Calling all cliches: Taking them down


The word ‘takedown’ is a sporting term that comes from wrestling and martial arts, where it refers to a move that’s not a throw, but still brings an opponent to the ground. In recent months, though, it’s started being used by critics and political commentators in the upmarket press. They should stop – it’s not big and it’s not clever. It’s also not accurate – as far as we can tell, the victims of the following ‘takedowns’ remain stubbornly upright:

  • ‘A blistering takedown of fundamentalism, religious or otherwise, Ken Macleod’s The Night Sessions [2008] is set in a near future where a predominantly secular Scotland has marginalised belief systems.’ – Scotland on Sunday 18 April 2016
  • ‘Kanye West just launched an epic takedown of Wiz Khalifa on Twitter.’ – Evening Times 27 January 2016
  • ‘Remainers have waited for the takedown that would expose the wild inconsistencies of Boris Johnson.’ – Jonathan Freedland, Guardian 15 April 2016
  • ‘From an excoriating takedown of Katie Hopkins it regressed into a drawn-out riff where [Stewart] Lee imagined various food stuffs smeared on Rod Liddle.’ – Joe Clay, The Times 1 April 2016
  •  ‘Anyone who knows anything about Madonna knows that the seminal text on her grunting thirst for publicity is her brother Christopher Ciccone’s 2008 treatise Life with My Sister Madonna. Ciccone, an interior designer who after his takedown mysteriously found himself stooping to footwear – including a line of clogs named after “icons” such as Britney Spears – was for many years “Jeeves to Madonna’s Bertie Wooster”.’ – Camilla Long, Sunday Times 6 March 2016
  • ‘[Marco] Rubio appeared to get beneath Trump’s skin with his relentless takedown of Trump University, highlighting the stories of students who he said had been victims of a scam, and a preference for foreign workers over Americans.’ – Dan Roberts, Ben Jacobs & Sabrina Siddiqui, Guardian 5 March 2016
  • ‘It’s been quite the week for Gigi Hadid’s Instagram. Following her impressive riposte to those who had criticised her appearance on the catwalk earlier this week, she posts this picture. Which is as much of a takedown as the statement, really.’ – Independent 22 February 2016
  • ‘Issue 9 (out now) contains a brilliant takedown of Jilly Goolden (“A bit snobby, a bit potty and a bit talking a load of bollocks”).’ – Giles Coren on Noble Rot magazine, The Times 6 February 2016
  • ‘I kept hoping that the novel would reveal itself to be a brilliant takedown of cultural appropriation, such as Gwen Stefani ’s Harajuku Girls controversy, when she hired Japanese girls to follow her around, or the trouble singer Christina Fallin got into for wearing a Native American headdress.’ – review of Gail Jones’s A Guide to Berlin, by Jessa Crispin, Guardian 25 January 2016
  • ‘Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac compete in loathability in this pleasantly subversive Tinseltown takedown.’ – review of Mojave by Leslie Felperin, Guardian 24 March 2016
  •  ‘…a closing run of the big ballads for which she is famed, including the cheesy/inspirational (take your pick) “Hero” and her melismatic takedown of Badfinger’s “Without You”.’ – review of Mariah Carey concert by Fiona Shepherd, Scotland on Sunday 16 March 2016
  • The Insider (1999) – Michael Mann’s takedown of Big Tobacco.’ – Daily Telegraph 27 January 2016

A critic and a commentator comparing their moves yesterday.


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