December 31, 2012

The Top Quotes of 2012 – and some of the top “top quotes” lists of 2012…


Every December, various pundits, writers and media outlets publish lists of what they consider to be the the year’s “top” or “best” quotations — either in general or within a certain realm, such as politics, sports or movies.

Recently, I’ve been perusing some of the lists of quotes from 2012.

The one that’s most widely cited is the top ten quotes of the year list compiled by quote maven Fred Shapiro, associate librarian at Yale Law School and author of the authoritative Yale Book of Quotations.

Now in it’s seventh year, Shapiro’s list gets reprinted by hundreds of newspapers and thousands of websites.

His 2012 list includes several quotes by President Barack Obama and two by his Republican challenger in the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney.

In this case, Mitt actually won.

He gained the #1 spot on Shapiro’s list for what became one of the most infamous, clueless and damaging political quotations ever uttered:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what…who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims…These are people who pay no income tax…and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Romney made those remarks at a private fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida on May 17, 2012. However, they didn’t hit the news until September 17, when a secretly-recorded video of what he said at the fundraiser was released by Mother Jones magazine.

When the story broke, it created a major political firestorm that the Obama campaign stoked to the max.

Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe is also cited by several lists of the top political quotes of 2012.

Many observers believe that quotation played a significant role in turning key swing voters against Romney, by making it appear (or maybe by making it clear) that he didn’t care about the opinions, votes or lives of nearly half of all Americans.

Shapiro’s list of the top 10 quotes of 2012 also includes another gaffe by Romney (“binders full of women”), three quotes by Obama (most notably his “you didn’t build that” quote), Missouri Senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s radioactive “legitimate rape” quote, South Korean rapper PSY’s “Oppan Gangnam style” video meme, a comment by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that popularized the term “fiscal cliff,” and several others that are primarily of interest to political junkies.

Fred left out what I would count as one of the top 10 quotes of the year, but it did make the #1 position in ESPN Playbook’s 2012 “Sports Quotes of the Year” list.

It’s the memorable response by Washington Nationals outfielder

Bryce Harper when a reporter implied that the 19-year-old rookie might take advantage of Canada’s lower drinking age when he played in Toronto and have a beer.

During a a press event on June 13, 2012, a Toronto TV reporter asked Harper: “You got a favorite beer?” 

Harper answered drily:

      “That’s a clown question, bro.” 

It quickly became a viral meme and a popular new all-purpose retort to stupid questions.

There are actually quite a few lists of the top sports quotes of 2012 online.

Some are for hard core fans of certain sports — like the lists of top quotes by and about golfer Tiger Woods or the top quotes by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedish soccer star (i.e., star of the sport known as football in every country except the US).

As a movie buff, I was interested in reading the lists of top movie quotes of 2012. From what I can tell, almost none seem to have reached the level of being widely-repeated, long-lasting pop culture quotations.

There is one notable exception, mentioned in the list compiled by movie critic Chris Knight:

       “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

It’s a catchphrase from the hugely popular science fiction film The Hunger Games, based on the hugely popular novel by Suzanne Collins

Although you may not know that quote, millions of Hunger Game fans do and it’s cited on hundreds of thousands of websites. (Actually, it appears to be millions based on the Google search hit stats for the phrase.)

There are a number of lists of the “dumbest” or “stupidest” quotes of 2012 online. A large percentage of those are political in nature. So, whether you think the quotes they include are dumb or stupid depends largely on your political leanings.

I found many lists of top 2012 quotes by “celebrities.” They mostly include quotes by people from the realms of TV, movies, fashion or music and those “personalities” who are basically famous for being famous.

I guess such celebrity quote lists are of interest to people who know who the latest celebrities are and are fascinated by what “celebs” do and say. I don’t and am not. So, I quickly got bored reading those lists.

There are also some lists of 2012 quotes of interest to geeks and wonks. Having qualities of both, I found those more intriguing.

For example, there are two “Top Tech Quotes of 2012” lists I like: one on the New Yorker magazine site, complied by Nicholas Thompson and one on the C/NET website, compiled by Jonathan Skillings.

My favorite quote from Thompson’s is “Turn left into the water” — which he cites as the best line from a Tumblr page devoted to the epic failure of Apple’s map app.

My favorite from Skillings:

       “I'm safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!! #MSL.”

That was the historic tweet by the Curiosity Rover when it landed in the Gale Crater on the surface of Mars on August 6, 2012.

As a kid in the 1950s, I wondered if there was intelligent life on Mars.

As I was reading some of the lists of the top political and celebrity quotes of 2012, I was reminded of the old joke about whether there’s any on earth.

Happy New Year from ThisDayinQuotes.com. And, good luck to all of us in 2013.

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