Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Grouper Complex

by Sophie Parekh

Observing the common man in his frivolous routine seemed to get the somewhat dusty cogs in my brain turning, so I settled back into the English language and decided to document my observations. (n.b. This may or may not have had anything to do with reading Stephen Fry’s ‘The Liar’, which will make your heart and your stomach ache in sorrow and mirth respectively; I should probably continue with the actual subject of the article now, shouldn’t I?) However, it still remains that the daily antics of the human race are rather bizarre, pitiful and at times hilarious, to say the least. I shall demonstrate my point with a painfully familiar example:


1.       An exchange of light, playful, teasing remarks; good-natured raillery.

2.       To address with banter; chaff.
Verb (used without object)

3.       To use banter.
Verb (used with object)

“Yo mamma’s so fat, when she went to Sea World, people thought she was the attraction!” Usually followed by jeering, cries of “OH DAYUM!” or “Someone get this kid to the burn unit!” and other ‘witticisms’ (note the inverted commas) referring to the ‘burn’ generally puns based around the word ‘burn’ and/or other general profanities. This may be a rather feeble example of a ‘burn’ or ‘banter’, but it demonstrates my point adequately enough. ‘I didn’t realise you had a point’, I hear you mutter, looking puzzled at your computer screens, but there is one! Jubilations and exultations all round methinks. My point is: why do humans engage in these acts of humorous, explicit and offensive displays of teasing? To what ends?

Not being an anthropologist, behavioural psychologist or neurologist, I felt I was perfectly qualified to pontificate on the subject, and so I shall climb aboard my soap box and set sail across the spouting mists of controversy.

During the many displays of this phenomenon we colloquially call ‘banter’, I have noted a number of different symptoms, if you like. Firstly the recipient of the banter, or the banteree, tends to squirm uncomfortably and sometimes desperately makes an attempt to pass the banter over to someone else. The main person instigating the banter, or the banterer, always looks as smug as a Disney villain when gracing the world with their witticisms. The people also partaking in the banter, or the banterage (as in entourage, I’m obviously just too witty for you all) are often making loud exclamations, such as the ones we say earlier, (OH DAYUM etc.). Finally, those passively observing the banter, or the onlookers, they are either embarrassed or smirking, but not wanting to get involved for fear of the banterage turning on them.

So, again, I ask you why? Why does the banterage group together behind the banterer? Why to the onlookers only look on? Why does no one side with the banteree? 

I propose the Darwinian-like theory of the Grouper Complex © (you can’t steal it, I already copyrighted it, mwahaha).

This is a grouper:

Rather attractive, don’t you think? The ‘grouper’ reflects the idea of people ‘grouping’ together in a ‘group’ and attacking anyone outside the ‘group’ (Gosh, group sounds really weird now…). 

I am by no means condemning banter, to all those that believe this article is an attack on those who readily engage in the sport. If you do take anything from this burbled pontification, I suggest when banter is exchanged, try to make it remotely witty, otherwise it is terribly boring for the onlookers…

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