The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 4, 2006


Deep meaning or just demeaning

for the Commentary page

"Gir-R-Done" is an all-purpose--probably offensive--catchphrase you can't stop saying

By Teresa Leo
How does a catchphrase catch on?

In the 1980s, the food chain Wendy's gave us "Where's the beef?" In 2000, Budweiser launched a campaign around "Whassup?!" and it became a national craze. Recently, "You're fired" swept the country thanks to Donald Trump.

Another catchphrase has been gaining momentum, hatched by "Blue Collar" comedian, Larry the Cable Guy: "Git-R-Done."

I wondered what was behind this popular slogan, so I attended Larry's show Friday night in Reading.

Amid the lobby food stands offering Texas-style BBQ, pulled pork BBQ, and pit-cooked BBQ, "Git-R-Done" ran like an ad campaign, appearing on everything from T-shirts to key chains to hats to signs created by loyal fans. Only the Confederate flag, also prevalent at the show, could give the phrase a run for its money.

So what, exactly, does "Git-R-Done" mean? Is it a catchphrase or a slap phrase? One might argue it contains potentially sexist and perhaps even misogynistic overtones. At the very least, it's safe to say the phrase wouldn't win any awards for political correctness.

But right or wrong, since Larry the Cable Guy's show, I simply cannot stop using this phrase. As early as the drive home, when asked if I wanted to pull off the turnpike for coffee, instead of saying "Sure" or "OK," to my surprise "Git-R-Done" just popped out, complete with Southern accent.

Now when I send my fiancé out for a late-night store run, I catch myself saying, "Milk, cereal, bread - Git-R-Done!" In fact, I find that "Git-R-Done" nicely follows just about any request or activity - mow the grass, take out the garbage, fix that squeaky door. Just Git-R-Done. It's all I can do at work to stop myself from blurting out at meetings: "You need that status report by Friday? Sure, I'll Git-R-Done."

Is there some harm in propagating such a potentially off-color slogan? After all, Larry the Cable Guy is, by his own fans' accounts, an "equal opportunity offender." During his 90-minute set, he left no race, color, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political belief, or disability stone unturned. His jokes included disparaging remarks about women, gays, the Amish, GEICO, Keebler elves, Canada, the Waffle House, Mexicans, Pygmies, the mentally and physically challenged, the overweight, North Korea, Polynesians, little people (not the term he used), Cubans, Bill Clinton, Rosie O'Donnell, the anti-gun crowd, PETA, Home Depot, reality TV shows, and his family.

And that's the short list.

I approached some fans at Larry the Cable Guy's show to ask what "Git-R-Done" meant to them. A trend appeared immediately. The men I asked offered evasive replies: "It's whatever you want it to be" or "It's just a tag-line" or, best of all, a silent stare followed by "He's one funny guy all right."

The women were more forthcoming. A group of women waiting in line at the restroom agreed that "Git-R-Done" just plain refers to a man having sex with a woman. One woman said her 20-year-old daughter was bothered by the phrase, but that it was fine with her, as long as "my husband doesn't say it to me."

Sure, no one wants a phrase used in a demeaning manner when it applies to him or her directly. In the abstract, it's one thing; when it's personal, it may be another.

Perhaps women should co-opt "Git-R-Done." Maybe the next time I hire a contractor to work on my house, instead of saying, "How long will this take?" I can say, "Can you Git-M-Done by next week?" My gut instinct, however, is that this phrase loses its impact if the gender is reversed.

In the end, "Git-R-Done," like all catchphrases, might be akin to a pesky weed that pokes through the crack of a sidewalk, finding a foothold in our vernacular. And it's likely to thrive. That is, until it's plucked and replaced by another equally as persistent.


© 2006 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.