not expressing an opinion or looking for a fight’ and hope that’s good enough. I’m sure Shamus’ll delete the post if needed.
      One might even say he’s entitled to do so!)

      1. Joshua says:

        That damn Shamus, always feeling entitled to delete a post if he doesn’t want to see it on his blog.

      2. Michael says:

        Entitlement in the sense of being entitled to something is related to titles of nobility, but indirectly. I believe the development of the sense goes

        1. Entitled = holding a title. (“Duke”) Here you’re not entitled to anything; you’re just entitled.

        2. Now we’re talking about holding the title to some land. You used to do this by being the feudal lord associated with the land, but when property became alienable, the title to land just meant ownership, not an actual title of nobility.

        3. Then you get being metaphorically “entitled” to anything, by analogy to how holding the title to land means you own that land.

  8. Christian wolfe says:

    Hey shamus. Long time reader first time commenter.

    This is a good piece on a topic I think a lot about. I also think there is another component/factor that leads to a lot of the toxicity surrounding words like “entitled”.

    As this piece points out, the word now has a second, newish, opposite definition. The second factor is that the original definition has not yet become obsolete, as often happens with some words. You can still find people using both meanings in completely valid ways.

    This leads to the current situation (as far as I see it), where someone writes a “gamers are entitled” piece that uses the newer definition, people in the comments argue back using the original definition, and after a while it becomes impossible to tell whether everyone involved in the discourse is sincere but talking past each other, or whether some parties involved are acting in bad faith.

    1. Chad Miller says:

      I don’t think those kinds of arguments stem from people using different meanings of the word. It would be one thing if someone writes a piece saying gamers are entitled to something and angry people thought they were being insulted, but instead the thesis is usually “gamers are acting undeservedly entitled” and readers correctly taking exception.

      The older meaning may be used as a semantic “gotcha” but I doubt it’s ever an actual misunderstanding.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        +1 to this. Most of what I’ve seen in gaming discourse is someone playing with the dual meanings: ‘I didn’t mean you were entitled, I meant you were entitled! Calm down and stop overreacting!’

        9 times out of 10 I don’t think there’s at least one person in the conversation being deliberately disingenuous.

        1. Christian wolfe says:

          I think we are in agreement for the most part. My take was Based on the fact that there are always trolls that want to stir up trouble, but by and large I think the feelingS on the part of commenters and readers is genuine.

          But I do believe that a lot of writers are using the dual meaning to make disingenuous arguments. Whether they are doing so solely for clicks I cannot say, but it definitely works

  9. Ancillary says:

    This discussion has me nonplussed.

    1. Hector says:

      I’m not chuffed myself.

    2. aradinfinity says:

      Personally, I’m pretty gruntled about it. Language is cool and weird.

      1. Mephane says:

        Meh, I’m rather whelmed.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          I’m pretty dignant about the whole thing, myself.

  10. “This guy is acting entitled.” was shortened to “entitled” as it’s erm… shorter to say.

    As to “literally died laughing” it got shortened to either an emoji or the more classic rotfl, I’m uncertainain if “ded” or “I’m ded” is a acceptable variant though.

  11. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    I suspect that Seinfeld single-handedly saved “literally” in the same way the Alanis Morissette single-handedly destroyed “ironic.”

    For some silly reason, I’m still fighting on behalf of the word “until” as it’s being systematically replaced by “till,” which is a completely different word that means something else entirely. I’m fighting the basic trend of language there though – always being shortened. We’re heading toward a future where every word will be a single syllable. I thought that “drive-thru” was cute when I first started seeing it pop up, but now, most spell checkers have no issue with “thru.” I’ll probably live just long enough to see the language that I speak become the next version of Middle English.

    1. Leeward says:

      I don’t know when https://theoatmeal.com/comics/literally went up, but it must have been at least 2007. Seinfeld had been off the air for a decade and it was still a common enough usage that Inman felt it necessary to make that comic.

      I don’t have a source to refute your claim about Alanis, but I suspect that she did less damage than you’re suggesting.

      I haven’t seen “till.” “‘Til” is a pretty common word though, and people who speak more than they read edited text don’t really have a good way to know the spelling of the words they’re using. One I have seen is “dint” being used instead of didn’t.

      Anyway, I think you’re right about the rate of change of English. There have been large changes to the ways we communicate in the last 20 years, and it’s making the language change at a pretty high rate.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        and people who speak more than they read edited text don’t really have a good way to know the spelling of the words they’re using

        Who would of thought?

        1. Lino says:

          Jokes aside, this is probably one of the most trigerring phrases for me :D

          It’s probably tied with the wrong use of “this” and “these” (which I’ve heard even from people who should know better like commentators, politicians, news-people…).

          1. Chad Miller says:

            which I’ve heard even from people who should know better like commentators, politicians, news-people…

            Yeah, they really should know better then that…

            1. Lino says:

              You’re jokes are getting out of hand! Stop it, or your going to get into some serious trouble!

              1. Chad Miller says:

                Aw man, you hit upon my own pet peeve; unnecessary apostrophe’s drive me nuts!

        2. Mr. Wolf says:

          I’dn’t’ve thought so.

          1. Chad Miller says:

            In all seriousness, where I come from it’s common to hear people use the word y’all’s. Depending on context it’s a plural possessive or it’s short for “you all is.”

            1. BlueHorus says:

              I used to go out with someone who never used the phrase ‘I’m going to’. She used ‘Imma’, as in ‘Imma get pissed if you don’t stop mentioning how I speak!’.

              To which I responded: ‘But if you get drunk, your language usage will be even WORSE, Honey!’

              Just one of the reasons it didn’t work out.

              (The big thing was that she also did it in writing. Colloquialisms and accents I get. But written English is a different matter.)

          2. Philadelphus says:

            I amn’t happy with where this is going.

      2. BlueBlazeSpear says:

        It’s perhaps a perception thing because by the time that Oatmeal comic came out, I thought that it was cute, but merely riding on what was already a turning tide. And while I certainly have knowledge gaps in regard to the ubiquity of the Internet, I have an inkling that the Seinfeld stuff reached a wider audience – just my perception there. And the comic must’ve come out after 2007 because it references 2007 in the past tense, but I don’t think that undermines your point.

        And in fairness to Alanis Morissette, I think that the tide is also turning back for “ironic,” if by no other means than by an entire generation of stand-up comedians who have all, at one time or another, made a hacky “That’s not what ‘ironic’ means, Ms. Morissette thank-you-very-much” joke.

        Oddly enough, I find that I’m more okay with “Til” than I am with “Till.” At least the former implies that it’s derivative of a longer word whereas the latter just strikes me as a word being used incorrectly. I think it’s the case of a spell checker mis-calculation wherein “till” is an actual word, so the checker doesn’t know to catch it in this particular context. And like “thru” in a couple of years, the dictionaries may be updated and the distinction won’t matter. In any case, I see it just enough for it to bother me.

        I’m just counting the days until kids think I sound like Geoffrey Chaucer when I speak.

        1. Michael says:

          Oddly enough, I find that I’m more okay with “Til” than I am with “Till.” At least the former implies that it’s derivative of a longer word whereas the latter just strikes me as a word being used incorrectly. I think it’s the case of a spell checker mis-calculation wherein “till” is an actual word, so the checker doesn’t know to catch it in this particular context.

          As I point out elsewhere in the subthread, the historical facts are:

          1. “Till” is the correct spelling of a word that is older than “until”, used then with the same meaning as now.

          2. “Until” is a derivative of “till”, not the other way around.

          3. “Til” is a recent innovation, from people who believe that “till” is shortened from “until”, even though it isn’t.

          A spellchecker, grammar checker, or human editor won’t complain about “till” as a synonym for “until”, because that’s been correct “till” usage for more than a thousand years. (Though, at that time, it was only spelled with one L.)

    2. Thomas says:

      People outside of the US haven’t watched Seinfeld. It’s a quirk of pop culture that Seinfeld has almost no international penetration. I don’t know why.

      I test it out sometimes. I met someone from India. Have you watched friends? They instantly name all the cast and start talking about specific episodes. Have you watched Seinfeld? “What’s that?”

      I’ve been around plenty of Americans talking about it on the internet, but the most I could guess is I think theres a character called George? And one of the actors had a meltdown once

      1. Lino says:

        As a non-American, I can attest to that. I grew up watching Friends, and it’s one of my favourite shows of all time (just like it is for most of my friends).

        However, I’ve never managed to get into Seinfeld. Anyone I’ve ever asked about it either hasn’t heard of it, or they’ve watched an episode or two and given up.

        I watched while I was at school, in-between one of the many reruns of Friends, but it just didn’t click. I’ve tried re-watching it since, because I’ve heard how groundbreaking it was, but again, it’s simply not doing it for me. Maybe it’s because its formula has been perfected by the many shows that came after it, or maybe there are just too many 90’s American pop-culture references that I just don’t get.

        1. Asdasd says:

          Part of the issue is that unlike America, most non-US territories never got stuck in that awful rut of schmaltzy, sentimental comedies starring happy families learning important lessons about how to get along. So Seinfeld, which was a rejection of that, didn’t really have the same impact abroad, and, as a show that was almost exclusively about horrible people being horrible to each other, also didn’t have much appeal.

          1. Liessa says:

            You may well be right, though I’d say many if not most British comedies are about horrible people being horrible to each other (or were in that era; I don’t watch a lot of TV these days).

        2. Michael says:

          I second Asdasd; Seinfeld is a bad show because it has zero sympathetic characters. I tried watching a couple episodes and had to give up. (And I’m American.)

          It has this in common with The Sopranos, which also received an incredible amount of acclaim as “great TV”, and is also unwatchable because none of the characters are sympathetic.

      2. Duoae says:

        I think seinfeld was very quickly dated in a way that other shows (e.g. friends) weren’t. I have a great love for frasier but i can only watch the show now because i had watched it when it first aired. It’s horribly dated now and i doubt many people would have watched it in the late 2000s.

        1. Daimbert says:

          I don’t know about Frasier being dated I watched it two years ago after only catching hit and miss episodes when it was first on, and didn’t find it dated at all. Then again, I am in the right age range so that might factor in.

      3. tmtvl says:

        In the mid-aughts there were reruns of Seinfeld in Belgium, I don’t know how popular it was, but in my circles around half the people saw it.

    3. Michael says:

      For some silly reason, I’m still fighting on behalf of the word “until” as it’s being systematically replaced by “till,” which is a completely different word that means something else entirely.

      What? No it isn’t. “Till” has had that meaning since long before “until” existed at all. “Until” derives from “till” in the same way that “unto” derives from “to”. Quoting MWDEU:

      Till and until are both venerable words, and are both highly respectable. The notion that till is a short form of until is erroneous: till is actually the older word, dating back to at least the 9th century. Until was first recorded around 1200.


      The other subject of concern to usage commentators is the status of ’til, a form that has been variously describes as “correct in standard English” (Shaw 1970), “absurd” (Simon 1980), “poetic”, (Corder 1981), “superfluous” (Bernstein 1971), and “acceptable only in informal writing” (Harper 1975, 1985). What ’til is, unarguably, is a variant spelling of till used by writers who do not know that till is a complete, unabbreviated word in its own right. Use of ’til is undoubtedly common in casual writing, and it does turn up in edited prose on occasion: [citation omitted]

      But if you are writing for publication, you will do well to spell it till.

      1. Asdasd says:

        Huh. TIL.

        1. Duoae says:

          Yeah, and specifically, ’til…. with the apostrophe being important in indicating it’s a contraction.


          I’ve never seen this justification that ’til is a shortening of till because the apostrophe indicates where the contraction takes place. Is there a link to that quotation? It’s not what I learned in English lessons and is counter to my understanding of correct English (aka TheMasterPCEnglishRace)*…

          e.g. Cannot – can’t

          * I don’t know how to strikethrough text in these comments sections.

          1. Syal says:

            (Strikethrough is “del”.)

  12. Michael Anderson says:

    “ When I was young, “entitled” only meant “deserving”.”

    Nope. And I am older than you! :)

    Well, at least not specifically. The word ‘entitlement’ entered the political lexicon in the 70s as part of social welfare programs … and by the time Reagan rolled around to vilify so many things, Entitlements became a pejorative term insinuating undeserving leeching off of others. That was 40 years ago. It flowed fairly naturally over time into other areas and slightly extended in meaning.

    1. Joshua says:

      Good to know. I mentioned this briefly in a comment above, and this gives more insight to that.

    2. Erik says:

      This. I’m attempting not to get into political specifics enough to get banned, but this was not an accident.

      In the 60s, a lot of civil rights discussion centered on certain moral values such as equality, acceptance, and people not getting the rights to which they were entitled. As a backlash, a certain subset of the punditocracy began a conscious effort to discredit the terms that underlay those concepts. As such, words like “entitled” and “liberal” were demonized and ruined for their original meanings.

      If anyone is interested in this period in more depth, I highly recommend the three-book series of modern political history by Rick Perlstein: “The Gathering Storm”, “Nixonland”, and “The Invisible Bridge”. I lived through that period (though was VERY young at the start), and there was so much I was never aware of.

      1. Kyle Johansen says:

        I don’t think in that case it is a change of meaning, per se. What has happened is that the way people looked at it has changed. When politicians used to say “entitlement”, the people used to cheer but then started to say “and how much will this cost me?”. It is sort of like an elephant, we look at in different ways. Is a beast of burden, a cool animal, a source of Ivory, a potential danger? Provided that we are still talking about the big grey things with long trunks, the world hasn’t changed meanings. Even if the ivory poacher find the environmentalist awfully frustrating. There was quite a bit of that with France in the US when they wouldn’t go into Iraq with cowardice coming to forefront (“Did you mean French military defeats”), but the meaning of “France” hadn’t changed, just it connotations.

        So if Game Journalists wrote “Gamers are entitled to spend their money, and to receive refunds and this is a bad thing since it supports Madden and FIFA at the expense of artistry”, then even if they were convincing and people did start opposing Consumer Rights, then that wouldn’t be Game Journalists using the term wrongly or with a new meaning. Just them disagreeing with the current consensus.

        In that case the word hasn’t changed meaning. It’s meaning has been unblemished. What has changed it how good it is at its purpose.

  13. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Not a native speaker of English however I can’t help but feel that when someone does “so you admit they deserve it” at a person going down the “entitled gamers” argument odds that they’re honestly confused are pretty low and it’s more likely they’re trying to play linguistic gotcha and derail the discussion.

    1. Moridin says:

      To be fair, if someone is using “Entitled gamers” as an argument, the discussion has already been derailed.

  14. Tektotherriggen says:

    Helpfully, being “entitled *to*” something still keeps the original meaning.

    “Gamers are entitled” vs “Gamers are entitled to fair prices”.

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      I imagine it’s because now you’re focusing the meaning to something particular, instead of it being a general feeling (which could include everything).

  15. Geebs says:

    To be fair, the dictionary definition you’ve posted above doesn’t attempt to distinguish whether or not the exemplar is correct in their belief that they deserve special treatment.

  16. CrimsonCutz says:

    My father’s favourite quote of all time is a former Canadian political figure who declared “I’m entitled to my entitlements”.

  17. Dreadjaws says:

    This is why I’ve always prefered to use “feeling entitled” to describe those who, well, feel entitled.

    1. Michael says:

      I noticed this problem in the “Oxford” citation Shamus shows. The gloss is “believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment”, but the citation doesn’t actually support that gloss. The example given in support is “kids who feel so entitled and think the world will revolve around them”, and this example means exactly the same thing whether entitled means “believing oneself to be inherently deserving” or “actually being inherently deserving”.

      On a slightly different topic, the word “condescend” (and other forms; condescending / condescension / etc.) underwent a very similar shift. If you read Jane Austen or Dickens novels, condescension is a positive trait: it describes people who are willing to speak to or otherwise interact with those below their own social station.

      But in America, the British class system was abolished, and this meaning was incoherent when applied to American society. So condescension instead came to refer to people who acted like your social station was beneath theirs, even though it wasn’t. This is a negative trait, and entirely opposite of the original meaning of someone acting like your social station isn’t beneath theirs, even though it is.

  18. FluffySquirrel says:

    But.. acting means that you’re pretending to be something you’re not Shamus. If someone was acting confused, that could mean they weren’t confused at all


    1. Duoae says:

      I’m a bit unsure whether this comment is a joke or not. :) i mean, to act (acting) doesn’t only mean pretending, it can mean to behave in the same or similar manner as you’d expect someone to from prior experience.

      I.e. someone acting confused is really, literally, confused and is adhering to the speaker’s or thinker’s notion of how it is for one to behave when under that condition…

      1. Joshua says:

        Right. If someone is the Acting Captain, they are fulfilling that role. If someone is acting confused, they appear to be confused to the observer, as best as that observer can tell without getting in their head. Along with that statement, you would never say “I am acting confused”, because you know for a fact that you’re confused in that situation.

  19. KillerAngel says:

    “That guy is entitled.”

    …and we can’t tell if he’s actually entitled or acting entitled.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but to me that 100% means that he’s acting entitled. You can’t just be entitled, you have to be entitled TO something. If you say “he is entitled TO a better meal” that means he’s actually entitled. If you say “he’s entitled” that means that he’s acting entitled.

    1. Thomas says:

      Perhaps it could become ambiguous in the context of a conversation.

      ‘That man’s never worked a day in his life but he’s claiming millions in inheritance’
      ‘Hes entitled’

      That’s a bit artificial though. Practically I doubt there’s ever any confusion in an honest conversation between people. Not knowing the context of ‘is this person speaking from a pro- or anti-perspective’ is a pretty massive social clue to miss out on.

      If the conversation hasn’t conveyed that already, one word won’t make a difference.

  20. Retsam says:

    I don’t think this is technically a word with self-contrasting meanings, as much as its two words that happen to share a homonym:

    “To entitle” is a verb, meaning rightful entitlement, as in “If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma you may to be entitled to financial compensation.”, while “entitled” is an adjective, meaning someone who acts as if they are entitled to something when they are not.

    But the past tense of “to entitle” is also “entitled” which is homonymous with the adjective.

    Of course this still causes confusion, and particularly allows people to deflect arguments about entitlement into semantic debates (as I think is what happened in the linked comment chain). But I don’t think the root of the disagreement is semantic – the semantic discussion is just a diversion from the real underlying philosophical divide.

  21. Retsam says:

    I think the root issue of “entitlement debates” isn’t the perceived double meaning of “entitled”. It’s not really a semantic debate (though it may devolve into one), I think it’s a sincere disagreement over what level of obligation a creator has to their consumers, if any.

    I can’t help but think of the perennial debates in the fantasy world over A Song of Ice and Fire and the Kingkiller Chronicles – some fans bemoan the fact that it’s been 9 years since the last book, while others accuse those fans of being “entitled”.

    The latter viewpoint is most famously express by Neil Gaiman: in a blogpost called “Entitlement Issues” he famously summed the position up as “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch”:

    You’re complaining […] as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: that you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you.

    No such contract existed. You were paying your ten dollars for the book you were reading, and I assume that you enjoyed it because you want to know what happens next.

    Meanwhile the other side I think was best argued by Brent Weeks in a rebuttal to Gaiman’s blogpost:

    Part of what entices us to buy a book is the promise conveyed in the title. “Gragnar’s Epic Magical Dragon Quest Trilogy: Book 1” promises there will be two more books. […] maybe technically there’s no contract, but there is an obligation.

    And do you know who’s hurt when that obligation is broken? Not the multimillionaire authors, but the mid-listers who are in the middle of a series, barely making it, who hear readers say, “I don’t start a series anymore until all the books are finished. I’ve been burned too many times.”

    It’s not a semantic debate, there’s no disagreement over the word “entitled” just a question of whether an author has an obligation to their readers or not.

    I think roughly the same debate happens in video games: to what extent is buying a game “caveat emptor”, and to what extent should I be guaranteed a minimum quality level for the game? It was one thing when you bought a game and whatever came on the disk was what you got: but with the ubiquitous “games as a service”/”early access” models, it’s a lot more hazy what you’re actually paying for when you buy a game.

    1. danielfogli says:

      I think roughly the same debate happens in video games: to what extent is buying a game “caveat emptor”, and to what extent should I be guaranteed a minimum quality level for the game? It was one thing when you bought a game and whatever came on the disk was what you got: but with the ubiquitous “games as a service”/”early access” models, it’s a lot more hazy what you’re actually paying for when you buy a game.

      Maybe all this “gamer entitlement” comes from the fact that buying a game is currently “fuckyou emptor”, where if the game you just bought doesn’t work as intended/promised/expected you can’t just return it for a refund and literally complain with your wallet, as if it would be the case with (most) physical goods.

      As for series with long overarching plots that never seem to materialize, I tend to avoid those, exactly because of that, either the show will be canceled before it finishes or the payoff will most surely suck. So I can sympathize with those who feel bitter and entitled when their favorite series/game/franchise jumps the shark and turns to shit/dies. It’s very easy to feel in retrospect you’ve been strung along and milked for cash the whole time.

  22. Felix Jones says:

    When fans complain about a game they paid money for, they are “entitled.”

    When game journalists complain about a game they paid no money for, from a genre they are not a fan of, and often terrible at, they are “critiquing” “reviewing” or “unpacking.”

    Entitled just seems like rhetoric the press uses to disqualify or marginalize fan opinions.

    1. Asdasd says:

      It’s certainly true that some journalists will make a show of being as remorselessly vicious as possible when taking an unloved game apart, but seem ever-poised to break the glass panel marked ‘MORAL PANIC’ at the thought of the wider audience claiming the same privilege.

  23. PPX14 says:

    I’m not sure it has a dual meaning as such, in a way that makes it a confusing antonym of itself; just that it is used as a description of the nature of someone’s behaviour, as you say. And so the distinction should always be obvious from the context – “he is entitled to X” or “am I entitled to Y?” vs “he is so entitled” or “he is behaving like an entitled so and so”. I can’t imagine a situation in which there would be ambiguity over which of the two is being used because one instance is “entitled person”, entitled as a direct property of the person, and the other is “entitled to ___ ”

    Presumably this is the case with a lot of similar words? But maybe I don’t read enough online stuff to come across the confusion.

    Now “Literally” on the other hand… Perhaps using “literal” in a metaphorical sense is literal irony (ha-ha).

    The silliest one is Flammable vs Inflammable!

  24. Zaxares says:

    I place the word “entitled” into the category of confusing words where you really need to look at usage and context to glean what meaning the speaker is trying to convey.

  25. Gautsu says:

    I for one do not feel entitled to see Shamus do a deep dive into nu-Star Wars on the level of his Mass Effect, GTA, Borderlands, or any other long form analyses. But I would love to see one. Maybe especially one looking at the entire franchise from the start and seeing how we arrived at things the fandom take for granted now. But no matter what Shamus chooses to write about, I just appreciate that he does write. I work a job where I have extreme amounts of downtime, and have spent many nights reading and re-reading his analyses and the forum responses. If nothing else, in the situations where our opinions diverge, I never feel that he is talking past me or neglecting how and why my opinion might differ from his.

  26. Paul says:

    Literally is the worst.
    Now that there’s a figurative meaning of “literally”, how do I clearly put it when I mean “literally” literally?

  27. Lunk says:

    Okay now, but for real let me know this: The From Ashes DLC. It was Day 1 DLC, it contained something that SEEMED like it would be integral to the story – which in truth was a thing until it ended up being cut for time and budget and then re-allocated as a DLC exclusive bonus – were players ACTING entitled for that or were they TRADITIONALLY entitled to it, would you say?

    1. Syal says:

      Not Shamus but I’m obviously not going to let that stop me.

      I don’t think you’ll find a released work that didn’t have ideas cut for time and budget. Everybody’s got things they wanted to add but couldn’t for one reason or another. Ideas are much faster and cheaper than connecting them to each other.

      Even assuming this was cut for a cash-grab: you’re buying what they released. If the story doesn’t work, well, hopefully the style and mechanics are good enough to keep you entertained. There are plenty of movies with poor stories that are still entertaining through sheer energy; Moulin Rouge, Edge of Tomorrow, The Big Lebowski. Hundreds of videogames have poor or no stories. It’s disappointing if a story doesn’t work, and if they’re charging for DLC that’s actually plot-critical you can hold it against them for charging extra to fix their own error, but you’re not actually entitled to a working story, you’re entitled to a series of events the creators put in order and released.

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