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This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (also known as Arguecat) is a series of LOLcat-style image macros featuring an angry-looking cat with the catchphrase. In discussion forums and imageboards, it is typically used in response to discussion threads or posts that are perceived as derailing from the original topic.
While the origins of the phrase itself predates history of the Internet, the image macros began gaining momentum on 4chan sometime in 2008.
According to online discussions on its roots in popular culture, one of the earliest notable mentions came from Paula Poundstone, an American stand-up comedian who used the phrase in her HBO stand-up special, Cats, Cops and Stuff (1990). In the skit, Paula tells her childhood story about dropping a Flinstones jelly-jar glass in the kitchen, to which her mother complained: “Oh, so we can’t have nice things.”
In the 1998 movie Mafia! starring Jane Austen, the phrase is also used:
Example of Usage
For example, if somebody were to start a thread about video games on a video game-centric board and other posters began derailing the thread with off-topic replies or spam, somebody might post the Arguecat image macro as a response and to bring attention to the fact that the thread is now officially self-destructing. The phrase has also been put into use by hipsters, in a similar, predictably ironic context .