The ABC has been criticised after its youth station Triple J for aired a segment that suggested Australians should stop using a popular phrase “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”.
The media organisation said the popular phrase could be considered offensive to larger people, and suggested it be swapped to the slightly more simple phrase “it ain’t over ’til it’s over”.
ABC’s What is Music presenter Linda Marigliano questioned the relevance of the saying due to its lack of political correctness. “Considering the fat shaming nature of the phrase, I reckon we should be using the equally confusing but slightly more simple ‘it ain’t over ’til it’s over’,” she said.
The saying refers to the stereotypically overweight sopranos of the opera and in particular, the powerful figure, known as valkyrie Brunnhilde, in Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen from 1874.
The PC comment ignited a debate among Starts at 60 readers, with one asking: “Do the PC police want to wipe out history altogether?”
Another noted the humorous phrase has been around for a long time, saying: “I have a friend, a lady of some substance, who for years has said ‘it ain’t over ’til I sing’. She takes no umbrage and is prepared to joke about it, so who’s being hurt by an expression we’ve used for so long?”
While a third said: “Why do people care about such things. There are more important issues to worry about. It has been an expression around for a very long time.” And Paul Chipp wrote: “Being PC is fine but this is just getting stupid.”
This isn’t the first old phrase to ignite debate, as apparently the saying ‘rule of thumb’ refers back to the 1800’s when a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick as long as it’s no wider than a thumb.
It comes after an array of high-profile public figures spoke out about Australia’s slant towards PC, with John Howard, Ita Buttrose and John Wood saying society is too quick to jump down people’s throats over little things.
“We used to be able to laugh at ourselves and each other very easily,” he said. “A lot of Australian humour comes from British sensibilities, but now most of the stuff I thought was fairly innocent [isn’t appropriate now],” Wood said.