Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why Is the G20 called the G20?, or (Fly Like a G20, Fly Like a G20)

Summing up the recent G20 meeting of world leaders, the New York Times ran this headline: "Summit Shows U.S. Can Still Set Agenda, If Not Get Action." And while this headline forced an immature nation of young Times' readers to imagine Barack Obama getting some action with Angela Merkel, it also raised another, more important question: Couldn't they come up with a better name than G20?

 While "G20" conjures up many images of non-intercontinental-commander-coitus, I do not believe that it is becoming of what is supposed to be the annual preeminent meeting for policy-making in the world today. The G20 is a fine name for many things--a mid-size sedan made by Infiniti; the rapping nickname of Warren G's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson; an isotope for a non-existent chemical element ("Goron," say, or "Goxygen"). Further insult was added by a recent earworm of an idiotic rap song, forever linking the letter G followed by a number with dance floor stupidity rather than economic progress:

I'm getting really good at Photoshop. 

Part of my problem with "G20" might not the various associative difficulties I have, but rather the word "Group" itself (for newcomers/non-news-readers, G20 stands for "Group of 20"). "Group": such an uninspiring, turd-on-the-carpet of a collective noun to describe this hypothetically inspiring and transformative meeting. How about "coalition," "action squad," "synergy murder convergence"? A group is arbitrary, static: a group is something alcoholics attend (insert joke about W. Bush no longer being in office), a collection of people who bargained for a coupon worth $20 of savings at Pottery Barn, the category on the sidebar of a pornography website in between "fetish" and "Hentai."

[Now I know why Germany and Japan showed up, respectively].


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