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Shit People Say is a series of parody videos exploring social and gender stereotypes using the phrasal template “Shit X says.” The videos were inspired by a single topic blog and web series titled “Shit Girls Say,” showcasing various cliches and verbal mannerisms that are commonly associated with teenage girls and young women, which debuted on YouTube in December of 2011.
The Twitter account @ShitGirlsSay was launched by Toronto-based comics Graydon Sheppard and Kyle Humphrey on April 7th, 2011. In similar vein to its unaffiliated predecessors @ShitMyDadSays and @ShitThatSiriSays, the microblog quickly became notable for its caricaturization of an average, airheaded girl vaguely familiar to many others. According to the analytics data provided by Twitaholics, @ShitGirlsSay gained over 6,879 followers with its prolific output of 339 tweets in the first three months of launch.
In an interview with The Onion’s A.V. Club in December 2011, co-creator Sheppard revealed the story behind the concept:
We were sitting around one day watching TV, and one of us said, “Can you pass me that blanket?” It immediately struck us as a “girl” thing to say. I know that sounds terrible. But we immediately started thinking about what that means, to have a saying attributed to a sex, and then we started going back and forth.
The Twitter blog was initially picked up by a few personal blogs like It’s Not Too Bad and Eat It For Lunch and BuzzFeed posted a compilation of related tweets in an article titled “Shit Girls Say” in late April. @ShitGirlsSay updates were frequently retweeted by the readers and the blog continued to expand its readership throughout the first half of 2011. By December 2011, the Twitter account had grown exponentially with 62,918 followers according to Twitaholics, yielding an increase of over 80,000 followers in approximately 5 months.
The series was eventually introduced to a broader group of audience in December 2011, when Sheppard and Humphrey adapted the joke into a web video series via YouTube channel ShitGirlsSay. The pilot episode starring Sheppard as “the girl” and a cameo appearance by actress Juliette Lewis was posted on December 12th, 2011. Some of the most notable lines in the video included: “Listen to this e-mail,” “Could you do me a huge favor?” and “I’m not even joking right now.”
Upon release, the video clip was simultaneously picked up through social networking sites Twitter and Facebook as well as internet humor communities Reddit and 9gag, racking in over 4 million views in the first week of upload. The viral status of the first episode was soon covered by an array of influential blogs including Wired, The Onion and Huffington Post. In less than three weeks since its launch, YouTube channel ShitGirlsSay gained nearly 60,000 subscribers and over 11 million total upload views. In May 2012, Juliette Lewis and Graydon Sheppard were named best actors by the 16th Webby Awards for their YouTube series.
Within days of the video’s release, several bloggers and columnists responded to the viral web series with varying perspectives. In an article for The Globe and Mail, Canadian columnist Lynn Crosbie stressed the potentially offensive nature of the joke by saying that women “are already sexualized to the maximum.”
Toronto Star’s Navneet Alang chimed in on the discussion by raising concern that many people may be laughing at rather than with the video series.
On January 4th, 2012, comedian Francesca Ramsey wrote a featured post on Huffington Post with her own parody video “Shit White Girls say to Black Girls.”
On January 9th, Associate Editor for Campus Progress Naima Ramos-Chapman wrote an editorial article on the site, asserting that “Shit Girls Say” meme is sexist and racist, therefore should end."
In a related effort, the single topic blog “Shit Girls Say” was launched to showcase inspiring quotes attributed to famous women.
Numerous parodies and spin-off versions of the original series quickly emerged within days of the pilot episode, many of them starring actors and actresses dressed as opposite genders they’re portraying. The scope of the parodies also expanded across LGBT, ethnic and cultural stereotypes.
Viral Video Chart
Source: Viral Video Chart
Search volume comparison of “Shit My Dad Says,” Shit That Siri Says" and “Shit Girls Say” indicates that Sheppard and Humphrey’s project became the most searched keyword following the launch of the YouTube video series in early December 2011.
The Globe and Mail – Why are we laughing at girls in the Twitter-verse?
Huffington Post – Why the “Shit Girls Say” Meme is Sexist, Racist and Should End