1735: Fashion Police and Grammar Police

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Revision as of 06:24, 20 September 2016 by (talk) (Table of individual items: Fleshed out description of "Vindictive" bullet point)
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Fashion Police and Grammar Police
* Mad about jorts
Title text: * Mad about jorts


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Explain the meaning of the Grammar Police sign and the three words on it. Fill out the table explaining how each point in the list can be said to represent both types of police.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

In this comic, two groups of angry protesters are presented and labeled. They should not be seen as protesting side by side, but rather like two similar groups protesting about different things even though they are in many ways similar.

The left group represents the Fashion Police with Cueball holding a sign saying Crocs not allowed (by showing a pair of Crocs shoes in a circle with a strike through it). The right group represents the Grammar Police with another Cueball holding a sign with three commonly-confused words beneath each other; Their, They're, There. The two groups look similar, standing in similar poses and apart from Cueball holding signs in each group Megan is also in the front line of both groups. Hairy is only shown with the fashion police, together with yet another Cueball-like guy, while Ponytail is only shown with the grammar police together with a bald man with glasses.

Both types of police are groups of people who make fun of others who wears or says something that doesn't meet their criteria of "good". Fashion police are people who make fun of others who wear clothing that is mismatched, out of style/fashion or straight-up "ugly" to them. Grammar police are people who are "sticklers" to grammar rules and get mad or contradictory if someone uses non-standard grammar in a sentence. The comic explains how the two groups are similar to each other by listing eight points (plus a ninth in the title text) that can be used on both groups. See explanation in the table below.

In the caption below the comic Randall notes that he just realized that these are literally the same people because they both exhibit the listed traits. The use of "literally" to emphasize a statement is considered by the grammar police as a dread crime that should be pointed out as such, although the dictionaries already include this definition as acceptable. However it would likely be more appropriate to say figuratively the same people, see 725: Literally. On the other hand, fashion police is known for overusing "literally" in the way the grammar police finds disgusting.

Ponytail also represented the grammar police in 1576: I Could Care Less, where Megan puts her in place after she polices her sentence. Literally was also used here in the title text.

The title is a ninth point on the list with the star in front representing one more bullet (see the last entry in the table below):

  • Mad about jorts.

Table of individual items

Explanation of individual items in the list
list item Explanation
Judgemental and Smug Both types of police will look down upon those who violate their 'laws'.
Angry about something deeply arbitrary Both grammar and fashion are, essentially, made-up human constructs.
Strong opinions backed by style guides Grammar has Strunk and White, fashion has fashion mags.
Appreciate that the way that you are interpreted is your responsibility Your choices in both grammar and fashion affect how people see you, and it would be silly to disclaim responsibility for what is essentially your own actions.
Understand that there's no way to "opt out" of sending messages by how you present yourself, and attempts to do so send strong messages of their own This means that even if you deliberately choose to not listen to the fashion gurus, then you are actually making a fashion statement anyway, as opposed to those that just don't realize they have a horrible style (and are not dressing wrongly on purpose). Both types can thus be harassed by the Fashion Police. Same goes for those who deliberately do not try to follow the grammar rules. They have thus taken a stance anyway as opposed to those who just do not know how to use grammar correctly. And both types can be harassed for it by the Grammar Police.
To seem cool and casual, pretend to ignore them while understanding them very well Deliberately violating fashion or grammar rules gives off a particular 'casual' vibe, distinct from those who violate the rules out of ignorance.
Vindictive about things that are often uncomfortably transparent proxies for race or social class "Proper" dress and "proper" language are often defined in terms of how high class people dress and speak. But since "high class" in much of the Western world has generally meant white, alternative ways of dress (e.g. the Afro) or alternative ways of speaking (e.g. Ebonics or Pidgin English) are treated as somehow objectively "wrong", rather than simply as alternatives. Furthermore, dressing or speaking poorly are often marks of "lower class" people who for whatever reason cannot afford fashionable clothing, or don't have access to quality education. So when we judge people for their clothing or their speech, we are often indirectly judging them for their race and class, something that makes Randall uncomfortable.
Fun to cheer on until one of them disagrees with you This may have to do with the human tendency to view the morality of an activity differently when applied to oneself compared to a stranger.
Mad about jorts (Title text) "Jorts" is a portmanteau for a pair of jeans that are made into shorts. The fashion police would be mad about jorts for being unfashionable, while the grammar police would be mad about the word 'jorts' being an inappropriate portmanteau of jeans and shorts, and also for the fact that the sentence could be misinterpreted as if someone like jorts, as in being mad about something in a positive way. Randall has often used portmanteaus as part of his jokes.


[Beneath two headings to the left and right are shown two aggressive-looking groups of people with only the four people in the front clearly shown for each group. Behind them five other people can be seen, but they are not drawn with the same solid line and are only partly shown behind the first four, but legs from all five in each group can be seen along with some heads (all Cueball like) and arms etc. The front of the left group consist of Hairy holding a fist up towards left, Megan with her arms crossed in front of her chest, Cueball holding a sign, using both hands, straight up above his head and another Cueball-like guy to the right is holding up a broken branch in one hand toward right. The person behind this last person is shown to hold up his fist towards right like Hairy does to the left. The sign shows a Crocs shoe in a circle with a strike through it going above the Crocs from top left to bottom right. The front of the right group consist of Megan holding both her arms over her head hands folded into fist while looking towards left, Cueball holding a sign, using both hands, towards the right and up above Ponytails head, she is raising one hand in a fist to the left and finally a bald guy with glasses is brandishing a short sword in one hand toward right while holding his other hand palm up. The sign has three similar words written beneath each other.]
Left: Fashion Police
Right: Grammar Police
[Below the two groups are eight points with bullets:]
  • Judgmental and smug
  • Angry about something deeply arbitrary
  • Strong opinions backed by style guides
  • Appreciate that the way that you are interpreted is your responsibility
  • Understand that there's no way to "opt out" of sending messages by how you present yourself, and attempts to do so send strong messages of their own
  • To seem cool and casual, pretend to ignore them while understanding them very well
  • Vindictive about things that are often uncomfortably transparent proxies for race or social class
  • Fun to cheer on until one of them disagrees with you
[Caption below the panel:]
I just realized these are literally the same people

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This sentence of the explanation is confusing: "Grammar police are people who are 'sticklers' to grammar rules and get mad or contradictory if someone uses non-standard grammar in a sentence." What is meant by the grammar police getting 'contradictory' when non-standard grammar is used? 19:44, 20 September 2016 (UTC)->

I added a basic explanation to this comic. I also changed the incomplete to say "Needs more on the explanation". Maybe you guys can help connect the dots and extend the explanation? --JayRulesXKCD (talk) 14:45, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

It should be noted that he uses literally wrong, just to anger the grammar police he's mocking, it's a nice touch.Trives (talk) 14:59, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

What? He's using literally because it is literally "literally." He just listed 8 traits which both sides supposedly share. The joke/comment isn't that they are practically the same; it is that they are the identical same group of people.

In my eyes the 2 groups are not standing together in this comic. --DaB. (talk) 15:12, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Yeah I'd have said they were just being presented graphically, the intention isn't to display them as protesting alongside each other. Xseo (talk) 15:31, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Is there an extra joke in the Title Text, "* Mad about jorts"? If it's something which both Grammar Police and Fashion Police would find distasteful, it would add an extra layer to the assertion that they are the same people. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Yes for sure and this is now in the explanation. --Kynde (talk) 20:27, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Incidentally, I find it ironic and probably unintentional that the Title Text demonstrates the importance of grammar and undermines Randall's own assertions that Grammar Police are superfluous and annoying. Is he saying that he really likes jorts, or is he saying that he is really angered by them? If only there was some formal ruleset which allowed meaning to be more effectively conveyed, rather than being a system of glorious chaos... https://xkcd.com/1576/ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I think the comment above is inaccurate: "Title Text demonstrates the importance of grammar and undermines Randall's own assertions that Grammar Police are superfluous and annoying". The "*" represents a bullet point so it is clear that "* Mad about jorts" is an additional bullet point that both groups would find offensive. The irony now is that I'm not familiar with how to structure my wiki comments. ~~dizzydan~~ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Yes very intentionally and thanks for pointing out it is an extra bullet point ;-) That is why the grammar police would hate that sentence where the other police just hate jorts. And would be mad if they realized it could be understood like they loved jorts. --Kynde (talk) 20:27, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Technically, the grammar police wouldn't care about jorts, since that is a spelling error, not a grammatical error. Please contact the spelling police.

The Semantics Police (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Jorts is not a spelling error it is a real term used on Wikipedia and now linked in the explanation. They are mad about the use of "mad about". Because in this case it can be misunderstood as either really loving jorts or being upset about jorts. --Kynde (talk) 20:27, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
Then it would be "* mad about 'mad about jorts'", thus I lean for the portmanteau explanation - Sebastian -- 03:07, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
When I first read it I just took it in the same context for both. I found it funnier to think that the "Grammar Police" are inexplicably mad at people wearing jean-shorts. Schiffy (Speak to me|What I've done) 14:44, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

Judgemental A spelling of the word 'judgmental,' infrequently used in the UK (which is widely regarded to be more fashionable than the US)?
Deeply Arbitrary Internally inconsistent? Arbitrary means based on random chance or whim and as such cannot be strong or deep?
Appreciate . . . are . . . is Subject/verb disagreement with a plural/singular shift?
Cool and casual vague use of an indefinite pronoun & a 'cool and casual' fashion choice is likely entails a significant amount of work, meaning it is not casual at all.--GotWilLeibniz (talk) 18:43, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Arbitrary is more 'not based on physical phenomena', and is not necessarily based on chance. 06:17, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
'judgment' v. 'judgement' - I was taught that the first is used as in "using one's judgment," while the latter is "the court issued a judgement." Miamiclay (talk) 08:22, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

"Fashion Police and Grammar Police and ExplainXKCD Contributors" (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

True ;-) --Kynde (talk) 20:27, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Just dropping a couple links here re: the "uncomfortably transparent proxies for race and class" in language. 21:20, 19 September 2016 (UTC) http://wordtree.com/what-the-victorians-did-to-english-grammar/ http://www.languagejones.com/blog-1/2014/6/8/what-is-aave (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Por simpliĝi gramatikon, nur lernu Esperanton! Ĝi ne havas arbitrajn regularojn. 22:17, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

In reality, I support the grammar police. Language is a set of shared rules allowing us to understand each other. Speaking in improper grammar produces misunderstandings and throws off listeners/readers, as well as making the speaker sound incompetent. Imagine if people started piping garbage down TCP connections! Servers wouldn't understand a thing! 22:50, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Rich white people being in high places is not really the point. Classism is the easiest to demonstrate: the grammar police frown on non-prestige dialects, and the fashion police consider poor people's clothing to be unfashionable. Racism is harder to demonstrate simply, but with language you have AAVE being treated as just "bad English" and, to a lesser extent, fashion popular in certain races being considered bad. (See, the literal fashion police of some French towns in reaction to burkinis. Trlkly (talk) 03:24, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

Hostility to burkini in France has nothing to do with fashion police. This is not a reaction to alleged bad taste in clothing (attemps to make them more fashionable are even well received), but to other things that the French are not comfortable with: public display of rigorist religious behaviour in a strongly secular country, perceived provocation by muslims in a context of islamist terror attacks, considerations around women's liberties (burkini seen as an enslavement to men/husbands)... Or for some it's simply knee-jerk racism... 11:57, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

Isn't this an example of Duck Typing? 10:17, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

Kudos to all who uses badder grammar for this explanations.Nerdman1 (talk) 12:39, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

I'm all for using words in a way that makes them more performant, regardless of the rules, or whether or not they are in the dictionary. Psu256 (talk) 15:28, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

Why hasn't anybody pointed out the most obvious fact?! They are called 'Grammar Nazis'!!!! (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I have thought about that, but since this term doesn't show up neither in the comic nor in the title text I discarded the idea again. On the other hand, I've never heard of the term "Grammar Police" while "Grammar Nazi" is quite common to me and in Google the term "grammar nazi" has about twice as many results as "grammar police" - despite explainXKCD Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 06:49, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

Glamour and grammar ... https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/glamour (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

"...and attempts to do so send strong messages of their own" ....what? i dont understand this part. what did randall mean to say?? 21:38, 15 September 2021 (UTC)Bumpf